Sunday, July 27, 2014

Poison Town by Creston Mapes

When reporter Jack Crittendon finds out his long time mechanic has fallen ill and that the Randall family believes that Trenton City, Ohio's largest employer, the fiberglass plant is responsible, Jack decides to do some investigating.  His editor Cecil gives a lukewarm nod to the project, saying that a previous reporter (now moved on to another location and out of reach) had started a similar search into complaints about the plant and hadn't unearthed anything, causing Jack to wonder why he never heard of her findings.  The deeper he and fellow reporter Derrick dig, the more confusing and dangerous things become.  Jack's mechanic appears to be poisoned while a patient at the hospital and a neighbor they planned to interview disappears.  Meanwhile Jack's family life is threatened by his inability to put an attack on his wife behind them. His wife is ready to forgive the attacker and believes if Jack was true to his profession of faith, he would be ready also.


Reviewing POISON TOWN by Creston Mapes is going to be difficult.  First of all, I think Mapes wields a strong pen.  I never felt the book lagged -- the suspense was consistent, built it in all the right places, and followed through to the end.  Side stories did not feel added on, and all though a second book in a series, I had no problems what so ever following along.  Secondary characters such as Derrick added interest and I can see him in a more central role in future stories.  The whole Randall family add a "working class' wholesomeness and realness that this story requires.  They are definitely the "Davids' against the corporate Goliath.  I felt Jack's family strife was well conceived and rang true.  Forgiving anyone who has harmed your family is difficult to do and will certainly test one's faith.   So why, is it difficult for me to review this book?  I want to give it a total thumbs up, rate it a 5, call it awesome and be done.  Maybe I should, because I certainly enjoyed the book.  But there is this little gnawing disappointment ---- I just feel the greedy, evil corporation head who hides the poisonous side effects of their manufacturing processes has been overdone.  Yes, we've had actual cases of contaminants and gases poisoning innocent residents and workers, and we've have plenty of cover-ups over the years, that's true.  But I think we've had too many movies and books which paint the CEOS as willing to commit bribery, murder, and more to keep their commercial secrets.  To me, those story lines have become as old and tired as the obligatory car chase scene in every action movie.  Are there no fresh plots for suspense stories, or do I just read too much?

My apologies to Creston Mapes, who as I said earlier, is a good writer.  So talented, that I will be locating the first book in this series (Fear Name) and will certainly read Jack Crittenton's next adventure (Sky Zone).  I like his wife and mother-in-law too much to miss what happens next!  Hope the Randall family and Derrick make appearances, too.  In the end, I am giving this a thumbs up ( a strong 4) with a small cautionary note that the story may seem reminiscent of a 90s movie.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Beyond a Doubt by Colleen Coble

Last week I read Beyond a Doubt by Colleen Coble on my nook, the e-book checked out from WPLC. Wisconsin's source for library ebooks.  It didn't take me long to have that nagging feeling that this was a familiar story.  But then again, I've read a couple suspense series set in Michigan's UP so I continued to read just to be sure.  Of course even though much of the story began to fall into place  (a body unearthed in an old lighthouse, home of Bree Nicholls and her son plus the side story of rebellious teenager Lauri), there were so many details that I just couldn't remember, so I read the whole book again and ENJOYED IT.  Beyond a Doubt is the second book in a five book series, with a sixth book a holiday novella.  If you have never read the Rock Harbor series, I recommend it,  I love that you could read all five volumes in succession because the mystery and danger in  search and rescue canine trainer's Bree Nicholls' life just never ends. Each story will leave you wanting to pick up the next book as soon as possible!  Just reading the book trailers on Coble's website  makes me want to start at the beginning and read all five again -- but I simply don't have time.  While there, I saw some other titles that I'll have to examine closer.  If I really haven't read the Aloha Reef series, I will need to add them to my to-read list.  You suspense readers, why not head to the remote Upper Peninsula and join Bree Nicholls? Start with Without a Trace, be prepared for danger and the compelling need to keep reading.

