Tag Archives: family

The Family Upstairs – Lisa Jewell- a Review

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I went to a wedding a week ago in Tallahassee and, on my drive back, stopped at a couple of Goodwill Stores as they always seem to have a good selection of used books. One of the ones I purchased was The Family Upstairs. I hadn’t read any of this author before, but I’m a fan now. The book was intriguing as well as a quick read. A house with dark secrets is at the center of the tale.

The story is told from three points of view and I enjoyed all of them. Each had a distinctive voice and were compelling in different ways. The movement from each voice to the other was smooth and kept me turning pages.

In the author note, she stated her inspiration for the book came from seeing a woman in Nice, France sneaking her children into the public baths near the beach. From that, a tale of family terror, loss, and lives shattered was born. I loved how all the threads of the story came together. I figured out most of it, but a surprise or two in the pages made this reader happy as I usually solve it all before the end.

Each of the three protagonists were dramatically affected by their upbringings and the way the author showed how those experiences carried over into their adult lives was genius. It’s a dark tale, but moments of light and love shine through. I throughly recommend this one for a few hours of entertainment mixed with a little anxiety for the characters.

My Grandfather, a Small Tribute to Mark the Anniversary of his Death

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Henry A. Richardson

January 3, 1897-December 21, 1968

My grandfather, my mother’s father, was a kind, gentle soul. He was a soldier in WWI and worked after the war helping build the Wilson Dam in Florence, Alabama as well as other projects that needed manual labor during that time period. He also did work for the WPA (Works progress Administration) during the depression. He was also a tenant farmer who worked the cotton fields. He was eventually the father of ten children. My mother was number 8. All the children worked those fields to help support the family. It was a rough life, but they were full of joy. The children all remained close as adults. We had a slew of cousins to play with for sure. The house was always filled with laughter. Loud, fun, crazy family members.

By the time I knew my grandfather, he was in his sixties. He was a quiet man who didn’t say much. They lived in an old house with no indoor plumbing. There was a well for water and four buckets sat at the back door at the kitchen. Three were for cooking and the fourth had a beat up old ladle we all drank from. It was the iciest, coldest, water ever. My grandmother had a red pump to pump water into the sink. She also had one of those clothes washers that basically ran around the room. It was fun to watch that thing. She hung all clothes to dry and sheets as well.

We didn’t spend the night with them often—we usually stayed with my dad’s parents who had a bigger house in town—but when we did, we either had to use a chamber pot or run to the outhouse past the chicken coop which was a fair distance. I think that may be where I got part of my active imagination as I ran through the night in my jammies past those chickens. I imagined all kinds of demons on my tail. And man, if you’ve never smelled the inside of an outhouse, count yourself lucky. You’ll never forget it. It is a visceral memory to me to this day.

Anyway, back to my grandfather. The year I was going to turn 8, we lived in Virginia. We traveled down for Christmas—a14 hour drive—and arrived at my dad’s parent’s house around 7 pm on the 21st of December.  My sister and I went to our room to put our suitcases down. My mother started screaming and crying so loudly, we were terrified.

We raced out to the den and found my mother hysterical.  My grandfather had to break the news to her that her father died in his sleep and her mother found him when she tried to wake him for breakfast.  He died 13 days before his 72nd birthday.

It was a terrible Christmas that year. I still remember my mother unwrapping the shirt we’d bought for him so she could take it back to the store. She helped my grandmother take back a lot of things that year. It was heartbreaking even for a little kid to see. I can’t listen to that song where the grandmother gets run over by a reindeer. Having lived a Christmas like I did that year, I can’t deal with that song.

There is a picture of me (wish I could find it as I write this) on my birthday that year sitting on the couch holding my new doll. It is a pitiful picture as I look so sad and alone.

He never said much—unless you thought you could turn the television channel because he was asleep.   He’d mumble, “I was watching that.” He didn’t get mad, but we never changed it when he said that. He always had a spittoon by his side and always wore a fedora. He also cooled his coffee by pouring it into his saucer once he’d added his cream and sugar. It made me laugh.

I could say a lot more about him and his life, but I’ll save some stories for another day. Suffice it to say, I miss him even after all this time, and for some reason, I’ve felt him close to me this year. I sense him, watching out for me, as I make my way through this tough year.

Overkill- New Release Out in the World

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My great grandmother, Mallie Phillips Fowler wasn’t your typical sweet little old lady. She was a ball of fire and very sassy. I like to think I inherited some of her moxie. I was in my 20s when she died and she was in her 90s. One of the last times I saw her, she was in her yard with her cane in one hand and a rake in the other and my grandfather, her son, was begging her to go inside and let him do the raking. No way. She was adamant she could do it. He threatened her with the nursing home, but she just laughed and kept on working. She lived a number of months after that. Sadly, I lived over 360 miles away so I didn’t see her as often as I’d have liked.

