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 Secret Wife by Gill Paul

Hello, Dear Bloggites!  I am back!  This book review is over the Books & Broads Book Club choice for May.  I am getting closer to the current month and I hope to finish June-October in the next five days.  I know, big challenge, but I am up for it now that I got my reading groove back on. 🙂

The Secret Wife by Gill PaulMay’s Book Club choice was The Secret Wife by Gill Paul.  I was dreading this one because it was once again a historical fiction novel set in the years 1914-2016.  Now, not all the years were touched like that last novel we read, but most of them were a chapter in the book.  Gill Paul wrote this book in a toggle effect between past and present which I am not a big fan of, but it was in the third person so that softened the blow.

The Secret Wife is about a love found, lost, and found again between Grand Duchess, Tatiana Romanov, and a Calvary Officer, Dmitri Malama, as well as, about a woman, Kitty Fisher, who has left her husband after he cheated on her and caused her to go to America and start to uncover the true story of her Great Grandfather, Dmitri.

The backdrop of the story is the war between Russia and Germany and the unrest of the citizens under the Romanov rule.  Dmitri and Tatiana first became acquainted when he was wounded in battle and she was assisting all the nurses to care for the soldiers who were brought in from the battlefield.  As the book toggles back to present day, you follow Kitty and her struggle to come to terms with her husband’s infidelity while finding out more secrets as she renovates her Great Grandfather’s cabin.

Gill Paul did a great job at creating complex characters which pulled at the reader’s emotions.  You rooted for true love to win out for Tatiana and Dmitri while rooting for Kitty to come to terms with what she actually wants to do with her life.  The imagery was well written for the readers and Gill Paul stayed true to what was known from historical documents while taking liberties with the “What if?” questions of the people you were reading about.

I enjoyed reading this novel and am always enthralled with the history of the world as I read these types of novels.  I may not be a hardcore Historical Fiction lover, but I think I am growing a crush on it. 🙂

I give The Secret Wife by Gill Paul 4 out of 5 Bookmarks.  Happy Reading!

~4-Ever, P

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 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 Writer Musings

Author Site Up & Running

Hello, Dear Bloggites! 🙂  Now that my website and blog site are talking to each other, I was starting work on my Weekly Email Chats Newsletter for my Author Site, pacwordsmith.com, but I ran into a slight issue.  The issue is: “What can I call my readers/followers/network?”  Here, I lovingly refer to you all of you as my “Dear Bloggites” but that would be a little weird to continue that pet name for my readers…or would it?

What if I gave a long backstory on how I came up with the term Bloggites and then continue to reference all as such?  Currently I reference the readers following my Author site, P. A. Corino, as “Dear Friends” but I want something more unique and amazingly fun to say and read because I consider all my readers/followers/network as my Unique Friends.

Heeeeyyyyy, what about that as a pet name, “Unique Friends”?  I think my first poll is taking shape in my mind for my first official Email Chat Newsletter.  I am going to brainstorm a variety of names that will tie into me and my sites and let the subscribers vote on their future name from me!  THAT IS A GRAND IDEA!!!  Thank you, Dear Bloggites, for talking this through with me.

Make sure your voice is heard on what you want me to call you by subscribing to my Weekly Email Chats here.  Be sure to check the box or just click on any other page on the website and you will find a handy-dandy subscribe button for you to put your email address in. 🙂

I am going to sign off for now, Dear Bloggites, and start creating names to vote on.  If you have any special name you would like me to start calling you, just drop a comment below and I will consider the suggestions.  After all, there is only one UberGoofy World of P, and all of you are part of my UberGoofy Journey.

~4-Ever, P