Refuge Cove by Janet Dailey. The New Americana Series. Book Review.

Refuge Cove is a 291 page romance. This gentle suspense love story is for adults and young adults.
Emma, lonely schoolteacher, has been tricked into leaving her home and career, travelling to Alaska, and entering a sham of a marriage by a con artist named Boone. When his evil intentions become clear, Emma sets his trailer on fire and flees for her life. John Wolf sees her crawling across the bog and rescues her starting a complicated and suspenseful chain of events involving his estranged, strange, family.
Although the story evolves slowly there are enough foreboding incidents to alert the reader to upcoming drama and danger. Janet Dailey connects a complicated and highly dysfunctional family in surprising ways leading some to reconciliation and some to punishment. It is a satisfying conclusion. Love and heroism save the day and readers  who crave a happy ending will smile as they close the last page.
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The Panchatantra Retold – Kakolukiyuum by Sonal Panse

This is a rare and fascinating collection of interweaving folk tales from ancient India. While they remind me of Aesop‘s fables, they are more complicated, with less obvious meanings, and interconnected in a intricate yet logical manner. This set of stories is written for adults.
The legend goes that a king asked a wise man to change his useless three sons into practical, competent young man. The wise man promised that in six months the boys would be transformed by his wisdom stories.
I have never read a story within story within a story circling back going forward and circling back again in the elaborate way this series does. It is an admirable feat of storytelling.
Much discussion could ensue from each little story especially with regard to psychological warfare and strategy. Basically the story is about owls continuing to attack and kill crows. How the crows decide to protect themselves is devised through discussion by exchanging short fables. There is much insight into the human psyche represented by these animals.
There is a wonderful pen and ink illustration for each story. This is a highly unusual book well worth a look.

My Favorite Adult Book I Read in 2017

I didn’t read many adult books this year so I’ve chosen only one to list as my favorite. Click on the title to go to the review.

Making Manna by Eric Lotke.

Unforgettable, riveting, total emotional engagement, inspiring, and brilliantly written. By far the best adult book I’ve read in years.

 

THIS WEEK

Monday – Favorite adult book

Tuesday – Five Favorite Young Adult Books

Wednesday – Five Favorite Middle Grade Books

Thursday – Seven Favorite Nonfiction Picture Books

Friday – Fifteen Favorite Fiction Picture Books

 

Olivia’s Promise by Diane Merrill Wigginton. Book Review.

This is the third book in the Jeweled Dagger Series

Olivia is lady Olivia Sophia Alan Townsend, a 20-year-old who can see and speak with the spirits of the dead. She is the third daughter in a line of remarkably gifted women with dynamic head-strong personalities. The ghost of a friend, Lilly, appears to her confused about her own death. Olivia is shocked and heartbroken. She is  determined to find out how and why her friend was killed and where her body now resides.

Olivia’s personality is more dramatic than her mother and grandmother’s. But, like them, Olivia is brave and clever. Her devotion to her friend, Lilly, never wavers in spite of evil spirits, lying men, gossipy women, kidnappers, angry parents, wolves, and fire.

The story is not as fast paced or densely plotted as the first and second in the series.  But, like the first two books, there are some sizzling romantic and suspenseful scenes between Olivia and her love interest, Brody Beaumont as well as moments of danger. I did find Brody a bit aggressive though. He forced his kisses upon her on more than one occasion. I was, however pleased to see that in spite of her romantic intoxication, Olivia made wise choices and the book has a mature and happy ending.

Another enjoyable vacation read by Diane Merrill Weddington.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

All of Me! A Book of Thanks by Molly Bang. Book Review.

This is an unusual book of thanks. It reminds me of a Buddhist gatha where we thank our body for everything it has given and done for us. In this text, the child thanks his feet, hands, knees and elbows, head, five senses, and other parts of his body. He expresses appreciation and wonder at the gifts given to him through his body. For example:

“I smile and talk and sing with my mouth. My lips kiss Mommy and Daddy. My teeth bite crackers. My tongue licks ice cream. My most tastes all my food before it slides down here, into my tummy.”

There’s one exceptionally beautiful moment where, after expressing thanks for all the things he can hear such as honking, singing, barking, laughing, purring, ticking,and rumbling, he hears between the noises… Silence. This illustration is a double spread of a night sky with a crayon outline of the boys face, eyes closed, calm and serene.

The illustrations are large and bright, done with crayon and cut out pieces of felt and graphics.

This book is a excellent reminder to be thankful for the simple things we receive, to express gratitude for our bodies with which we experience the whole universe.

It ends “And right now I also know that I am part of this whole world – this universe! All this is my home. I am ALIVE. And this whole universe is inside… All of me! What a wonder.
What seems at first to be a simple picture book is actually a profound and wise way of looking at the world and oneself. This would be a beautiful nighttime story for a child, a wonderful book to share on Thanksgiving Day, a Sunday school or Dharma school treasure, or even a reminder to adults not to take their lives for granted.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Isabella’s Heart by Diane Merrill Wiggington. Book Review.

Isabella’s Heart is the second in the award-winning Jeweled Dagger Series. Like the first book, it is a lighthearted humorous romance that takes place in the 1700s. It contains just enough historical reference to establish time and place and provide an anchor for societal expectations and events. In spite of a few anachronisms, the author succeeds in bringing the reader into this colorful world.

Isabella is the daughter of Angelina, the heroine of the first book, Angelina’s Secret, and has inherited her gutsy, defiant personality. In this story, Isabella sets out to save her twin brother from kidnappers. They share a special psychic connection which allows Isabella to see through the eyes of her brother Charles. Although there is a significant amount of romance, it is a nice variation to see the focus of this story centered on a sibling relationship.

Like her mother, Isabella is no slacker when it comes to combat. She is also insightful, brave, clever, and more than a little reckless. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away but this is a fun, swashbuckling, fast-paced adventure with a kick ass heroine. It’s a great beach read or holiday break.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Getting to the Vet on Time – Is It Possible? Recycled Sundays.

It’s bad enough when my mailbox is stuffed with bills, requests for donations, and rejection letters, but I really hate it when my cats get more personal mail than I do.

Their veterinarian sends them postcards. At least, they don’t picture domestic cats lazing in the sunshine on southern beaches wearing sunglasses and sipping kittenaid. The postcards picture a cat with his dentures in a glass and a dog with an ice pack on his toothache. It reminds them to brush regularly (in our house that is as often as they crown a new monarch in London) and make an appointment to have their teeth cleaned. I guess I can do without those kinds of postcards. Then again, so can my cats since they can’t see two-dimensional pictures anyway.

Vet day in our house resembles a chase scene from the old Keystone Cops movies. Everyone tears around the place, upsetting things, making spectacular collisions, and accomplishing very little. Because of our three cats – Virgil, Patch and Misty – we must go through this three times a year. We learned the only way to catch Virgil is to offer him food. That cat would put his head under a guillotine for kitty snack.

However, Patch has to be cornered. Everyone must act nonchalant. The cat traveling case should be hidden out of sight. Whoever is chosen to catch the animal must behave as though he is only slightly interested in the cat, just pausing for a quick petting. The more interest is shown, the better Patch hides. Once he is apprehended, he pays us back by dropping hair the way a lizard drops his tale or an octopus shoots ink. I suspect he thinks if he sheds enough hair in one spot, we will be fooled and take that to the vet instead. Too many trips in a row and he’ll be needing treatment for baldness.

Misty is almost impossible to catch. Highly suspicious by nature, we must be doubly sly to fool her. She is not drawn to kitty snacks and could live very well without humans, thank you, as long as she had clean litter.  SHE decides when and where she will be petted and by whom. Catching her requires an ambush which must succeed on the first try or the next 20 minutes will involve slamming doors, moving furniture, Olympic leaping, and bandages – for the human, not the cat. Once captured, stuffing her into the travel case is like trying to put bubbles back into soda pop.

