Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Whole Town’s Talking by Fannie Flagg

Hello, Dear Bloggites.  It’s Me, again!  I just finished April’s Books & Broads Book Club book, The Whole Town’s Talking by Fannie Flagg.  I know, I am still a few months behind but plan on making up for it within the next week by reading all the books I did not read.

The Whole Town's Talking by Fannie FlaggI love Fannie Flagg.  Her writing is very entertaining and easy.  This book is no exception.  The Whole Town’s Talking is about several generations spread out from 1889 to 2020 and all the decades in between.  The story follows a group of settlers and their legacy through the generations in a small town in America.

The characters are very complex and each one has their own fun, quirky side unique to that person.  The novel is an easy read with short chapters.  When I was reading it, I felt as if I was sitting down with a good friend listening to them tell me a fun story.  The author wrote in the third person (which I love) but it was a conversational third person, thus the feeling of being told a story by a friend.

The only big fault in this novel is that by the middle of the book, I found myself becoming bored due to the repeated cadence of the same ‘ol, same ‘ol.  Most stories build up to a climax and then it brings you on the adventure but this story really had no plot or climax, just reading about people and their lives, much like an old-time gossiper of a small town where everyone knows everyone and most are related in some way or another.  By the middle, I was wanting the book to be over.  I did enjoy the story, but it felt like a conversation that went well past its designated end time.

Fannie Flagg is an exceptional author and very entertaining.  You can tell her intent in this book was just to give people entertainment while delving into a little historical nostalgia of a time way back when.  If you are looking for something to read that is entertaining but does not require a lot of thought and focus, this is the perfect book to read.

I give The Whole Town’s Talking by Fannie Flagg 3 out of 5 Bookmarks.  Happy Reading!

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: Faithful by Alice Hoffman

Hey, Dear Bloggites, two posts in a row, Woo Hooo, Go, P (that’s Me!)!  Since I did my book review on February’s book club book, this one is on March’s book club book.  The Books & Broads Book Club chose Faithful by Alice Hoffman for March.

I was unsure of this book, and a bit leery, to be honest after not being able to read February’s book for soooo long.  Be wary, that was not a happy review. 🙂  Enough about that review, we are on this one, Alice Hoffman’s book, Faithful.

Faithful by Alice HoffmanI liked this book, which was such a relief, and I was intrigued by the concept of the story line about how in one instant, a life was turned upside down for one and non-existent for another.  The story follows Shelby Richmond a young lady whose life was changed after a car accident destroyed her best friend, Helene’s, life leaving her paralyzed and catapulted Shelby’s life walking with a burden of guilt.

Throughout the story, Shelby is driven by a series of postcards she felt was left by an angel (possibly Helene since miraculous occurrences happened to people who went to visit her at her parent’s home).  Each postcard had a phrase on it that subconsciously drove the direction Shelby led her life.

The story was a good story line but the characters were not as developed as I would have like to see and they were not very likable, I mean, how can you love someone who lives their life in a self-absorbed world and was very selfish with a “feel sorry for me” attitude?  It is hard, Dear Bloggites.

I loved the postcard concept but I did not like how the author inserted herself in the story.  Many of you have read those novels that you feel you are being directed to feel or think a certain way and those novels are the ones that the author did not remove themselves from the story line to allow you to create your own judgements.

Alice Hoffman did write the story in the third person but it was ruined by her inserting herself in the story guiding my feelings and thoughts about the characters and book.  It was a nice relief to have an enjoyable, albeit dark and moody, novel to read.  I might read another of the author’s books, if the book club picked it, but on my own, I do not think I would pick one of her books simple for the fact that, while I did not hate this book, it did not leave a strong memorable mark on my memory.

I give Faithful by Alice Hoffman 3 out of 5 Bookmarks.  I leave you, Dear Bloggites, to choose to pick it up and read. 🙂

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: A Change In Altitude by Anita Shreve

Hello, Dear Bloggites.  This book review has been 7 months and 16 days in the making because that is how long it took me to finally finish FEBRUARY’S Book Club book choice!  FEBRUARY!  CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!A Change in Altitude by Anita Shreve

The February Books & Broads Book Club book was A Change in Altitude by Anita Shreve.  Now, I understand the author has written 14 novels (if not more now, there were 14 at the time of release for this book), but MAN, I will never read another book by her.  This was a brutal beating for me!

The novel is about a newlywed couple who moved to Africa for the husband’s job.  They rented a cottage that belonged to an older couple (well older than them in the book, they were in their 20s and the older couple were in their 30s).  The premise is for a group of them to climb Mount Kenya.

Now, the book starts as if you are in the middle of a conversation between the newlyweds, Margaret and Patrick.  It felt as if I had turned on a movie I had never seen before right in the middle and was trying to make sense of it.  It was apparent this newlywed couple had obvious issues based on how distant they were to each other in their conversation.

Anita Shreve did create complex characters, but none you really like.  The imagery was the best part of the book when Anita Shreve was writing about Africa, I could truly envision the country in my mind as if I was right there, however, I was highly disappointed in the characters and the way she wrote the book.  The planned trek up the mountain involved Margaret and Patrick, the older couple, Diana and Arthur, and a third couple, Saartje and Willem.

The group dynamic was tense and the reader did not really know why until near the end of the trek when an accident happened.  The accident caused an even deeper rift between Margaret and Patrick after the returned home and changed the way their life would play out.  Pretty good sounding story, eh, Dear Bloggite?  It had its opportunity to be a great book but I feel the author missed her mark.

There was an apparent error in the story line about how Margaret and Patrick met and I do not know if that was on the editors of the book, the author who had an intended reason behind it and forgot about it, or just plain lack of review when writing, but it bothered me.  I do not like things to go amiss in a story unless there is something down the line in the story that validates the reasons for it.

I do give the author props on her ability with imagery but that was the only thing I found likable, heck, the story ended just about as bad as it began, with no closure and the author leading us to the final assumption that she wanted.

I give A Change In Altitude by Anita Shreve 2 out of 5 Bookmarks.  I do not recommend this book unless you are a die-hard Anita Shreve fan.

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Writer Musings

Books & Broads Book Club: My Monkeys, My Circus

Have you heard the phrase, “Not My Monkeys, Not my Circus” before?  Well, I want to tell you about the book club I am a member of.  The Books & Broads Book Club and the Members of it ARE my monkeys and they ARE my circus and I would not have it any other way! 🙂

We all long to find that one place, you know the one, Dear Bloggites, the place that you can just be you in all your quirky glory and be accepted and loved.  It is that place that becomes your haven in a rough world; your lighthouse to your lost boat; your circus to your monkey.

March 13, 2015, I found My Monkeys and My Circus.  I did not realize that taking that break from life to visit a book club would change my life forever, but it has, and I am so grateful for it!  There were roughly 7 ladies and 14 eyeballs that looked at me when I walked though that fateful door.  After a moment of being in the amazing presence of these ladies, I knew I found My Monkeys.  THIS was My Circus.

From all walks of life, we come being drawn by a love for books but it is our chemistry, our easy way with each other that makes the magic happen each month.   The shared love and care we all have for and with one another is hard to find in life.  I have many challenges in my life that pull at me and demand from me which drains my spirit but once I walk into that room, with those ladies, I am renewed and refreshed.  I feel all the strain seep out of my body until only happiness and joy are left.

Books & Broads Christmas Party 2016 1
Books & Broads Christmas Party 2016

The Books & Broads Book Club is my sanctuary in life.  I look forward to the day I can revisit Our Circus and be our Quirky Monkey selves!  I will never be able to express my Love, Appreciation, and Joy these Amazing Women bring into my life, I am just forever grateful that on that fateful day in March, I found My Monkeys and My Circus!

 

I Love You All, My Monkeys!  Smooches!

~4-Ever, P

Posted in A Dog's Life

Ragonk – A Dog’s Tale of Survival

Ragonk Sitting Pretty
Ragonk – December 12, 2014

Ragonk (Rah-Gone-Kuh) teaches me many lessons in life. He has taught them to me from the moment he walked into my life one December night. I have been blessed by having this Boy-O come into my life and he gives me joy. The first lesson I learned from Ragonk is how to survive a bad situation until a better one arrives.

Back in December, 2014, Ragonk wandered into my garage with no tags and looking very scared and skittish. My roommate and I were having a Ragonk Party (radio blooper by one of the station employees when he was trying to say, “Rolando McClain” on the radio station we like to listen to called The Ticket).

The animal shelter was closed until Tuesday and I looked at the dog and said, “I need to come up with a name to call you over the weekend until the shelter opens.” One of my friends popped up and said, “Well, isn’t it obvious, his name should be Ragonk!” I called him that and he answered and has been Ragonk ever since.

I noticed as soon as Ragonk walked in the door that he showed signs of an abused dog. He was your typical abused dog that dropped his head and body bracing for a hit when someone walked up to him. He was scared to death of the sound of bacon cooking on the stove. He ran away anytime he saw a towel in someone’s hand and hid, shaking like a leaf once he was coaxed to come out of his hiding place. He walked tentatively around for fear of being yelled at or hit. His fear was more noticeable with men than women, but he was scared all the same of any person he saw.

Ragonk & Baden
Ragonk with Baden’s Ashes & Picture in the Background

It broke my heart. My dog, Baden, was old and grumpy but never knew what fear was and he welcomed Ragonk like he did all other animals, with a sniff and tail wag. Ragonk had a blast playing with Bodie, my roommate’s dog, and had a funny reverence for Baden. Whenever Baden would try and play with Ragonk, Ragonk would wag his tail until Baden did his first move then Ragonk ran away. If Baden was laying down, Ragonk would wag his tail and go sniff him but run as soon as Baden twitched.

As the weekend wore on, I noticed that Ragonk’s fear was starting to ebb and he was beginning to trust me and my roommate. He stayed by my side or would follow my roommate around wagging his tail. Yes, Ragonk was settling in.

Tuesday rolled around and I took him to the animal shelter where he immediately freaked out scratching my neck up and trying to get out of my arms. This alarmed me because I was not used to this behavior from him.

When I walked into the animal shelter they said they knew who he was because he was a “known escape artist” to them. They chipped him and so were able to tell me his name is “Steve” (STEVE!) and placed a call to the owner and inform him that the dog was found. The shelter offered to keep Ragonk, but based on his response, I declined and said I would keep him with me.

Happy Boy
Ragonk – March 20, 2017

A couple of days go by and I have not heard anything so I called to follow up. The animal shelter said the guy did not call them back, so I gave them permission to give him my phone number thinking when he got home the shelter was already closed and that was why they did not receive a call back.

The weekend rolls around and still no contact from the owner or the animal shelter. On the following Tuesday, I called back to the animal shelter and they were shocked that the guy had not called me back. I gave them permission to give him my address because I worked from home so he could stop by any time.

On Friday, I called the shelter back and they said they still had not received a call and offered to give me the guy’s address so I can show up with the dog on his doorstep. This guy lived two blocks from my house!  I told the shelter no because if I showed up the guy would take Ragonk and he obviously did not want him back based on his lack of contact.

After I hung up from the shelter, I called my long-time vet and asked what the statute of limitations were for an abandoned dog. My vet informed me it was ten days to two weeks, so I scheduled an appointment for Ragonk on the following Monday since the two weeks would be past.

The best thing the owner of Ragonk did was not contact me back. As time passed, Ragonk put aside his fears and took a chance on trusting us strangers who took him in and gave him a home. He survived an abusive existence to find happiness in a new home with lots of love by running away into my arms.

P.S. The “known escape artist formally known as Steve” has never once tried to run away from his new forever home.

Life is Good.jpg
Life Is Good!

~4-Ever, P

Posted in This & That

Reading + Writing Vortex = My Addiction

Hello, Dear Bloggites!  How many of you ever find yourself so immersed in an activity that you are ‘sucked into’ the vortex?  Hands? Anyone?  Bueller?  Bueller?  Oh, HEY!  There is one…oh, wait, that’s mine…

Ever since I was a kid, I have had this ability to tone everything around me out and become one with an activity.  This is a very strong super power of mine when it comes to reading or writing.

I will pick up a book with the intent of reading just one chapter and then hours later shake the imagination monkeys from my brain and return back to the real world to find the one chapter turned into ten or twenty or an entire novel! 😀

Yep, it is a wonderful super power, indeed.

The reason behind my reading vortex is simply the enjoyment of finding a new world to bring into my life.  Whether it is a scary story, funny story, romance, or biography, I love meeting new and interesting characters and learning about their lives and the world they live in.  I walk away from a story with new friends and a satisfaction so grand that I cannot wait for the next great adventure!

Queue in my other addiction of choice: writing.  I am working on my first novel and have written many poems and short stories in my life but the writing vortex I fall into willingly while writing my novel…man, no words can describe it!  I usually start off with a refresher of where I left off last and as soon as I start reading, my vortex engine begins to rev and then it is off I go!

When I write, the characters and their story drive my fingers and words.  I may start out with a concept or intent for a story line but as the characters are developed their life takes over and they become the driving force behind my writing.  Many times I realize at the end of a chapter or scene that it did not resemble my initial intent when I sat down to start writing.  This feeling is so Amazing and Otherworldly to me that I feel like my world is the imaginary world while the novel’s world is reality.

It is hard to try and express what this feels like because it is just that: a feeling; a sensation of images and thoughts.  It is my addiction.  A very good addiction at that.  It does not hurt anyone or mess up my life other than to take me to a new when instead of my when.  Other writers can probably express it better than I can because all I can come up with is my writing vortex…LOL

Reading & writing are so important to me, and for me, that they become something I need on a daily basis to live.  My Neanderthal friends will never get how or why I am so into reading or writing, but my Bibliophile friends are reading these words and shaking their heads yes while adding their own feelings to this. 🙂

See you on the flip side!

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Writer Musings

Poem: Darkness and Me

Darkness envelops me like the gentle hug of a lover

Darkness is my friend who does not judge

As I sit with Darkness, I am happy

As I sit with Darkness, I am free

Reality is what I make it here with the Dark

Reality is made by me

I am one with the Dark

I am a shadow flying free

I am a shadow of who I used to be

I am a shadow made of Darkness and me

 

Burleson, TX

March 19, 2017

~4-Ever, P