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Hi! My name is Margot. My blog is about the things I love to do. That could be what I'm reading, places we visit, my family, food, or whatever else is happening. I hope you'll stay and visit a while. Contact me by email: joyfullyretired (at) gmail (dot) com.

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"I read so I can live more than one life in more than one place." - Anne Tyler

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Book Review: Rooted In Love: An Amish Garden Novella

Rooted in LoveBeth Wiseman
Published by Thomas Nelson, June 2014

Every once in a while I like reading a good Christian Romance. Back in 2009 I read Beth Wiseman’s debut novel, Plain Perfect. It was a well written, thoughtful Amish story, but I lost track of her writing in the intervening years. When I saw her latest story advertised, I decided to check it out.

Rooted In Love is the story of Rosemary and Saul. They’ve known each other most of their lives. In fact, they dated for a few months when they were sixteen. Rosemary broke it off after overhearing something negative about Saul. He has always wondered what went wrong.

After the break-up Rosemary’s mother died and, as the eldest girl, it was her job to take charge of the household work and also the care of her father and younger brothers. She’s had no time for herself.

Because of a simple accident Rosemary’s father’s ankle is broken. Saul feels responsible so he offers to finish the spring planting on the farm. Rosemary’s father asks Saul to also put in a vegetable garden. Suddenly, Saul is back in Rosemary’s life on a daily basis. That’s okay with Saul because he has never stopped loving Rosemary. He wants time to break through her reserves and somehow convince her to spend the rest of their lives together.

Rooted In Love was a lovely, satisfying story. It had the religious element without being preachy. I like the simple life featured in Amish lifestyle stories. The love story is always a basic one. No sophisticated games being played or double entendres.

I have only one complaint. The author described vegetables brought over by a neighbor that were out-of-seeason. It was spring in Pennsylvania and there is no way the neighbor would be able to bring tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini from her garden at that time of year. It’s simply too cold. It’s a minor issue but it bothered me.

The main part of the story, the romance, was done beautifully. If you are interested in Beth Wiseman’s books, I recommend starting with her first one, Plain  Perfect. To read my review, go here: Plain Perfect

Wondrous Words #266

WWWEvery week word-lovers post new words they’ve discovered while reading. It’s called Wondrous Words Wednesday and was created by Kathy at Bermuda Onion’s Weblog. Here’s what I found last week:

I have a daily email subscription called Sight Psalms. Every day I receive a photo that’s matched with a word and  thought for the day. It’s linked to a scripture or phrase from the Bible. It makes for a nice pause in my day. One day last week one of the emails caught my attention with a new-to-me word:

SYMBIOSIS:  Creation continually demonstrates God’s intention for us to work in harmony with one another.

From the sentence I got part of the definition, but the  photo (seem here) made me think there was a biological definition. I found there are two definitions.

Symbiosis is a biological term meaning the interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association, typically to the advantage of both. I like that. Symbiosis can also be used with people. It is a mutually beneficial relationship that can exist between different people or groups.

Sight Psalms is a ministry of The Upper Room, a division of the General Board of Discipleship of the United Methodist Church.

That’s it for me this week. I hope you found some words worth celebrating. Feel free to join Wondrous Words Wednesday. Be sure to visit Kathy for the details.

First Paragraph: One Summer: America, 1927

firstparagraphDiane at Bibliophile By the Sea asks us to share the first paragraph of a book we are reading. As you can see it’s called First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday Intros. As readers we are often captivated or turned away by that first paragraph or two. Let’s see what you think about the first paragraph of my current read.

I’m currently reading One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson. I’m thoroughly enjoying it. Here’s how it begins:

 One Summer    Ten days before he became so famous that crowds would form around any building that contained him and waiters would fight over a corncob left on his dinner plate, no one had heard of Charles Lindbergh. The New York Times had mentioned him once, in the context of the coming Atlantic flights. It had misspelled his name.

     The news that transfixed the nation as spring gave way to summer in 1927 was a gruesome murder in a modest family home on Long Island, coincidentally quite close to Roosevelt Field, where the Atlantic fliers were now gathering. The newspapers, much excited, called it the Sash Weight Murder Case.

What do you think?

Would you keep reading?

Celebrating In Wyoming

Teton 8:2014This year my husband and I passed our fiftieth year as a married couple. We did not want a big fancy party wearing uncomfortable clothes. That’s not us. We are a camping couple and have both camped our whole lives. What we wanted was to gather the whole family and camp at Grand Teton National Park. It’s the place where Jay and I spent our honeymoon. We’ve been back many, many times over the years, but it’s been awhile since we all camped together there. And that’s what we did. We found two large camp sites right next to each other at the Colter Bay Campground. We gathered all the tents, the sleeping bags and all the other camping gear. We even brought some extra firewood for our nightly campfire. We did a variety of activities around the Park.

On Snake RiverGranddaughter Lou, son Christopher and me

(I have no idea what Lou is squishing her nose about.)

One of our traditions is to take a river rafting trip down the Snake River which winds its way all through the Park. We were a big enough group this time to have the whole raft and guide to ourselves. There is nothing like being on that river, completely away from civilization.

Bald EagleFifty years ago, on our first trip, we saw two bald eagles. We were thrilled as the birds were on the Endangered Species List. This trip we saw so many I lost count. Best of all, bald eagles are no longer on the Endangered List. Lou on the SnakeThe rafting trip is also a good place to spot back-country animals like moose, elk, and bear, although not on this trip. This time of year the river doesn’t have as much white-water as it does in June. We had a lull on the trip so our guide took a little break and let our youngest granddaughter take over. As you can see, Lou had a great time and kept us right on target. Cody RodeoWe spent time visiting Yellowstone National Park where we saw lots of buffalo up close and a little too personal. Jay and I visited Cody (east of Yellowstone), which is something we did fifty years ago. They still have a nightly rodeo with the flag drill team and daring cowboys with bunking-broncos and mean-spirited bulls. Trail TownNew (to us) in Cody is a collection of antique, old-western areas buildings that have been rescued from various places in Wyoming. Most people these days visit Cody to enjoy what is now called Buffalo Bill Center of the West. It’s grown into a big center with five museums: Buffalo Bill’s, Whitney Western Art, Firearms, Plains Indians, and Natural History. There is also a big Research Center. People spend days/weeks here. J&M 50 YearsAlthough we didn’t want or expect gifts from anyone, our kids got together and created a special book for us, Jay and Margot Fifty Years: A Life Well Camped. It’s filled with photos spanning our lives together along with family sayings and a rewrite of my favorite poem, The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. This book is an absolute treasure for both of us. Well, we’re home now. The tents and other gear are dry and aired out. We’re still sorting out all the photos and bringing back the memories. This celebration will stay with us for a long time.

 

Book Review: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

LandlinePublisher: St. Martin’s Press, July 2014

Since I loved both Eleanor and Park and FanGirl, I was disposed to also love Landline. And, I did. Landline is different from the other two, however. The first two books are both Young Adult novels and Landline is clearly aimed toward an adult audience.

Here’s my summary of Landline:

Georgie is a screen writer in Hollywood who works obsessively with her best friend Seth. They have a couple of TV shows that have done well, but they don’t seem to be satisfied. They are constantly working hard for their big break.

Georgie has been married to Neal for nearly fifteen years. They have two sweet little girls. Georgie’s career has been the main focus over time and Neal has become the house-husband. He’s done a superb job at it and isn’t necessarily unhappy about it. He does, however, feel as if he is often taken for granted.

Everything comes to a head one Christmas. The family had been planning to spend the holiday visiting Neal’s family in Omaha. But then, Georgie and Seth have a chance to create a new special show that means they must work through Christmas. It’s the last straw for Neal. He takes the girls and goes to Omaha anyway.

This move on Neal’s part really shakes up Georgie. She has a hard time thinking and writing. As they say, she slips into a real funk. She can’t bear to stay at her house, so she stays with her mom, which is another whole story.

Georgie’s mom has a landline phone which Georgie uses to call Neal when her iPhone dies. Something magical happens when they talk on the landline – it’s as if they are having conversations at the beginning of their relationship. The reader gets a good look at how they met, how the relationship developed, and what’s important to both of them.

