Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Uninvited

Missed the dead line so I thought I would post here:

12 Stories in 12 months
March Prompt
Prompt: The Celebration | Word Count: 2500 words |Genre: YA Fiction
Uninvited
by Julie Blankenship
It was never good to catch their eyes. The contempt was palpable but the 1000-yard stare as they look right through you was disconcerting. I kept my eyes focused on the pavement directly in front of my feet with only an occasional glance up to check for obstacles.  Darcy Watson and her groupies gathered off to the left at the base of the steps.  The backpack bounced against my hips as I made the slight course correction to give the Wilson High School elite a wide berth. The group tittered at some shared witticism. Though to quote a tried and true axiom, ‘they hath more hair than wit.’ The head shake was stifled as the survival instinct kicked in. I knew better than to do anything to bring attention to myself. I approached the five short steps up to the doors of the school.
Spring break had been a little slice of heaven. My dad had taken most of the week off from his practice to take the family camping up by Pueblo Colorado. Meals cooked over a fire, exploring the cliff dwellings, hiking and of course the constant quizzing about emergency scenarios and how to respond. My father had been a ER doctor for ten years before he decided to buy into the local General Practice Group. Medical school was my future, I had the grades and drive to make it happen. It was also in my genes. My great grandfather had been a Chiropodist and a Masseur in Belgium in the late 1800’s, my grandfather an Obstetrician and my dad a GP.
The ornamental pears were in bloom in the school courtyard and the air buzzed with the spring weather. Literal buzzing. I flapped my arms and took a step back as an enormous bumble bee dive bombed my head and circled back around. I forgot I had already stepped up on the first stair and my arms wind milled as the weight of my back pack pulled me back and down. I felt the air rush out of my lungs as I landed. I gasped for air like a fish out of water. As the pain began to register I heard the raucous laughter.
“Did anyone get that?”
“Please say someone caught that.”
“Text me if you did.”
“It’ll go viral.”
“That totally made my day.”
The laughing crowd flowed and eddied around me. A hand reached down to me.
“Are you okay?”
I looked up to see Matt Haycock looking down at me. He was one of the popular kids. Tall handsome basketball player type but he didn’t run with social elite. He flowed easily between the athletes and the academics.
“I’m still assessing.” I wiggled my feet and bent my knees.
“Well, I’ll sit right here until you finish your diagnosis.” Matt sat on the steps. His smile showed off his dimple and perfect blinding white teeth.
It only took me a minute to know I was not seriously injured.
“I think I’m just a little bruised.” I started to push myself up but he reached out, took my hand and helped me to my feet. I looked up at him. He must be over six feet tall cause I only came up to his nose.
“More than your ego then,” He chuckled.
“My ego has taken a terminal hit. If I’m lucky I’ll only get a million ‘likes’ by the end of the day.” I shifted my backpack into place and started back up the stairs.
“It happened too fast. I doubt anyone got a good angle,” he said falling in step beside me.
“Really I’m not worried it will be a one-day wonder. Tomorrow someone else will get their 15 seconds of fame.”
“You’re a good sport.” He held the door open for me.
“I try to stay under their radar.”
“Why is that?”
“Oh, you know…if they think you are chum the sharks circle.”
The tardy bell rang and I gasped.
“I’m never late for class,” I exclaimed.
“Punctual, that’s nice to know.”
I looked at him a little confused. “What?”
“Off to class… you’re already late.”
“Hey, thanks,” I said over my shoulder as I hurried down the hall.
“My pleasure,” he quipped back.

Mr. Beasley looked up at me in surprise as I entered the biology class.
“You are never late,” he said as he peered over his glasses.
“Sorry a little prat-fall on the way into school.” I explained.
“You okay?” He glared out at the classroom to dampen the scattered giggles and chortles.
“I’m fine. Although if you have a pillow I could sit on? No, I thought not.”
I decided to embrace my notoriety and did the royal wave as I walked down the aisle. I made the mistake of looking around as I made my way to my seat. Darcy was looking daggers at me. I wasn’t sure what had caused the animosity until class was over. Darcy was at my seat before I had a chance to gather my things.
An envelope lay on the center of my desk. Darcy’s finger pressed on it hard enough to turn her nailbed white.
“You will find some excuse not to come, do I make myself clear, nerd?” Darcy glared down at me.
“I’m sure it will be clear once I open the envelope.  Note that I am duly warned as always.”
I watched Darcy head out into the hall before I picked up my backpack and the envelope.
Maybe if I tossed it in the trash, I could claim I lost the invitation to what ever this was I wasn’t supposed to attend but still got invited to. There was a garbage can out in the hall. I stepped up to it.
“Hey Ann, you got an invitation to Darcy’s party.”
Matt stood beside me, alternately looking at me, the envelope and the trash can.
“Looks can be deceiving.” With a flick of the wrist I tossed the envelope.
“Wait, why did you do that?” He fell into step with me as we entered the sea of humanity making its way between classes.
“It’s a little game Darcy and I play.”
“Sounds intriguing,” he said.
Someone greeted Matt and he knuckle bumped them.
“Did your schedule change?” I asked.
“No,” he answered, “why do you ask?”
“I’ve never seen you in this hall after my biology class before.”
“Just thought I’d check on you. Make sure you are okay.”
“Well, thanks.” I looked up at him with a half-smile. “Mr. Beasley let me down, no seat cushion.”
Matt laughed as we stepped up to my English Lit. class.
“You didn’t tell me about the invitation.”
“She invites me and I’m supposed to find an excuse not to go. Simple as that. Thanks again.”
I found my seat and was surprised to see Matt standing at the door looking at me. I felt the blush rise up my cheeks as I watched the other members of the class ping pong between looking at me and then him.
“Later,” he mouthed.
My blushed deepened as I felt the eyes of my class on me.
Matt was popular, social, he fit in with almost any crowd but also wasn’t one to go along because everyone else was doing something. I knew of him but until today I didn’t think he had ever given me a second thought. My focus was on the future and checking all the boxes to have a good foundation for the schooling I knew was ahead for me. The social whirl around me was almost a blur which had suddenly come into focus.
I never went to any of the things that Darcy invited me to. Mr. Watson was a Real Estate magnet. They had a big beautiful home up in the hills. A two-acre yard with tennis court, swimming pool and a patio with a sunken fire pit. A cliff over looked the property with a winding road to the top. They were constantly throwing parties. The connection was through Darcy’s mom who was the Business Manager at the General Practice Group my dad was partners in. Therefore, the invites kept coming and I had to invent reasons I couldn’t attend. Everyone was happy.
My last class of the day was Physical Education and today we were playing soft ball. Academics were fine but my father expected me to have some physical skills. He always felt it was important to be well rounded. Thus, the hiking, mountain biking, one-on-one basketball games and periodic game of catch. My gaggle of male cousins and I played our share of sandlot baseball.
I stood on the pitcher’s mound and looked at the sweet girl I was getting ready to pitch to. She could barely hold the bat on her shoulder. I moved off the pitcher’s mound toward home base to toss an easy lob to the hitter. The girl shook her head.
“Too close,” the girl shouted at me.
“Its okay it will be an easy pitch,” I shouted back.
“You’re too close.”
“It will be okay.”
My first pitch went wide. The second pitch was met with a loud crack.
                                                                           ##
“She’s awake. I think she’s okay.”
I looked up into Matt’s face. Where did he come from and why am I laying on the ground?
“I told her, you heard me tell her she was too close.”
The girl was dancing around the periphery of my vision. The teacher was blowing the whistle to try to get everyone to calm down.
“Any blurry vision?” He leaned forward till he was just inches away and stared into my eyes.
“Of course, you’re blurry if you’re that close.” I pushed against his chest.
“How many fingers am I holding up?” He waved two fingers in my face.
“Stop that, I’m okay. Let me sit up.”
He grabbed my hand and gave a little pull.
“Are you always this accident prone?”
“What are you doing at a girls’ softball class?”
“It’s my study hall. I snuck out to watch you play.”
“Watch me?” The heat rising in my face set my head pounding.
He helped me stand up and then poked me in the forehead.
“Ouch, why did you do that?” I batted his hand away.
“That ball hit you dead in the center of your forehead. I think I better make sure you get home okay.”
The teacher excused us to head in to see the nurse.
                                                                           ##
The groan escaped me as I saw Darcy making a beeline toward me across her family lawn. I glanced back over my shoulder to see my Dad and Darcy’s mom deep in conversation on the driveway beside our car.
“Hey Darcy, Happy Birthday.” I handed her a small gift-wrapped box. “It’s a gift card.”
“What the hell are you doing here?” Darcy seethed, we both had false smiles pasted on our faces as we glanced over at our parents.
“Your mother was so kind to check the school calendar for activities and with my father about my schedule. She made him promise to bring me personally.”
“You suck,” Darcy’s smile broke.
“Not to worry, I’m only here until my father’s leaves and I can sneak away without being seen by your mother.”
Darcy looked like she would like to let a few more expletives fly but her mother walked up.
“Hey, mom. I was going to take a few friends for a ride in my new car.”
“That’s nice. Are you taking Ann?” Her mom put her arm around my shoulders.
“No, Ann was just looking for her boyfriend. I think I saw him over there.” She pointed vaguely across the yard at a group of people.
“Boyfriend?” Mrs. Watson and I asked in unison.
My face flamed as Matt separated himself from the crowd and headed in our direction. He had been insinuating himself into my schedule all week. He greeted Mrs. Watson as Darcy ran off with her friends to take a ride in her birthday present from her dad.
Matt took my elbow and was steering me toward the group of people. “I want you to meet some of my friends.”
We both turned our heads as Darcy screeched out of the driveway and swung onto the road.
“Just for a minute,” I said. “I need to be gone before Darcy gets back.”
“Seriously?” he asked.
“Its her birthday and it’s what she wants. Her mom works for my Dad so she has to invite me but I can usually get out of it.”
“I’ll drive you,” he volunteered.
 I saw Darcy’s car taking the switch back up the cliff and knew she was going too fast.
One minute, Matt was introducing me to his basketball buddies and the next we all turned when we heard the car smash through the guard rail. The car was still air born as I yelled, “Call 9-1-1, somebody call 9-1-1.”
My reflexes kicked in as I ran toward the cliff. The sound of the impact as the car crashed into the bottom of the cliff stunned me for a second. I knew time was critical. I scooped up a pile of towels as I passed the pool.
“Ann what are you doing?” Matt yelled in my ear as he ran beside me.
I pulled my phone out of my back pocket and handed it to Matt on the run.
“Call my dad, my passcode is 362-266 he is under ICE.”
All the emergency quizzing fell away as I looked at the car laying on its side. Darcy, Max and Vicki hanging from their seat belts surrounded by billowing airbags streaked with red. Then I heard a groan and dropped the towels. I hoped help was on its way but in the mean time I had to stop any major bleeding and make them as comfortable as I could without moving them. I could hear Matt filling in my dad on the situation and giving him a blow by blow of what I was doing. Then my dad was by my side helping me until the paramedics arrived and pulled me away.
I watched as my dad helped the paramedics get Max and Vicki into ambulances. Mrs. Watson was standing beside Darcy’s gurney holding her hand brushing hair out of her eyes. She shot me a grateful look.
“They are all going to be okay, kiddo.” My dad gave me a quick tight hug. “You did great.”
All I could do was nod my head.
“I’m going to run to the hospital with the Watsons,” Dad said.
“I’ll see her home sir.” Matt chimed in.
I forgot Matt was standing there.
The ambulances trailed away.
“Ann, that was the most incredible thing I have ever seen. I thought you were crazy. Everyone else bolted for the house and you ran straight toward the crash.”
“I didn’t even think,” I said.
He pulled me into his arms and kissed me on the forehead.
“I think I’m going to enjoy being your boyfriend.”

