Monday, March 20, 2017

Author Marie Manilla

The Patron Saint of Ugly
By Marie Manilla

A Book Review by Ginger Dawn Harman

Our March library bookclub meeting was full of excitement as many gathered to discuss The Patron Saint of Ugly. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend because I have been very ill. The flu has really hit me hard and when I first read this book, I thought the fever was getting to me but after chatting with Linda Mary over the phone, I was correct with the plot. Marie Manilla is extremely creative and her characters are not only very developed but have such personality that they jump off the page. 

Born in Sweetwater, West Virginia, with a mop of flaming red hair and a map of the world rendered in port-wine stains on every surface of her body, Garnet Ferrari is used to being an outcast. With her sharp tongue, she has always known how to defend herself against bullies and aggressors, but she finds she is less adept at fending off the pilgrims who have set up a veritable tent city outside her hilltop home, convinced that she is Saint Garnet, healer of skin ailments and maker of miracles. 

Her grandmother, the indelible Nonna Diamante, believes that Garnet’s mystical gift can be traced back to the family’s origins in the Nebrodi Mountains of Sicily, and now the Vatican has sent an emissary to Sweetwater to investigate. Garnet, wanting nothing more than to debunk this “gift” and send these desperate souls packing, reaches back into her family’s tangled past and unspools for the Church a tale of love triangles on the shores of the Messina Strait; a sad, beautiful maiden’s gilded-cage childhood in blueblood Virginia; and the angelic, doomed boy Garnet could not protect.
Saint or not, Garnet learns that the line between reality and myth is always blurred, and that the aspects of ourselves we are most ashamed of can prove to be the source of our greatest strength, and even our salvation.”

Nonna Diamante was by far my favorite character. From her eccentric Italian superstitions to her quick wit to solving problems warm the reader’s heart. Imagine a Sicilian grandmother living in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia warding off the Irish Catholics. Moreover, Garnet who is a feministic strong willed young woman is on a path to prove who she really is. There are several emotional subplots in the novel. My heart broke for Garnet as she learns of the abuse of her brother and then two close characters in the novel die. Without giving away the novel this is where I felt the book became a much more intense read than the sarcastic humor at the beginning. However, I still laugh at the scene when Garnet knocks the mole off the priest face.  

At the beginning of the novel, Garnet sees herself as a monster.

“Mom held me towards them. “Isn’t she beautiful? Isn't she absolutely beautiful?"
Perhaps it was hormones talking; more likely, those were the words of a desperate woman who couldn't fathom the monster she had knit together in her room. But I was her monster, and if she didn't claim me, nobody would.”

The changes in Garnet are very well done and you the reader will be more than satisfied. It is very rare when all that attend our bookclub meetings enjoy the book. The only thing that I did not like in this novel was that it read very slow in some areas. I feel that when I am counting how many more pages till the end of the chapter then it is not holding my attention. Yet, we all enjoyed the novel and Linda Mary did a great job telling me about the bookclub meeting. I look forward to reading other books by Marie Manilla in the future. I rate this book four stars.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Leprechauns and Treasures

Happy St. Patrick's Day

  Leprechauns and Treasures

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I was hoping to post a few photos of our home decorated for the special day. However, if I did take a photo it would be a bunch of decorations in a box. Never the less, Linda Mary my muse and mischievous leprechaun always provides me with a great photo. 

And what is St. Patrick's Day without a pot of gold? My son and I are a huge fan of Werther's Caramels. I am sure this treasure will not last very long.

My friend Jen surprised me with a bundle of handmade goodies and I am so lucky that she shares her talent with me. I also enjoy her company! She is so kind and has such a positive presence in my life.

My Stampin Up order also arrived. I can not wait to create some new cards!

The biggest surprise was from my MaryJane Farmgirl Sisterhood Seasonal Sister named Dena! I received a Spring box and my goodness! Dena put so much thought and care into this package that I felt so blessed and grateful! I must say that the gals with MaryJane Farms have such sweet spirits and during the last two years that I have been a member, I have met so many wonderful women!

Even though I am fighting pneumonia. I developed this from the Influenza Stain B virus but the doctor yesterday prescribed me some medicine and I am already feeling a bit better. Honestly,  I feel so lucky to have great friends, wonderful medical doctors, and I am truly blessed! Now, Hubby has the day off and we are about to stink up the house with corn beef and cabbage. 

What plans do you have today?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Author Ann Patchett

By Ann Patchett

A Book Review by Ginger Dawn Harman

While I was dusting off my bookcase, I saw this book that I purchased a while back. I flipped open the cover and began reading. Needless to say, the dusting was not finished but I  did finished Commonwealth by Ann Patchett  in just two days! Ann Patchett has an amazing talent for weaving emotional tales. Moreover, her characters are so plausible that many will be able to relate. 

Ann Patchett's lessons on Writing

Photo Credit: LA Times

This book touches on the lives of several family members that are brought together during an affair between Bert Cousins and Beverly Keaton. With six children now with torn apart families they are the true victims of the selfish act. The children are left often to take care of themselves and over the span of fifty years, the reader will follow their lives. Eventually, Franny Keaton has an affair of her own with an author who writes her family history turning it into a national bestseller. Several sections of the novel deal with how family members react to their lives being re-told and re-shaped for mass consumption. Later even becoming a movie. As an avid reader, I find that many authors like to slip their own secrets being of family or personal into their books. Yet, what many find as fiction creates family tension and resolve. Commonwealth is heartbreaking in many ways but a lesson of resilience, loyalty, and healing tie the plot together with a memorable read. 

Below is my Penpal Mamey's review of Commonwealth! Now we did not plan on reading Commonwealth together  but this is the second book this year that we have both read! We are such a reading match for sure! 

My favorite quote was, “Her mother was lost in a sea of irregular verbs.” 

It was one of those moments when you are reading and the story, the character, and the life of the book completely breaks open! I also liked, 

“Lelia gave a dharma talk about letting go of self-definition: I can't do this because of what happened to me in my childhood; I can't do that because I am very shy; I could never go there because I'm afraid of clowns or mushrooms or polar bears. The group gave a gentle, collective laugh of self-recognition. Teresa found the talk helpful, as she had been having an extended interior dialogue during meditation about how septuagenarians from Torrance were fundamentally unsuited for Buddhism.”

My favorite character by far was Albie! This character makes such a dramatic change in the book that you smile looking back on this scene,

“The entire time Albie followed Beverly around the house doing what the children referred to as “the stripper soundtrack”: Boom chicka-boom, boom-boom chicka-boom.
When their mother stopped walking the soundtrack stopped. If she took a single step it was accompanied by Albie saying only “boom” in a voice that was weirdly sexual for a six-year-old.”

Oh Albie! I seriously thought "Oh Boy" when I read about all the things that happen to Albie!

Commonwealth will have you hooked from the first to last page. Moreover, I want to read more. What will happen next for the family.. I rather hope a sequel will happen! I give my highest recommendation to Commonwealth by Ann Patchett.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Oh Lordy: A Fever Post

Overcoming Obstacles and Flu

Happy Friday! I wish I had some exciting news or fabulous new crafty idea for everyone but our home has been fighting the Influenza Stain B virus for over a week now. My son is doing much better after two doctor visits and one trip to the emergency room. At the present moment, I am barely able to leave the bed or sofa. I wish I would have had my flu shot and have taken my son in for his but it would not have mattered according to the doctor for the strain that we caught.  

So what do you do when you are sick…


Rest! Rest! And Rest!

Now for what we are doing while we are sick….

My son and I watched all three seasons of Gotham on Netflix! Holy Cow Batman.. This is much better than the version of Batman that I watched as a kid! I can officially say that I have binged watched now. 

And it was nice to have a sick buddy to grump with. We get rather crabby in our house when we are sick but my husband has a way to lighten the mood and make us laugh. For example, he has been making sure to wipe down everything to kill the germs. Honestly, I should write a post on “Computer System Engineers guide to household contamination!”  Oh and Linda Mary brought homemade soup for us. Nana Pam has been checking in during the day and has given us so much comfort. 

I also read a strange book but I think the fever is part of the reason for my opinion on this book. As soon as my fever breaks, I will reread this novel and post a review.

Two new bookmarks have been made. I was off the pattern in a few places but I don’t think anyone will notice. I decided to make one of these for myself. I very rarely keep anything that I make by hand so this was a special act of love to myself.

Since my son was able to return to school two days ago, I watched an amazing girlie movie! The Great Gilly Hopkins is such an emotional movie and healing in a way for many of us adults and young adults that were in or still are in the Foster Care system.

 I admit that I would often day dream about a long lost family member coming to my rescue and even finding a loving home like the one depicted in this movie. Although this is not the case for so many of us. Just watching and experiencing the love in the movie gives our brains the same message. This is very true and research has proven it but I am too wonky with fever and with a stuffed up nose to write an intellectual blog post about this.
Now, I will say that everyone has different struggles. No one is immune and I respect the different layers that people share online as they struggle with what is happening in the present moment of their life. 

Poor Oreo had a visit to the doctor also.

Oreo is always sweet and well behaved!

I do not share everything that I am dealing with but I have been mentioning a bit more of my past. No I will not post the online mugshots of my mother or brother.  And I will not post about my father’s court martial from the Navy.  Some might be curious why I even bring this up. And I can understand why some think I should just move on.

Much of this has been stirred up for me lately because I have been working with the State of Tennessee over some legal issues. It has been a very difficult process that has me reaching out to the Judge Advocate of the Navy. The lawyers in Tennessee have been very kind and compassionate.  So not only am I sick but under a bit of stress.  Nevertheless, I am focused and rather determined to use my voice for the crimes committed against me.  Just because no adult stepped in when I was a child and teen, this does not mean that I cannot do it now. It just has more obstacles gathering court martial documents and files from 30 years ago.  No matter the outcome, I know that I will be ok! It has been very healing for me and has helped me to completely break away from my toxic criminal biological family.

Just like the flu! This too shall pass! 

My point that I am attempting to make is that no matter what you are facing, it will be ok and please use your voice because you matter very much! 

Well, I am not sure how coherent this post is but I hope everyone has a great weekend and lots of extra love to all those who are struggling!


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