My Thoughts:

As I already said, I loved this book. Rainbow Rowell creates characters that makes me so sympathetic to them and their problems. The story is told through Georgie’s voice and thoughts but seems to be told almost exclusively in dialogue. The language is modern and honest. (Meaning, there are a few f words.)

Landline was also a good honest analysis of a fifteen-year marriage. Having just celebrated our fiftieth year of marriage, I may be a bit more sensitive on the subject. Nevertheless, I think anyone who cares about good, long-term relationships will gain something from Landline.

Several reviewers have negatively compared Landline to the author’s previous books. I find that unfair. This is an adult novel and should be examined in that light. Ms. Rowell hasn’t changed the way she creates characters or plots a story. This is still a novel created with the same high quality standards as her previous stories. So, if you loved Fangirl or Eleanor and Park, you’ll love Landline. Don’t pay attention to the negative reviews.

I listened to Landline. I think, with all the dialogue and Georgie’s voice, it was the best way to experience this book. It was beautifully read by narrator Rebecca Lowman.

Wondrous Words #265

WWWEvery week word-lovers post new words they’ve discovered while reading. It’s called Wondrous Words Wednesday and was created by Kathy at Bermuda Onion’s Weblog.

I just finished reading Yankee Club by Michael Murphy.  I really liked it and will tell you about it tomorrow. It’s set during Prohibition so I expected some new words from the era. The author only gave me one:

fop:  “I’m insulted you think I could fall for such a pompous self-centered fop.”

A fop is a man who is concerned with his clothes and appearance in an affected and excessive way; a dandy.

Sorry I only found one word this week, but I hope you found some words worth celebrating. Feel free to join Wondrous Words Wednesday. Be sure to visit Kathy for the details.

First Paragraph: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

This is the year I became a fan of Rainbow Rowell, along with many other readers. She has given me many hours of pleasure with Fangirl and Eleanor and Park. Naturally, I was eager to read her newest book. I’m only on the first few pages, so the verdict is still out. I’m sharing the beginning paragraphs with you. Read and tell me what you think:

Landline   Georgie pulled into the driveway, swerving to miss a bike.

   Neal never made Alice put it away.

   Apparently bicycles never got stolen back in Nebraska — and people never tried to break in to your house. Neal didn’t even lock the front door most nights until after Georgie came home, though she’d told him that was like putting a sign in the yard that said PLEASE ROB US AT GUNPOINT. “No,” he’d said. “That would be different, I think.”

   She hauled the bike up onto the porch and opened the (unlocked) door.

 What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

This post is linked to First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intro sponored by Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea.

firstparagraph

Book Review: Yankee Club by Michael Murphy

Yankee ClubPublisher: Alibi/Random House, August 12, 2014

As you know, I love a good mystery. I especially love a smart detective=style mystery whether he/she is a professional or an amateur. That’s exactly what I found in this brand-new novel. Jake Donovan and his loyal friends are smart and savvy and eager to take on all the bad guys. Here’s the summary of the story:

In Michael Murphy’s action-packed Prohibition-era novel of suspense, a mystery writer returns to the bright lights and dark alleys of New York City—uncovering a criminal conspiracy of terrifying proportions.
 

In 1933, America is at a crossroads: Prohibition will soon be history, organized crime is rampant, and President Roosevelt promises to combat the Great Depression with a New Deal. In these uncertain times, former-Pinkerton-detective-turned-bestselling-author Jake Donovan is beckoned home to Manhattan. He has made good money as the creator of dashing gumshoe Blackie Doyle, but the price of success was Laura Wilson, the woman he left behind. Now a Broadway star, Laura is engaged to a millionaire banker—and waltzing into a dangerous trap.
 


Before Jake can win Laura back, he’s nearly killed—and his former partner is shot dead—after a visit to the Yankee Club, a speakeasy dive in their old Queens neighborhood. Suddenly Jake and Laura are plunged into a conspiracy that runs afoul of gangsters, sweeping from New York’s private clubs to the halls of corporate power and to the White House itself. Brushing shoulders with the likes of Dashiell Hammett, Cole Porter, and Babe Ruth, Jake struggles to expose an inconspicuous organization hidden in plain sight, one determined to undermine the president and change the country forever.

