Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Through the ShadowsTHROUGH THE SHADOWS by Karen Barnett is the third book in GOLDEN GATE CHRONICLES series; last year I reviewed BEYOND THE ASHES and was delighted that Litfuse gave me the opportunity to review the third book in the series.  Two years after the devastating earthquake, San Francisco is in the midst of legal battles over investments lost, at the same time it
is working to rebuild into a better, more modern city.  While the flurry of activity screams new life, old, destructive ways continue, especially among the brothels of Chinatown and the crooked offices of city officials.  Elizabeth King, younger sister to Ruby King of BEYOND THE ASHES, moves to San Francisco to help Donaldina Cameron with the Presbyterian Mission which rescues young Chinese girls tricked into sex slavery.  Miss King's own past holds a dark secret, and she hopes that she can start anew in the bustling city, but when Charles McKinley, a young attorney keeps bumping into her, she fears that the attraction he professes will be shattered if he ever learned the truth about her past.

Through Elizabeth's story, readers learn about Chinatown, the good and the bad.  Charles's days in court gives us a similar view of the legal system that drives the city's recovery.  This book is rich in historical detail and the characters themselves are deeply drawn.  You will be given glimpses of high ideals and the people who work to make them realities and will be taken to scenes where greed and evil breed.  Elizabeth and Charles must navigate the world between the two.   While this book is part of a series, it can be read alone.  It will take a bit before a reader will understand Elizabeth's "secret past" but it will be explained, and really the unknowing is not a problem.   Characters who took main stage in the first two books appear in secondary, but essential, roles in this title.  Like I so often do, I recommend that a new reader to this series, obtain all three books at once and then devour the series.
I believe when you do that, you will most appreciate the story of the Kings and the historic time period of the San Francisco earthquake.

I received a copy of this title from Litfuse for my honest review.

Karen Barnett


Karen Barnett is the author of “Beyond the Ashes,” “Out of the Ruins,” and “Mistaken.” Named the 2013 Writer of Promise by Oregon Christian Writers, Karen lives in Albany, Oregon, with her husband and two kids. When she’s not writing novels, she loves speaking at women’s events, libraries, and book clubs.
Find out more about Karen athttp://karenbarnettbooks.com.

For a chance to win a copy of Barnett's book click here and follow the instructions.  

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Win a copy of Karen Burnett's latest novel

I will be posting a review for Karen Burnett's new book THROUGH THE SHADOWS on May 31st.
This is the third book in a series set during and after the San Francisco earthquake.  Until then, why
not enter the author's contest for a chance to win your own copy of this latest novel.

Link to Karen Burnett's Through the Shadows contest

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Mistake Wisconsin by Kersti Niebruegge

Product Details My daughter and I often talk about books, but only occasionally do we read the same titles.  She knows that I often read cozy mysteries, something she does not, and that I also like books set in Wisconsin, so she made a point of telling me about a off-beat slender Young Adult book she had found at her library.  She liked the book's "tongue in check" point of view and want to know if I had heard of it. A quick online check verified that my library system had one copy, so I reserved it, and moved it to the top of the to-be read pile when it came.  Kersti Niebruegge grew up in Wisconsin and since graduating from UW-Madison has worked in television for BBC Worldwide, Conan, and Late Night with Seth Meyers.  Interesting mix, right?  Well, I would say Kersti brought her Conan and Late Night mindset right into this hilarious story.

First, there is the story of how the village got its name (no spoilers here).  Then there is the heavy laden humor that comes from the Norwegian heritage of the community -- no normal fish fries here; instead there are weekly church lutefisk suppers where the neighborhood boys compete to see who will barf first.  Then there are names -- one family has named each of its sons after a different Green Bay Packer player's name and can't wait to have a grandson so they can add Aaron Rodgers to the family  The story's arch villain's real name is Deputy Mayor Trollqvist, but everyone, including the sheriff, calls him The Troll.  Megan Svenson, niece to the sheriff and the author of the high school's blog entitled UFF DA. is sure that The Troll is out to ruin any fun the teens consider.   It's the final straw when The Troll cancels Opening Day, a town-wide celebration of the opening of Musky season, after 24 musky-shaped mailboxes are stolen.  Even the school principal who had looked forward to the long three day weekend as much as the kids had, is upset by the cancellation.  