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Sephina

I started writing this novel in 1993 as we were moving away from South Carolina. It was a way to cope with the separation from close friends. It is an unbelievable heady feeling completing a project you have been working on as long as I have been working on Sephina's novel. There is still a lot of editing to be done but all the parts now match up. Sephina has weathered the storm and the many years of neglect from me. I am grateful to all the people who have encouraged me along the way including and especially the Lord for sending me little nudges when I wanted to give it all up. Now all the other stories (and there are many) can get some equal time.

Thursday, May 18, 2017


.

Written for Writer’s Cramp 5/16/2017 Prompt; end story with She never questioned the cat again.
1,000 words or less.
Zoey
The purring woke Sarah. A tail lashed across her peripheral vision. She groaned as she turned her head to look at the clock on her night stand. It read 5:39am and her eyes snapped shut.
“Why must you wake me at this ungodly hour, you mangy bag of bones?”
A head butted against her face and rubbed across her cheek. A plaintive meow rang in her ear.
“I’m up, I’m up, don’t you see?” Sarah pushed herself up and swung her legs off the side of the bed. She braced herself with hands on either side of her hips and head drooped.
A warm soft body snaked its way between her arm and side and perched on her lap. Another meow sent warm putrid breath into her face.
“Oh for the love of all that’s holy, what have you been eating? Seriously?”
She stood and the cat landed softly on the floor and wove itself between her legs.
Sarah shuffled into the living room and pushed open the sliding glass door wide enough for the slim feline body to slip through.
“Is this a pee emergency or a tryst with that Tom down the street.? He knows you’re fixed right?” She quipped as she slid the door back into place.
The coffee maker on the counter blinked. It wouldn’t start brewing for another hour and a half. Sarah moved to the couch and curled up waiting for the inevitable meowing at the door when Zoey was finished with her business. Whatever it was.
The smell of coffee woke her and she felt the moment of disorientation as she looked around for Zoey. A stab of guilt propelled her to her feet and the sliding glass door. She expected to be greeted with a reproachful look but instead she felt a tiny little panic when she didn’t see the cat.
The door slid opened easily and Sarah stepped out onto the back porch.
“Zoey, Zooooo-eeeey,” she called.
The property backed up to an open field with a wooded stretch behind. Sarah knew there were predators; hawks, owls, coyotes. Her cat was smart and wary. She was okay. Sarah didn’t understand the hard-lump low in her chest. Not fear or guilt just feeling a little bit anxious is all.
Sarah found Zoey trapped under a cardboard box in a vacant lot when she was a ginger fluff of a kitten. Sarah hadn’t wanted a pet or the responsibility that went with caring for another creature. That was two years ago.
“Zoey, where are you?”
She left the sliding door cracked wide enough to let the cat back in just in case. No telling what else would wander in while she got ready for the day. A shower and a strong cup of coffee would only take a few minutes and leave enough time for a quick look around the outside of the house before she needed to leave. She didn’t really have an appointment or a job but she went every day to the local cafĂ© to write. It fed her creative juices to sit where life was happening, if only at a slightly faster pace than her living room.
The blow dryer nearly drowned out the noise but Sarah gave a sigh of relief. She walked in to the living room to close the sliding door but Zoey beat her to it and slipped back outside.
“Zoey, what are you doing? Get back in here. I have to go.”
She followed the cat back outside, around the side of the house and watched her cross the street.
“Get back here you crazy cat.”
 Sarah could tell when she was being ignored.
“I don’t know what you think you are doing.”
This was spoken to a tail as it disappeared around the back of her neighbor’s house.
“Don’t make me come after you.” Sarah humphed.
She hadn’t met her new neighbors yet. A truck had pulled up a month ago and several men had unloaded it. The family, or couple or individual had yet to be seen.
In the moments of indecision before Sarah could cross the street to pursue her cat, Zoey reappeared.
“What the hell do you think you are doing?”
A kitten hung from Zoey’s mouth.
“Put that back right now.” Sarah commanded with one hand on her hip the other pointing at the house across the street.
“You and I both know that can’t possibly be yours.”
Zoey didn’t even glance in Sarah’s direction. She was a cat on a mission. Sarah followed her back around the house, watched her slip through the door and then reappear sans kitten.
“Oh, no, no, no.” Sarah stepped back through the door, peered over the back of her couch and three little faces turned in unison to look at her.
“Oh, for the love of Mike.”
“No, the name is John actually.”
Sarah squeaked as she turned to face the man standing at her back door.
“I’m your new neighbor.” He put his hand through the opened doorway and Sarah stared at it and him in confusion. He was tall, dark and handsome, in fact he was a clichĂ©.
Sarah caught her breath and a voice she had never heard come out of her mouth before said, “Hi, I’m Sarah.”
“I think your cat is stealing my kittens.”
As if in response Zoey sauntered between his legs and into the house carrying another kitten.
“Their mother died a few days ago.”
“I’m sorry.” Sarah watched Zoey deposit the latest kitten beside its siblings.
“They are just old enough to take milk from a bowl.”
“That’s good.”
Zoey wound her way past Sarah and headed back out the door.
Sarah opened her mouth to try to stop her cat.
“Don’t worry,” John interrupted, “there’s only one more.”
He smiled and she felt her knees go weak.

She never questioned the cat again

Monday, April 11, 2016

Hallelujah Chapter 29 is finished



It has been a long few years since I have written consistently on any of my projects. I  now have a wonderful new motivation. Not only are my husband and family pushing me along but I also have joined a Novelist Critiquing Group here in Wichita. They are nine pairs of new eyes looking at Sephina's story. My daughter-in-law Tracy has been working on a book with her dad and has also voluteered to read through what I have written so far on (surely destined to be renamed) Heir Apparent. I have set a goal to write 500 words a day at least 5 days a week. Life does get in the way alot but I have made amazing progress keeping this goal in mind in the past few months. Any of you who know me know I love, love, love to read and I also love to write. My characters are chomping at the bit to get there stories told. The funnest part of writing is when the characters take over a scene and I am surprised at what happens

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Books I read in 2015


Defining the Wind by Scott Huler-The history of Beuford Scale. I took a work shop from Scott at the Tennessee Mountain Writer’s Workshop in 2014. He was a line editor and found the Beuford Scale of wind in his dictionary and the poetical language in it intrigued him. He began his search for the origin of the scale. Very engaging.
Babes in the Woods by Lillian O’Donnell-Flo is a fading dancer at 39. Still beautiful but knows her career is fading. She meets Wally one night at her club. He woos and weds her. Flo has drawn her own conclusions as to the state of Wally’s finances and so is gravely disappointed when she realizes all the money they have is tied up in a trust fund for his children. She knew about the kids. She buckles down to her new life. The nine year old runs out in front of a car and is killed, the seven yr old dies of heart failure after a round of pneumonia and the dying continues. I got this book at a library sale and bought it because I remember my mom and her sisters singing ‘Babes in the Woods’ when I was little. Well written, my only beef was no one seemed too sad about the kids dying.
The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley-10 yr old Ada had never left her apartment. Her mother was too humiliated for anyone to see her crippled daughter with the twisted foot. When Ada’s younger brother Jamie is going to be shipped out of London because of the emanate threat of the German’s bombing Ada sneaks out to go with him. Leaving the humiliation and terror she has lived with all her life. Susan Smith is still grieving after three years for her dearest friend Becky so doesn’t want to take any children in. Ada learns to ride a horse among other things. This is a wonderful book about the horrors of war and the healing from abuse. Loved it.
The Selection by Kiera Cass-Think of it as a cross between the Twilight love triangle, Hunger Games Dystopia (but milder) and the reality show, ‘The Bachelor’. It was a light easy read but not engaging enough for me to read the other two in the series.
Serephina by Rachel Hartman-Seraphina lives in a world of humans and dragons but dragons can take on the shape of humans. They have lived in peace for 40 years. Seraphina has a secret that could put herself and those she loves in danger. Nice world building, nicely written, there were sometimes where we got a lot of information and not adequate explanation like all the Saints. But I enjoyed it enough that I am looking forward to the sequel coming out in March.
Bratt Farrer by Josephine Tey-Bratt is an orphan who bares a striking resemblance to Simon Ashby whose twin brother and heir to the Ashby fortune disappeared when he was 13 yrs old. It was presumed he drowned himself after his parent’s death. Bratt is schooled by a close family friend to enter the Ashby Family as the long lost Patrick Ashby. Then old secrets start to emerge until the final culminating reveal. Wonderful read, recommended by the same author (Ann Patchet) that recommended some other mysteries.
The False Prince by Jennifer A Nielsen-Sage is an orphan living on the streets to help provide food for the orphanage he stays at. One day the head mistress sells him to a noble of the royal court. He is joined by other boys about his same age and basic looks. Sage discovers that they plan to train one of these boys to impersonate the long lost prince. Really a fun read. There are two more books in this series. We’ll see if I read them.
The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown-This is the book Joe gave me for Christmas. It is a book about how to live wholeheartedly and secrets of those who do. It’s a wonderful book.
Visitors by Orson Scott Card-The final book in this trilogy starting with Pathfinder. I listened to them all on Audible with voices of Kirby Heyborne, Emily Rankin(OSC daughter) and Stefan Rudnski. I loved listening to it. It was a lot, a lot of discussing the ramifications of time travel and causality. Still in all it was an extremely satisfying conclusion.
And There Was Light by Jacues Lusseyran-The story of a boy blinded at eight years old who went on to become one of the leading French Resistance fighters in occupied France during WWII. The end was very harrowing as he was finally captured and spent 15 months in Buchenwald. How he found the light within himself to overcome adversity and reach his full potential. (John and I read it together)
Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman-Wonderful classic story of a 16 yr old girl who meets a Canadian Mounty  while visiting her uncle to recuperate from an illness. She falls in love with the Mounty and travels up to one of the remotest post in Canada where she is the only white woman. I loved it. Another similar book is called Tisha by Robert Specht.
With This Ring by Carla Kelly-Tender Regency. Lydia is over shadowed by her younger and much more beautiful sister, Kitty. In fact she is verbally, emotionally and physically abused by her mother. She comes into her own when she decides to volunteer at a field hospital. That’s where she meets Major Sam Reed who won’t leave his men to insure they are properly cared for.
Sojourn by RA Salvatore-the final book in the Drizzt D’Urden series. He is a self exiled dark elf of the Under Dark Menzobarenzah.( I just love saying the names of the characters and places.) Now he must find a place for himself on the surface. Salvatore is the master of the action adventure. I really enjoyed these. Listened to them all on Audible.
White Cat by Holly Black-Cassell lives in a family of curse workers which is extremely illegal. Anything from doing physical harm with just a touch, to the ability change or erase memory and even cause death. They are also a family of con-artists and thieves. Then Cassell starts sleep walking and dreaming of a white cat.  Shannon Hale and Mette Ivie Harrison both recommended this book.
The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson w/ Mardyn V. Harrison and Elizabeth B Leyson-Leb Lejzon is one of the survivors on Schindler’s List. This is a harrowing story of being a Polish Jew through WWII and how Leib’s family survived because of Oskar Schindler. It was amazing how Schindler convinced the German’s that Leib’s family were all master machinists even though Leib had to stand on a wooden box to reach the machine. Heart wrenching.
The Peculiar by Stefan Bachman-A cataclysm has opened a door between the real world and faerie. Children born of the mix of these two races are immediately hung if found in public. Now their bodies are being found floating in the river as just hallowed out husks. Bartholomew must find a way to save he and his sister with the help of unlikely hero Mr. Jelliby.
Hopscotch by Brian Garfield-Kendig is bored from his retirement with the Agency. It is the end of an era, the espionage business is changing and Kendig is from the old school. So he decides to go out with a bang. Match is skills and wit with the up and coming. John and I loved the edited version of this movie. The book was wonderful.
Secret Keeper by Kate Morgan-Laurel returns home for her mother’s 90th birthday. Now 60 with a successful acting career Laurel wants to unravel the mystery of why her mother plunged a knife into a strange man’s chest in their back yard while Laurel looked on from the tree house where she had been napping. I love her stories.
Old Testament-This was my first time to read it all the way straight through every word. I found wonderful treasures of knowledge and prophesy of the coming of Christ and the second coming of Christ. I also learned more about the great prophets like Moses, Joseph, Abraham, Jacob and Daniel.
Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver-I read this book before but I loved listening to it. Ian McKellon (Gandolf) reads it and it’s just like sitting in the Shire and listening to Gandolf fill the heads of all Hobbiton with stories. It was magical.
The Black Angel by Cornell Woolrich-A panic stricken young wife races against time to prove that her convicted husband did not kill his mistress. She makes a journey through the darker side of life. It’s wonderful and very suspenseful.
The Scavenger’s Daughters by Kay Bratt-Benfu survived torture and imprisonment during China’s Cultural Revolution. He escapes with help and ends up behind the home of Calla Lily. They marry and he supports his family by scavenging through trash and then reselling it. One of the things that the Chinese discard is less desirable girl babies. Their lives are dedicated to raising these discarded girls but now they are old. What will become of their still large family if Benfu can no longer provide for them? Wonderful, wonderful story!!
Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan-Audible, I love his stand up. This wasn’t quite as funny but  it was interesting to hear how he raises his kids in a five story walk apartment in NYC and their life when he is on the road.
Prisoner’s Base by Rex Stout-A Nero Wolf Mystery. Nero Wolf is an eccentric who solves murders through deduction with the help of his delightful side-kick Archie Goodwin.
My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannet-A very cute nonsense tale. An island of animals has captured a baby dragon and now is using it as a ferry across the river. A boy sets out to rescue the baby dragon.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley-Flavia is an eleven year old chemist who specializes in poisons. Set in 1950 England. Her mother disappeared during an expedition 10 years ago. Her Father has kind of checked out. All he thinks about is his stamps. Then Flavia finds a man dying in the cucumber patch in the middle of the night.
They Came to Bagdad by Agatha Christie-This was on a must read book list. It was full of international intrigue. One of Christie’s best. Lots of plot twists.
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston-Beautiful piece of prose. At one point I struggled through the dialogue which was written in the vernacular, but the story telling was very strong and it was lovely to watch Jamie finally find true love and herself with Tea Cake. Zora wrote this in seven weeks on a visit to Haiti in 1937. It is a classic in the truest form.
Maisie Dobbs by Jacueline Windspear- A wonderful debut novel set in post WWI England. Maisie Dobbs has a brilliant and insatiably curious mind. Through a mentor she gets to go to good schools and eventually to Cambridge. WWI hits and she becomes a field nurse. Now the war is over and she becomes a private detective. Wonderful Book. Looking forward to whole series.
American Sniper by Chris Kyle-John and I read this together. I did some heavy editing because of language while I was reading. Chris Kyle attended Midlothian High School and would come back and speak to the graduating class each year he was state side. Cristin got to hear him the year before he was killed.
Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Windspeare-The second Maisie Dobbs book. Maisie is hired by a wealthy business man to find his 32 yr old daughter who has run away from home. This seemingly simple assignment becomes meshed in with the murder of three young women. Every enjoyable.
Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George-love the author kind of luke warm about this book.
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey-Based on the Russian Fairy Tale by the same name. Eowyn sets her tale in the Alaskan wilderness in the 1920’s. Jack and Mabel have fled their life in Pennsylvania because Mabel is 50 and though she has miscarried she has never had a child of her own. The beginning is very grim, as the two of them wallow in their grief in their own way. Then they build a girl out of snow. Beautifully told.
The Alchemist by Michael Scott-First in his series. Wonderful fantasy novel.
Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R King-Mary Russell meets a seemingly retired Sherlock Holmes and this 14 yr old is as quick witted as the 50 yr old Holmes. Thus begins a life long partnership. This is the first in a series of 13 or more books pairing Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes. Utterly delightful.
Lark Rise to Candleford by Elizabeth Gaskell-Audible, It was beautifully narrated by the actress who played Laura in the BBC series. So beautifully descriptive of a life time long gone, a simple time. I loved listening to this.
The Magician by Michael Scott-More adventures for Sophie and her brother Josh with Nicholas Flamel. Sophie is coming into her powers and Josh is feeling left out. It is his turned to have his powers awakened.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstein-A magical duel set in a mystical Night Circus by two old wizards who have been setting their prodigies against each other in a duel to the death for years. But Celia and Marcus fall in love before they discover the terrible secret that only one of them will come out of this duel alive. Quite lovely.
Witherwood by Obert Skye(Robert Smith)-Two naughty children are dropped off at the gates of Witherwood Reform School to teach them a lesson. Their father has an accident before he can turn around to come get them. Witherwood has a secret.
The Lark and the Sparrow by Janette Okie-Two sisters, the oldest lives under the shadow of the younger sister’s beauty and good nature. The older sister is determined to be the antithesis of her younger sister. She dresses severely  and is cold and meticulous. But love finds her in the end.
Far Far Away by Tom McNeal-Jeremy Johnson Johnson can hear voices but specifically one voice, the ghost of Jacob Grimm the co-author of the Grimm Fairy Tales. Suddenly Jacob is living one of his own fairy tales as an observer and things do get rather Grimm. Dark but delightful.
A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott-A Gothic romance published posthumously. The title kind gives the ending away. It was a wonderful page turner and her writing is amazing as always.
The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman-Tom loves the peace and routine of being a lighthouse keeper after surviving the Western Front. He meets Isabel on one of his leaves and they marry. After losing several babies one washes up on the shore of their little island in a row boat with a dead man. Their joy has a terrible cost. Very heart wrenching.
The Cater Street Hangman by Ann Perry- I love Ann Perry’s Mysteries. This was her first in the Thomas Pitt and Charlotte Ellison series. Someone is garroting young women in a proper Victorian neighborhood.
Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick-2nd book in the Hush, Hush (Fallen Angels) series. Patch and Nora.
New Testament-So my goal was to read the whole Bible in two years and I achieved my goal. I have read the NT several times but this was my first time to read the whole (every word)thing.  One of the thoughts I had as I read the New Testament is how little we have of the Saviors life. How precious are those things we do have. It was brought home to me again that Jesus brother James wrote those famous words that lead to the restoration of the gospel. James 1:5
An Astronauts Guide to Life on Earth: “What going to space taught me about ingenuity, determination and being prepared for anything” by Chris Hadfield-Chris Hadfield sprinkles his journey to becoming the first Canadian Astronaut to get accepted into the NASA program and his time in space liberally with life lessons. It was a wonderful book. I love it so much I gave a copy to all my kids for Christmas.
The Haunting of Lamb House by Joan Aiken-A ghost story of sorts.

