Tuesday, June 28, 2011


A compelling account of the true story of the October 1945 rescue of more than two hundred prisoners from the Atlit internment camp. This was a prison for "illegal" immigrants run by the British military near the Mediterranean coast south of Haifa.

The story is told through the eyes of four teenage women at the camp who survived the Holocaust. Tedi Pastore has been in Atlit for two weeks and was a hidden Dutch Jew. Zorah Weitz was an angry little Polish girl and a concentration camp survivor. Shayndel is a Polish Zionist and Leonie is a Parisian beauty. The girls are haunted by unspeakable memories and lossses and are afraid to hope, but the four of them find salvation in the bonds of friendship and shared experience even as they confront the challenge of re-creating themselves in a strange new country.

There were a large number of immensely strong women from this time period. As they each went through their experiences, I'm sure they didn't feel strong themselves at the time, but these women and many more like them are true survivors and my hat goes off to them! An excellent read.

June 28, 2011

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Forty-year-old Laura Brandon and her sixty-one-year-old husband, Ray, lived a hectic and hurried life in the town of Leesburg. They have a five-year-old daughter named, Emma.

A few minutes after eleven on Christmas night, Laura receives a phone call from the nurse at the hospital where her father, Carl Brandon, is currently dying of cancer. Laura got dressed and headed out the door leaving Ray at home to watch Emma as she felt there was no point in getting her daughter up at this time of night and dragging her to a hospital.

When Laura arrived in her father's room she knew immediately that he was still with her, but barely. As she approached his bedside, his eyes opened and Laura could see that he was agitated. She sat on the edge of his bed, took his hand in hers and said: "I'm here, Dad." Carl tried to speak: "Should...have...told..." Laura bent close and asked her father: "Tell what?" He let go of her hand and tried to grab a scrap of paper off his night table but Laura picked it up for him. She saw he had scribbled a name on it - Sarah Tolley and asked her Dad who she was. All Carl could mutter was: "...friend, please look after." Confused, Laura asked who she was and where she was, but all Carl could say was: "Meadow...Wood..." Laura knew immediately that he meant Meadow Wood Retirement Home right in Leesburg. Carl was becoming increasingly more and more agitated and saying: "Take care...promise...promise!!!" Upset by his panic, Laura grabbed both of his hands and promised him she'd take care of Sarah Tolley. Moments later Carl Brandon slipped away forever.

When Laura arrived home she explained everything to Ray. Ray thought it was a bad idea that Laura get involved with this Sarah Tolley. Laura, on the other hand, felt obligted to visit this woman especially since it was her Dad's last death bed wish. Laura decided to go against Ray's wishes and visit this woman but little did she know that in doing so it would cause another death. Her own husband's! And after five-year-old little Emma witnesses his death, she becomes mute. Laura also begins to receive anonymous notes in the mail saying: "You don't know her. Don't go again!" Obviously someone doesn't want Laura to visit Sarah, but who?

Laura is frantic, upset, and riddled with guilt so she contacts the only person who may be able to help her. A man she's met only once, six years before, and who doesn't know he's Emma's father.

A story of suspense, drama, and intrigue that will have you turning the pages late into the night.

June 27, 2011

Friday, June 24, 2011


On August 23, 1957 nineteen-year-old Joy, is a confused and upset Chinese girl. Everything she thought she knew about her birth has been a lie! The woman she thought was her mother was her aunt. Her aunt is actually her mother, and the man she loved as her father turns out not to have been her father at all and now he's dead. Her "biological" father is an artisit from Shanghai whom both her mother and aunt have loved since before Joy was born. His name is Li Zhi-ge or Z.G. Li Zhi used to paint Joy's mother and her aunt when they were models back in Shanghai.

At 2 o'clock in the morning, Joy decides to leave their Los Angeles, California home and go to China. She packs a bag, writes her mother a note and quietly slips out the door. She walks to the nearest pay phone and calls her boyfriend Joe. She tells him to get up, get dressed, and get on a plane and meet her in San Francisco - they're going to China! Joe however, thought this was a bad idea and refused to go with her. Undeterred, Joy is going to find her biological father even if: "...he lives in a country of 600 million!"

Joy is dazzled by Z.G. but is totally blind by idealism and defiance and throws herself into the New Society of Red China, heedless of the dangers in the Communist regime.

Distraught by Joy's leaving and terrified for her safety, Pearl is determined to save her daughter, no matter the personal cost. From the crowded city to remote villages, Pearl confronts old demons and almost insurmountable challanges as she follows Joy, hoping for reconciliation.

A beautiful story of a family challenged by tragedy and time, but ultimately united by the resilience of love. Lisa See has a remarkable ability for writing and I've read every book she has written and with each one she just keeps outdoing herself. This is one you won't want to miss.

June 24, 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Lillian teaches cooking classes once a month on Monday nights. She has a rather ecletic group of 8 students. Not all of the students have come to learn how to cook; some have a gift certificate to use up; some are actually looking for a cook rather than learning to be one; some come with a desire to truly learn from the culinary expert; while others actually dream about becoming chefs and giving up their current jobs.

Lillian knew no matter their reason for coming, each one of them, at some point would open their eyes "...with joy or tears or resolution - it always happened." The timing and reason would be different for each, and that's where the fascination lay. "No two spices work the same."

Cooking is Lillian's life and she felt about her "zester" the same way some women do about a pair of spiky red shoes! However, I don't want to tell you "how" Lillian learned to cook because that is an important part of the story and one you will be able to relate too if you're any kind of foodie!

I loved this story! It was like a savoury meal shared with friends. The aroma and flavours of the food matched the conversation and the moods of those participating in the experience. The pungent aroma of spices almost had a hypnotic effect on the chef's preparing the food as they reminisced about times past, current, and future and culminated into a joyous meal we could all enjoy!

June 23, 2011


The story opens up with the folks of Dogtown sitting together in Easter Carter's house. The people of the village had come to grieve, some to snoop, and some to stare in awe at the body of Abraham Wharf. It seems Abraham has committed suicide but lying on the floor by the window, no one can figure out why his body is not covered in blood if he cut his own throat?

Judy Rhines, one of the townswomen lifted the corner piece of yellow gingham that had been placed over his face and chest to wonder again where the blood was? Did someone clean him up?

The Village of Dogtown has quite the sort of oddities as far as its residents go. There is Black Ruth, a woman who dresses like a man and labours as a stonemason; Mrs. Stanley, a haughty woman whose grandson, Sammy, comes of age in her brothel; Oliver Younger, who is fortunate to have survived a horrible childhood at the hands of his aunt; and Cornelius Finson, a freed slave. Smack dab in the middle of all this is our beloved Judy Rhines, a brutually independent woman with a deep lonely soul who tries to build a life for herself against unimaginable odds.

You see, long ago Dogtown was a proud settlement inhabited by fine people. Slowly it turned into a collection of broken huts and hovels lived in by mostly spinsters and widows without children. Stuck there in poverty, the town folk laboured in vain to forage a living selling benies and brews made of roots and twigs. For all their hard work at eeking out a living, they were called "trash eaters" and made fun of all over Cape Ann. They said there wasn't anyone left in Dogtown but "...witches and whores." But, Abraham Wharf had made it his life defending their settlement, and he looked upon himself as Dogtown leader. Abraham was a bitter man.

Life just teems from this novel although we lose some of that life along the way, but we are still left with the super-imposed memories of those we've joined in their most troubled states. Superbly crafted and honed with the skill of a steady plot line that is different and complex at best. Ms. Diamant has depicted the story of Dogtown and its people with a lyrical precision that is hard to find.

June 23 2011

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Sandy Sullivan has accidentally wrapped up her favourite pair of reading glasses and has no idea which box they are in, if any. Maybe they have only become waylaid in this packing nightmare. Sandy is packing up her and her husband Luke's long-time Boston home and moving into a smaller place so they can down-size.

Sandy loves her job as a professional stager and is thrilled when she lands a contract to stage a boutique hotel in Atlanta. Her daughter, Shannon, and her husband, Chance, live in Atlanta so this job will allow Sandy to spend time with her daughter. But then, she learns that Shannon will actually be in Boston for job training which means Sandy will have to live with her son-in-law! This fact does not thrill Sandy at all. Well, it can't be all bad as Sandy's best friend lives there as well and the two of them can get together and fly with some good times, or some not so good times as Sandy is about to find out.

