The Beekeeper of Aleppo @christy_lefteri @BallantineBooks #syriancrisis #refugee #familydrama #wartorn @absltmom

Syrian refugees: Displaced by war | | Al Jazeera

“I wish I could escape my mind, that I could be free of this world and everything I have seen in the last few years. And the children who have survived – what will become of them? How will they be able to live in this world?”

The Beekeeper of Aleppo

Picture yourself in the midst of a Civil War and how you and your family would face the everyday occurrences in a war ravaged country. Think of how you life would change from the everyday normal into a fight for survival in a land you once loved and felt safe in. Now, know this is not only a story but a way of life that became the norm in Syria when civil war broke out. It became a humanitarian crisis and in this story we follow Nuri and Afra, a husband and his blind wife. Nuri is a beekeeper in Aleppo, while Nuri is an artist. We share the struggles, the heartaches, and the final decision to escape to England and begin anew.

Best Honey Bee Sound Effects with Video! - YouTube

“Where there are bees there are flowers, and wherever there are flowers there is new life and hope.”

Syria's civil war: Raging for 7 years and still no end in ...

However, this journey is fraught with difficulties, and after losing their son to a bomb, the arduous journey will take its toll on the couple. It’s a traumatic journey, going through strange lands, coping with paperwork, knowing that any moment one slip up would place them back in the place which they are trying to escape from. This war began in 2011, is on going and has been the second deadliest war of the twenty-first century.

Ms Lefteri gives her characters poignancy and a voice that cries out about the ravages of war and the aftermath of suffering so many losses. This is a book that is quite depressing as our hearts break for those who suffer so and become pariahs in a country that really is not and never will be their own. Well versed in what this life is like, the author brings to the reader a view that is harsh, sad, and unforgettable.

Syria's civil war explained from the beginning | News | Al ...

and here is the author:


Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service @GarySinise @NelsonBooks #memoir #military #servicemembers #dedication @absltmom

Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service

“How can I make a difference in restoring what’s been lost? How can I help make sure our veterans are never treated that way again?”

Gary Sinise is a man to be admired, thanked, and held up as a role model for what a person can do in their treatment and respect for the people who are veterans and first responders.

In his book, we learn about his journey to become an actor and eventually achieve the role he is most remembered by, that of portraying the character Lieutenant Dan, in the movie Forest Gump. He becomes identified as a diabled soldier because of this role and many see him as a standard bearer for those soldiers who were injured in their role as protectors of America’s freedom.

Gary Sinise Photos | Tv Series Posters and Cast

“One of my foundation’s main initiatives is to build smart homes for severely wounded veterans. We provide these houses and the land they’re built on at no cost to the vets, completely mortgage free.”

We learn of Gary’s many endeavors into ways in which he and others have aided our returning soldiers especially those who have been horribly wounded and strive to reform their lives around their families and their disabilities. From the building of smart homes to the entertaining and fundraising for the men and women of our military, Gary has done all he could to be a man who returns all that he feels God has given him. He demonstrates in so many ways how very grateful he is to be a citizen of America, and how he has and is paying back for that honor.

My Project: Gary Sinise Foundation - NBC News

It would be wonderful if many of the members of Hollywood and the actors that have achieved so much with fame and fortune would follow Gary’s lead and become advocates for our military and our first responders.

Thank you to Gary Sinise, his family, and the many organizations he has started and funded that raise not only awareness of the problems our returning military face, but also what one person can do to raise our sights on what is important and true about being a grateful American.


To contribute or to learn more……

Olive Again @LizStrout @randomhouse #humannature #friendship #love #secondchances #duoreviews #fictionfriends @JanBelisle @absltmom

So Olive is back but will she have the same wow factor that Ms Strout created for us in her first Olive book? That was the question both Jan and I had to find the answer to. Although we saw different things in the story, we nevertheless enjoyed out time spent with Olive once again.

Olive, Again (Olive Kitteridge, #2)

Jan’s review

For those who loved Olive Kitteridge, as I did, have no fear. Olive is still Olive. And for those who have loved Strout’s previous books, a few characters make an appearance in this one. Olive is still the crusty, prickly, and judgmental woman who says what she thinks. But, she’s mellowing. Perhaps it’s the indignities of aging, or the fact that at her age the losses mount up quickly, but Olive takes a long hard look at herself and doesn’t always like what she sees. As she deals with the harsh realities of getting older, she must also face some harsh truths about herself. There’s a particularly poignant moment when Olive realizes that how others see her is far different than she sees herself. Her eyes are opened that she has reaped what she has sown. Which should give satisfaction, but instead it made me even more empathetic, because the source of Olive’s dysfunction is damage done in childhood. She doesn’t want to be the way she is.  It’s complicated, this life of ours.

List of Synonyms and Antonyms of the Word: Ornery

We see her struggling to be a better person, sometimes successfully, sometimes not so much.  But as we saw in the first book, Olive has a soft center and can be incredibly understanding and kind as she reaches out to others who are hurting. Then the next moment she’s judgmental and ugly. Perhaps she is more like most of us than we care to admit, a combination of great characteristics with some not-so-nice ones. Olive simply says some things out loud that most of us might only think, as when she declares the art at a local art fair to be “crap”.

I loved that this book caused me to think and reflect. I could only read two stories at a time before stopping to absorb and discuss what I’d just read. If you aren’t in the mood to read about illness, death, and the indignities of aging, then you might want to set this aside for later. Having just lost my mother a few months ago, there were parts that were painfully true to life.  I appreciate that Strout doesn’t sugarcoat the reality.

Strout writes beautifully and with enormous empathy for the human condition, and is one of the few authors who writes about ordinary lives in an extraordinary way. But, as in any collection, some of the stories  resonated while others, not so much. I confess that several had me scratching my head for days. I simply couldn’t figure out why they were included or what purpose they served to the overall story. Except perhaps this: people are complicated and we are all struggling with the reality of being flawed humans in a flawed world.

Highly recommended, this would make an excellent choice for book clubs. I’m glad I had Marialyce as my to discuss this with as we read. This was going to be a solid 4 stars for the reasons I mentioned above, but days later I am still thinking about this book, so for that, it got bumped up to 5 stars.

Marialyce’s review

This book is going to go into a new file I am calling, “I wish I had liked it more.” While it certainly had its many pluses as the irascible Olive was back in rare form, it also had a number of puzzling occurrences and a chapter that had me scratching my head wondering why.

Life is the most difficult exam, Many people fail because ...
Product Life Cycle - Maturity Stage

Olive is getting older or as we who are in the same boat like to say, becoming more mature. She still goes about, saying “Oliveisms” and ticking off a few people, including family, but she has developed a new inner perspective. It’s like Olive looked into a mirror that was able to see inside herself and she wasn’t all that thrilled with the reflection. She has a new love in her life, Jack, who recognizes her for the snob she is, but still loves her. Her relationship with her son is always on the fritz as they all walk a very tight line between I can tolerate you and I can’t stay in your company another minute.

Chuck's Fun Page 2: Maxine cartoons

But as mentioned, Olive is maturing, and starts down a road that she should have traveled a long time ago, but hey, better late than never. Perhaps it is never too late to salvage relationships.

All in all, this was a good story, although even after a number of days thinking about it I am still a bit perplexed. However, as Olive discovers, and we do as well, there are always gray areas and Olive and her author have explored the grayness and we are left to puzzle out the rest.

4 stars for me and yes, I was a tad disappointed, but I am working on my gray areas.

Thank you to Elizabeth Strout, Random House, and NetGalley for a copy of this book due to be published on October 15,2019

and here’s the author

Tidelands :The Fairmile #1 @PhilippaGbooks @Schusterand #seventeenthcentury #historicalfiction #england #strongwomen #fictionfriends #duoreviews @JanBelisle @absltmom

“These were simple people: when someone told them that they had nothing to fear they knew that they were in trouble.”

When Jan and I heard that Philippa Gregory was working on a new series, we were quite anxious to give it a go as we both have enjoyed many of her previous works. We were not disappointed in this new beginning that promises to advocate for strength in women even through the hardships of being little more than chattel in seventeenth century Britain.