Without a Trace

Beyond a DoubtInto the DeepAbominationCry in the NightSilent Night, A Rock Harbor Novella

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Freezer Jams & Refrigerator Pickles: Easy Ways to Preserve Your Harvest

Our raised bed gardens

Fresh beans, crisp cucumbers right from the vine, and all those other garden treats.  We all so excited as we pick the first crops, but as the summer goes along are you wondering what to do with ANOTHER bowlful?  When my kids were young, I froze and canned a a lot -- learned it from my mom.  Now I still garden, but I don't care to stand over that hot canner or spend time blanching veggies that may or may not taste fresh when thawed.  Besides I have a smaller freezer and I keep that loaded with blueberries, cranberries, jam, and quality hamburger.  So when I got a chance to review this little cookbook by CQ Products, I was all in.  FREEZER JAMS & REFRIGERATOR PICKLES: EASY WAYS TO PRESERVE YOUR HARVEST is a nice collection of recipes for small batch preserving for the refrigerator and freezer.  Last weekend we had the whole family over for Sunday afternoon and I prepared pickled beans, sliced dill pickles, and beet pickles on Friday and put them in the refrigerator.  By Sunday all were ready to eat at our grill out.  I forgot to take pictures before the jars were opened, and if you look closely at the photo you can see that the jars are almost empty.  That's a good thing -- that means the recipes were a success.  I know there are plenty of recipes for all three of these delights, but I like the recipes in this little volume.  For one, the dill slicers don't have a ton of salt, yet they are crisp and tasty.  The dilled bean recipe didn't even require blanching the beans.  My son asked for the recipe and I know he will make more batches than I will because his family loves dilly beans!  My beets aren't ready yet so I bought some at an Amish garden stand.  I normally don't make pickled beets and instead satisfy my hankering for them by eating them at potlucks.  But my mom almost always put pickled beets on the table at picnics and family gatherings, so I made this recipe in her honor.  Since the recipe makes one jar that will keep several weeks in the fridge, I won't be overwhelmed with too many jars on the pantry shelf.

Other veggie recipes I want to try include a corn relish (YUM) and a pickled veggie blend of carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, and red bell peppers.  Those of you who have access to fresh fruits will love the jam and chutney recipes.  I've wanted to make apple butter but so many recipes make huge batches, and as I said before, I don't want so many jars of one thing.  If my son's apples are plentiful this fall, I will be making the recipe in this book which yields 4 cups that can be frozen for a year or stored in the fridge for three weeks. And before my raspberries are gone, I want to try the peach melba jam -- reminder to myself, buy a couple peaches, liquid pectin, and fruit fresh.

CQ products makes many, many small gift-type cookbooks.  I first saw them at an ACE Hardware store, but I think many gift shops also carry their books.  I know you can find this particular one on Barnes and Noble and you can certainly check out to see all the choices.  I want to thank CQ Products for sending me this and two other cookbooks for review purposes.  

A garden note--- Behind our raised beds is another garden plot.  This year that section has cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, beets, extra lettuce, peppers, and more tomato plants. It is edged in zinnias that are just beginning to bloom. This area also has my asparagus bed, two rhubarb plants and a small raspberry patch.  If you look closely to the right of the garden shed you will see our rain water collector, made from a large blue barrel. Russ painted it blue and had the top fashioned from sheet metal.  He calls this creation "Mr. Tin Man."  I think it looks like an old-fashioned water tower.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Shadowed by Grace: A Story of Monuments Men by Cara C. Putman

The destructive toll left behind by war is immense, often incomprehensible.  The path of humankind has been changed by war, sometimes for the better (think American Revolution), but even those times the personal stories of sacrifice loss are overwhelming.  Over 70 years after WWII, we are still interested in those real life stories of personal sacrifice, and that interest spills over into the creative minds of fiction writers like Cara C. Putnam.

Recent discoveries of collections of art which may have once belonged to European Jewish families brought about renewed interest in Hitler's plan to obtain the world's greatest art (and to destroy the works of those he felt immoral or decadent).  For the first time, many of us learned about that small group of noncombat soldiers known as the Monuments Men.  The recent movie by that name made us think what our world would look like without the great masterpieces.  Would we be the same people today without the Mona Lisa, the statue of David, and the best of religious art?  Cara Putnam's fictional title Shadowed by Grace has readers follow two Americans into Italy as the Germans are retreating.  Rachel Justice is among the first UP photographers allowed near the front lines.  Her female status presents a unique set of barriers, but her keen eye for the emotional photos needed by the papers back home makes her a welcome asset. For her own protection she is paired with  Lt. Scott Lindstrom whose main task is to help priests and local officials record the devastation to Italy's art -- its monuments, church altars, treasured paintings and such.  Cataloging the damage and pin pointing where other pieces are being hidden is the first step to protecting the treasures from any further loss.
From the beginning Rachel feels a connection to Scott, but still she hesitates to share that she has a second motive for being in Italy --  to locate her father, someone she knows nothing about except that he is probably an artists that her mother met in the 1920s.  When she shows Scott a small sketch book she's gotten from her ill mother, the book disappears and Rachel begins to wonder if Scott is among the American soldiers who are helping themselves to "art mementos."

I became very interested in the Monuments Men story after seeing documentary pieces and then the
recent movie.  I've read several fiction books dealing with the men and the protection/recovery of Europe's art, but no stories stand up to the amazing real story.  As I began reading Shadowed by Grace, I found myself drawn into the story with high expectations.  The writing kept my attention and soon I was over 100 pages into the book.  Then, for some reason I can't quite pinpoint, the story stalled and I had a hard time making it to the end.  I knew quite certainly how everything would play out  (there are a few mysteries to the book) but I hoped the historical background would carry my interest through.  It did, but not by much.  Shadowed by Grace is one of those books that I liked, but I really hoped I would like it even more!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Seagrass Pier by Colleen Coble: A Hope Beach Novel

Seagrass Pier 195x300Seagrass Pier is the third Hope Beach novel, the others include Tidewater Inn and Rosemary Cottage. Unlike many titles in a series, Seagrass Pier can easily be read as a stand-alone novel without confusion over characters and plots from the previous books.  Erin Summerall, a medical donor specialist, has herself received a new heart, needed after a virus destroyed her own.  Her recovery goes well, but Erin begins having nightmares about a murder.  Erin and the police all know that her new heart came from a young woman strangled on a cruise ship, so everyone takes her dreams seriously.  As they become more frequent and vivid, her "cell memories" hit the news.  Soon Erin begins to receive threatening messages.  Could it be the killer?  In an attempt to keep herself, her young daughter, and her frail mother safe, the young widow Erin settles in at a cottage at remote Seagrass Pier.  That move puts her face-to-face with FBI agent Marc who, despite orders from his superiors not to get involved, believes helping Erin will help him solve his own partner's death.  Like most romantic suspense stories, Coble's newest book is packed with plenty of action and angst with the recurring "cell memories" adding an eerie element. Whoever is stalking Erin is relentless and who it might be is not an easy pick.  As for the romance, sparks have always flown between Erin and Marc, especially years before Erin's marriage.  Marc's first introduction to young Josie with the dark hair and the little dimple so much like his, and he knows Erin has been hiding a secret. But Seagrass Pier goes beyond the formula suspense and romance especially in the story about Erin's mother who is beginning to exhibit early-onset dementia.  Her mixture of confusion and clarity add to the suspenseful plot, but on a more realistic level, Coble gives us a glimpse of the anguish caregivers and family members live each day.  I've read Tidewater Inn and started to listen to the audio version of Rosemary Cottage, and I would recommend the whole series, but most definitely Seagrass Pier if you are a fan of Christian contemporary suspense novels.  Being a "beach" novel, it would make a great book to take to the beach this August!  I received a copy of this title from BookLooks for my review.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Stay In Port Wing, WI

Back in the 1990's we camped on the shores of Lake Superior several times, both in the UP and in Wisconsin.  My favorite place was a small campground right next to the marina in Port Wing, WI.  Port Wing, Herbster, and Cornucopia are sort of the forgotten area between Bayfield and Superior.  Our times there were always so refreshing that I've wanted to go back, even after we gave up camping for the cabin. We spent last week at the cabin with our daughter and three year old granddaughter but decided to add a side trip to the big water.  Motels are quite confining with toddlers, so I looked into B and B's.  Garden-House in Port Wing, although not directly on the water sounded pleasant.  Their website gave me a preview of what our two-bedroom suite would look like, and children were welcomed, so I made a one-night reservation.

We had a detour for road construction and had an even more difficult time maneuvering winding dirt roads so we could make it to Meyers Beach, a wonderful sandy beach outside Cornucopia that kayakers and beah sitters frequent.  After the long drive, the detour and the afternoon beach excursion, we were ready for the comfort of a homey (but luxurious) B and B.  We were NOT disappointed. Karleen Tjepkarma and her husband are wonderful hosts.  A fragrant bouquet of pink peonies graced the desk in our suite, books and art were everywhere.  Granddaughter Lizzie loved the freedom to run across the backyard, seeking out the koi in the little pond, while I was able to just soak in the beauty of the perennial beds and flowering shrubs.

Photos of GardenHouse

Both R. and I looked through a couple nature photography coffee table books before we called it a night -- wise choices for a B & B near the big lake.  The best still awaited, though.  I've been to several B & B's in England and one in Hazel Green, WI, and all those places served great breakfasts, but everything about the morning repast at Garden-House was 5-star.  The table setting rivaled a photo shoot layout.  Even Lizzie had special dishes.  My cranberry-raspberry green tea was one of the best I've had (and I've become a little bit of a tea snob lately).  Fresh fruit medley served in crystal goblets was followed by aebleskivers (spherical Norwegian pancakes) stuffed with apricot jam, nutella, or lemon curd (my favorite) and sausage. While we ate, we were able to learn more about Karleen's art, the couple's music, and the Port Wing news.   Karleen's special homemade toasted coconut ice cream was the final course to this special breakfast, a total surprise.  Ice cream for breakfast certainly was a hit with Lizzie.

It was quite the disappointment to learn that the campground I held so special in my memory has been gone for several years, replaced by several homes.  The Port Wing art studio, formerly a small church, is now for sale.  Port Wing, Herbster, and  Cornucopia are definitely not for the tourists who want the Bayfield shops and crowds, but if you like to soak up the sight and breezes of Lake Superior with a little taste of the hard life of those early Wisconsin immigrants who settled on the shores, fished and tried to farm, then you might like to explore highway 13.  If you do, and if you want to meet some interesting hosts who will make you feel completely at home, check out  Do check their website, as their photos are much better than mine.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Apart at the Seams by Marie Bostwick

APART AT THE SEAMSApart at the Seams is the sixth book in Marie Bostwick's  Cobbled Court Quilt series. I've loved  the previous books which all take place in the charming town New Bern, Connecticut and its little quilt shop tucked away in a courtyard off the main streets.  All the books are loosely connected, centering on women who find that Evelyn's shop is not just a spot to buy quality fabric; it is a shelter from life's hurts and a spot where friendships grow.  In this most recent addition to the Cobbled Court saga, Gayla Oliver, a college placement counselor, finds a document her husband has left on his computer.  It appears to be a note informing her that the marriage was over.  When he swears that the note had been written months earlier and that he has realized that ending their marriage would be a mistake, Gayla can't forgive him.
She seeks solace at the little cottage they'd bought in New Bern, the place they'd expected to bring them closer together.  Instead, Gayla finds herself alone and uncertain about her future.

Despite never having sewn anything, Gayla has always been drawn to the beauty of fabric, and soon she's invited to be part of the Cobbled Court quilting group.  Each of the women have recently challenged each other to try something new -- something totally unexpected.  Readers will be surprised as each friend shares what they've undertaken- especially Evelyn's elderly mother.  One of the group is  Ivy Peterman, a struggling single mother who juggles motherhood, her job at the quilt shop, and her college classes.  Ivy's past story of escaping domestic abuse is the main story in an earlier book.  In Apart at the Seams, Ivy learns that her ex-husband will be paroled from prison and the courts have approved his request to having visiting rights with the children.  Despite all she has achieved, Ivy still must push ahead if she wants a safe, secure, and happy future for herself and her children.

Jennifer Chiaverini, Debbie Macomber, Jan Karon and other successful authors have captivated readers with their fictional towns peopled with ordinary people facing both life's highs and lows. Fans of these authors can't wait for the next volume.  I believe Marie Bostwick and the busy ladies (and their families) of New Bern deserve the same loyal following and accolades as the others.  Can't wait for Marie's next work, whether it's a Cobbled Court story or a stand alone book.  I obtained my copy of Apart at the Seams through the Winnefox Library System.  If you are interested in her work, all her books are available at BN, Amazon, and many other bookstores.  I was lucky enough to meet Marie at the Quilt Expo in Madison two years ago, and since then I've started following her on Facebook.  Meeting her and following her frequent postings about everyday life have convinced me she's as full of heart as her writing!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Chestnut Street by Maeve Binchy

Book cover Maeve Binchy's books are filled with stories of Ireland so real that readers often sought out the towns described in them, only to find that they were fictional.  I haven't not read all her books, but always found her works to be exceptional at catching both life's poignant and quiet moments.  Most of her stories have quirky twists, those details that make a person  "a character" and a place "an unforgettable."  I am sure her writing spurred countless visits to Ireland. Sadly Maeve Binchy died in 2012 and there will be no more full length novels, but a collection of short stories has been published posthumously.  Each story introduces the reader to a resident of Chestnut Street, a fictional street in Dublin.  Binchy was such a talented writer that in just four or five pages she captured the essence of each character's unique story, leaving you thinking that you had just completed a novel, not a short story.  When a select few characters make a simple mention in a second or third story later in the book, layers of authenticity begin to build, and Chestnut Street emerges as a real place in Ireland's last years of the twentieth century.  The seemingly ordinary people who inhabit Chestnut Street across the decades at first appear to be too caught up in the struggles of everyday lower middle class life to have any significant personal story to share.  They are the nameless people who work in the shops and ride the buses.  But as the doors of their tiny flats are closed, the shades drawn on the windows, and the kettle is set on the stove, Binchy lets us see into their true stories --  the lost loves, failed careers, abandonment, even second chances and heroic choices.   If you've never read one of Maeve Binchy's books, I highly recommend CHESTNUT STREET as your first read.  I especially liked the its format for vacation reading.  It was easy to pick up the book and read a story or two, then put it down without thinking I was abandoning the book mid-story.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Cabin time and a little reading

There have been no posts this week because simply put, I had better things to do!  We were at the cabin with our daughter and granddaughter and that makes technology out of range.  Even the cell phone is unreliable.  L. is the youngest of our grandchildren, and at 3 1/2 years is at the perfect age for fun times.
One day she was down at the hammock by our little lake with her mom and I could hear her giggles all the way up to the cabin.  This went on for nearly an hour.  We took a side trip for part of two days and she was so good despite the long car ride.  That night we went out for supper and she had Grandpa, Grandma, and Mom all playing finger puppets with her.  What a shock the waitress got when Grandpa ordered his supper and beverage with his puppet voice!  Such sweet times and great memories in the making.

Although there were meals to prepare, a few simple picnics to pack, and many miles on the road during the week, I did have time to finish three books (Seagrass Pier by Colleen Coble, Apart at the Seams by Marie Bostwick, and Chestnut Street by Maeve Binchy) and will be posting reviews asap.  I may even post a little more about the trip.  I definitely have to share about the charming B&B that we stayed at when we made our little side trip to the South Shore of Lake Superior.  Of course, I will have to work my writing around doing laundry, weeding garden, and getting caught up on the mail. I have several notifications from the library that I have requested materials to pick up and I also have three electronic holds ready to download.  Looks like I will need to set aside time for reading, too.  Can't believe the middle of July is quickly approaching.   Can we possibly add a few extra hours to each day so I can do all I want to do?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

So Shines the Night by Tracy L. Higley

Daria is an educated single woman, a rarity in the ancient world.  When her services as a tutor are no longer needed she seeks employment at a local academy, but there she sees evidence of the dark magic and secrets that haunted her earlier marriage.  When she attempts to rescue a young girl whose mind and body are threatened by sorcery, Daria is aided by a merchant who then offers safe passage to Ephesus and eventually a job as his tutor.  Although the plan is that she will teach Lucas the many foreign languages that he needs to be more successful, Daria soon learns that his priorities lie elsewhere.  Driven by her natural curiosity, Daria tries to learn what haunts the merchant, and her efforts led her to a group of sorcerers who threaten the old ways of Ephesus and its worship of the God Artemis.  She also discovers that Lucas has a connection with the mysterious group led by a tent maker Paul and his young friend Timothy. When Lucas is falsely accused of murder, Daria begins to see the truth that Paul has been preaching on the streets and in area homes.

Higley, in a commentary after the book, explains that her story tries to flesh out the daily conflicts that Paul faced in Ephesus, especially the dark clouds of superstition, magic, and false religion that entangled so many.  She also mentions drawing on the classic romance Rebecca for the relationship between Lucas and Daria, and after reading that comment, I could see the parallel.  I listened to the audio version of this title and loved the narrative details of Lucas's estate and the city itself.  Like all audio books, the narrator has to alter his/her voice for all the characters and this is not always successful, especially for characters of the opposite sex.  This audio was well done, except that I found Paul's accent European and overdone.  In no way should that discourage anyone from listening to SO SHINES THE NIGHT or from reading the book.  I downloaded SO SHINES THE NIGHT at WPLC, our Wisconsin libraries' source for ebooks and audio books.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Strings and Scraps

When our time at our northwoods cabin is short, fishing is always a number one priority, followed by hammock time and reading.  We love to cook with our cast iron dutch ovens and our outdoor kitchen equipment over the wood fire  (See photo below) But when we stay there for more than three days or when the weather is rainy, I get an itch to do some sewing, so this spring I took my older New Home machine up there and left it for the summer.  I have a sewing case that I keep packed with scraps which I can throw into car when we pack.  I don't want to do any complicated sewing and I don't want to be burdened with patterns or instructions, so I just sew "strings" or strips across foundation pieces.  Then later I can turn these pieces into purses, table runners, bibs or even oven mitts.  I also have a few other simple blocks I make from scrap squares.  It's fun to see what I can coordinate from a pile of scraps.
Some of the strings sewn recently at the cabin.
 Fishy squares all made from scraps
 The fish squares made into a table runner
 String squares made into an embroidered table runner.  These runners will be gifts or donations.
Every oak tree started out as a couple of nuts who decided to stand their ground.

We've got another cabin trip coming up soon, but this time I'll be leaving the scrap box home as we will haveour three year old granddaughter and her mom along.  We plan to do some sightseeing and take a drive to Lake Superior.  I don't think I will be bored or need any projects.  I do hope we have good weather for outside cooking.  And please, may the mosquitoes have dwindled in number and size!
Grilled skirt steak, peppers, and onions ready for fajitas.  That's what cabin life is all about-- good food and doing what makes you happy!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman

IMG_1491_2Many adults are creating bucket lists -- those things they want to do before they die, but do you remember ever creating a "life list" when you were younger?  Perhaps you never wrote it down, but certainly at age 13 or 14 you could confidently tell others what you wanted to do with your life  I am sure your list was full of lofty aspirations - where you would go to school, where you'd travel and live, what kind of car you would drive and perhaps even whether you'd have children or not.  In your mind, I am sure you were going to be successful, perhaps even wealthy, and certainly you would be happy.  Next question, now that it is decades later, how much of that list have you accomplished?  Do those adolescent aspirations or goals even mean anything to you anymore?

Lori Nelson Spielman's novel The Life List examines those questions in a most unusual tale.  Cancer has just taken Brett Bohlinger's mother much too early.  Still deeply grieving, Brett knows she must pull herself together and assume the helm of her mother's successful cosmetic empire, but at the will reading Brett receives a shock she never expected.  The business will be managed by her sister-in-law and Brett herself will receive nothing until she completes a list of tasks left behind by her mother.  Actually, her mother did not write the list -- Brett wrote it herself at age 14.  On the crumpled piece of paper long ago discarded by Brett, but rescued and kept by her mother, there are 20 goals Brett set for herself those twenty years ago --
1.  Have a baby or two, 2. Teach others, 3. Get a dog, 4. Buy a horse, 5. Do charity work 6.  Make up with a certain childhood friend 7. Have a relationship with her father --- the list goes on and on, each goal more impossible than the others.  For starters, her boyfriend does not want children.  She gave up on the idea of teaching long ago (Her discipline skills are nonexistent).  And how do you establish a relationship with a man who is dead?  Talk to his grave?  But Brett has no choice, without a job and a home, she must attempt to make her way through the list.  As she does, surprises meet her at every step.

I enjoyed seeing how Brett is transformed by this list, becoming a better person, the person her mother knew she should be.  This is a fast, enjoyable read, and my only complaint is that it was too easy to see how the romance would go, even though there are several "red herrings" of interest.This book has been described as having "heart" and I definitely agree.  I am sure you will be cheering Brett on as she leaves Chicago's upper crust behind for a more caring life.  I enjoyed reading an interview with Lori N. Spielman found at the end of the book in which she shares that she, too, had a life list at age 14. A peak at her blog says that the book has been optioned by Fox for a movie. (Yeah)  Wonder what kind of story you could create from your old life list?  Like all good books, this one should have you thinking about your own choices, at least for a few minutes.

I obtained a copy of this book through our library system.  It's another recommended gentle read, despite some predictable parts.