Jay, the man who has hired Sandy to stage his boutique hotel seems like a real nice guy but is he all that he appears?

A hilarious look at family life, friendship and the quirkiness and fun that can flow through your neighbourhood without you even knowing it!

June 22, 2011

Friday, June 17, 2011


This is a true crime story with an unbelievable story to tell. I just can't do this book justice with a review of my own this time so, I'm going to use the synopsis on the back cover. I know that's cheating a little, but I really couldn't put into words any better than it does, the depth, the intrigue and mystery surrounding this entire case.

"True love kills. In the midst of Pennsylvania's Amish country, on a peaceful summer night in 2008, the body of 45-year-old Jan Roseboro was found at the bottom of her backyard pool. Her husband Michael, a successful businessman and member of a prominent family, showed no emotion as he learned of her death. But the next day an autopsy revealed Jan had been savagely beaten and strangled before being tossed in the water to drown. Soon Michael's secret lover, pregnant with his child, stepped into the media spotlight. And a horrifying true story of illicit passion, deadly deceit, and cold-blooded murder unfolded..."

Phelps' account, through numerous interviews, court documents, and other research has made this true crime novel speak. I hope that Jan Roseboro can now rest in peace, somehow knowing that truth finally did prevail and the person responsible for her horrendous murder is now safely ensconced in a United States prison where he belongs!

June 17, 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Any family thinking about adopting a child from China, MUST read this book! It lays out the laws of adoption, gives extremely credible cultural perspective and gives a compassionate voice to and for the many Chinese women who, heartbreakingly, were forced to abandon or place their beloved children in orphanages.

Xinran does an incredible job at addressing the umimaginable heartache and pain millions of Chinese mothers suffered as they were pressured to abandon their children in the street, leave their crying infant on the steps of a run-down and inadequeate orphanage, and even kill their own child!

Unfortunately, these are the realities of China and for every mother there who has lost a child, they carry unbelievable and undeniable pain, anguish, torment, and suffering that at times, drives them to commit suicide.

This is an emotional book that you MUST read! As a non-Chinese mother, this incredible book evoked emotions deep into my soul and awakened feelings I didn't even know I had. My heart truly goes out to the millions of Chinese mothers and daughters everywhere who don't know each other or who wait to someday to meet again on some plane.

June 15, 2011

Monday, June 13, 2011


Thirteen-year-old Lisa learned early in her life the disturbing, gut-wrenching pain betrayal brings when it first hits you. After being summoned to the kitchen one day and told to take a seat by her parents, Peggy and Larry, Lisa saw betrayal fly past her and slam down on the table in front of her, sitting there like a beacon with flashing lights calling all parental misery to stand before her. "What in the HELL is this?!", screamed her mother. Lisa knew she was in deep, deep trouble - it was her diary! Thinking quickly, Lisa began to laugh and told her parents that the contents of the diary were not true, it was just a play she was writing for school. But, her mother knew it was a lie as there it sat, penned in Lisa's own hand-writing, tattling on her like a small child she couldn't defend herself from. Her parents thought the writings were vile and disgusting, just filthy words to them that didn't belong coming out of their daughter's mind and actions.

To Lisa, these mere words were her comfort, like being enveloped in the safety and warmth of a favourite blanket. Words that had meaning and exuded feelings she couldn't deal with on her own. This private diary was the "person" she didn't have to talk too. Her parents would never understand and Lisa knew she was on her way to hell. She felt that everything she had ever trusted in, in her life suddenly became a lie, and had always been a lie and that she just happened to be a fool that didn't catch on soon enough. Lisa felt "...abandoned...stupid, and so alone - surrounded by her so-called family." Where was the concerned, helpful, loving, and understanding voice of her parents? Weren't all parents supposed to have these feelings for their children? Being raised in a Catholic-based family, Lisa supposed, made her parents exempt from possessing these skills. After all, what would the Priest think?