Kersti Niebruegge has taken fishing traditions, supper clubs, boat houses, and custard stands -- all Wisconsin hallmarks --and used them as the backdrop for a quirky, satirical young adult mystery.
I am not sure if that intended audience will grab hold of this humor, but I was entertained throughout the 147 pages and would return to Mistake for another visit.  GO MUSKIES.

P.S.  I know that satire points out humorously real flaws and weaknesses, but still I admit that I was a bit uncomfortable when the author had the sheriff be someone who normally overlooked the underage drinking of the town's teens. To her credit, she did often warn them about driving.  Anyone who has worked with teenagers or is/was the parent of teens in Wisconsin (or anywhere for that matter), underage alcohol use is no joke.  Having the death of even one teen in your high school is more than enough for a lifetime, and I was just uncomfortable with the flippant inclusion of underage partying.

PLANTED WITH HOPE by Tricia Goyer and Sherry Gore, A Pinecraft Pie Shop story

planted with hopeHope Miller has moved to Pinecraft, the Amish settlement in Sarasota, Florida, along with her family for her father's health.  While her sisters seem to have settled into this warm, inviting community, Hope cannot help missing home (Ohio) and especially her garden.  Even though it is mid-winter back in the midwest and the sun is always shining in Florida, Hope dreams of spring planting and begins to make plans to return to Ohio as a helper to a married cousin.  Also having trouble settling into his new surroundings is widower Jonas Sutter who has traveled south with his young daughter to be a substitute teacher at the Pinecraft school for the remainder of the year.  The two "transplants" meet when Hope rescues Jonas's young daughter from an overturned canoe.  Soon Jonas becomes part of a plan to make Hope more settled and content by creating a garden behind the pie shop.  While Hope believes the garden will be her place of solitude and peace, the community has other ideas.

This is definitely a gentle read, one centered around the benefits of gardening.  An old journal, written by a woman who created a community "Victory" garden in Sarasota during WWII, provides the thoughtful thread about gardening and the benefits that go beyond mere food.  I found the characterization of Hope to be a bit unusual for an Amish novel, as she is a bit more flawed than more females I've read in other works.  She is quite a loner, not so much shy, as just preferring to do things her way according to her plans.  Her Loner personality is what provides the "nugget" for the story's plot and the tie-in with the journal.

I've been interested in Pinecraft ever since I learned of its existence.  I've followed Sherry Gore's blog, her cookbooks, and her autobiography, and have learned a bit about this unusual community from her writings.  I had hoped to visit Pinecraft when we traveled to Anna Maria Island two years ago, but it did not happen.  Something that remains on my bucket list.  It was my interest in the community that led me to borrowing this title from the library and purchasing book one in the series for my Nook.  I wish I could say that I loved the book as I do admire both authors and have read other titles by both.  But I really struggled to stay interested in this one; it was JUST TOO QUIET and uneventful for me.  Perhaps it was because I was busy weeding perennial beds and preparing our raised beds for planting that I felt the gardening scenes were just too idealistic and whitewashed.
I never really sensed the planning, the dirt under the nails, and the hard work of a real garden.  I came in from our "real" yard after hours of work, ready for relaxing and entertaining reading, but found I had trouble staying interested in Hope's story.  That said, I am still interested in reading MADE WITH LOVE, the first book in the series, and I eagerly await SEWN WITH JOY, the September release of the next book.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sister Dear by Laura McNeill

