Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Baby Hedgehog - aka adorable ;o)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday Musings

This is my oldest cat. She's Siamese but she kind of breaks a lot of the expectations of a Siamese cat. She's very cuddly and loves to be around people like many Siamese - but she isn't picky about her human companions. It could be a perfect stranger that just walked in. We once had company that accidentally stepped on her and she jumped up on his lap as soon as he sat down. She also is much quieter than the typical Siamese. Since my mom bred them, I was very familiar with the.... shall we say persistent and sometimes very high pitched yowl they can produce? She frequently does something we call the "silent meow." She opens her mouth and looks at you - but no sound comes out. She can and does meow (though not usually loud -unless we're giving her the occasional tuna treat) but those silent meows got me thinking.

I notice and respond to her a lot when she does it. It makes me pay attention. That made me think of a commercial that ran a few years back where there was silence for a while. That got us all looking at the TV too - we had to see what was going on and make sure nothing was wrong with the cable. We've been taught that "the squeaky wheel gets the grease." We have to make a lot of noise to be heard and those making the most noise (and with all the best bells and whistles) must have the best message.

My old Siamese may be unusual but she's purebred. She's the real thing. Sometimes the real thing isn't loud and brash. I think of the story of Elijah. He wanted to hear from the real thing - God. We hear the results of his search in 1Kings chapter 19 verses 11-12:

And he said, "Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD." And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.

I love that! There was a lot of exciting things happening on that mountain ~ huge winds (capable of tearing things apart), earthquakes, and fires... All that so surely you would expect God to come out with some fireworks or at least a voice that would make your ears bleed. What does He do instead? He whispers. I think that is part of who He is - never forcing Himself on anyone and part of this whole philosophy that if the whole world is screaming at you, maybe what you need is a still, small voice.

When I grow up I want to be just like him. :o) (My way of saying I know I don't do this perfectly right now.)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Heart Most Worthy


The elegance of Madame Forza's gown shop is a far cry from the downtrodden North End of Boston. Yet each day Julietta, Annamaria, and Luciana enter the world of the upper class, working on finery for the elite in society. The three beauties each long to break free of their obligations and embrace the American dream--and their chance for love. But the ways of the heart are difficult to discern at times. Julietta is drawn to the swarthy, mysterious Angelo. Annamaria has a star-crossed encounter with the grocer's son, a man from the entirely wrong family. And through no intent of her own, Luciana catches the eye of Billy Quinn, the son of Madame Forza's most important client. Their destinies intertwined, each harboring a secret from their families and each other, will they be found worthy of the love they seek?

My Take:

Wow! This book is like a sweet Vidalia onion that's been caramelized - lots of layers and all full of yummy goodness. I could analyze this for pages and pages but I'll try and restrain myself. ;o) It starts with the cover. Isn't it drool-worthy? I'm in total envy over that dress.

The author tackles surface issues like the the problems the Italian immigrants faced both from outsiders and from their own prejudices against other Italians. Tradition and family was all many of them had. Sometimes the same stubborn pride that helped them survive in this new country insulated them and even caused them to refuse help they needed.

What makes a healthy relationship? What is most important in love? All the main characters struggle with these questions on some level or another. Whether it's 1918 or 2011, people still mistake lust for love, they still think they're unworthy for whatever reason, they still fear what will happen if they trust... and sometimes they think it's too late once they've made mistakes. Sometimes people try to manipulate people and call it love.

Then you have the political undertones. People who think violence is the way to bring about change and that the government should do whatever they want. People who don't mind stealing, killing or dying in order to make their plans come to fruition. It sounds eerily like what is going on here and around the world. Yet you meet them, sympathize and want to be able to help them see what they're doing is hurting themselves and others.

The three main characters couldn't be more different. Add in Madame Fortier and you have four women who will stay with me for some time. They loved deeply, made mistakes, kept secrets, and showed a tenacity of spirit that made me love them all. From the beginning to end you can see each of them grow and change in individual ways that reflected the personal journey each had to take.

There were also some yummy heroes that you won't want to miss. Each had his own strengths (and weaknesses) that perfectly matched the girl he was destined to be with. Some had unflappable faith and determination, some patience that would try a saint, some were self-sacrificing... and some were forgiving and generous. All were romantic because true romance is loving in a way that brings out the best in them and is concentrated on their needs instead of your own.

This is going on my list of best books of 2011. I want to thank Bethany House for providing me my copy in exchange for my honest review.   

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Desert Gift


What does a nationally known marriage expert do when her own marriage falls apart? Just as Jillian Galloway sets out for a publicity tour to promote her new book, her husband drops a bombshell: He wants a divorce. Jill flees to her parents’ home in the California desert, wondering whether everything she’s built her career on—indeed, everything she’s built her life around—is a sham. Navigating this “side road” of life is an uphill climb that leads to new understandings about herself, her marriage, and her relationship with the One who created marriage.

My Take:

A book about a marriage falling apart didn't appeal to me at the outset. I'm more about romance and happily every after. There is a part of me that also thinks being real is valuable and I wondered just how this author tackled this very important topic. Was it sugar coated? Was everything fixed with a fancy dinner and flowers? Did a prayer make everything all better?

The truth is this book was refreshingly real in many ways. Jillian has been telling everyone how to make sure their marriages are perfect but she hasn't been taking note of her own. Her husband isn't even sure why he wants out at first - just that he feels like he can't breathe and that she is the cause of his pain. 

As time passes Jillian has to take a hard look at who she has become and whether she likes that person. Then she deals with her faith and how she feels about family as well. Only then is she truly ready to try and fix her marriage. Her husband deals with his own issues. Neither is perfect and on top of their marriage problems, their son comes back from a trip with a surprise fiance. They want to get married right away - so now the stunned couple have a wedding to plan while their marriage is disintegrating.

What I liked is that there were no easy answers given in the book. People judged, fought and struggled in a way that was both unique to her situation and that many people will be able to relate to. I thought the characters were well written. I got angry and felt bad for them at different times in the story. I don't know that enjoy is the right word for the book - but I took away a lot from it and I would suggest it to others. 
Tyndale provided my copy in return for my honest review.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Monday Musings

I need to apologize for not posting. Spring is my favorite season but it's also tough on my asthma because of my allergies. I've been sick with a particularly nasty cough. I had a fever for a few days but thankfully that's gone and I am on the mend.

If you didn't read the contest post, Courtney was the winner of The Convenient Groom. I'm preparing for another drawing soon so keep an eye out for it in the next week or so. :o)

Someone showed me this famous picture taken at the end of World War II and asked me if I recognized it. Of course I did. I've seen it many times. She pointed out that a statue had been made based on the photograph. I didn't know that. A life size one is in New York and a giant one is in San Diego. 

The artist took a few liberties though. In the picture (and a different view shows it even more plainly) we can see the nurse is wearing white stockings. It's why her legs blend in with her shoes but her hand looks much darker. The description of the photo also says that she was clutching her skirt - pushing it down towards her body.

Look at the giant statue in San Diego ~

If you click on the picture and see it bigger, you can see that the face of the sailor is very poorly finished. Her legs look bare - but are visible for quite a distance. In order to view the statue you almost have to look up her skirt. I think it's in poor taste. If I took my kids on a trip to see the sights I would rather talk to them about the victory and the joy of that moment instead of talking to them about not looking up a statue's skirt. How silly. They could have blocked out the bottom of her skirt and made it solid or something.

What do you think - am I being an artistic prude and focusing too much on getting the historic details right?