Besides, early on, Lisa felt a sense of "ridicule" from her mother and had quickly learned that undesirable behaviour brought a "quick spanking, a quick pop to the mouth, and back-handing." Unfortunately, Lisa suffered through a lot of this type of physical punishment as she, admittedly, "...had quite the smart mouth." However, Peggy did let up on this type of punishment when Lisa got braces as she was attempting to save on her own financial expenditure. Now, the largest thumb her parents had on Lisa and her younger sister, Sue, was "fear."

Lisa's family wasn't the huggie-kissie type, as kids, you just assumed you were loved because you had a roof over your head, clean clothing, and food on the table.

In 1976, two major events happened in Lisa's life: the first being the birth of her new baby brother who Lisa felt was an intrusion into their already settled family of four; and the second, a new girl in town named Selina to whom Lisa navigated toward like a magnet. This girl exuded respect, was tall, blonde, and had a flawless complexion. Lisa was immediately awestruck and wanted desperately to be part of her life. After offering to help Selina in sewing class, Selina began to notice Lisa and called her name from the school bus when it passed by. Lisa wasn't exactly in the "in-crowd"at school so she was elated when her friendship with Selina took off like a pair of winged wild geese soaring high together. Lisa finally felt included, noticed, wanted, needed and these feelings she had waited a long time to feel. Acceptance was finally hers! It was this relationship with Selina and the things they found to do together that were the basis of the "evil diary" her parents were so up in arms about. Lisa had recorded everything they did together and everywhere they went together.

This was a beautiful coming-of-age memoir that shows one lonely girls need to be loved and accepted multiplied in ways the reader would never have thought possible. I was mesmerized by the unique writing style of Ms. Vaughn and how she could evoke in me emotions of pain, fear, sorrow, joy, happiness and everything that Lisa felt. I will remember Lisa's story for a long time to come! By the end of the memoir, you will completely understand why the title: "The Gifted Ones" is so appropriate for this special memoir.

For more information about Lisa's book please go to: http://www.thegiftedonesmemoir.blogspot.com/

***Special Note: I'd like to say a special "thank you" to Lisa Vaughn for asking me to review her book and sending me this copy.***

June 13, 2011

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Twenty-nine-year-old Lily Lin lives in New York and works at the Shun Lee Palace as a waitress and makes $25,000 dollars a year. She lives in a small, rent-controlled studio apartment only 3 blocks from work, had a married boyfriend, Chris Adams, and was happy with her life except for maxed out credit cards and an unfinished novel she's been writing.

A year before, Lily had buried both her parents. Her father died of liver cancer and her mother of a massive heart attack a few months after her father passed away. At the time she was attending New York University working on her MFA degree. Since she had to travel to Hong Kong to bury both her parents, her creative writing teacher, turned lover, allowed Lily to graduate although she hadn't quite completed her novel, which was a requirement for her degree.

Upon returning home from work one day, Lily found a letter in her mail from a law firm in Manhatten called: "Mills and Mann" informing her that she was to receive a large sum of money - three million dollars!! The letter explained her benefactor was an aunt named Mindy Madison. Of course, Lily immediately thought it was some sort of joke as neither of her parents had ever mentioned any aunt. Besides that, Madison wasn't her mother's name which was Cai and hers was Lin. This was just too good to be true. She stuffed the letter in a book on her desk and put the whole thing out of her mind.

Two days later, Lily arrived home from work to find a message on her answering machine from a David Mann. He said he was from Mills and Mann Associates and was asking Lily to contact him about a large sum of money from her aunt, Mindy Madison.

The following day Lily went to their office and spoke with David Mann who told her this was very real, but there was more she needed to know. Her aunt had a stipulation in order for Lily to collect the $3 million dollars. She had to travel to China along the ancient "Silk Road" and was required to retrace the same routes her aunt took years before in order to collect the money. However, $50,000 dollars would be given to her now to finance the trip. Lily was also to finish this trip and the tasks required along the way in 6 to 8 months. She would get some information now and the rest of the itinerary and information when she reached China and met with another lawyer there named, Mr. Lo in Beijing. Lily agreed to the trip and signed the required documents.

A few of the tasks she had to complete were: scraping a small piece of clay from one of the famous terra cotta warriors; retrieve something at the edge of the Taklamakan desert; meet a blind fortune-teller on a certain mountain and tell him nothing but lies about everything. A week later, Lily was packed and on her way to China to begin this odd and dangerous journey.

This was an absolutely amazing journey and one of the best books I've read this year!!! You will be absolutely mesmerized by this story and will be shocked out of your chair at the ending. Please don't miss this one!

June 8, 2010

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Abby and Daniel Graber are a happy Amish family. They have two beautiful children together: six-year-old Laura, and four-year-old Jake. Abby is a midwife but isn't allowed to totally birth babies on her own and can only assist Dr. Weller.

One evening Abby receives a phone call from a man named Nathan Fisher. He and his wife Ruth had recently rented the old Levi Yoder place, after Mr. Yoder had passed away. Nathan requested that Abby come to see his wife as she was in active labour and about to birth their baby. Knowing she isn't allowed to do this on her own, Abby advised Nathan to contact the doctor's office but Nathan was insistent telling Abby his wife was: "...crying out and is in a lot of pain." Nathan indicated things had progressed too far to try and track the doctor down. Abby then suggested he call 911 for an ambulance or she could make the call for him. Nathan explains that his wife, Ruth, won't go to a hospital. Annoyed, Nathan tells Abby: "If you don't want to help us, then don't come..." Finally, Abby relents and heads for the Fisher farm in her buggy.

During Abby's four-mile drive, she tried calling Dr. Weller but was told by his answering service that he was stuck in a multi-car pile-up on the interstate, and would be tied up in an emergency at the hospital all night. The answering service suggested Abby call the paramedics.

Nathan Fisher met Abby outside, told her he'd take care of her horses and could she please go inside immediately as his wife was: "...hurting real bad."

Once inside the house Abby put her bag on the table and called 911. She told the dispatcher she had a woman in labour and needed an ambulance right away and provided the address. After scrubbing her hands, Abby found Ruth inside the bedroom in advanced stages of labour. Sweat ran down the woman's face, the room was hot and airless, and filled with a coppery smell of blood. Abby noticed Ruth's complexion was the colour of skim milk, her hair was damp and clung to her head like saran wrap. Abby pulled off the blankets and: "...her words and breath froze in her throat. There was a lot of blood - too much." It was actually pooling on the soaking wet sheet. Abby told Ruth that she was NOT alllowed to birth babies on her own. When Nathan returned from outside, Abby told him to call 911 again and tell them we need that ambulance "right now!" Abby instructed Nathan to ensure he told them his wife was hemorrhaging.

As Abby was examining Ruth, Ruth grabbed her arm and said: "Save my baby. Don't worry about me." Her words were barely audible. Abby knew that if the placenta tore away from the uterine wall in just the right place at just the right time, Ruth could lose enough blood within 15 minutes to die. Abby knew this was what was happening.

Wasting no time, Abby told Ruth to start pushing because this baby needed to come out now! Miraculously the baby boy slid out and began breathing on his own as soon as Abby cleaned the mucus from his nose and mouth. Abby showed Ruth her newborn baby son and saw a slight flicker of a smile cross her face. Then Ruth lapsed into unconcsciousness, her breathing grew thin and raspy while her blood continued to pool. Abby wrapped the baby in a blanket, handed him to Nathan and told him to go and wait for the ambulance. Once gone, without hesitation Abby pulled a "prefilled syringe" from her bag and injected Ruth with a powerful drug to stop the hemorrhaging...a drug she wasn't supposed to have. By the time the ambulance arrived 10 minutes later, "Ruth had no discernable pulse or even a wisp of breath." The ambulance had arrived and taken over but despite their best efforts, Ruth had passsed on. Abby tired and exhausted went home to bed.

The following day Abby and Daniel were returning home when they saw a Sheriff's car with the lights flashing parked in front of their house. Abby jumped from the buggy, ran to the Sheriff to inquire about her children. Fortunately, Laura and Jake were fine, but Abby wasn't. The Sheriff was there to arrest her for injecting the medication into Ruth Fisher the day before.

Sitting in a jail cell charged with felonies and other charges, Abby ponders her future and that of her children.

June 7, 2011

Friday, June 3, 2011

I WON MY "FIRST' BLOG AWARD!!!" Woooo-hooooo!!!!!!

I am so excited!!!! I WON my very first blog award THANK TO RAE over at 'TheBestOBooks', http://thebestobooks.blogspot.com/ Please be sure to check out her website, it's FANTASTIC and full of all kinds of interesting tid-bits.

Hmm....Now I'm supposed to tell 7 random facts about myself:

1. I'm disabled and totally housebound thanks to an injury at my nursing job 7 years ago. I was attacked by a patient and suffer with intense pain.
2. I was just (May 5th/2011) diagnosed with Complex Partial Seizure Disorder.
3. I've been married to my wonderful husband, Vic, for 32 happy and loving years!
4. We have two boys: Mike (21) and Rob (19)
5. I have three dogs: "Nellie" is a 9-year-old German Shepherd, "Buddy" is a 2-year-old Black Labrador and "Maggie" is an 11-month-old Chihuahua and "yes" they play together! The big dogs are kind and very gentle with little Maggie.
6. I translate university papers for students in Italy, Austria and Slovakia.
7. I make grammar booklets for children in two villages in Tanzania through a non-profit organization called "Hearts in Unity". I make grammar booklets by translating Swahili words into English words. Quite often up to 25-50 children must share ONE grammar booklet. Anyone can make these, why not get involved yourself, it's a very humbling experience. I also write letters and postcards to the children in two different villages. One village is at the bottom of Mt. Meru and the other Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Now I get to do the really fun and exciting part, nominating "15" other people to share this honourable award with! Is YOUR name here??

1. My Life In Stories
2. Here There Be Fantasies
3. Adrian's Drift
4. Let's Book It
5. My Library of Thoughts
6. The Open Page
7. Waking At Dawn
8. Book Savvy Babe
9. Magic of Reading
10. Sarah's Book Shelves
11. So Many Books, So Little Time
12. Jess Free Falcon
13. The Fictionators
14. Trees and Ink
15. Hannah E. Carson

CONGRATULATIONS to all the new winners of "The Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award"! It is something to be proud of, I know I am.

An extra special THANK YOU to Rae for all she put up with me being a total geek-a-zoid in not knowing how to pick up the award. Rae, you went above and beyond, and the level of your patience was truly that of an angel and for that, I humbly say a very, very special "Thank You" my friend!!

June 3, 2011

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


The story starts in Wilmington, North Carolina in September of 2010. Noelle is planning to commit suicide that night. She said she had no idea that: "...this would be the day she could no longer carry the weight?" Noelle was sitting outside under the moon whispering out loud: "I love you world." The weight of her secret was pressing down on her hard. She turned off her computer and got everything ready and was spending one last time outside under the stars.

Tara has just lost her lawyer husband, Sam, in a car accident and she is grieving. Ian, one of their good friends is taking over Sam's cases and has been at the house a lot going through the case files he had at home.

Grace, Tara and Sam's daughter is avoiding her mother at all costs, she was much closer to her Dad than she is to her Mom, so she too is grieving. But not helping matters is the fact Grace's boyfriend broke up with her before he left for college sending Grace into a whirlwind of more grief, aggravation, and anxiety. Grace is also annoyed because Noelle has been emailing her non-stop asking Grace and Sam's daughter, Jenny, to: "...make things for her babies-need-program and they want no part of it. About an hour later Tara's friend Emerson calls to ask her if she has heard from or seen Noelle? Tara tells her she hasn't spoken to her in 3 days and Emerson says Noelle was supposed to stop by her place last night but never showed up nor called. She was now in her car on her way over to Noelle's house to ask why she didn't show up the evening before. Noelle was a midwife but had given it up a year ago when she started her "babies-in-need program". Giving up her midwifery meant she had to live on her savings.

What Emerson, Tara, Ian, and Grace learn about Noelle will blow your socks off!!! "This was an intensely engaging story of three people with a tragic past, complicated present and an unknown future who must struggle with trust, betrayal, and forgiveness."

June 1, 2011