Two things stand out in my memory of my whole life visiting her. She always, always, always—even those last visits—had a coconut cake on her dining room table. It was the best cake ever. She used fresh coconut and shredded it herself and used the coconut milk in the batter. None of us in the family have ever been able to duplicate it. One of a kind—like her. She also had one of those glass chicken candy dishes and it always had those hard candy mixes in it —you know, the kind you get at Christmas and they get all stuck together? My sister and I spent many hours tugging that junk apart. We each have a candy dish like that in our homes now. Mine holds loose change, though. Lol.

Why am I yakking about this lady? Well, my new book that’s out tomorrow and up for preorder now has a character who has some of my great grandmother’s characteristics. Miss Hattie in my story is one of the minor characters who plays a role in assisting the detectives in solving the murder at the heart of the story. She happens to be pretty sassy and makes a divine coconut cake (I almost said a to-die-for cake, but thought better of it 🙂 )

Overkill is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Black Opal Books, among other retailers. As an ebook or paperback.

Amazon link

Barnes and Noble link

overkill

 

 

 

It’s Release Day!

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This story is set in my hometown, Pensacola, and features many local landmarks as well as restaurants I love to visit- all local owned and operated, some by more than one generation!  It’s a tour of my town as well as a bit of a thriller with some romance woven in. Buy link

front cover (2)

Here There Be Witches- E-Book Available Now

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The e-book is available today and the print book should be out by the end of the week. So excited to have this one out in the world. Cali is a sassy teenage witch who has so much personality, she was a joy to work with on this story. I hope readers like her as much as I do.

Blurb:

One chaotic week in October, former friends, a guardian angel, and a secret prophecy cause turmoil in the life of a teen-age witch-in-training.

Cali French, a high school senior, is cut out of her inner circle when she refuses to participate in a spell her friends want to cast. Cali fears the dark magic and the unknown consequences of the shortcut they want to take by casting the spell.

Unbeknownst to her, Cali is the subject of an important prophecy. Her former pals have discovered this and have an even more sinister motive in forcing her to cooperate in their work than Cali can imagine.

Her very life in peril, the young witch-in-training faces unknown dangers relying only on her unpolished skills and some assistance from a guardian angel and a gentle giant.

BUY LINK 

HereThereBeWitches_LRG

 

Word Wednesday

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Today’s word is a fun one. Its meaning is comparing horoscopes between two (or more) people to determine if they are likely to be compatible or have a good relationship. The word is SYNASTRY.

Have you ever done that? I’ve done it in a few Chinese restaurants where they have the years on the paper placemat. We always check that out with the people we’re with to see if we’re supposed to even be at the same table. I’m a Rat. Next time you’re in the mood, research your animal and see if we’d be compatible. Check it out here– Seems like Rats make good lawyers. Who knew? LOL!

A Sad Week

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In the last week, I’ve had a lot of sadness in my life. It’s weird how it comes in spurts like that. It started with the death of the man who rented office space from me. He’s been ill for a while so even though we all knew he was not doing well, it was a bit of a shock to hear that he passed away in his sleep during the day on last Friday. His family has decided to have his services in the town where he grew up instead of here where he lived for over thirty years. This saddens me as he was a big part of the community here and they are robbing us of the chance to say goodbye.

In the last day, I learned that a friend’s son was killed when a car backed over him. He was only seven. I’m utterly shattered for my friend and her family. I know how much they adored that little boy and I can’t wrap my head around such a devastating loss. I don’t know how they’re going to make it from day to day with this hole in their lives. There’s nothing I can say or do to make it better. I wish there was.

Death really puts things in perspective. I know I let things bother me and I get hurt easily but as I think about these people -both too young to go- being gone and no longer able to enjoy time with family and friends, I find myself hoping that the life I lead in the time I have left is one such that my family and friends will be as bereft as I am at the loss of these two. I endeavor to be as good a person as they both were.

An Old Family Tradition

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My father’s mother always told this joke once a year and after she passed away, my father took over. It’s not the first week of March without it (and believe it or not, my grandmother’s birthday was March 5 and, had she lived, she would’ve been turning 97 tomorow).  Here’s the joke:

Question: What’s the soldier’s least favorite day of the year?

Answer: March fourth.

Yep. It’s lame but it’s a tradition. What can I say?

What a Week!

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My son graduated from high school on Monday and that was wonderful. My other son is in the US for two weeks and even though I won’t get to see him until Monday, the 11th, just knowing he’s on the same side of the Atlantic Ocean as me makes me happy. The kid that graduated made a mad dash down to Orlando the day after the ceremony to see Bon Iver in concert. His first trip with just him and a buddy and it went very well.

Tomorrow, we have family both from my husband’s side and my own extended family from north Alabama as well as friends descending on our house for a pool party and BBQ in honor of the graduate. Sadly, his brother won’t be able to make it. I hate that he’s not going to get to see some of his family he hasn’t seen in a long time but he’s spending one week of his time in the US at his future in-laws’ house.

I’m a bit fretful since I haven’t cooked a thing since I ordered all the food, but what if they forget? EEP. Lots of people and no food will be a disaster. And oh yeah, that prediction about rain all day? Yeah, that. Well, I’m fretting a mite about that, too. A pool party in the rain is not good. As my dad always says, “Someone might get wet.”