Jan’s review

The time is 1648, not an easy time to be a woman, especially a woman without a husband. Alinor is left a single mother of two when her husband goes out to sea and never returns. She ekes out a living as a midwife and herbalist, in a time when those activities were viewed with suspicion, and accusations of witchcraft were common.

Portrait of King Charles the First

The country is in the midst of a civil war between the King and his supporters and Parliament. Alinor’s path crosses with James, a young priest and a Royalist. She helps him find safe passage and their relationship forms the crux of the story. 

Meanwhile, Alinor’s children are presented with opportunities that will save them from a life of menial work and poverty.  Alinor is like all mothers everywhere who wants a better life for herself and her children. I admired her hard work, ambition and determination. But their good fortune only fuels the suspicions of the townspeople.

As with all the author’s books, this is hefty at 448 pages, and as it is the first book in a series, much time is spent setting up the background and life in the Tidelands. I listened to this on audio, which I highly recommend, as the narrator is excellent. Listening while multi-tasking made even the political maneuverings palatable. I appreciate the author’s attention to detail and historical accuracy, and it certainly made me appreciate my good fortune to live in the current times.

Driftwood On Shore Shine Tidelands State Stock Photo ...

The last half of the book moves along at a fast pace and the ending was a shocker. After so much time spent in the Tidelands, I’m looking forward to seeing where the next book in the series takes us.

·     This was a buddy read with Marialyce, one we both enjoyed on audio.

Marialyce’s review

One can always count on Philippa Gregory to write of women who are strong, determined, and courageous. With lots of evident research, she gives a human voice to these women, making them come alive as she imbues in them human frailties and an innate wisdom that came with living in the times that they did. From The Other Boleyn Woman to this current book, we meet women who are set in their determination and do all that is needed to succeed, to live another day.

Anyone For An Oliver Cromwell Gin? Aldi Didn't Think So

In this current outing, we meet Alinor, a woman who has to live by her wits and her innate abilities as a herbalist, midwife, and a mother of two, married to a disaster of a man. He deserts her and goes off to sea, and Alinor is alone, left to care for herself and her beloved children. One night in a graveyard, she sees and meets James a Royalist priest something that was a kiss of death in the times of Civil War in England when Oliver Cromwell was in power, and Charles the First was in exile. She guides James out of the marsh and starts down a path that is filled with danger as she allows her heart to be won by James.

Water Test Used On Mary Sutton Who Was Accused Of ...

Times were ever so difficult and with an aura of witchcraft surrounding her, Alinor and her children strive for peace and a sense of contentment. However, the road to their dreams has many pitfalls and as Alinor battles the times she lives in, she discovers a strength of heart and mind. She will survive and give her children a chance, a life beyond what the tidelands have given her.

This sweeping tale is long, setting up the scenario for the coming books in which we will again follow the life and times of Alinor and her offspring.

I recommend this book to those who so enjoy a novel that focuses on women that have met adversity and yet have been able to through strength of heart and mind to become resilient, tenacious and filled with resolve.

Remarkable perched dune above the sandy... © C Michael ...

and here’s the author

The Whisper Man @writer-_north @celadonbooks #crime #thriller #fathersonrelationships #fictionfriends #duoreviews @JanBelisle @absltmom

The Whisper Man

It is always so very important to read and understand other’s points of view. That not only goes for books but also for living in today’s society. Listen, look, and learn from one another. People should always be allowed to have contrasting views. So, here are two very different looks at the book, The Whisper Man.

Jan’s review

Tom and his young son, Jake, still grieving from the death of their wife and mother, move to a new town for a fresh start. A young boy is found dead and the crime is eerily similar to the decades-old crimes of The Whisper Man. The problem? The Whisper Man is in prison so who is the copycat murderer?  Adding to the suspense, Jake starts to hear whispers outside his window. Is it real or is it the imaginary friend he frequently communicates with?  

Funny Quotes About Dysfunctional Families | BLOG - Funny ...

This is as much a character study as it was a mystery, with an examination of the father-son relationship. I do enjoy a look into dysfunctional relationships so I liked this part of the story. Jake was sensitive, had trouble fitting in at school, and difficulty connecting with his father, making him a sympathetic character.  Pete, a police detective,  was one of my favorite characters and I would have liked to know more about him.