Dark family secrets threaten to ruin Allie’s chance at freedom and claims of innocence. Don’t miss the new book from Laura McNeill, Sister Dear. Convicted of a crime she didn’t commit, Allie watched a decade of her life vanish – time that can never be recovered. Now, out on parole, Allie is determined to clear her name, rebuild her life, and reconnect with the daughter she barely knows
All Allie Marshall wants is a fresh start. But when dark secrets refuse to stay buried, will her chance at a new life be shattered forever?
Convicted of a crime she didn’t commit, Allie watched a decade of her life vanish – time that can never be recovered. Now, out on parole, Allie is determined to clear her name, rebuild her life, and reconnect with the daughter she barely knows.
But Allie’s return home shatters the quaint, coastal community of Brunswick, Georgia. Even her own daughter Caroline, now a teenager, bristles at Allie’s claims of innocence. Refusing defeat, a stronger, smarter Allie launches a battle for the truth, digging deeply into the past even if it threatens her parole status, personal safety, and the already-fragile bond with family.
As her commitment to finding the truth intensifies, what Allie ultimately uncovers is far worse than she imagined. Her own sister has been hiding a dark secret—one that holds the key to Allie’s freedom.
My opinion:
This tale is of sibling rivalry and jealously gone awry.  Never have I read a story where trust and dependence is so misplaced.  Allie wants to start life again after her early parole and hopes to regain a place in her daughter's and her parent's hearts.  It seems that only her sister has stayed solidly by her side for the past ten years, and she is sure that no one will totally accept her again unless she can prove her innocence in the death of the town's beloved football coach.  McNeill keeps readers deep in the emotions of this story by alternating who the story is focusing on.  Although the whole story is told from a third person, omniscient narrator, each chapter centers on only one character's thoughts and actions.  We see Allie as she struggles to find a job, start anew, and then attempt to find out how the coach really died.  Next, we have Caroline, Allie's teenage daughter whose daily struggle to be accepted after the whole town finds out her mother, a convicted killer, has returned.  Caroline lives with Allie's younger sister Emma who has handled the burden of raising the young girl for the past ten years and seems to be the rock that Allie can depend on.  Last, there is the town's sheriff who seems to have a deep-seated hatred of Allie that goes beyond his law enforcement duties. At times the book flashes back to 2006 and the months leading up to the coach's death.  McNeill has coordinated all these crucial elements of plot and characterization very well.  As other reviewers have shared, finding the truth in this mystery does not mean having a happy ending.  As in real life, deceit and jealousy are destructive emotions, as is the desire to win at any cost.  McNeill has made that clear in this captivating tale.  I received a copy of this book from Litfuse for my honest review.  I definitely give it a thumbs up for those readers who like suspense and family drama.  I have never read McNeill before, but plan to get a copy of her first novel CENTER OF GRAVITY, as she is a talented writer. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Sins of the Past: A Romantic Suspense Novella Collection by Dee Henderson, Dani Pettrey and Lynette Eason

Cover ArtFor the longest time novellas did not appeal to me.  They seemed not as tightly constructed as short stories; the additional length gave too much space and time for extra characters and meandering details.  At the same time, the shortened length vs. a novel required the author to limit setting details and in-depth characterization -- the very items that breathe a sense of genuineness into a work.  Then I listened to a few novella collections while sewing, and I realized that the shorter length fit well into an afternoon time span, perfect for a few hours of quilting.  By time I was done for the day, I was also done with the story.  No need to wonder what would happen next and no need to try to get the audio finished before I forgot the plot.  So when I had the opportunity to read advance copies of the three stories in SINS OF THE PAST, a romantic suspense novella by three of my favorite Christian suspense authors, I grabbed the chance.

I suspect that writing a romantic suspense novella might be a tad more challenging than writing a simple romance.  There must be all the elements of a mystery -- sleuth and or victim of the suspense, a villian plus extra suspects, and of course, a disappearance, theft or some type of crime.  Since these stories are of the  romantic suspense genre, there must also be a budding romance.  All this needs to be done in about 90 pages.  No time for frills, but still the author must attack the job with the same finesse as writing a full-fledged novel.  So to be truthful, I was not sure if the end products would be worth my reading time.  I can pleasantly admit that each novella fit perfectly into my hectic spring reading schedule and were totally enjoyable. In MISSING by Dee Henderson,  Police Chief John Graham quickly leaves his Cheyenne, Wyoming post when he receives word from the Chicago area that his mother, a resident at a retirement home, is missing.  He soon finds the investigation is being competently handled by Lieutenant Sharon Noble, but no real information about his mother's whereabouts has surfaced.  Henderson offers readers a story very different from most suspense writing and I encourage you to find out what I mean by my observation.

Dani Pettrey is known for her Alaskan Courage series featuring the McKenna family.  They star in the novella SHADOWED, but this time the setting is Alaska 1979 and features Ben McKenna (father to the McKennas of the Alaskan Courage series) and Libby, a professional distance swimmer.  When Ben's boat takes Libby on a whale watching cruise, they discover the body of a Russian swimmer.  She also happens to be Libby's former roommate.  Libby believes the woman had been involved in some type of spying, but has no proof.  You know, I liked the return to the 70's and Pettrey's references to Jansport backpacks, Walkmans, jean coveralls and more.

