Tag Archives: Humour

Book Review: “Beatrice Munson” by Lorena Bathey

In Vista Heights, the women of the neighborhood have started to look like their homes, varying shades of beige.  Lost in this world of suburbia, Marissa Lyons learns her high school nemesis has bought the house right across the street from her. Afraid that her arch enemy, Beatrice Munson, will move in with Marissa’s high school crush as her husband and cause Marissa to relive the insecurity of high school in her forties, she decides to face the music and heads to Beatrice’s house with warm cupcakes. But what Marissa finds is something she never expected.  How will Marissa and the rest of the women of San Martino deal with someone like Beatrice Munson, whose defining moment in her life was to get a boob job or go on a trip to Egypt. This story is about friendship, love, learning to look at things differently, and great parties. Step into the world of Vista Heights where you might recognize the women, or you might be one of them. (from Goodreads) 

 

When Lorena Bathey was looking for reviewers, for her book “Beatrice Munson”, I jumped at the opportunity.  Many months ago, as I was cruising around on Goodreads, I came across “Beatrice Munson”, and immediately fell in love with the cover!  I think the cover is beautiful, and enticing, and is among my favourite book covers. Lorena Bathey generously mailed the book to me, in exchange for an honest review.  I could not wait for the book to arrive!!  And when the book did arrive, just holding the book in my hand brought a smile to my face.  Then I started to read about Beatrice, and all the ladies in the community of San Martino, a suburb of San Francisco. 

Lorena Bathey’s narrator, Marissa Lyons, is a character who captured my heart in the very first paragraph, (truly, she did!).  I identified with part of her story, of her high school experiences, and her challenge to find her true place in life. 

The character of Beatrice Munson moved into a house across the street from Marissa Lyons.  Once Beatrice settled into her home, decorated in her own personal style, Marissa came for a visit.  The vision of Beatrice’s house was described through Marissa’s voice.  I say vision, because that is the word that came to mind, as I read Lorena Bathey’s beautiful description of Beatrice’s house.  It was a house that I wanted to be in, a living room that I wanted to settle into a chair, with a cup of coffee, and a really good book.  Lorena’s talent with words drew me into the San Martino community, made me feel welcomed. 

Lorena Bathey

The action in this novel moved smoothly and quickly.  The only reason I did not finish the book in one sitting, was because family commitments called me away.  But I did finish the book in my second sitting – reading into the wee hours of the morning!  I could not go to sleep without knowing how everyone’s life turned out! 

In following the characters’ daily lives, the reader sees how each character develops. The enjoyable thing was that Lorena Bathey showed this development through conversation and action, rather than pages of description.  The humour in “Beatrice Munson” is at times elegantly displayed, in beautiful phrases that bring the reader further into the world of all the San Martino ladies.  Sentences like this:   

“….Graydon was like the high dive in the male dating pool, and on the female scale I was about halfway down to the deep end with floaties on my arms.” 

San Francisco – Lorena Bathey Facebook Page

I laughed out loud, and re-read the line a few times before moving on!  Lorena Bathey also brings humour and memories together: 

“Her hair was teased up to the level of a Jiffy Pop popcorn container,….” 

Ah, yes, Jiffy Pop foil container just about ready to burst, before Mom removed it from the stove, cut the foil, and we dived in – nice memories, and an excellent description of a hair style! The book description on the back cover, also part of the Goodreads summary, reads:  “Step into the world of Vista Heights where you might recognize the women, or you might be one of them.”   And that happened to me as I read through the book.  A couple of times I found myself thinking, “hmmm, that sounds like (insert name)” and “oh, my goodness, that’s me!”  Such is the gentle, yet powerful, word pictures created by this author.  Talent, pure talent. In my book reviews, I do not like to give books a ‘number rating’, or a ‘star rating’, rather I stay with word recommendations, (or not!).  And fiction is so personal; each person experiences the story through their own life experiences.  But with all that said, if I was to give “Beatrice Munson” a number rating, it would definitely be 5 out of 5, in my mind, without question, a 5 star rating.  So, my recommendation to my readers is to definitely read “Beatrice Munson” by Lorena Bathey, and enjoy!! 

photo – Gavin Hellier

Where is the Joy of the Written Word in this book?  The answer is: from cover to cover, from beginning to end. 

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Choose Joy!  

Patricia

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Book Review: “Recipes for Disaster” by Sheryl Browne

She’s a single. He’s a widower. She wants him. He wants her. She wants to impress. So does he. There’s just one catch – she can’t cook. To get him, she needs to get past the big fish – his mother. Lucky her, she’s got an Ace up her sleeve and all she’s got to do is impress this one time. Bad luck, though, her new guy can’t cook either, her dog Rambo is on the loose and now they’ve got to pull off the big lunch at the club. Will it be a match made in heaven? Will they be able to pull off a culinary miracle? Will their combined efforts result in love at first bite? Or is it simply a Recipe for Disaster?(from Goodreads)

 

“The best thing I can make for dinner is reservations”. 

“Sure, I know the five basic food groups:  frozen, canned, delivery, pick-up and eating out”. 

Words I have lived by!!   

Needless to say, my husband is the cook in our family!  As I cross the threshold to the kitchen, my brain opens its eyes, and says: “I just remembered, I have to be somewhere else……”.  And it leaves…. 

So, when I read the synopsis of “Recipes for Disaster” by Sheryl Browne, I knew I would need to add it to my book shelf.  I really connected with Lisa, the main character, and non-cook.  I was fortunate when Sheryl Browne, the author, and Kim Maya Sutton, a Director at Safkhet Publishing, sent me a copy of Sheryl’s book, in exchange for an impartial review.  All the way from the U.K.!!  And I thank both of these ladies. Thank you! 

The book uses multiple narrators, who tell the story from their unique positions.  The main character, Lisa, is not a cook, but commits herself to cater a major event, hosted by her prospective mother-in-law!  Chaos and calamity follows.  “Recipes for Disaster” uses humour – from the first page to the last page.  It is humour that pulls you in, and keeps your attention.   

Not only are the characters creating all kinds of delicious foods, making the finished product sound so real, the author is very generous, and gives the reader all the recipes.  Even I became (slightly) inspired to try to attempt these recipes.  I will admit that I have not yet done so, but I can feel myself breaking out of my mold

Sheryl Browne

and surprising family members with Frisian Anchor or Olivia’s Pride!! 

If you love cooking, baking, and trying new recipes, this book is for you.  If you like reading a novel with a strong plot, this book is for you.  This book is such a good blend of fiction and food! 

Just one comment about the cover of the book – it is distracting!  But, distracting in a good way! (hmmm, hmmm) 

One element of the book that I was quite uncomfortable with, is the very ‘colourful’ language that is used – quite a bit of which, I just glazed over.  Regular readers of my blog will know that I have very low tolerance for swearing.  So, I will admit that I missed some paragraphs which were peppered with these words.  

I enjoyed Sheryl Brown’s writing style – very light and fast moving – exactly right for the storyline and the personalities of the characters.  I look forward to future books, which I know Sheryl will write.

White Asparagus Creme Soup

If you are a regular visitor to my blog, you will know that at the end of my posts, I always try to connect the title of my blog with the post itself.  Where do I find “The Joy of the Written Word” as related to this post and the book, “Recipes for Disaster”?  For me, the Joy is felt as I smiled my way through the book, and in feeling Joy in the possibility of me as a cook!!  Just maybe I will keep you posted on that event!

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Choose Joy! 

Patricia

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Book Review: “From Zero to Four Kids in Thirty Seconds” by Amy L. Peterson

Amy is a 30-year-old woman who spent many years polishing an unapproachable outer shell and maintaining a long list of reasons why not to have children. She keeps a canoe on her front porch, a mountain bike in her kitchen and a balance in her checking account. Mark is an older, divorced man with four kids. He sleeps on an Army cot and eats out of pots and pans given to him by his therapist. He has a Ph.D. in stream ecology, a VW Rabbit with 285,000 miles on it and enough fishing tackle to sink a small boat.  Amy falls for Mark hook, line and hundreds of dollars in sinkers. (from Goodreads) 

I would like to thank Amy Peterson for giving me the opportunity to read and review her book.  Amy sent me her book free of cost, in exchange for an honest review.  “From Zero to Four Kids in Thirty Seconds” is Amy Peterson’s true story of adapting to life as wife and step-mother.

The book’s chapters chat about different events and stages in Amy’s life, as she moves from being a very independent single, to a still independent married.  The trick was to maintain her link to independent thinking, while being part of a six person think tank – with the two oldest members, Amy and her husband Mark, ruling the roost!  Even if the kids thought they ruled the roost! 

Within each chapter, Amy gives the readers tips on getting through each new adventure as it arises.  Sometimes it is tips on how not to do things!  Amy’s chapter topics range from falling in love, family vacations, and meeting her step-children, all the way through to handling married life – not necessarily in that order.  Amy’s tips range from knowing that all the family does not like her new love, to how to be grateful for holidays that only happen yearly, and how ‘old’ families and ‘new’ families need not vacation together…… 

Amy’s humour is good, clean fun.  While we all cannot identify with Amy’s roles, I think the general reader can find something to laugh with.  For today’s world of many styles of blended family living, I believe most of us have been in one, or a number, of Amy’s family situations.  For anyone, of any marital status, who has had to immerse themselves in a new family’s traditions, (and isn’t that most of us?), even if we don’t admit we are laughing, Amy’s stories will strike a familiar chord. 

For the most part, Amy’s stories run somewhat chronologically, and that is the way I read the book; but, this is also the type of literature that enables the reader to pick up the book, open to any page, and begin reading.  Sometimes, even a couple of paragraphs will be all that is needed to bring some laughter into our days. 

When Erma Bombeck started writing in 1967 about her family adventures, not everyone laughed.  But, at the time of her death in 1995, her books were read around the world.  Bombeck’s work was very similar to Amy Peterson’s style, although as a newcomer, Amy’s efforts may be a little rough around the edges.  Maybe one day, Peterson and Bombeck may be considered of the same genre and gift. 

I think most readers will find “From Zero to Four Kids in Thirty Seconds” a breath of fresh air, in a world where even pleasure reading can have a dark twist.  Do yourself a favour, and check it out! 

Well, we have reached the end of this written word post, and I ask “Where is the Joy?” in this reading.  If we want to relax a little, kick our shoes off, and put our feet up, this book may be the remedy we are looking for.  One thing that occurred to me as I read Amy’s story, was that reading these pages aloud with your spouse, may bring a taste of Joy into the room.  Maybe give it a try…… 

Choose Joy! 

Patricia

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Book Review: Patsy Clairmont’s “Stained Glass Hearts” – “Seeing Life from a Broken Perspective”

Much like stained glass, life’s broken pieces become  the prism through which God’s grace shines most brightly and  beautifully.

“Life is no doubt full of difficulties, but it is also filled  with promise and possibility,” says best-selling author and WOF {Women of Faith}  speaker Patsy Clairmont. In Stained Glass Hearts Clairmont  guides readers to view the difficult experiences of life through  the lens of God’s grace. Using art as a theme, and likening people  to stained glass windows, she shares that it’s when we’re  surrounded by darkness that His healing light shines most brightly  within us. Encouraging women to step back and see life from this  new perspective, Patsy offers help and hope for the dark  places of life.

Along with character studies of women in Scripture, and  modern-day, relatable stories, each chapter includes:

  • Chalice-memorable quotes
  • Mosaic-recommended music
  • Spires-scriptures and readings
  • Litany-sample prayers

(from www.chapters.indigo.ca)

Original Cover: "God Uses Cracked Pots"

A number of years ago while browsing in a book store, (one of my most favourite activities), I noticed a book: “God Uses Cracked Pots”.   As I stopped and picked up the book, (who could resist that title?), I noticed the author’s name was Patsy Clairmont, at the time not an author with whom I was familiar.   I would come to realize it was my lack of knowledge that was at issue, not the popularity of the author!  However, that day, I was more caught on the title, than on the author. I flipped through it, checked out the cover, and decided it was not for me – as it turns out, not my best decision!  I am now on the lookout for this book. 

Cover Re-released Version

The author’s website, (www.patsyclairmont.com), shows that the book “God Uses Cracked Pots” has been re-released, and I think I know at least one customer!  My memory does not give me a synopsis of the book, but the title is drawing me in!!

With all that said, this review is not about Patsy Clairmont’s book “God Uses Cracked Pots”; it is about her book “Stained Glass Hearts”.  I received “Stained Glass Hearts” at no charge through the Booksneeze Book Review Program, which means I will be also posting this review on their website.

“Stained Glass Hearts” is what I would call, a pretty title; and the book  cover is very pretty, in colour and in design.  I would come to find out that this book is so much more than pretty.  With a book subtitle of  “Seeing Life from a Broken Perspective”,  I quickly learned that, all prettiness set aside, this book would have meaningful words to share.  Patsy Clairmont would have meaningful words to share.  And Patsy did.

Stained Glass Hearts - Seeing Life from a Broken Perspective

At the end of each chapter, Patsy has what she calls ‘The Art Gallery’.
‘The Art Gallery’ consists of a variety of interactive and reflective topics for the reader.  For example, at the end of Chapter 3, ‘The Art Gallery’ consists of a Museum reference for lookup on the internet, a Poem, a Prayer, and a Music suggestion that can be found on iTunes.  These elements link together, and combine with the Chapter topic itself, bringing the reader to a personal place on the road to light and redemption.  The place of light and redemption – on which Patsy has a personal focus, and on which she has written previous books. Patsy’s ‘Art Gallery’ was excellent. I know because I found myself pulled toward the interaction – and did follow-up that pull!

The chapters in “Stained Glass Hearts” focus on directing the readers to find out what is true about themselves, where the darkness is, where the light is, and how all that must come together to be where God is, and where He wants the readers to be.  While that sounds rather serious and somber, Patsy has a gift for making her reader feel good along the way.  As a new reader of Patsy’s work, I found her tone to be serious, yet light.  Early on in the book, Patsy herself states that this book exposes the solemn side of her personality.  I’m not sure that I would describe what I saw of Patsy as solemn, but maybe that is because I am a new fan.

As you might expect from the title, “Stained Glass Hearts”, the emotions of the human heart are explored in the chapters.  Ranging from darkness to light – just like a stained glass window, (to paraphrase Patsy).  Patsy lets us into her own heart, her own time of deep darkness, and her journey out of that darkness.  I always think authors are so brave when such personal emotion is exposed in such a public forum as a book.   And Patsy is one such author.

Patsy Clairmont

Patsy brings us into her family life, time with her friends, and times when she goes to work, speaking at conferences around the world, mainly focused on events sponsored by Women of Faith, an organization Patsy has been a member of since its very beginnings. (Information can be found at: www.womenoffaith.com).

Patsy Clairmont’s generous sense of humour is spread throughout this book.  Patsy reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously, but to also honour and accept who we are, and where we are, on our journey of life.

As the book progresses we, the readers, are given many opportunities to share stained glass experiences with the author – looking through something, or at something, as though we were looking at or through stained glass. 

I am not a big ‘nature girl’, (that is probably an understatement), yet one of the chapters that most vividly caught my attention was Patsy’s chapter titled: ‘Stained Glass Nature’.   I learned, or re-learned, a number of things from Patsy’s viewpoint of ‘Stained Glass Nature’.  One of the biggest is my tendency to overlook the beauty of nature.  I learned that one of the reasons I overlook nature’s beauty is that I do not take enough time to stop and pay attention to the beauty around me. 

This, in my personal belief system, means I am not stopping and paying enough attention to God.  It also means I am not really participating in the world around me; rather I am just moving through it with some unknown agenda of my own. 

For me, that has been one of the clearest themes in this Patsy Clairmont book:  stop and look around ourselves, through or with a stained glass window, at all the broken pieces, at all the little pieces, at all that is us, and at all that is given to us in this world. 

Stop and appreciate, stop and renew, stop and see the moment.

Patsy Clairmont

For a person new to the world of Christian non-fiction, I think this book would be an excellent beginning.  Free of deep theological words and intense phrases, this book will appeal to individuals at the early stages oftheir faith journey.  For the same reasons, this is also a book I would recommend to someone well along in their faith journey, but someone wishing to take stock of where they have been and where they have now come.  Not only did I find “Stained Glass Hearts” to be a good Christian writing, it was also a pleasure to read, and to review.

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Book Review: “Escaping Innocence (A Story of Awakening) by Joe Perrone Jr.

From Barnes and Noble:
Ah, “The Sixties” — a brief phrase that conjures up all kinds of amazing images…unless, of course, you weren’t there! It was a time when “free love” was anything but, and there was a heavy price to be paid for messing with “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.” Find out what coming-of-age in that magical era “really” was like in the outrageously funny novel ESCAPING INNOCENCE (A Story of Awakening) by Joe Perrone Jr. Meet David Justin, an Italian-Catholic, height-challenged youth, desperately trying to escape the bonds of sexual repression and adolescent innocence that dare to hold him captive in — yes, you guessed it — “The Sixties.” Experience them for the very first time, or relive them again and again, but either way, for heaven’s sake, don’t miss ESCAPING INNOCENCE.

When I first received “Escaping Innocence” from the author, he cautioned me about the writing and the material in the book. Would I be able to step outside my own life and comfort zone, into the world of a young man from the 60’s who would face numerous trials, and various life transitions? (Including some colourful language). I said that I thought I was up for the challenge, and I am glad I said yes! Even though I was but a young child in the 60’s!

I was drawn into the book from literally the first page, which was a bit of a surprise! Joe Perrone’s writing style is very inviting and engaging. The humour of this book is definitely a bonus. The real emotions that are conveyed through the main character, David Justin, are extremely well and brightly written.

Although the life experiences written about in this book are not exactly the same as my own, Perrone’s narrative style allowed me to smoothly connect my life experiences with those of the main character, David Justin. In cases that were not at all present in my life, the lives of my friends and family filled in the blanks! I did not ever participate in the real Florida experience during my school days; my thoughts of what it would have been like were actually confirmed by the experience of David Justin! The innocence, combined with the open experience of David Justin, were brilliantly written by Joe Perrone, and I believe truly conveyed the average North American teen culture of the 60’s, as portrayed in news reels, movies, and memories of those who lived the 60’s as teens or young adults.

As far as the sexuality portrayed in “Escaping Innocence”, well, with a title such as it has, how could sexuality not be part of this book? Perrone portrays many types of sexual experiences in this novel, but I believe he does so in non-offensive ways. Straightforward, definitely, but non-offensive. I say that, but I also realize the words and descriptions may be bothersome or offensive to some readers, which is just a bit of a caution.

As far as the offensive language, it did exist, and in some chapters may have been a little overdone. When reading, I do not enjoy strong four letter words, but in this book, I found myself able to scan over them as they occurred. In general, my personal opinion remains that offensive language is never necessary. If authors feel the need to write in offensive language to convey character, a change in writing style might be better employed. I believe Joe Perrone’s writing style is such that offensive language is not required, and all his characters’ personalities are not dependent on the few offensive words they speak. And to that point, the amount of offensive language is very minimal, and accepted by even my critical eye. With the caveat that the title of chapter 30 could be changed!!

There were chapters in the book that did drag a little, and oddly enough, it was specifically the chapters written about the Florida experience. I found that Joe Perrone’s writing style changed a little in that part of the book, became less crisp and clear, and I thought became a little forced, and my interest waned a little. Once the character, David Justin, left Florida, Joe’s writing style was back on track. Maybe it was a section of the book that presented challenges to the writer?

College students do the twist on a Fort Lauderdale beach

Not only were the characters fully explored in the book, as a result of Perrone’s writing style, the characters’ life experiences came through as authentic and genuine. At times I could not wait to find out what was going to happen next! And I appreciated the smooth flow from chapter to chapter. As I was reaching the end of the book, my mind was racing ahead, wondering how the book was going to end! And at the same time, not wanting the book to end! But end it did; and the ending was perfect and fitting. Excellent final chapter.

However, the book is not all humour and laughter. The author does touch on quite serious subjects, some of which are unique to the 60’s, some experienced by teens and young people around the world, crossing through all generations. Subjects such as the Vietnam War, sexual orientation, drugs, and sexual experience in general. The author did not minimalize these subjects in any way, treating each with respect.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book as a way to look back to life in the 60’s – whether you lived it as a teen or not. And look back with delightful and surprising humour, or a real laugh out loud moment. I know a number of people will relate to the adventures portrayed, and will delight in reliving their own 60’s life style.

An extremely engaging read, one I will re-read a few more times.

As I mentioned above, the author emailed “Escaping Innocence” direct to me, and it was at no cost to me. (I have not yet purchased an eReader, so Joe emailed me a pdf copy). Joe Perrone was looking for an impartial review and I hope I conveyed that message. I will say that when I later saw what the cover of the book looked like; I really missed having the book in my hand!! The cover perfectly suits the narrative! I may have to buy the real book for my collection – especially as I really do intend to re-read this book a few more times!

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