Whatever-eye-roll-GIF.gif | EyeRollerCoaster | Carol ...

The writing was ok, and the first half moved along quickly, but the story bogged down in the middle and I was easily distracted from my reading, which never happens when I am in the midst of a gripping thriller. There were a few plot holes and events that happened to move the plot forward that stretched believably and made my eyes roll a few times. 

All in all, this was just an ok read. It wasn’t awful but it wasn’t the scary, gripping thriller I was expecting. Despite warnings from many reviewers, I was neither creeped out nor felt chills while reading.  

This was a buddy read with Marialyce, who enjoyed the book more than I did. For an alternate opinion please see her review.

*I received a copy of the book from Edelweiss. All opinions are my own.

Marialyce’s review

Are you in the market for a thrilling thriller. You might just be wanting to read a book that will keep you checking that the doors and windows in your home are locked. You might just want to be scared, really scared, and find you are addicted to the pages of a book. If this criteria fits you, then I suggest you head to your nearest bookstore, library, or amazon, and pick up this gem of a story that will definitely fulfill the thriller quotient in your life. - Not All Shadow People Are Scary

There is a lot of frightening things in the world and one of the most frightening is the fact that someone can take your child. It’s a constant worry for in our world, there are predators who prey on children. These monsters not only take children from their family, but also steal their innocence, happiness, and joy.

If you leave a door half-open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken…

Such a person was The Whisper Man.

Tom Kennedy and his son, Jake, have just moved into a new town, wanting to make a new start after the very tragic death of Jake’s mother. The house they select is a strange one, having a sinister aura, a spooky house that has for years been the stuff of legends and childhood dares.

Jake is a sensitive boy, slow to make friends, but does have one friend, an imaginary girl, who wants to keep Jake safe. Jake’s dad struggles to come to terms with his son who seems so different and distant. Little does he realize that Jake is being targeted for his frailties. Twenty years ago, there was a man, the whisper man he was known as, who had taken young boys and murdered them. Yet, it seems as if he has returned. But how can that be, for this ghoul of a man is in prison for his crimes? So is there a copycat roaming about or is their something supernatural going on?

flora dora: I share my favourite thing this week - Scary ...

This book will keep you glued to the pages, as the author weaves a tale that both startles and scares the reader. He merges twists in the story that come out of nowhere but add to the aura of the sinister and the strange. Masterfully done, this book is highly recommended not only for its scare factor but also for its tense tight writing that flows along with the story. This is more than a thriller, this is a character study that delves into the question of child abuse on many levels. Well done, Mr North and when can I expect your next book? I seriously need to be chilled and unsettled once again!

Thank you to the Alex North, Celadon Books, and Edelweiss for making a copy of this book available to me. I lost a full night’s sleep reading this one….

and here’s the author

Alex North was born in Leeds, England, where he now lives with his wife and son. The Whisper Man was inspired by North’s own little boy, who mentioned one day that he was playing with “the boy in the floor.” Alex North is a British crime writer who has previously published under another name.

A Better Man (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #15) #threepines #murder #armandgamache #threepines #fictionfriends #duoreviews @JanBelisle @absltmom

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Jan and I were quite anxious to read this fifteenth novel in this series. Inspector Gamanche, his family, and the residents of Three Pines have always intrigued us and as we have followed these books we have developed a fondness for all the characters. So, it was with lots of anticipation, we read this new recently published book.

A Better Man (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #15)

Jan’s review

In the midst of a threat from devastating Spring floods, Vivienne Godin, 25 and pregnant, is missing, her father is frantic, and  her drunken, abusive husband, Carl Tracey, is suspected at having a hand in her disappearance. As the father of a daughter the same age, Gamache finds himself increasingly unable to stay objective as they search for the missing woman. Mistakes are made. A side plot included vicious social media attacks on Gamache for his past actions.

At the same time Clara is publicly criticized for her art, but I found this side plot uninteresting.  And somehow I missed the significance of the flooding.

It pains me to do this but it’s time for me and Armand to part ways. I’ve loved this series from the start but it has lost it’s charm. There was a lot of repetitiveness, unprofessional and unrealistic behavior and attitudes in Gamache and the other detectives, and the case is not truly investigated until the last 25%. The moral lessons are heavy-handed and Gamache himself has become insufferable. I won’t list all the instances that caused my eyes to roll, but there were many.

There are plenty of people who still find this series charming and wonderful, but I’ve not found it to be so for several recent books. Sometimes readers outgrow a series and that’s the case with me.

 I’m giving it 3 stars for the history I have with this series and my respect for the author.

·     I received a copy of the book from Edelweiss. All opinions are my own.

Marialyce’s review

Enthusiastic Woman Stock Photography - Image: 10371642

I have always been a Louise Penny enthusiastic reader and always awaited her new books with lots of anticipation and happiness. So I am totally bummed that I didn’t like this book as much as I had hoped.

I know that different readers have contrasting reactions to stories and in that we see how people are different in what they read and feel. It makes reading a book so very interesting because we can view divergent opinions and ways of looking at things.

What I found in this story that set me off was the repetitious nature of the book. Perhaps it was because of having read all the others in this series that I felt there was material that I had heard many times. Another thing was how I felt the whole persona of Gamache changed in this story. I always thought he was a strong character, a man who always seems to know what to do, and yet in this go round he seemed tenuous, unsure, and weak. I was disappointed to see a change in him. Perhaps the author was trying to make him more human and vulnerable but sometimes it made him seem supercilious and sanctimonious. The other characters just didn’t have the charisma they once had and of course this made me not care as much about them as I use to.

Getting Over Election Disappointment, In 10 Easy Steps ...

I did like the last section of the story which really did show the investigative process we so often saw in all the other books in this series. I wish that this could have been the whole focus of the book. It was too late to save what for me was an uninteresting read.

So, I walk away with a less than a positive view of this book, knowing full well that so many have and will love this story. I do have a lot of respect for this author and of course my opinion is just that an opinion. Please do look at the other reviews as most of them are glowing.

Thank you to Edelweiss for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Two Pretty Girl Friends Crying Portrait Royalty Free Stock ...

Justice on Trial : The Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Future of the Supreme Court @MZHemingway @JCNSeverino #dueprocess #supremecourt #politics @absltmom

Justice on Trial: The Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Future of the Supreme Court

There are not many who have not witnessed in some way what went on at the confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh. Perhaps you caught snippets of the Senate hearing, perhaps you saw it on the news, or perhaps you were a witness to history as a man who supposedly led an exemplary life was tried and convicted, not by any evidence, but by the testimony of one person. This was a trial that was not a trail, for in this country we have always believed in and followed the rule of law, the one that states innocent until proven guilty. Proven is the key word in all court proceedings from the lowest level civil courts to the highest court in the land. There must be proof always.

So why was it that in this case there was no proof? Some would say this was not a trial and yet we saw paraded out for all, accusations that were unproven and supposed witnesses who did not witness anything. In itself it was a mockery of justice. It was one thing alone and that was a political ploy. It was trying to keep a well qualified person from a position that some didn’t want him to have. It was innuendo followed by more innuendo and a political strategy that was abhorrent. It was being lied to even as the accuser had been lied to by a panel of lawyers and being paraded out in front of America as an accuser who had no proof. She was a pawn in this game, a game that placed her in the middle of one of the hugest controversies ever.

While Justice Kavanaugh was confirmed, it was at a great price paid and the burning question that brings us forward in the future is, how can we attract people of high standards, of great intellect, of fair and impartial bearing if this is the way nominees will be treated? That is the fear going forward for what man or woman would subject themselves, their families, and their friends to this miscarriage of justice?

The rules of civility seemed to have been forgotten, the rule of law seems to have been waylaid, and the fact that one can be tried and convicted in the court of social media , television, and the internet without one shred of evidence is both appalling and frightening.

Thank you to Molly Hemingway and Carrie Severino for writing this book. These ladies were able to present facts and did so in a way that was straightforward and informative. As I write this review, Justice Ginsberg has once again taken ill. If she should step down, one has to wonder what will happen to any nominee that is chosen. Will he/she go through the same hell or will it become an even worse one?

and here are the authors: