BOOK REVIEW: This Life I Live by Rory Feek

I didn’t want to read this book.  I first heard about it when I came across an article in a magazine–some Woman’s Day-y type of publication, I think. I read some of the article, thought, “Oh, this is a sad story,” and put it down.

Well, it found me again.

Have you ever noticed how the books you are supposed to read have a way of doing that?

Joey and Rory are famous, but before that magazine article, I had never heard of them. I have since listened to some of their music and it’s beautiful (spoiler alert, this song is heartbreaking), in case you want to check it out.

Anyway, there is a lot of wisdom in this book. Parts of his story parallel my own, and probably your own as well. I relate to Rory talking about his childhood of being from “everywhere and nowhere” and about how “there are different levels of poor”. Moving so often in your growing up years isn’t easy. It certainly can begin to define who you are.

When Rory’s mom goes back to school in her 60’s, she ‘does the thing she thought she could not do’.  This resonated so strongly for me, recalling one of my favorite Eleanor Roosevelt quotes. It also speaks to one of the themes in this book, brave women, and the author’s respect for them.

My favorite quote from this book is:

“True joy and happiness have a way of attracting good things into your life.” (p 81)

So, I was right. It is a sad story, but it’s also a happy one. Rory tells it with raw honesty, but also with faith and hope. As anyone who has ever written (or tried to write) their life story can attest, this is no easy task. Rory has accomplished it with grace and love.

Read this book.

Spotlight on: The Shops at Cape Neddick

Have you been to The Shops at Cape Neddick recently? If it’s been awhile, you’re in for a treat. It’s expanded and still expanding, so give yourself enough time to look around and take it all in.

When you walk in, you will feel the lovely energy of this shop right away. It feels like you are being wrapped big, warm hug. Everywhere you look you’ll see something beautiful, fun, and unique. There are several different shops under this one roof, so there truly is something for everyone.

Today, I want to tell you about (you guessed it) the book section! Currently called Book Ends, there is a special section to highlight local authors. I am proud to tell you that I am represented here!

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Every time I come here, I find just exactly the thing I want. Today, I found this ‘Be Brave’ bracelet, the perfect compliment to my first novel, One Brave Thingwhich is available at The Shops.capeneddick1

On Friday, March 17th, I will be at The Shops at Cape Neddick, signing my book from 5:00pm-7pm. I will also be giving one card oracle readings as a bonus gift to anyone who purchases my book. When you come, ask me about my second novel, What if Bebe Stays with Steven? So save the date and tell your friends!

The Shops at Cape Neddick is at 1300 Route 1, Cape Neddick, ME 03902. For more information, call 207-363-2500, or check out the Facebook page here.

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BOOK REVIEW: This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett

I have heard of Ann Patchett before, of course, but I had never read any of her work. Full disclosure: I did try to read Bel Canto once. I have no idea why I didn’t actually finish it. Or start it. I forget.

happymarriageAnyway, my friend and yoga teacher, Kristen, mentioned a book casually in conversation a couple of weeks ago. “Um, I think it’s called A Happy Marriage,” she said. Sometime later that day, because the title was still with me, I decided to look it up. I found This is the Story of a Happy Marriage on audiobook and requested it from the library. Shockingly, it came right away.

I didn’t know what to expect. I knew nothing about the book other than that my friend, whose taste in books is usually a 180 from my own, liked it (e.g.: my expectations were low). But surprise! I loved it right away! I love when authors who are good at it read their own work. Ann (as she tells us in her book), is good at it. The next happy surprise was that she talks about writing and being an author (among other things) in this book. She describes how, early in her career, she used to think ahead to all those rows of empty chairs waiting at her upcoming book talks, knowing that there was a good chance none of them would be filled.

I could, you know, relate.

As I listened to parts of this book, I realized that Ann got it. She gets it. She knows exactly how it feels to be me right now, with my first book that quite possibly ‘no one wants to talk about’ when they come to the book signings. But I go anyway. I get up early. Sometimes, I drive for hours. I am ‘really nice’ to the staff. I remember to drink gallons of water to avoid dehydration. These are all rules that Ann follows at her own book signing events.

So thank you, Ann Patchett, for reminding me that everyone has to start somewhere and at one time in your career as an author, you were exactly where I am right now.

BOOK REVIEW: The Vineyards of Allegretti by Jennifer Davies

I loved this story about Vivian and Michael, who have known each other most of their lives, but have been apart for a period of time and as the book opens, they are just coming vineyards-of-allegrettiback together. They love each other, but have not admitted this to each other. Heck, they have barely admitted it to themselves! Complicating things are paramours from the past. Each of them have a ‘bad guy/girl’ in their dating history that puts them both at risk.
Full disclosure: I was predisposed to love this book! The Vineyards of Allegretti is full of Italian things: food, wine, countryside, and beautiful people, and I myself am Italian, and love all things Italian.
I identified with Vivian’s tendency to try to fix everyone and everything in her life. Vivian at least has the presence of mind to realize that she probably isn’t qualified to give advice since her own life was (at the moment) a train wreck.
The romantic interludes are the perfect escape for your afternoon that is otherwise filled with dishes and laundry.

You can find The Vineyards of Allegretti by Jennifer Davies here. Read this book!

Taping an interview for TV

It was my great pleasure and good fortune to be invited to be on Write Now with Gayle Heney.  I met Gayle at the New England writenow3Authors Expo last summer. After the taping date was confirmed, a helpful email arrived with instructions for how to get there, what to wear, where to park…

But back to that ‘what to wear’ part. The part where it mentioned to avoid wearing black because that was the color of the backdrop of the set. Oh, and a collar or a lapel of some sort would be good so there is a place to clip the microphone.

If you want to discover really quickly how much you think “Black! I’ll wear black!” when you are in a dress -up situation, be advised not to wear that color.

I realized pretty quickly that I was, you know, in big trouble. Plus, collars? Lapels? I was bereft of them.

I tortured my friend Sheila with photos of dress and sweater combinations. Right up until a half hour before I left for the studio this morning. In the end, it wasn’t about the clothes at all, because it was about the BOOK. I was getting to talk on TV with a skilled interviewer who had read my book, about my book.

How great is that?

My episode should air in April or May. I will post the link when it’s ready! YAY!

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BOOK REVIEW: The Alchemist’s Daughter by Mary Lawrence

I just finished reading The Alchemist’s Daughter by Mary Lawrence. All I can say is, YAY!

the-alchemists-daughterMary’s book is a work of historical fiction, so if you’re into that, you’ll love it. Not a historical fiction fan? Don’t limit yourself! Read it anyway. You’ll still love it! Right from the beginning, you will feel like you’re in London in the 1500’s. The language itself helps to immerse you in the story.

One thing I love is when I’m reading a book and I have to–no, wait; I get to–go grab a dictionary because I’ve stumbled upon an unfamiliar word. Wherry? Kirtle? Bring it! I know these words now!

Bianca, the main character, is fascinated by the metaphysical, and so am I, so I fell in love with her right away. She is also brave, which is something I aspire to be in my own life, and this kept me rooting for her in her bleaker moments. Bianca always wants to know the truth in any situation, even it if will make her own life more difficult.

My favorite part of the book (page 123): I love when Bianca is in her rent (another cool word!) by the fire, reviewing and assimilating all her thoughts, feelings, and impressions from recent events, allowing her intuition to fuse them all together and distill them into an explanation for what has happened.

Best quote from the book (page 126): “The only thing that could possess such a man to be out on a night like this was money. Though sometimes love could. But mostly money.”

If you are squeamish like me, and rats are the stuff your nightmares are made of, here’s a helpful hint: read the rat parts quickly.

Fun fact: one of the characters in the book, Meddybemps, is named after a town in Maine!  See what you can learn at an author talk?
If you are local: Mary Lawrence will be signing her books at Books-a-Million in South Portland, Maine tomorrow at 2pm. Maybe you should go!bam-mary-lawrence

BOOK REVIEW: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

I read this book at the recommendation of a young lady, Angie, who visited my author table at the Kennebunk Community Market one Saturday.
everything-everythingShe told me that Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon was her favorite book. This book says it’s recommended for readers aged 12-17, but I object to narrowing the audience for this book. Anyone of any age could enjoy reading this.

The main character, Maddy, is physically isolated in a way few teenagers are. She is a prisoner on so many levels. This book is not predictable, however. There are surprises to keep your interest.

I had a problem with the nurse, Carla, whom I loved, but she compromised her professional ethics, therefore (in my opinion as a nurse) she deserved what she got.

But it still made me sad. I also didn’t like how the author portrays the other nurse in the book. Don’t even get me started. People! Don’t believe most of the characterizations of nurses you read in books!

Maddy is very lovable until she starts lying to everyone (including herself?) which made me like her much less. Is it acceptable to lie when you believe you are running for your life? I’m not sure. Read it and make up your own mind.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book:

“I am in the world and, too, the world is in me.” -Maddy

“Empty tummy, empty head.” -Carla.

“Be brave. Remember, life is a gift. Live it.” Carla the nurse to Maddy, Disc 3 track 13 on the audio book.

Bottom line: worth reading.

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