I've come to expect lots of action from Lynette Eason and despite the short length of BLACKOUT, the novella delivered.  Bits and pieces of repressed memories are surfacing in Macey Adams's nightmares, headaches, and visions, but nothing that will let her remember the details of that horrible night six years ago.  Now she fears that someone knows she is remembering and is out to stop her permanently.  Could it be her former boyfriend who was recently released from prison?  When her home is broken into, Macey finally accepts the friendship and assistance of Chad Lathan, a neighbor who just happens to be on the police force.  There's a twist to this story, one I am happy to admit I figured out, but that did not diminish the impact of the ending.

I received a copy of this collection from Netgalley and Baker Publishing for my honest review.

Right now the two big ebook sellers have this collection for under $5.  Don't know if those prices are temporary or not, but the stories are certainly worth the price.


Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Product DetailsFrom the first page of Michael Phillip's latest book THE INHERITANCE, the language itself evokes the feeling of the fictional Shetland island called Whales Reef and its centuries old manners and customs.  You might think that a modern setting would not be fitting for a tale about lordly inheritance and such, but 'tis far from the truth for Whales Reef is a special place where residents hold tight to the Scottish ways of life from previous eras.  Loyality to chief (head of clan), bard (poet or spiritual leader), Laird (Lord or landlord) and clan (family group) was "bred deep to the marrow of their souls."  When Laird Macgregor Tulloch dies, without children, everyone assumes the title and the lands will pass to his great nephew David who is the chief of the clan.  But without a written will, probate officials must search for all qualified heirs, and that includes David's step-cousin Hardar Tulloch.  It has been quite a while since I've read a book that so clearly drew a line between the characterization of the "good guy" and the "bad guy."  David takes his job as clan chief seriously and is always making decisions based on the good of the island, not his own desires.  Hardar or Hardy on the other hand is a man of threats, belittlement, and grudges.  If he is chosen as the rightful heir, certain doom faces the tenants of the island.

Let's talk for a bit about the culture and livelihood of the island.  Daily the men take their fishing boats out to the cold sea in search of fish.  Tales of lost boats and lost fathers, brothers, and friends are remembered and retold, years after the fact.  And most of the women, including many widows with no other means, work at the mill where the wool from the famous island sheep are made into the iconic Shetland blankets.  Daily life continues as it has for decades, until the question of the inheritance threatens all they know.

Meanwhile two Americans make trips to Scotland for very different reasons.  Texan McLeod is looking to add to his substantial oil holdings and has had his sights on Whale Reef for quite some time.  Macgregor's death may be the opening he needs.  Loni Ford, a young career woman working in an investment firm in Washington D.C. is sent to a conference in Scotland.  A week later, sick of the dreary weather and darkness, Loni boards a plane home, intent on never seeing the land of the Scots again.  As she spends the hours of the flight pondering once again the mysteries of her own life -- orphaned as an infant, raised by conservative Quaker grandparents who never spoke about either of her parents, Loni (Allonah Emily) wonders what her life story really is.  Little does she know that she may need to travel to the Shetland Isles of Scotland for answers.

I received a copy of this title (first in a series) from Litfuse and Bethany House for my honest review.
At 428 pages, this book is longer than most Christian novels, but I can truthfully say I was entranced on every page.  I read the complete book in two sittings. On page 178 at 11:30 last night, I made the decision to stay up and finish reading the book.  No way would I sleep with bully Hardar and McLeod threatening the lifestyle of Whale Reef, and how would Loni's story merge with the tale of the island?  For like the Shetland blankets of the mill, certain threads of the story are hidden away out of the pattern for a while and then return boldly with great importance and show.  At two twenty after reading the last page, I closed the book and headed for bed.  This morning Loni, David, and all the colorful characters Phillips has created are at residence in my brain.Where will I put them so they will be fresh and ready to take up tale again when the second book releases?  For I must return to Whales Reef and learn the rest of the story.

Example of a Shetland blanket

Monday, May 9, 2016

Letting Michael Phillips take me away to the isles of Scotland

The Inheritance
If spring and autumn were in a race for my favorite season, it would be a photo finish for top honors.
I love the smells of spring, despite frequent sinus problems, and the soft pastel colors.  I look in every yard for flowering crabs, creeping phlox, and blooming bulbs.  And the first time out in the boat fishing i smagical.  Last week we opened our cabin and making that trip is a sure sign that spring has arrived.  Knowing that our loon pair is back gives us hope that this might be the year for a successful hatch. And then there is asparagus and rhubarb.  We had our first rhubarb dessert on Friday, and with help from our 8 year old granddaughter the pan is already completely gone.

May also brings Mother's Day and then my birthday soon after.  I don't make a big deal about either day, but it was just great that I got to see all three of our kids and the six grandchildren over the past four days.  That doesn't happen very often.  So I should be on top of the world.  But don't you know there always has to be annoyances to steal a bit of joy.  For me, it has been a series of household breakdowns.  We built our house 10.5 years ago, making our appliances 11 model years old, and I guess they've all heard that nothing lasts more than 8-10 years anymore.  Friday, when we got home from up north, I started in on the laundry right away.  As we ate a late lunch, the first load was entering the spin cycle when Russ and I heard an awful groaning sound.  Shut the washer off, checked the inside and fluffed the load in case it was off-centered and started it again, skipping part of the spin cycle.  Started another load which washed just fine until the final spin -- same noise but not so loud, then it got extremely loud.  Emptied the washer and felt around inside.  I can easily move the drum; obviously it has broken away from the brackets.

Now this same thing (or I think it is the same thing) happened when the machine was only 2.5-3.5 years old.  I called the dealer/repairman then and was told that the repair would be almost as much as a new washer.  When they pulled the drum, it was all corroded.  Despite not being under warranty any longer, they did replace the drum for free (but not labor) and we got almost 8 more years of use out of the washer.  Since labor and house visits are even more now, I figure it is time for a new washer.  To make things worse, this washer is part of a stackable unit, and no new washer will be compatible with the dryer.  In our unit, you actually removed the top of the washer and then the washer was somehow attached to the dryer bottom.  So I not only went shopping for a washer, I had to shop for a laundry pair.  UGH.  Most new front loading machines are bigger than my old one, and when stacked I would need to stand on a stool to reach the controls for the dryer.  We did find one unit that we liked that will let me reach all controls.  Since we are paying for  delivery and installation, we decided to go ahead and replace the above-the range microwave which has been less than satisfactory for quite a while -- broken door handle, plus the carousel does not function, and the power level is not up to snuff anymore.

Despite the sticker shock after Saturday's preliminary appliance shopping, yesterday's lovely Mother's Day had me feeling blessed and content. Then this morning I went to the kitchen to make breakfast.  When I flipped the switch to the garbage disposal, it made the faintest sound and then silence.  Checked the breakers both on the switch and at the box.  Nothing.  Russ checked the plug under the sink and tried to see if anything was caught.  No luck.  We had talked to the plumber about this unit a few months ago as it sometimes made really loud, whiny, scraping noises.  He said those indicated the unit was wearing out and would need replacing soon.  So on our way home from the appliance dealer, we called our son who works for a Plumbing, Heating and Electrical business and had him order a new garbage disposal.  Cha-ching.

Feeling slightly bummed and with a definitely lighter pocketbook, I decided to get started on supper.  A nice pasta salad using turkey leftover from my Mother's Day lunch out would be tasty and budget-smart I thought.  I assembled all the ingredients - grapes, celery, toasted pecans, celery, onion, turkey, pasta, and then I opened the cupboard door to get a small bowl for mixing the dressing.  Out fell a glass casserole lid which hit the vintage green glass bowl of my mom's holding the salad.  Although it appeared the glass bowl broke into three large pieces, I did find a couple sharp shards on the counter, and so I had to dump the salad to be safe.  Supper will be asparagus omelets.

So back to my love of spring.  As soon as I dumped the salad, I headed out to the yard.  I weeded some, planted a new perennial, weeded some more, all the while admiring our blossoming crabapple trees, tulips, dwarf irises, and late daffodils.  Blessings still abound and all will be well.  Stuff is just stuff, and it has a price.  We are not facing a famine, a forest fire, or an earthquake.  Soldiers aren't outside my home and I was able to attend the church of my choice yesterday.  My children are all speaking to me (or so I think), and it is spring.  Tomorrow we get to have lunch with
Russ's sisters and friends.  It will be a better day.  Please take time to appreciate the good and the beauty around you.  Sometimes it helps.

As for tonight, I plan to let Michael Phillips take me away to a very special Shetland island in Scotland in his new book, THE INHERITANCE.  If you want to learn more about a giveaway to celebrate his latest writing check out the website below
The Inheritance Giveaway

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Catching up and a new book review

We finally made it up north to our cabin and opened it up for the spring/summer season.  I think this is the latest date ever for doing that.  And to make it even worse, we never traveled north in late fall or winter.  Our sons did, but we have not been there since October.  Unbelievable!! We made it there more often when I was still working full time.  But that long drought of time is over and I'm ready to spend lots of time there this summer.  The loon pair is back (although one adult may be a new mate as one loon was injured late last summer and we don't know if it survived). Hubby was able to golf one day and I sewed.  I keep my New Home (Janome) Memorycraft purchased in the mid 1980s up there, and despite being stored in an unheated building all winter, it ran like a dream.  I put together two small wall hangings and then started sewing large "string" blocks from my pink scraps.  Plan to put together a rainbow-type scrap lap quilt for donation.  Did a bit of housekeeping up there and Russ applied WET N FORGET to the siding.  We've got some dark staining on the siding, probably caused by moisture and the shaded woods.  We plan to restain the siding later in the summer --  solid, not semi-transparent, this time.

While there I finished reading WE ARE ALL WELCOME HERE by Elizabeth Berg. It has been quite a while since I have read a book by Berg. Her books normally feature a female main character, someone who succeeds at overcoming whatever obstacle life throws her way -- divorce, financial loss, death, and more.  This book, set in 1961 Tulepa, Mississippi, features more than one strong female.  First there is Diana, just entering her teens, whose life is shaped by poverty and her mother's disability.  Paige contracted polio when pregnant with Diana, and delivered the baby while in an iron lung.  Left a quadriplegic and deserted by Diana's father, Paige refused to give her daughter up for adoption.  The fragile framework of this family is knit together by Peacie, the black woman hired to care for both Paige and Diane during the daytime.  Over the years, she has become much more than a housekeeper or maid.

As summer progresses Diana and her BFF think about boys, but Diana also begins to see her mother in a new light.  She sees Paige's beauty and influence over others despite being in a wheelchair.  She also witnesses her mother's vulnerability, her need to be loved and accepted as normal.  Plus Diana begins to become more aware of the society around her, including the protests and voter registrations that Peacie's boyfriend is taking part in.  Elizabeth Berg tells at the beginning of the book that she received a letter from a fan reader saying that she wanted her mother's story told and wanted Berg to do it.  The letter writer's mom had contracted polio when she was pregnant and had delivered a girl (the writer) while in an iron lung and then had raised the baby despite being confined to a wheelchair.
Berg consented to write the book, as long as she could write a fictionalized version of the mother/daughter.  WE ARE ALL WELCOME HERE, complete with a surprise visit by Elvis, is the result.  This book would appeal to young adults and adults equally.

Friday, May 6, 2016

A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert

Model Ivy Clark has risen to the top of the fashion industry, but now at age 24, it seems the only place to go is downward.  When her father's widow offers Ivy an escape from New York city and an opportunity to model for a wedding magazine spread, Ivy's agent since age 14 (also her uncle) sends her to take the job.  Readers will quickly see that Ivy has an unloved (or so she thinks) child hidden inside her beautiful body, and that her tough fashion-world savvy demeanor is barely skin deep.  Davis Knight, once a rising photographer, is summoned to do the photo shoot for his aunt (Ivy's step mother) and he sees just as quickly as the reader that Ivy is not the tough cookie she appears to be. That does not prevent the two from having a rocky relationship from the start, partly because both have secrets and hurts that they want to keep hidden.

I don't usually gravitate to contemporary Christian novels with such a young cast, but I wanted to give this title a try.  It was an entertaining read while offering some good lessons on brokenness, and finding a way to wholeness.  You'll quickly identify Davis as the "good guy" in this title, but surprisingly he has a few lessons to learn also, mostly about forgiving oneself. The most lovely part of this book is Marilyn, the stepmother's story, and her unconditional love for Ivy.