Search This Blog

Google+ Badge

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Books As Gifts. Delightful!

 Happy Holidays, let's read!

December in our family means lots of celebrating. Three birthdays, an anniversary, New Years Eve, Christmas Eve, Christmas, and close friends who celebrate Chanukah. Those are just the gift giving occasions. As a writer, reviewer, and former owner of an indie bookstore, little wonder that books as gifts fill my mind. First a repeat of my Christmas story, then some suggestions. Enjoy and leave your suggestions either below or on my facebook page. Please share, tweet, etc. the blog if you wish.

 I first published this in December 2014. I am updating with new thoughts and books for 2015.

When I was growing up, there were always books for Christmas. My parents taught me the value of reading very early in my life. From my first memories, I can recall being read to by one or the other of them. Books were always around the house, and Dad was a prolific reader.
When I entered first grade, no pre-k or kindergarten then, I quickly became an avid reader for myself. By fourth grade I had read every book in our elementary school library, mostly biographies of American heroes.  Thank goodness that after fourth grade the local library was on the bus route and even within walking distance when necessary.
But it was at Christmas that I received the seeds of a family tradition and added to my list of books read. I discovered early on that my Mom listened closely to my ramblings about books I wanted to read. She would then rush out and buy them for Christmas. They would quickly be hidden away, or so my folks thought.
I discovered the hiding places and would sneak the books out and read them. After putting them back I would casually say something to the fact that "Oh, Joanne's mother bought her such and such, and such and such, etc, and she let me read them." A little later I would mention other books I wanted to read, the list was as endless as it is now, and Mom would dispose of the read books and put more in their place. Some Christmases this pattern could be repeated 2,3 or even 4 times.
I was well into high school when it stopped and I never learned if she had a 'deal' with the local bookstore, or if those books went under someone else's tree through the church or work gift collections. I always felt that I had outsmarted my parents.
Years later, my Mother casually let it slip that she and Dad knew exactly what I was doing, and they helped perpetuate the myth. Perhaps that would explain why they started buying and hiding the books immediately after Thanksgiving.
They also helped start a family tradition, for everyone in my family knows they will have a book or books under the Christmas tree. When our daughter married, we were told that it wasn't necessary to buy our new son-in-law a book because, well, you know... He received a book and has for the past 23 Christmases, and some birthdays! No complaints.

The same story with our daughter-in-law. "Not that much of a reader," she said. Now, 14 years later, she feels free to give me lists of titles she wants to read. She now has some favorite authors that I know will always be well received.

This year, I actually ask for suggestions. From my daughter-in-law came the following:

A Girl Like You (Maria Geraci)
The Boyfriend of the Month Club (Maria Geraci)
Loveable, Liveable Home (Sherry Petersik)
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (Marie Kondo)
(Where is the new Nicholas Sparks? Unusual for it not to be there. Perhaps she has read it and forgot to mention it to me.)

My daughter sent the following: "I would really like a copy of Sheryl Sandberg's book, Lean In." A later she added The Rocksburg Railroad Murders which I found on line for several thousand dollars. Santa is still laughing.
(Where is the new John Grisham. Unusual for it not to be there. Perhaps she has read it and forgot to mention it to me.)

From a second grade granddaughter came Judy Moody "Mood Martian" (Megan McDonald) and
Judy Moody "Goes to College" (Megan McDonald)

One 12 year old granddaughter really wants Will Grayson, Will Grayson. I'm not sure I'm ready to give her that book just yet even though I hear it is a wonderful book. "But my cousin has already read it and said it's great," she explained to me.

From a second 12 year old granddaughter, the reader in the family, came this mind boggling list. The list went on for 28 titles!
She seems to really want a book or two by Cassandra Clare. I have a lot of  'checking out the books'  to do before Christmas.

·        Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs, The Heir by Kiera Cass
·        Death Cure by James Dashner, The Kill Order by James Dashner
·        We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach.  City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare, City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare,  City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
·        Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell...

    Oh those men! Our grandson, sons, and son-in-law are leaving the selections in my hands. Thanks, fellas! Here are a couple of items I'm considering for them.  


This book, based upon an actual cattle drive,     
has won many awards.  


In that vein, here are some books that would make great Christmas, birthday, anniversary and Hanukkah gifts. Some I have reviewed on this site, some I have not. Most of these are not from the best seller list, but great reads just the same. Let's also help other writers develop a fan base.

I am hoping for this one for Christmas or my birthday!!!
Love Burt!

Happy Holidays to all.
In celebration of his
100th birthday this month.

Very interesting and full of new information.



The Lost Wife: This is an absolute jewel of a book for WWII historical fiction fans!! Beautifully written, history driven, with a wonderful love story. I see book clubs having insightful discussions about the book.

Incommunicado: December 8th, the day after the day that will live in infamy, is the day that begins this story of a young girl coming to terms with a war within the war - the day a town turns on its leading citizen. The most bullied girl in town, her genius-brother, a weak-kneed priest and a dopy bloodhound join forces to right a wrong in a time when if you looked like the enemy, you were the enemy.

      "Aside from bootleggers, moonshine runners, crooked cops, human trafficking and copperhead snakes, it's a heartwarming family story."

 Go to Gortner's home page and select any of his books.
Can't miss with Susan!
This is one of my favorites.
Another Gortner.
American historical fiction.
WWII American historical fiction.
See my review in yesterday's BlogSpot.
Beautifully written. WWII France.   
The wonderful history of
the 10th Mountain
Division, U.S. Army WWII

ANY book by Mary Balogh!
Check out her series,
but only if you have lots of tea or
wine, chocolate, and time!


Get Jeff's complete
Civil War battle
It is either a 'must have' or a
'what is she thinking'?
Lovely, lovely book.
Because someone in our
family was once a
Bunco Babe.
Can't go wrong with Bracewell if you
 are a historical fiction fan of the era she is writing about.
From the Old and New Testaments.
Elegantly presented.
A fun, beautiful retelling of "I Know
An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly."
Illustrated with the world's best
known artworks refashioned.


  Beautifully written Scottish history.
                             The author lives in the Scottish borders.  

                                        Award winning with a strong female protagonist.

 Finally, allow me to include my latest. WWII, historical fiction featuring the 10th Mountain Ski Troops of the U.S. Army. Others can be found at Amazon, Julia Faye Smith. Thanks, and
happy holidays.

Twilight of Memory



Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Tears of grief, magical spring water, and hope. Can they blend? Read Weeping Women Springs for the answer.

Weeping Women Springs

Blurb from the book: "Tears of grief dilute magical Spring waters…

Hope Springs has a secret–the waters mysteriously uplift the spirits of whoever drinks them. When the town’s young men depart to fight in WWII, tragedy strikes. Grief dilutes the waters unique effects, and hiding the village away from the world may provide shelter from the pain—but at what cost? Preoccupied with honoring their loved ones’ memories, five shattered women struggle to gather strength to overcome their loss, and find hope again."
Readers of this novel by Tamara Eaton will get to know the setting as Weeping Women Springs, but it was not always such. For years the happy but secretive place was Hope Springs, a community of hope and happiness, and a special spring.

12/08/2015: On this, the day after we commemorate the 74th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, we remember the destruction and loss of life that day brought to the lovely island paradise, but do we also stop to think of the destruction and grief the day spread across America? Weeping Women Springs brings that grief and destruction vividly to life.

This is a novel built around dealing with grief, forging a new, exceptional life, and finally facing fears and moving on with life. It is a gentle WWII novel. The battle scenes do not intrude, but the grief brought about by those battles intrudes and influences.

Webster defines 'weeping springs' as a spring that discharges water slowly. In this novel, I see the spring as a symbol of life and healing. For the women of Weeping Spring life moves slowly after the war starts and healing trickles in ever so slowly.

The book is beautifully written, easy to read, and moves along quickly. As the five women around whom the novel is built forge a new life, a new community, and a new way of dealing with grief, some may consider the book alternative history. I see the alternative, but only in the way the women deal with the real life horrors of history, not in WWII history itself.

I highly recommend this book for readers who like history in small doses, women who are vulnerable but strong, and who like to think of how things might have been. I was given my copy by the author, but I would have read and enjoyed the book, and written this review even if purchased. You won't be disappointed.

Learn more about the author at the following sites: