Sunday, December 21, 2014

Mariana by Susanna Kearsely

 


"Try looking with your soul, instead. The soul sees what truly matters."


Mariana
by Susanna Kearsley
copyright: 2012 (Sourcebooks)
pages: 364
source: library
format: paperback

Finished reading..... September 11, 2014


Description: The first time Julia Beckett saw Greywethers she was only five, but she knew that it was her house. And now that she’s at last become its owner, she suspects that she was drawn there for a reason. As if Greywethers were a portal between worlds, she finds herself transported into seventeenth-century England, becoming Mariana, a young woman struggling against danger and treachery, and battling a forbidden love. Each time Julia travels back, she becomes more enthralled with the past...until she realizes Mariana’s life is threatening to eclipse her own, and she must find a way to lay the past to rest or lose the chance for happiness in her own time.


First Sentence: I first saw the house in the summer of my fifth birthday.


My thoughts: Here goes the gushing..... Simply, wow! This book demands a re-read. I didn't see that coming; the ending. I want to re-read Mariana so I can soak in the story with the knowledge I now have; to actually see the how the ending threaded together with all the details that I did not put together. Such a good book; that statement is simplifying it. Wow.


I loved this story. Yes, I did. But I must say, it did have it's moments when I was a tad bored or thought it was a bit far fetched. But, yet again, Kearsley's writing abilities kept my eyes glued to the pages. I am grateful for that because, man oh man, this book thoroughly sucked me into this pages albeit that didn't happen until a bit shy of the half way point. But, boy oh boy, was I ever glued to every word for the last part of this story. My heart raced and wow! Wow!


So. Julia. Yes, Julia was very much a character whose narration drove the story. She grabbed my attention from the first page. I immediately connected with her. Every character was endearing, in some way, well, except for Mariana's uncle. Mariana....that character thrilled me. She simply did. Richard, Ahhh.....he definitely caught my attention. Geoff....he was written well, fit the part. Every single one of the characters added layers to the story which added to the intensity of wondering what will be the end result for all. I seriously thought I knew the ending, but nope...I did not and then the story was done. And I was left with a sense of awe...of wow!....of "I need to re-read this book."


Mariana ranks as one of my favorite Kearsley books; truly fed my geek love for historical and time-slip fiction by smoothly weaving the past and present, journeying back into 17th century England and providing twists to the plot. By end of the book, I was in reading bliss.


Bottom line: The ending left me speechless; stunned by what I did not see coming and in a very good and excellent way. The story left me savoring the woven layers. I am a Kearsley fan; her storytelling abilities lend itself beautifully for immersing myself into characters and worlds that offer me moments of sweet reading satisfaction. And, upon reading the last word, I was in the awesome zone of sweet reading satisfaction.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Every Secret Thing by Emma Cole



"I believe there are no random meetings in our lives – that everyone we touch, who touches us, has been put in our path for a reason. The briefest encounter can open a door, or heal a wound, or close a circle that was started long before your birth."



Every Secret Thing
by Emma Cole
copyright: 2006
pages: 403
format: paperback
source: library

Finished reading..... September 14, 2014


Description: When an old man strikes up a conversation with her on the steps of St. Paul's and makes a mystifying mention of murder and an oddly familiar comment about her grandmother, Kate Murray is intrigued. But she never gets to hear the rest of Andrew Deacon's tale. Shocked by his unexpected death, she wonders whom this strange, old man is, and what the odd reference to her grandmother could mean. Interest piqued by the story never told, Kate becomes drawn into an investigation, uncovering secrets about the grandmother she thought she knew and a man she never did. Soon she is caught up in a dangerous whirlwind of events that takes her back into her grandmother's mysterious wartime past and across the Atlantic as she tries to retrace Deacon's footsteps. Finding out the truth is not so simple, however, as only a few people are still alive who know the story and Kate soon realizes that her questions are putting their lives in danger. Stalked by an unknown and sinister enemy, and facing death every step of the way, Kate must use her tough journalistic instinct to find the answers from the past in order to have a future.


First sentence: I've been told, by people more experienced at writing, that the hardest part of telling my story is the search for its beginning, and its end.


My Thoughts: Oh my...this book...soooo good. Seriously is. I wasn't sure what I was getting into when I started reading this book. But I did know it was written by Emma Cole which really means Susanna Kearsely whose writing I absolutely love. So, with that knowledge in hand, I eagerly dove into this book. I was not disappointed! Not at all.


Every Secret Thing is a mystery that starts off right away with an intrigue full of tension. I loved the mix of past and present along with the mystery and the heart-tugging romance. I immediately engaged with Kate; I became fond of her. Deacon...he too brought me into his world; I became very fond of him as well. Their stories beautifully tied together the threads of past, present, romance and mystery.


What I absolutely loved about Every Secret Thing was that while there was a romance thread -- and oh how I became attached to the romance -- it wasn't the main thread in the story. The main thread being the mystery which the underlying romance enhanced Kate's journey of solving the mystery at hand.


Now, I am not the quickest mystery/suspense reader. I tend to stay with the main character as the mystery is solved. I very rarely know who's done it until the reveal. Even so, I think this book did a great job unwrapping the secret, and did so on its own terms. Not only was the mystery angle suspense-fully written, the characters were also written fabulously.


Kate's journey from first meeting Deacon all the way to end of her unfolding the entire story - the mystery within, the solving of a crime - held me tightly. I couldn't put the book down. I sighed with sadness, and hopefulness many times throughout the book. I was extremely pleased with the ending even though sadness was an underlying emotion.


Bottom line: Every Secret Thing was a journey full of intrigue and suspense with a heartwarming and endearing romance that brought engaging and believable characters. I was very much moved.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Gifting.....teachers, staff

 
 
 

Teacher gifts stress me, every year. But not this year; easy peasy, cost effective, and expresses our gratitude. And, best of all, the ideas fell into my lap; I did not pour over idea after idea before making a decision. Whew!


Grace came up with her own idea. Love that! Yay! I love when my child takes ownership; Ferraro Rocher chocolates, a candle and homemade card by Grace. It's a gift from her heart to her teacher, and that I think is very cool.


For Isaiah, there are nine people on his team (including bus driver & bus aide) which can become very costly. Yet, each of them deserves our thanks. They all play an important role in his educational environment...in his life. The gift is easily assembled; Starbucks gift card placed inside one of their reusable cups with peppermints added and a "Thanks a Latte for all that you do" printable secured to the top of the lid. This idea came to me via Pinterest and printables via Skip to my Lou. It is a simple way to say thanks, we appreciate your role in our child's life. Plus, it's aesthetically pleasing, and that appealed to me greatly.


I am very pleased with how these gifts turned out; simple, cost effective and conveys our gratefulness for all the efforts poured into our children (especially with Isaiah).


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Half-Century

 
 

December 10, 2014 marked the day that Robert turned 50 years old. A half-century! Man, he is getting old. I so love teasing him; he will always be older than me. Seriously though, he's a great 50 year old man. Geesh....just looking at that last sentence makes me pause because,really, there is no way that he is 50....50....that is so odd to say. I have now been with Robert for more than half his life. Besides, he really is not old. The man is quite active, and able to do so many things. I am thankful for his physical abilities....for his health. But Dude, you gotta stop all the tripping you've been doing since you turned 50. :-)


So strange to me how the last 26 years has clicked away so incredibly fast.


 
 
 

Fifty is no age to sneeze at...it's huge! So, we celebrated. Nothing crazy, because well, we are not crazy sort of folk. We are fairly laid-back; dressing up is not really us (although, we do dress up on occasion). We celebrated in our home with our kids, my parents, and my sister's family. I made Italian beef sandwiches, salad, and we bought a cheese pizza (didn't think we bought enough meat). My mom made a very yummy cake. No joke, it was super yummy.


 
 

Benjamin and I gifted Robert a Road Bike. It was Ben's idea, he approached me about it several months back. A fabulous idea that I jumped at seeing how Robert has been drooling over Road Bikes for months...months! Benji did a great job picking out the bike. He and I purchased it on November 24th...it was great fun knowing we had the bike in hand for a couple weeks; Robert knew nothing about it. Was Robert surprised? You bet he was.


 
 
 
 

We topped the evening off with attending Elliana's High School Band Holiday Concert. A great way to end the evening. I do feel much joy watching and listening her play the trombone with her band.



The 50th Birthday celebrations did not end on December 10th, nope. I planned a surprise get away for the two of us. Set up Isaiah care (and Grace) with my fabulous friend Jody, and planned school send offs and such with the girls. Thursday morning I gave Robert a note stating how thankful I am in all circumstances, and that Thursday's circumstances were...he and I were going to Starved Rock for two days (one night). He was very pleased. And me? It felt like my birthday because I was very excited for us to be getting away too. I sort of felt guilty about the fact that this trip was not just for him, it was for me too. I told him that I felt a bit guilty about that. He replied with saying that he wouldn't want to spend his time with anyone else but me. It was a fun two day get away with the man who truly loves me. It really was like my birthday; I felt like I was given a huge gift.



Starved Rock. Oh my....such a great and fabulous time! We had so much fun spending these past two days together, alone. I like going to the theater to see plays (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is my favorite) and seeing the Nutcracker at this time of year is the thing to do. But the truth is, the Nutcracker bores me, and venturing into the city to see a play is not so thrilling for me right now. Robert doesn't like plays, and the Nutcracker - yeah, right. Going out to dinner is fun, at times. Bars and dancing, we don't do. So for his birthday getaway celebration, plays and ballet and bars and dancing, and all that were not for us. But this....Starved Rock.....is us. We love bike riding, and going on walks and hikes. We love being outdoors. We both love being active, albeit, he is more active than me. Starved Rock was the perfect way to continue with Robert's 50th Birthday celebration. Time alone was much needed. We had fun connecting with each other; bike riding, walking, hiking, reading, eating, talking...lots of talking...and well other things, you know. I love doing these things with him. It was an exciting, fun and excellent two days.


 


We have been to Starved Rock before for Robert's 40th birthday. It was fitting to go back for his 50th. We joked about going back when he turns 60; we better stay in shape because Starved Rock is best experienced with hiking, and there are some mighty steep inclines to walk up.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



Happy 50th Birthday, Robert!

You a man of integrity, and strong character. You are sincerely humble, and love selflessly with kindness, patience, perseverance, and hope. You do not keep a record of wrongs, and nor do you demand love to be given to you to meet your own self ambition. You have shown me much grace and mercy, and you continue to do so. You are the man you are today because of your love for God, our Lord our Savior. Without Him we would be nothing. I pray that you (we) continue to always seek God,daily. Seek to be in His Will with all that you (we) do. And, I pray for your health; may God bless you with a long and vibrant life. (Wouldn't it be awesome if you were skateboarding and pretty darn active well into your 70s, 80s and 90s like Louie Zamperini? Yes, it would be very awesome)

I give thanks to God for you; His provision to me.

Love, Deanna

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Photo montage.....


On our way to Starved Rock; 2 1/2 hour drive.

 
 
 
Thursday afternoon; our cabin...our failed cabin. The inside was nice, and the bathroom was rather large comparatively speaking to total cabin size. But, Thursday night around 10pm, when we returned to the cabin from dinner and hanging out in the Great Room we discovered that our cabin no longer had heat. Add to that fact, the wifi internet did not really work and that was disappointing to us. Needless to say, we did not stay overnight in the cabin, we moved to a King Size Bed Lodge room. The lodge room was very nice; clean (as was the cabin), fabulous bed, and working wifi. I am not a big fan of sleeping in hotel room type beds....they sort of creep me out when you actually have to get under the sheets, but this bed was very comfy with good sheets and wonderful pillows. We slept well, albeit not for very long.

 
 
After we checked in, we went off for a bike ride; about 7 miles. We had a nice time riding...man was there a huge incline; I couldn't ride all the way up and had to walk about half. But, we were disappointed that there really wasn't anywhere scenic to ride. All the trials were marked "no bikes". And frankly, that makes a ton of sense, but it still would have been nice to have some trails to ride. Even so, the ride was a very minor disappointment out of the grand scheme of things because we still had a nice time pedaling around.


 
Dinner was peaceful, and very yummy. After dinner, we had a nice time relaxing in the Great Room; talking, reading and simply enjoying time together without interruptions.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Early Friday morning, we went exploring. We decided to take the path to Lovers Leap and Eagle's Cliff; 1.8 mile walk. We left before full sunrise; it was beautiful. I love doing this kind of thing with Robert.


 
 
While at Eagle's Cliff we finished our reading of Unbroken; such a good book, and one of the last chapters made me very emotional. But, our reading was interrupted by an Eagle sighting....that added to the excitement of our time together.


 
Dorks are us! Yes we did...we bought matching hats after breakfast for our afternoon hike. Love it.


Our afternoon hike was beyond fabulous; 3.4 miles, 2 hours. We had great fun not only walking the boardwalk type paths but also the dirt trails. Actually, we loved the dirt trails best; more like hiking. And yes, we did go off the trails just a tad....ssshh. Seriously, we had a blast exploring Starved Rock; climbing stairs and paths and simply hiking around.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
When we were walking the path along the Illinois River, Robert looked up and said, "Hey, that's the make-out ledge". We went to the ledge. He looked up again and said,"There's the make-love ledge." We did not go up.


We had a beyond fabulous and awesome time at Starved Rock. It was absolutly beautiful to connect with one another without interruptions. We still have two more days together before we both go back to work; love this time with him, and when we also spend it with the kids.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 


 

 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Books and Music....general randomness

 
 
 

• reading. wow. i've done a good amount of reading these last five months; 16 books out 23 for the year. i've loved all the reading i've been doing and most of the books. so far this year, i've read 11,977 pages as compared to last year's total of 2,721. then again, i only read 8 books last year.


• last book i read. the count of monte cristo. people...people...i cannot say enough good about this book. the story keeps spinning around in my head,the language,the plot...everything, so good. my thoughts are here.


• currently reading. season of storms by susanna kearsley. i do love kearsley's writing and storytelling. i went on a kearsley book reading binge during august and september. this book, season of storms, is so far pretty good and meeting my expectations.


• book on deck. 1984 by george orwell. my 15-year old recommends that i read this book. she read it recently and enjoyed it. elliana is also the one who encouraged me to read the count of monte cristo, and she hasn't led me wrong yet...well, except for i capture the castle - one of her favs and not mine so much.


• book looks. if i were to title a post "book looks....book title, author" what would you expect from the post content? i am looking for a catchy title like "book looks" to indicate that i am going to briefly highlight a book i have read. i would highlight because I do not feel like writing out all my thoughts. i do want to make mention that i read the book and briefly state if i liked it or not. what do you think? book looks? or something else?


 
 

• claire and jamie. outlander series. they are by far my most favorite fictional couple, hands down. they are by far my most favorite female and male character independent of each other. outlander series is my most favorite book series, hands down. and the tv series? oh my, be still my heart. so fabulous, so well done. i miss them. cannot wait to start a re-read of outlander and another book or two in the series. i will probably start re-reading in january? february? not certain but sometime this coming winter.


• i wish i had the healing gift that claire possess. seriously. for me, that would be the most awesome gift along with exhortation and leadership. hospitality would be quite handy, but i've given up on even thinking that could be my gift.


 
 

• radio. last year my favorite radio morning team left my favorite radio station (moody). the temporary replacement team was good, but i am not digging the new permanent team. i listen to them in short spurts...like 10 maybe 15 minutes,and then i am done. i am at a loss for my morning drive to work, no to moody station at that time, and no to k-love. k-love and me don't mix very well. every now and then they play a good song but mostly it's highly repetitive with fluff dj's and programming. i really like wlgs, 101.5 fm - they play songs to my liking and are not too repetitive. the station is run out of lake villa, and so the reception is iffy, and not reliable. unfortunately, i am unable to pick up the radio station all that much, and most definitely not for my entire morning commute. amazon prime music has become my go-to music for my morning commute drive. shocks me. when prime music first came about, i poo-pooed it. i shouldn't be so quick to judge.


• these songs. they are currently on heavy rotation within my amazon prime music playlist.


Audrey Assad | I Shall Not Want
this is my daily prayer, truly.


Danny Gokey | Hope in Front of Me
Without Hope, I would be a bigger mess than I am.


Completely | Among The Thirsty
God works is amazing, wonderful and beautiful ways. He uses sorrow, pain, circumstances that do not seem good on the outside to help mold me closer to Him. He uses these moments in life that others wouldn't count as a blessing to grow me into the woman he wants. i believe that even in moments, or circumstances that people look upon as negative, i believe them to be a blessing or potential for a blessing. it's not always the "good stuff" of life that God actually uses for good.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


what's been happening in your book life? how about in your music life?

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Journal to Myself.....such is life

 
 

November 29, 2014


This journal entry may sound sad, but it really isn't about sadness. This is about seeking and drawing closer to God. It's about faith. It's about hope. It's about love. And yes, sometimes a person needs to go through the midst of grief, pain, and/or sorrow in order for a person to start to come to grips with circumstances --- either brought on by ones own self or by another or a situation.


This past week has been especially painful. I am wounded. I have finally allowed myself to take the tourniquet off of a seeping wound, and to peel off the pressure dressing from my heart. In doing so, I admitted to myself that what I once thought was truth was really lies. Decisions made, or not made caused a world of stress and hurt within myself and others. What I once thought was real was really quite the opposite; warmth vs coldness, humility vs pride, selflessness vs self-seeking, kindness vs hatred...truth vs lies.


This has been the week for me to come to terms with the complete and utter disappointment I have felt over thinking that I knew something to be true when in fact it was far from truth; it was lies. That kind of disappointment is incredibly hard to reconcile. That disappointment truly does hurt deeply.



Today, I have started to move away from the emotional hemorrhage that has taken place when trying to come to terms with the disappointment in the circumstances. And this is where my timeline will now enter a different event; actively acknowledging what actually is truth when before I did not recognize it as such....actively pursuing what God has already provided.



A few things that I have learned over this painful journey is that God is faithful, and I am forever grateful. Without my faith in Him, I would be a bigger mess of a soul. God can move mountains. I've witnessed it. He has used circumstances in my life to mold me closer to Him in ways that maybe could not have been done unless I had experienced this sorrow....this trial in life. I am humbled by God's faithfulness, protection, wrath, mercy, and love.



God has given me strength and courage to face the disappointment, and not turn towards feeling hate, anger or cold or even into complete despair.


Over the last week, I have also sat in enormous comfort; soaking in God's Word. I cannot express enough at how reading and knowing the truth of His Word has helped calm my tension....has truly brought me comfort in knowing that I made a correct decision and that good has and will continue to come from all of this.

{Psalm 31, Psalm 27, Psalm 51, Psalm 5, Psalm 56:8, Psalm 34:18, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18}



Spending time with my husband has been a huge gift this past week. Being around him also brings me comfort. Although, I suppose today it didn't seem that way, but even in the midst of a negative mood....he comforts me just with his presence. He has an inner strength of character that once was unimaginable to me. He truly has given me a huge gift. I am enormously grateful for him as my husband.



And this morning, a 12-mike bike ride was refreshing....even though my toes became so cold that I thought they would fall off, and about 2-miles from home my bike gave me a flat tire....I did grumble (shame on me). The bike ride was very helpful; the physical excursion is great therapy. I am very thankful that Robert woke early and suggested that we head out on a ride.



The point of all this is to acknowledge that healing has truly begun. I don't expect the healing road to be smooth, recovery from a hemorrhage doesn't happen overnight. Until my wounds have started to scab over and become healed, I will wait and rest in hope, and rely on faith and trust in God.


And....I will be thankful in all circumstances.


It is well with my soul. It truly is.



{why write this blog? Therapy, really. Writing is a helpful tool.}

 

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