I grew tired of all this nonsense, so when Virgil had an appointment, I caught him 15 minutes early and ignored his yowls of protest from the carrying case. Unfortunately, I had promised my children they could come and, of course, their school bus was late that day. They were met with a barrage of commands. “Respond immediately and cooperate completely or you’ll be left behind.” They unloaded their school stuff and then piled into the back seat. I put Virgil in his cage on the front passenger seat. The clock was ticking. Everyone had their assigned roles. This would be a test of our teamwork.

When I parked the car in front of the veterinarian’s, my son jumped up on the sidewalk and dropped the quarter into the meter as ordered. My daughter locked and slammed the sliding passenger door and then stood back. I jumped out and raced around to get the cat from the front passenger seat. Precise drill corp! We were amazing!

 

 

Then, I realized the passenger door was locked. My purse was on the floor with the keys in it. WE had made it on time, but not the cat. He was inside his cat cage, locked inside the car beyond my grasp. Fortunately, our vet still used wire hangers.

First published in the Chronicle-Journal/Times-News, Sunday, January 24, 1993

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Angelina’s Secret by Diane Merrill Wigginton. Book Review.

This is not the kind of book I typically review. It is a lightly historical heavily romantic novel. It features a kick ass heroine in a time where independence and strength in women was frowned upon. It is an adult book of 330 pages.

Angelina is on a ship and is captured by a privateer/pirate named Jude. His heart has been broken and he has a dark opinion of women until he meets Angelina. Angelina is a rebellious, but chaste, young woman until her passion is awakened by the blue-eyed pirate. While her family members are held hostage, Angelina dallies and begins a complicated romance with a man leading a double life.

Admittedly, the premise is fairly clichéd but Wiggington pulls it off if the reader is willing to suspend any skepticism and turn her imagination over to the realm of adventure and romance. Angelina reminded me of Scarlet O’Hara in that she was invincible and controlled by her passion. By the end of the book she had almost taken on super hero status.

The sex scenes emphasize romance while providing just enough detail to be titillating. This is a fun, light, enjoyable book, the kind one takes on vacation or to the beach. If you are looking for something fun that is uncomplicated and upbeat, then this is a book you would definitely enjoy.

Buy link http://a.co/6Mal4Tl

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! By Dr. Suess. Book Review.

 

I remember when this book first came out. Every principal and vice principal who had to MC a high school or elementary school graduation ceremony latched onto this book as a holy text. It was read to classes year after year and then continued to be spread by parents gifting it to their children. There is a reason it resonated so well.

Not only does this book contain sound advice for any young person heading out into the world but it serves as a reminder to us all of our possibilities and our challenges. It can be applied to the beginning of any new venture. I realized, because my granddaughter has a rather large vocabulary, that this book was suitable to read to her before beginning junior kindergarten. Although the message certainly wasn’t internalized on the first read through, the book launches well into discussion.

Everyone worries, whether they are beginning kindergarten, being promoted to the head CO, starting their own business, or leaving the nest, whether they will find their place and fulfill their potential. This book has a perfect combination of positive expectations and reality. “You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.” is followed with “except when you don’t. Because, sometimes you won’t.” Note the word sometimes. The door is wide open. The possibilities are there.

When children are inheriting a dying world with ecosystems being destroyed and pollution, including the dumping of nuclear waste, completely out of control. With wars on going and wars threatening. With obesity and heart attack hand-in-hand with poor diet and factory farming. With climate change bringing desertification, tornadoes and floods and who knows what else. With inner-city violence and the shadow of terrorism. On and on and on. Children need to have confidence and feel empowered but also realize that they will not be able to fulfill every dream or every goal.  Some things are beyond their control. What amazing discussions this book can trigger for any age.

I would say, don’t wait till university graduation or even high school graduation. Get this book into your child’s hands as soon they are able to comprehend it. Then again, you might want to save it for that moment of doubt when he’she faces difficult choices.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages