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The Wishing Hill: A NovelThe Wishing Hill: A Novel by Holly Robinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Bathed in the lush, golden hues of Puerto Vallarta, Juliet Clark spends each sitting on the beaches of Mexico's Pacific Coast, painting landscapes and vaguely feigning a Mexican heritage to the tourists who come to buy her work as the waves lap at the shoreline. When faced with unexpected desertion of her husband, Juliet Clark is at a loss; her tranquil bliss comes to an abrupt halt. Like the native Huichol Indians performing breathtaking ritual, the dance of the flyer, her life has taken on the feel of a free fall ballet.

Furthering her sense of loss of gravity, a phone call, explaining that under no uncertain terms, she must leave her idyllic life and return home to care for her aging mother, a woman who, during Juliet's childhood, was constantly preoccupied with creating a grandiose public facade, while covering her personal inadequacies in a garnered sense of entitlement and self importance, drawn from the admiration of others. Her preoccupation with success in her career as an actress overshadowed the authenticity of her relationship with her childen, who were often neglected while Desiree, her mother, pursued her own interests and romantic relationships that would both serve as fuel for her narcissistic need to be constantly adored and who would supplement her personal income.

In the The Wishing Hill: A Novel, author Holly Robinson takes us to a place of hidden intimacy between mothers and daughters, exposing the pain of their choices and the fears that lay behind them. Written with tender honesty, she holds out her hand, offering her characters with a vulnerability that is, at times, unsettling. The fragile nature of generations of women is beautified in their heartbreaks and their uncertainties, even as they are made strong through the power of their convictions.

 
The Temptation of Lila and Ethan (The Secret, #3)The Temptation of Lila and Ethan by Jessica Sorensen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Pub. date: May 6, 2014

Can true love ever survive in the brackish absence of light?

While superficially, The Temptation of Lila and Ethan is set in the seedy underbelly of Las Vegas, its true landscape lays within the treacherous darkness secreted within the title characters' separate pasts.

In the same meaningless way describing an ocean as being deep is factually correct, yet misses the point entirely, it would be simplistic and lacking to the point of irrelevance to limit Jessica Sorenson's work of fiction by depicting it as merely a romance novel.

 
Indie Spiritualist: A No Bullshit Exploration of SpiritualityIndie Spiritualist: A No Bullshit Exploration of Spirituality by Chris Grosso
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Author Chris Grosso Separates the Wheat From the Bullshit

With a table of contents that reads like a playlist, Indie Spiritualist author, Chris Grosso, is brutally honest as he shares his journey in carving out a path in his own darkness to find personal meaning and true value in his own spiritual truth.

At a Snatam Kaur Indian devotional/ kirtan music performance I attended last spring, Kaur shared an observation that in this culture, yoga is practiced with a pastel mat rolled up under one arm and a Starbucks coffee in your opposite hand. By contrast, in India, Yogis own no possessions, but a loincloth and a begging bowl; yoga is an inward spiritual practice that requires no trendy accessories, only solitude. Our spirituality has been bottled, bought, and trademarked.

 
Toby, the Pet Therapy Dog, Says Be a Buddy, Not a BullyToby, the Pet Therapy Dog, Says Be a Buddy, Not a Bully by Charmaine Hammond
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

For the record, Toby the Pet Therapy Dog is not a cognitive behavioral therapist for pets who display chronic bullying-related emotional disorders. The entire pretext of this book is to introduce school-age children to the concept of therapy animals. Aside from a picture illustrating the identifying uniform, the book offers little by way of familiarizing children with the use of service animals as they relate to people with disabilities. Therapy dogs are briefly described as dogs who help when people are sad or not feeling well, which vaguely address the purpose of companion animals, but does nothing to teach children about how service dogs can increase quality of life for those with visual or physical impairments.

 
Am I Beautiful?Am I Beautiful? by Chine Mbubaegbu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars



This was a very personal telling of the marginalization experienced by the author, being both a woman and a woman of color, contrasted with the Truth as presented in God's Word; that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Chine Mbubaegbu revitalizes the Barbie argument, citing that with worldwide sales reaching one billion, 90% of girls between the ages three and ten own a Barbie doll. Combined with the fact that a girls's lifelong body-image is fully developed by the tender age of eight, its no wonder we, as adult women, come into agreement with female objectification and resent our bodies for failing to reach impossible standards.

 
Disposition of RemainsDisposition of Remains by Laura T. Emery
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I LOVE THIS BOOK.

I'm usually reading several books at a time (a bit like channel surfing) but I started reading it last night, and its been all I can do to keep from slacking all day and keep my nose in Disposition of Remains. THANK GOD the weekend is coming up and its a satisfying 384 pages!

 

Buy it in Hardback- Keep it Forever.

Porcupette Finds a FamilyPorcupette Finds a Family by Vanita Oelschlager
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh... oh...oh! This story is just the sweetest thing!

I fell instantly in love with Porcupette, the baby porcupine who's mama disappeared while foraging for food one day. When she was scared, I wanted to take care of her, and was proud when she remembered to put her quills up like her mama had taught her. Isn't that the silliest thing? But I did. I felt invested, emotionally.

When she was fearful, I felt protective.

When she wondered if she had done something wrong to make her mama stop loving her, I tried not to cry. Emphasis: TRIED.

When she accidentally pricked her new family with her quills, I felt the need to express compassion.

And I was so grateful to Mother Bear, who loved Porcupette when she was at her most unlovable, and who's unconditional love ultimately helps Porcupette find self-acceptance.

Porcupette Finds a Family IS a tearjerker; twenty years ago, mothers were crying into Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch, but today, perhaps a more pertinent book on familial love in the restructured family unit has arisen. Written for adoptive families by Vanita Oelschlager, its message is both applicable and endearingly applicable to children of divorced parents, traditional families, or the the unhealed child within.

Buy it in hardback and keep it forever.

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In Capable Arms: Living a Life Embraced by GraceIn Capable Arms: Living a Life Embraced by Grace by Sarah Kovac
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The title of Sarah Kovac's inspirational memoir, In Capable Arms: Living a Life Embraced by Grace, is a reflection true of its wavering theme. In the candid ebb and flow of the author's personal and honest account of her life living with Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita, Kovac reveals her cyclical feelings of fear of inadequacy & incapability alternating with personal triumphs as she gains confidence in her ability to be self-capable.

Kovac's transparent honesty in sharing her self-doubt when faced with daily struggles that range from buttoning her pants to cradling her newborn baby in her limp arms to experiencing dreams that her "real" arms are fully functional firmly set the foundation for her lifelong transformative processing through of the stages of grief. It is by gaining understanding of God's perfect love for her that she discovers where her perfection truly lies; and where she finds grace.

I

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The Mice of Bistrot des Sept FreresThe Mice of Bistrot des Sept Freres by Marie LeTourneau
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a wonderful, wonderful story!

In The Mice of Bistrot des Sept Frère, its beautiful illustrations make the book. Set in a petit bistro in France, it is the story of a restaurant run by a family of mice. Each of the mice is unique in its own character and the illustrations depicted are both elegant and witty. It is satisfying to read a children's story book in which family members come together bringing their own individual strengths to the family as a whole to solve problems in times of crisis.

 
The Blessing StoneThe Blessing Stone by Barbara Wood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Having, against all good advise, judged this book by its cover, I was entirely unprepared for what I found inside The Blessing Stone. Mistakenly, I believed the book to be just another pretty face; a book that would look attractive on the shelf until I'd had my wicked way with it and disposed of its tawdry remains.

From the turning of the first page until the last, this book OWNED me. I was spellbound, throughout.