From Scratch

“Safe to open my heart, to be vulnerable” ~ Tembi Locke, From Scratch

What does it mean for us to open our hearts? To be emotionally vulnerable???

Tembi Locke found the answers to those questions during her College stay in Italy. She literally ran into the man who would help her discover those answers; the man whom she would come to share a life with. The man who would inspire her to open her heart even more as she put pen to paper and shared the most private events of her life.

A touching memoir to her late husband and his passion for his native Sicily that was so much a part of his essence. Tembi Locke invites us to share in her and her daughters grief at the loss of a husband and father. Share in her first stumbling steps as a widow and a single mother.

Tembi also shares the frustration and anger towards the family that initially disowned Saro for his choice of wife, and how those feelings were overcome. I loved her candor with her experience with adopting their daughter. Her honesty in the unexpected mix emotions of first meeting her daughters biological mother, then of finally meeting her daughter for the first time.

There is so much emotion in this Memoir, I cried and my heart ached for Tembi and her daughter. I even laughed at times. This book is so beautifully written and Tembi’s writing style is so fresh and honest. Also be sure to have some Sicilian fare when you sit down this book, I know I was starving by the time I finished reading it. Ciao!!!

Beyond The Point

Beyond The Point written by Claire Gibson was my April Book of the Month pick. I joined Book of the Month to try and expand my reading horizons. While I would not normally pick such a novel I decided to give it a go in the spirit of trying something a little different.

Claire Gibson creates a special bond between three West Point graduates in Dani, Avery and Hannah. Three girls who’s only common link is their love of basketball; and their decision to pursue a higher education at the elite military academy at West Point. Dani is an organized girl, driven to succeed. Avery, a perpetual wild child, has an emotionally bankrupt relationship with her parents and is driven by her need to make her own way. Hannah, a traditionalist at heart has grown up admiring her grandfather and his service to the Country and feels compelled to serve in the same manner.

Shared experiences both on and off the basketball court help these three girls forge a bond that seems they will share for the rest of their lives, or will it? Tested by distance and changes or lack thereof in lifestyles it seems that what they once thought was an unbreakable bond is falling apart. Yet when tragedy befalls, these three girls discover the lengths they will go for one another. In so doing they each discover new depths of their own. I end with a favorite quote from Beyond The Point.

“Maybe hope is the only lasting change one human can give to another. And for the first time in my life, I have hope. You gave that to me.” ~ Claire Gibson, Beyond The Point.

May we all find someone to give us hope, or better yet, be the one to give hope to another.

Magic Hour

I love a novel that gives me another destination to visit on my list of “places t0 see.” Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah does that for me.

“For years to come she knew that the people of Rain Valley you talk about this special time, when a child unlike any other had walked out of the woods and into their lives and changed them all, and how it had begun in mid-October, when the trees were dressed in tangerine leaves and danced in the chilly, rain-scented breeze, and the sun was a brilliant shade of gold that illuminated everything. Magic Hour.” ~ written by Kristin Hannah, Magic Hour

Dr. Julia Cates is left with a career in ruins after a media scandal, uncertain if she can recover her professional reputation. She has lost her self confidence.

Meanwhile a young girl appears in a small town nestled within the Olympic National Forest. Unable to communicate and traumatized the citizens of Rain Valley rally behind her and protect her from the media frenzy and the Police Chief brings in the best child psychologist she knows; her sister Dr. Julia Cates.

Fighting the odds and her own self doubt Julia bonds with the girl she has named Alice and helps Alice take her first steps into society. Julia also strengthens her own bond with her sister, and forges a new one with the Town Casanova.

This is a novel that showcases the need for we have for connection with our fellow humans. Even a child left abandoned in the wilderness is drawn toward human connection.

The Huntress

“Jason and the Argonaut, setting off for the Golden Fleece. The original no-chance-we’ll-find-it hunt. But they found it. Perhaps we’ll fid our Golden Fleece too.” ~ The Huntress by Kate Quinn.

Jordon is just a High School student dreaming of a career as a photojournalist when her father meets Anneliese Weber; an Austrian who has escaped war ravaged Europe looking for a new start. After a hasty courtship and even quicker marriage Jordon begins to develop doubts about the woman marrying her father. Just what is she running from and why so many secrets?

Ian was a war correspondent who is still searching for a way to heal from his losses in the War.  He has opened the “Center” and now tracks former Nazi war criminals, determined to hold them accountable for their actions. One Nazi in particular haunts him; Die Jägerin.

Nina was a decorated pilot in the Red Army, and the lone survivor of Die Jägerin’s victims.  She is determined to seek vengeance against her would be executioner.

Three people with seemingly little in commons brought together in the search for Justice. Three people who must decide what Justice means for them. Three people who must decide what lengths they’ll go to in order to find Justice. The Huntress is a novel well thought out and with wonderfully developed characters. If you haven’t already put this book on your to be read list it is a must.

Daisy Jones & The Six

A novel of Rock n’ roll and drugs Daisy Jone & The Six is a quick read for anyone looking for “peek” at the inner workings of a successful Rock N’ Roll band. Written as a biography   about the bands beginnings, their rise to fame an ultimately their unexpected break up on a fateful night in Chicago while on tour.

I found so much more in Daisy Jones & The Six besides the generalized story line. It is a story exploring the personality of people who are heralded as exceptionally talented and the potential complications they face in forging relationships with others. What happens when we’re left to our own devices at a young age. How do you handle finding a person who could potentially be the love of your life but their already married to someone else??

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and it was a quick read, definitely pick this one up!!

A Woman Is No Man

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ~ Mary Angelou

“I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified, because we are taught to respect fear more than ourselves. We’ve been taught that silence would save us, but it won’t.” ~ Audre Lorde

I chose this book back in February with my Book of The Month subscription and just picked it up earlier this week. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to read it. This is the story of three women from Palestine. Two of them forced into marriage at a young age as their culture dictates and the third facing the same fate.

Fareeda is the matriarch of the Ra’ad family. Forced to marry Kahleed at an early age in a refugee camp in Palestine, she and her family that she has devoted her life to now live in Brooklyn New York. When it comes time to find a wife for her eldest son Adam the family travels back to Palestine and find Isra.

Isra comes from a a conservative family in Palestine and is hopeful she will find more freedom in America than in the Country of her birth. Soon she realizes that while in a different Country, the customs that dictate daily life are still followed. She is expected to stay home and raise children. She gives Adam four daughters instead of the sons the family expects. She is bullied by her mother-in-law and only finds solace in the books her sister-in-law secretly lends to her.

Deya is the teenage daughter of Isra and Adam. She and her three younger sisters live with their grandparents in Brooklyn after the death of their parents. In her senior year of High School Deya finds herself presented with suitor after suitor as her grandmother desperately seeks to find a husband for her. Deya is faced with the impossible decision of following in the footsteps of the women before her, or take a stand and demand a different life for herself.

This is a hauntingly powerful novel of what can happens when women are suppressed and ultimately silenced. They can suffer from abuse both physical and emotional, more prone to depression with no way to reach out for help. The women in this novel are isolated and told from childhood that the sum total of what they can expect is what they have in this life already; and so the cycle continues from one generation to the next. Even Adam’s character is a victim in his own way in this novel. He must give up his own goals and dreams to help support his family and watches as his younger brothers are sent to college with the money he earns for the family. He is faced with the dissatisfaction of his mother that his wife has given birth to four daughters and no sons and is constantly being told he has to get his wife (a woman he has no emotional connection too) pregnant again and again. All in the name of family duty as the eldest son. Is in any wonder that he breaks under that kind of pressure?

This novel brings home the reason why its so important women have access to higher education and not forced into arranged marriages as teenagers. Traditions are important, just not at the expense of an individual’s peace of mind and happiness.

The Kingdom of Copper

Dive into the second novel of the Daevabad Trilogy and immerse yourself in the politics and intrigue. Just when you think you have all the alliances figured out an even occurs and you discover everything is not has it seems.

Nahri and Muntadhir are forced into a political marriage and have come to a truce, yet it is a truce that is not to last. Ali is exiled and constantly under threat from assassins sent by his father. However even Ali is able to find some measure of peace in his new environment, until circumstance compels him to return to Daevabad.

With Ali’s return Nahri’s already shaky relationship with her husband becomes even more unbalanced and Nahri begins to remember why she was drawn to Ali in the beginning.

Meanwhile preparations are being made for Celebrations in the city marking a new Century and the Djinn descend on Daevabad in force. Tensions amongst the different tribes are tense and threaten to boil over at the slightest hint of aggression. Did I mention there is a secret plot brewing to overthrow the royal family??? And what was Dara’s fate once he was defeated by Ali??? You’ll have to read the book to find out.