Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison

Hello, Dear Bloggites.  Here is another book review from my personal collection on Audible.  Amazon offered this book as an early read/listen before its release date, and because of life (you know that crazy thing that screws up all plans), I just got around to listening to it.

The Butterfly Garden by Dot HutchisonI love a good mystery, I love a good detective novel, and this book offered both.  The book is called The Butterfly Garden (The Collector #1) by Dot Hutchison.  The story is a different twist on a serial kidnapper/rapist.  Instead of writing the novel like most detective books where the reader follows the detectives on their journey of solving the crimes being committed, Dot Hutchison writes from the view point AFTER the bad guy is caught and follows the interviews of the kidnapped victims by the detectives.  This story line intrigued my sense of all things odd and unusual.

The main character is a kidnapped teen/young woman who was renamed Maya by the Gardener, the name the kidnapper told the girls he took to call him.  The Gardener would kidnap young girls around the age of 16 years old, the age he felt all women were in perfect form, and would rape them and tattoo huge butterfly wings on their backs.  He called them his “butterflies” and created this enclosed garden for the butterflies to live in until they turned 21 where he would then “capture them into an eternal beauty”.  I cannot tell you more on the story line without giving it all away so you will have to grab a book and find out. 😉

The way the author wrote the story, I was a little confused as to what was going on at the beginning because she toggled from one-character point of view to another.  Once I realized her cadence with the writing, I was pulled into the story.  As Maya fills in the detectives about what happened in The Butterfly Garden, the reader learns of how the Gardener hunts his prey when he picks his ‘Butterflies’; how the girls obtain their ‘wings’; and how the sons of the kidnapper became involved with all the girls being kept as captives.

The ‘Butterflies’ in the garden had to learn to get along with one another and as their knowledge grows of each other and their shared treatment from the Gardener, they form their own family with each other and always looked out for one another and mourned the loss of any ‘butterflies’ that were taken from the garden.  Maya was a sort of housemother to the girls in the garden taking on the role of caring for all of them and the newly kidnapped girls.  The other girls looked to Maya for answers due to her ability to manipulate the Gardener and one of his sons to obtain things the girls need in the garden.

The only issue I had with this book was that it did toggle back and forth from one point of view to another in the first person which I am not a fan of.  This book is the first in a trilogy written by the author.  I have not read Dot Hutchison before and I will probably get the other two in the trilogy to round out my collection.  She does write well and is able to give the readers a true understanding of the bad things that happened to the women by the kidnapper without providing too much detail or gore.

I give The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison 3 out of 5 Bookmarks.  Toodles for now! 🙂

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

This book review is on the Books & Broads Book Club August book choice: The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly.  I must start off with the disclosure I have told you many times before, Dear Bloggites, I dislike reading war books, no matter the subject of the book, if it involves war, I can almost guarantee I won’t care for it (7 out of 10 times).  With that being said, (or written), here goes.

The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall KellyThe Lilac Girls follow three different women during the invasion of Germany and into WWII.  The three ladies are: Caroline Ferriday, an America socialite living in New York; Kasia Kuzmerick, A Polish teenager; and Herta Oberheuser, a young German doctor.  Caroline is a New York socialite who becomes involved with a French actor that is married.  Kasia lives a standard teenage life in Poland hanging out with her friends.  Herta is an up-and-coming female doctor trying to make her way in the world of only male doctors.  Once Germany invades Poland, the three lives are thrown into a whirlwind of fate that will ultimately cause their lives to cross in the most unexpected way.

Premise sounds really good, right?  You would think this was an exciting book to read and delve into, yes?  NO! NO! NO!  I was so beat down by this book and the war, yet again, as it went along.  Martha Hall Kelly writes the book from each point of view alternating chapters and it is written in first person (don’t get me started).  Now, the first person, I get (begrudgingly) because it allows the reader to fully engage in each woman’s personal life and thoughts on the world around them.

The downfall of the alternating points of view is that the author lost her rotation and you went from reading one woman, to the next woman, then the third balancing the alternation to reading one woman, to reading the next woman, then the next woman again, then finally the third.  This messed up alternation of chapters can confuse and break the reader’s engagement in the storyline.

The author did a good job in really ensuring her historical facts were correct and did give a disclosure on what was true events versus her freedom of imagination in the book.  I did appreciate that disclosure because so many times people will take great freedom with the facts of a historical work they are writing, that the reader, if unfamiliar with the time period, may actually believe all the events in the book are real.

If you are a historical fiction fan or a WWII fan or are fascinated with Hitler’s reign, this book is for you, but if not, I do not recommend you reading it.

I give The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly 2 out of 5 Bookmarks.  Happy Reading! 🙂

~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 Book Review

Book Review: First Women: The Grace And Power Of America’s Modern First Ladies by Kate Andersen Brower

“…all Bushes love the Johnsons.” ~ Barbara Bush in a 1998 letter to Lady Bird Johnson

first-women-the-grace-and-power-of-americas-modern-first-ladies-by-kate-andersen-browerIt has been a while since I posted a blog, Dear Bloggites, and for that I am sincerely sorry.  This book review is over the October book choice for the Books & Broads Book Club.  The book I am going to review is First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies by Kate Andersen Brower.  Man is that a mouthful to say, as well as, type! 🙂

I was pleasantly surprised that this book was an interesting read.  I was worried the writer would skew their writing to support their political viewpoint, but it was really written in a matter of fact way where the information was given in concise statements without any lean toward one side or the other.

The book covered ten first ladies from Kennedy to Obama and how their rare membership to the elite club of First Ladies has forged friendships that bypassed any political standings.  I enjoyed reading excerpts from various letters or statements made between the first women in the transition of outgoing to incoming Presidents and the support system given throughout each other’s time in the office as well as after their time in the office.

The first 3/4ths of the book, was an easy read, but the last 1/4th was a beating to get through.  Once I reached this point, I was re-reading stories that were already covered earlier in the book and it became annoying.  I fault this on the editors as well as the author, Kate Andersen Brower, for not cleaning up the book better.  I understand that the stories may fit into various categories (which is how the book was broken up) but after the third or fourth time of reading the same story, it killed my interest in going on with the story.

The setup of the book was rather confusing until you realized the title for each chapter was the subject being given in the various relationships such as the chapter titled The Good Wife covered the different first ladies and how they handled being married to the President of the United States.  The reader is confused at the jumping back and forth between the ladies until you realize it was connected to the title and not in chronological order of each President’s term in office.

Overall, I enjoyed the book until the final chapters which is really bad because I truly enjoyed the relationships between the ladies without the feeling of the author gossiping about anyone.  I just wished they would have edited the book better in the end and compiled the stories in a better format.

I give First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies by Kate Andersen Brower 3 out of 5 Bookmarks.  If you like politics and the inner workings, this book is probably for you.

 

~4-Ever, P

Posted in This & That

Life’s Great Surprises :)

Hello, Dear Bloggites! It has been a while since I blogged and I feel totally out of practice!!! I hope this blog is finding you well as you read through my randomness…a lot has changed since I last posted: I started a new job, met great people, have become very active in Toastmasters, as well as, all my other little endeavors! 🙂

I have met some great people along my journey in my UberGoofy World of P recently.  Some I have become re-acquainted with since high school (long time, right!), some I have grown to know better from my church peeps to my co-workers at the new job (I LOVE my job! :D).

My Great Surprises along the way are just wonders of all things new…new outlook on life, new thought process, new endeavors in my life…so many great and wonderful surprises that I just wanted to stop for a moment and just jot it down to look back on and just remember…

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Toastmasters

The Road To Success Is Waiting For You!! Wow, It IS!!!

This past weekend was such a Blast!!! My BFF, Tracy, and I attended the District 25 Conference for Toastmasters for the first time!!! OMG…I met such FABU people and made new lifelong friends!!!

We were treated like Royalty…as you know, Dear Bloggites, and I AM Royalty (at least in my mind…LOL). We had great food, great games, great speeches, great presenters, and great people! I am so stoked from the information I heard and learned great things from wonderful people. Can I say it enough, Dear Bloggites, GREAT PEOPLE!

I am going to shoot for the International Conference (I had the pleasure of meeting our International President Elect-Michael Notaro) so I can go and support my fellow Toastmaster, Loren (he is from the division my club is a member of, so proud!) PLUS it is in Las Vegas, where I have NEVER been and have always wanted to go experience.

Yes, I cannot say enough about how fabulous this weekend was, Verna and all her assistants did a great job putting on a great conference for all involved. Chuck Menke graced me with the pleasure of working the registration table for a short time so I could feel as if I did a little bit to help and I met Miz Linda and Rose…two funny gals from the club Afterburners in Fort Worth.

So if you are interested in getting better speaking skills, meeting new friends, making new connections go to our Toastmasters International website www.toastmasters.org and find a club near you!

So, Dear Bloggites, I shall end my short but sweet blog for the day and remember to find your Wow Moment every day of your life!

~4-Ever, P

Posted in This & That

Burned My Mouth

So I decided that I and my best friend, Tracy, needed to get away from life for a bit and so we went out to lunch together. That is great, we decide to go to Applebee’s because I wanted some fried cheese.

We get to the restaurant, get seated, and our waitress comes to see us and we order our drinks and I got my fried cheese ordered, Yeah!! So about 20-30 minutes goes by and still no fried cheese. Finally it gets there, we eat.  Another 15-20 minutes goes by then our waitress came and took our order.

Now, I must make a side note here, I am a VERY, VERY picky eater and am very specific about what I get on my plate. I read the food choices and chose a good meal-grilled shrimp with island rice. Nothing noted on anything other than those two things-PERFECT!

She takes our orders, 30 or 40 minutes goes by and our food finally gets there. Well, lo and behold, my shrimp has some sort of glazed sauce on it. Okay, I will deal, right, it is grilled shrimp, nothing was mentioned about the sauce on top of it in the menu, how bad is it…probably just a sweet glaze to add to the taste…

Well I get the first shrimp off the skewer and cut the tail off then took the bite…OMG! I about puked with the flavor of the sauce…it tasted like some sort of Cajun seasoning-I DON’T DO CAJUN! I force myself to hold my stomach and eat that piece of shrimp.

Now my mouth is on fire…I am guzzling down a glass of Pepsi to stop the fire that is igniting in my mouth from the sauce. Tracy looks at me and gets this look on her face. I say, “They have some kind of hot seasoning on this shrimp.” I said it tasted like some sort of Cajun seasoning and my mouth is on fire…I am imagining smoke ensuing from my ears like the old cartoons of Elmer Fudd.

So Tracy, being the ever wonderful best friend that she is, takes one and tries it. She agrees with me on the flavor it is a spicy sauce.

I push the plate away because now I am sick to my stomach. I said, “I am not eating this crap.” She said to ask for the manager or order something else. I said I just wanted another glass of Pepsi to try and kill the inferno in my mouth.

The waitress comes back around and asks if there is a problem. So I proceed to tell her there is a spicy sauce on my shrimp and I ordered my food with the expectations of what the menu said-grilled shrimp and island rice. So she asks if she could get me something else. I say no I will just not eat anything else. So she sends the manager to our table.

Then the manager comes over and apologizes and offers to bring me something else because I came to the restaurant to eat and not leave hungry. I said I was fine I had the fried cheese and she offered some grilled shrimp with nothing on it, I said that is what I thought I was getting…so I say yes and asked for the other glass of Pepsi that I still have not received-I swear my tongue has to have burned completely away from the fire in my mouth by now.

So a few minutes later I get my Pepsi and she brings me some grilled shrimp with nothing on it and some more rice. I take one bite from the shrimp and look at Tracy and say, “I cannot eat this, I have lost my appetite.” So I wind up taking the shrimp and rice home with me.

Well on a good note, after the two hours or more of being at the restaurant (it seemed), my bill that should have been around $20 bucks was only $8. Coolness.

Now, as I end this blog for the night, Dear Bloggites, I am glad to report the inferno that burned my tongue off is out and I can feel the tongue again…thank God for small favors!

~4-Ever, P