My thoughts:

This is one of the best detective stories I’ve read in quite a while. I was seduced by Jake Donovan within the first few pages. Jake is both the narrator and star of the story. He has a witty, sarcastic attitude, and he brags while at the same time being a bit self-deprecating. He’s very loyal to his old friends and they to him. He also wears his heart on his sleeve for his life-long love, Laura. The reader can’t help but hope for the best for these two.

The plot is full of surprises and lots of twists and turns. At first I thought this was going to be one of those regular solve-the-murder mysteries. Within a few chapters clues began to unfold and the story turned into a much bigger and better one. Jake suddenly finds himself with a case involving a national conspiracy that could endanger the Roosevelt government. I’m not going to say more as I’ll spoil it for you. I will tell you that it was a real OMG moment for me and it kept me glued to the book until the end.

The author obviously did a ton of research to pull off such a believable story. He fit in actual events that were happening at the time. However, I think he occasionally went a bit too far when it came to real people. This is my only criticism. I was okay with the inclusion of the Dashiel Hammett character. After all, they were both writers. But Jake being the inspiration for a Cole Porter song and new Broadway show? It just didn’t “sit” with me.

In spite of that little complaint, I loved this novel. All of the characters are people I liked spending time with. Fortunately, Yankee Club is the first book in an upcoming series. That’s good news. It’ll give me a chance to spend more time with Jake and Laura and, hopefully, Gino and the rest of the gang.

I highly recommend Yankee Club by Michael Murphy.

Thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book and to TLC Book Tours for allowing me to be a part of it all. To see other stops on the book tour, visit the schedule here: TLC Book Tours

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Book Review: The New Men by Jon Enfield

New Men
What the book is about
:

For us, the new man, he is one of two things. First, he is the new worker, a man we instruct and investigate until his probation is complete. But also he is an idea. In the foundry, they make parts. On the line, they make autos. But in Sociological, we make men.

Tony Grams comes to America at the start of the twentieth century, set on becoming a new man. Driven to leave poverty behind, he lands a job at the Ford Motor Company that puts him at the center of a daring social and economic experiment.

The new century and the new auto industry are bursting with promise, and everyone wants Henry Ford’s Model T. But Ford needs men to make it. Better men. New men. Men tough enough and focused enough to handle the ever-bigger, ever-faster assembly line. Ford offers to double the standard wage for men who will be thrifty, sober, and dedicated… and who will let Ford investigators into their homes to confirm it.

Tony has just become one of those investigators. America and Ford have helped him build a new life, so at first he’s eager to get to work. But world war, labor strife, and racial tension pit his increasingly powerful employer against its increasingly desperate enemies.

As Tony and his family come under threat from all sides and he faces losing everything he’s built, he must struggle with his conscience and his weaknesses to protect the people he loves.

My thoughts about the book:

I was looking forward to reading this book. I loved the concept of it from a professional point of view. I’m a retired Human Resource professional and I liked the idea of closely examining the changes in the workforce when a whole list of dynamics have been changed.

I also like the stories of immigrants and how they assimilate into the new country. Neither one of these two concepts came through for me. Unfortunately, the book didn’t work for me. I had a difficult time connecting. There were times when the story seemed disjointed, skipping around a bit too much for me. I wanted to love The New Men, but I just couldn’t.

Published by Wayzgoose Press (May 14, 2014)

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for my copy of the book. To read the opinions of other reviewers, visit the tour schedule here:  TLC book Tours

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Wondrous Words #264

WWWEvery week word-lovers post new words they’ve discovered while reading. It’s called Wondrous Words Wednesday and was created by Kathy at Bermuda Onion’s Weblog.

While on vacation, I didn’t do as much reading as I thought I would. And, I only found one new-to-me word. Fortunately, it’s a good one I found while reading The New Men by Jon Enfield.

peculation:  Father truly had been, guilty of peculation or merely of supporting the new regime before it had enough power to protect him.

Peculation is a derivative of peculate which means to embezzle or steal.

That’s it for me this week. I hope you also found some new words in your reading adventures. Don’t forget to visit Kathy at Bermuda Onion.