I read about 78 books this year. I didn't post all of them. 



Sunday, September 6, 2015

Yes, we're moving......again.

Kansas

You may not believe me
when I tell you this tale,
But today I got ruby slippers
in a package in the mail.

There was no return address,
just a postmark at the top,
From a little town in Kansas,
not even a whistle stop.

A town I’d never heard of,
in the middle of the state,
Halstead, north of Wichita
on the map at any rate.

Situated along the 
 Little Arkansas River bank.
I wondered who had sent the shoes,   
wondered who to thank.

I took them from the package,
watched them sparkle in the sun.
I slipped on the right shoe.
It fit like a holster fits a gun.

I pointed my toe and
swung the heel from left to right.
It glimmered and it gleamed,
it was such a pretty sight.

In the second shoe
I found something kind of odd.
A little note all crumpled up
in a small tight wad.

It wasn’t something cryptic,
not words to make you roam.
Just these five simple words,
“There’s no place like home.”

I probably should not
have said the words aloud,
As I clicked my heels together,
so smartly and so proud.

For suddenly the rolling hills
of Tennessee were replaced
With the flat plains of Kansas
and wide open space.

So if you want to visit me,
I’m in the Sunflower State.
If you’re thinking about a visit
please do not hesitate.

I can’t promise that I’ll be here
when you come, because . . .
A tornado may come along
and carry me off to OZ.


August 31, 2015

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Books I Read in 2014

Eggs by Jerry Spinelli. David is not dealing with the loss of his mother very well. She slipped on a wet floor and fell down some stairs breaking her neck. Now if can only obey the rules perfectly she may return and they will see that sunset together. He hasn’t seen a sunset since her death.
 Primrose lives in an abandoned car out in her front yard. Her mother tells fortunes always the same one. You will have a long and happy life. Primrose moved out to have her own space.  The two meet and help each other heal. It was delightful. 
As You Are by Sarah M Eden.  A lovely Regency Romance by an LDS author.
Servant: The Dark God, Book One by John Brown. I have enjoyed John Brown’s writing advice on his web page. I bought this book when it first came out through TOR. I only read a couple of chapter and then put it down. He has since decided to publish his own book. So edits and rewrites later and “Servant of a Dark God” becomes “Servant: The Dark God, Book One”
I think I’m getting too old for High Fantasy. It just seemed to stress me out. The writing is good and the world building is solid. I just felt like even though good triumphed over evil in the end that all the problems that were facing them before  were mostly still there at the end.
I really wanted to like it because he is and LDS author and a student of Orson Scott Card’s writer’s workshop. 
Ruins by Orson Scott Card. The story continues in the second installment of the Pathfinders series. Rig, Umbo, Param, Olivenco and Loaf (I love those names by the way) have made it through the wallfold. The ships are coming from earth to destroy Garden and they have to determine why so they can stop it.
I’m not in love with this series there is a lot of explaining about the repercussion of time travel and the ethics of it…a lot of explaining. I find myself oddly anxious to know when the third and final installment will come out. I am listening to the audio version and love the narrators. 
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. Very short novel less than a 180 pages.  A man comes home for his father’s funeral and goes back to the place he grew up. He goes down to the end of the land and remembers.
A YA Fantasy with some major adult themes; suicide, child abuse, infidelity.
Lettie, her mother and grandmother are the funnest part of this book. 
The Adventures of Sir Lancelot the Great by Gerald Morris. I have all his King Arthur and his round table tales.  This one was full of laughs. I recommend them all for King Arthur fan.  Written for ages 8-12. 
Spellbound compiled by Diana Wynn Jones. A complication of Fantasy stories by the literary greats such as Eva Ibbotson, L. Frank Baum, E. Nesbit, Andrew Lang, Andre Norton, Joan Aiken, CS Lewis, Rudyard Kipling and Patricia C Wrede. Experpts from some novels and others as standalone stories. Wrapped up with a story called “What the Cat Told Me” by Diane Wynn Jones. Very Fun read. 
Autobiography of Parley P Pratt One of the greatest later day missionaries, tells his story and we see the early days of the restoration through his experiences. His life is full of service, trials and tribulation. He was also a journalist and a poet. Many of our later day hymns have his as their author. Through all his trials he had an unwavering testimony of the restoration of Christ’s true Church on the earth for the final time.
He sealed his testimony with his blood. He was a martyr for the cause.
A very powerful read and testimony builder. Loved it. Was a book club pick. 
Sarah by Orson Scott Card. This is the wonderful story of Sarai and Abram fleshed out for us by OSC. He weaves together all the stories from the Bible and gives us a look into the heart of this remarkable woman.
We watch her change and grow into the wonderful matriarch of Abram’s Kingdom. We feel her softening as she see’s the promises made to Abraham go unfulfilled because of her barreness. Beautifully written. I am reading the OT so want to read this trilogy along with it. 
Mazerunner by James Dashner. Sorry I hated it. All the characters have amnesia. The characters are not very well realized the premise wears very thin. I stuck it out because he is an LDS author and they are making a movie from it. I may stand alone in my opinion and it is just my opinion but I will not read the rest of the series. 
Gossamer by Lois Lowry. I love, love, loved this book. Littlest One is the newest dream giver and she is in training. She is very curious, loves to dance about, wonders what exactly they are and sucks her thumb.
It’s the Littlest’s story but also the story of the 70-yr-old woman who takes in a young angry boy as a foster parent.
It was wonderfu to watch Littlest grow and learn and to watch the old woman and the boy heal.
Lois Lowry is a wonderful writer. 
Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent. Very sweet story of a minister and his family in small town (Imperial) Nebraska. After many personal adversities; broken leg, kidney stones, lumpectomy the final straw was their nearly four-year-old almost dying from a bust appendix.
Then the story unfolds as they have those childhood talks with their son and he begins to reveal his near death experience of going to Heaven. Wonderful book. Very life affirming and a great faith builder. 
More Adventures of the Great Brain by John D Fitzgerald. TD and JD are up to more adventure. TD or Tom has the mind of a con artist though he is only eleven years old. His parents take away the new bicycle he just got for Christmas until he uses his great brain to turn and illiterate tomboy into an educated young lady. As always these stories are so fun to read. 
Far Word – Water Keep by J. Scott Savage. Another LDS writer. This was good enough that I look forward to the sequels (3 more).
Marcus has been handicapped from birth and wheelchair bound. Found abandoned as a baby a Priest saved him but now he goes from one school to the next.
But somehow he has skills he doesn’t understand. He can make himself seem invisible to others and get hints of danger.
Kyja lives on a world where everyone has magic but her until because of some bond between them she pulls Marcus to her world. So the adventure begins. I liked it. 
Rebekah by Orson Scott Card. The telling of the story of Rebekah and Isaac. OSC is a wonderful story teller. I often wondered how the real Rebekah and Isaac felt about OSC depiction of them. Rebekah is strong willed but beautiful and Isaac never feels like he measures up to Ishmael. Stayed up most of the night reading it. 
Bear in the Back Seat I & II Adventures of a Wildlife Ranger in the Great Smokey Mountains by Carolyn Jordan and Kim Delozier. These are the real experiences of Kim Delozier who was a park ranger in the Great Smokey Mountains for 32 years. It was a wonderful read. 
Wonder by RJ Palacio. August Pullman is a 10-yr-old boy with a severe facial deformity. He has been homeschooled until now. He is entering a school for the fifth grade. This story is told in several people POV as we watch Auggie struggle with prejudice of people put off by his face and watch how being his friend changes those around him. It was a wonderful read. 
Fair Weather by Richard Peck. Another gem by Mr. Peck. Lottie, Rosie and Buster get to leave the farm to go visit their Aunt in Chicago to see the World’s Fair. Grandpa tags along with Tip his dog. This trip will change all their lives in unexpected ways. I love Richard Peck’s stories. 
Homeland & Exile by RA Salvator. I got these two books on Audio and listened to them while I worked on my quilt. Jeanie Phillips and Tracy Blankenship both highly recommended this whole series. They were both right Driz D’Urden is wonderful protagonish. A moral man living in an amoral society. A dark elf with ebony skin and snow white hair. The underdark was a great world with so many amazing creatures. This great High Fantasy. 
Once We were Kings by Ian Alexander. Nice read, not perfectly crafted but kept my interest. Sometimes if felt like the pace was a little break neck. 
The Longest Tunnel by Alan Burgess. The True story of the Great Escape from Stalag Liff III of RAF, USAF, Canadian AF and other countries pilot and plane crew that were shot down over enemy territory and sent to POW camps. Their main job was to try to escape and cause resources to be used to find them or to escape. This is the story of the longest Tunnel that was dug and the 76 men that escaped. It even takes you to post war Germany and the rounding up of the members of Gestapo who murdered 50 of those officers who escaped. Very well written, truly fascinating. I gave this to Joe and Ryan for our Christmas book exchange along with the movie, “The Great Escape.” 
East by Edith Pattou. Retelling of the fairy tale, “East of the Sun, West of the Moon.” Easy read, she adds a lot of flavor with the strong superstitions of the MC’s mother. Also instead of the four winds carrying Rose on her journey, we have actual people who help her who represent the four winds. Nicely done! Great research so story is well fleshed out. 

Royal Airs by Sharon Shinn. Once again Sharon Shinn creates a wonderful world peopled by people with elemental magic. Josetta is a princess of one of the five families but is far enough from the throne that she works in the slums to bring relief to the poor. Her sister ends up in the slums rescued by Rafe a professional card player. He is different than anyone Josetta has met. He does not seem to have any elemental blessings. When Rafe is attacked they soon realize the past he has forgotten may endanger their budding relationship but their very lives. Wonderful.

about 25 books read this year.