One More Book

Note: I didn’t think I would finish this last night, but I did. Will go back to my regular end-of-month review schedule in January.

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Waiting on You by Kristan Higgins. Copyright 2014.

 

In Manningsport, New York, Colleen, a nurse who owns a bar and grill with her twin brother, is only too happy to do matchmaking and give advice to others seeking romance. Ten years earlier, her first love, Lucas, supposedly broke her heart so now she’s having nothing more to do with romance except for the occasional fling. When Lucas returns to town to care for his dying uncle, she tries to resist him, but love’s pull is too strong. She often encounters him in situations with other characters and sub-plots that make this a humorous story of love, loss, and reconciliation.

Throughout the story, the author inserts bits and pieces of Colleen’s and Lucas’s stories. At first, I found this frustrating because I wanted to know what would happen to the characters now. A brief overview would have sufficed, I thought. I soon realized the back story was necessary in order for the reader to understand why Colleen and Lucas broke up. As it turns out, Lucas didn’t break Colleen’s heart. It was the other way around, but I won’t say anything more about that.

Reading such a book helped me put my life in perspective. Colleen’s and Lucas’s lives were pretty complicated. Lucas’s mother died when he was young. As a teen-ager, he was forced to live with his uncle and aunt after his father was sent to prison for drug dealing. He had to deal with his uncle’s indifference, his aunt’s resentment, and his cousin’s irresponsibility and hero worship.

Colleen’s childhood wasn’t as traumatic, but when she was in college, her father divorced her mother for a much younger woman with whom he conceived a child. Also, her grandfather is dying in a nursing home, and she’s the only one in the family who cares about him. It’s nice to escape reality through a book, but it’s also nice to return to the reality of a life that isn’t nearly as complicated as that of the main characters in a story. Click here to learn more about Kristan Higgins’ books.

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Abbie J. Taylor 010Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

Front Book Cover - We Shall OvercomeWe Shall Overcome

Cover: How to Build a Better Mousetrap by Abbie Johnson TaylorHow to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

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Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

Vote for my new book idea.

 

Review: Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Note: This is the only non-holiday book I had time to read this month.

 

Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote. First Copyright 1950.

 

A writer in New York City reminisces about his neighbor, a Hollywood starlet for whom he developed an attraction in the year she lived in his apartment building from the fall of 1943 to autumn the following year. They first met when she rang his buzzer in the middle of the night, having lost her key to get into the building. Another night, she climbed down the fire escape and through his window while he was working, and they struck up a conversation. After that, he was drawn into her circle of friends where he learned about her life and witnessed a myriad of events involving her throughout the year. In 1944 after a scandalous scrape with the law, she left the country and was never heard from again.

The recording of this classic novella I downloaded from Audible is narrated by award winning actor Michael C. Hall. He does an excellent job of portraying each character. One thing I don’t like about this book is that the main character, the writer, from whom this story is told in first person, is not given a name. Other authors do this, but it’s a bit unsettling. Nevertheless, I was willing to overlook this, as I got into the story.

I like the way the title relates to the neighbor. Her name is Holly, not Tiffany. In case you’re not aware, Tiffany’s is a worldwide jewelry chain. Breakfast at Tiffany’s is Holly’s story, not that of the narrator. Holly is obsessed with the New York store and says once or twice that she would like to eat breakfast there. I also like the way the author tries to make us feel sorry for Holly by revealing bits and pieces of her history.

Audible touted this book as one of the shortest listens for the shortest day of the year. I downloaded it on the day of the winter solstice but didn’t get around to reading it until last Saturday night. I got through it in a little under three hours, and it was well worth the time I spent reading it. To learn more about Truman Capote, click here.

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Abbie J. Taylor 010Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

Front Book Cover - We Shall OvercomeWe Shall Overcome

Cover: How to Build a Better Mousetrap by Abbie Johnson TaylorHow to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

Order from Amazon

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

Vote for my new book idea.

 

Season’s Greetings 2015

Hello, my name is Debbie, or at least that’s the name Abbie gave me because when my hand is squeezed, I sing “You Light Up my Life,” a song made popular a long time ago by a woman with the same name as mine. I guess you could say I’m a doll, although I’m made from the same material they use for stuffed animals. I’m soft and plush. Wearing a red dress and hat with a bow, I’ve been sitting on the buffet in Abbie’s living room for over five years.

I was a Valentine present for Abbie’s husband Bill who was in a wheelchair. Every night before they went to bed, Abbie squeezed my hand, and I sang my song while they embraced and kissed each other good night. Then she wheeled him into the bedroom, and I didn’t see him again until morning.

As I understand it, when Bill proposed to Abbie, he was on his feet. Actually, he wrote her a letter in Braille, asking her to marry him so he must have been on his butt at the time, but he didn’t need the wheelchair. By the way, he and Abbie weren’t living in the same town before they were married.

A month after he proposed, he sent Abbie another doll she calls Annie because when her hand is squeezed, she sings a song John Denver wrote for his wife who has the same name. Annie sits across the room on top of the piano. Although she’s made from the same material as me, she doesn’t appear to have anything on except a light purple bow around her neck and a hat with another bow the same color.

To make a long story short, Bill and Abbie were married six months after Bill sent her that proposal letter. They would have had a happily-ever-after life except for Bill’s strokes. They made the best of it together for six long years, and I witnessed most of their trials and tribulations. Now, Abbie wants me to tell her story of the past year. I’m not the writer she is, but I’ll do my best.

Last year, Abbie spent Christmas with her brother Andy and his family in Florida, AGAIN, leaving me, Annie, and other stuffed dolls and animals scattered around the house to fend for ourselves. We expected her back on December 30th midafternoon, but she didn’t come stumbling in until three o’clock the next morning. Apparently, she missed her connecting flight in Denver and had to wait seven hours for the next one. Then because of the extreme cold, the flight was delayed three hours and didn’t get off the ground until almost eleven, arriving in Gillette close to one in the morning.

Also, while Abbie was in Florida, she got sick AGAIN, but at least she got to open presents with the family downstairs Christmas morning and didn’t start throwing up until after dinner. The day after she returned home, I overheard her telling Andy on the phone that this year, she was going to try an experiment. She would stay home for Christmas, and if she got sick, that would mean that Christmas was making her sick and not Florida.

Since then, it’s been a pretty quiet year for Abbie. Snow is on the ground so she probably won’t be walking anywhere till spring which is too bad since she just got a brand new cane. Oh well, that’s life, as stated in one of her poems. Okay, this is a Christmas letter, not a Garrison Keillor monologue so Abbie tells me. Sorry about that.

In January, Abbie started work on her memoir that she began writing a few years ago after Bill died. It’s called My Ideal Partner, and it’s about how she met and married Bill and cared for him after he had his two strokes. She finally finished the thing in August and is in the editing process. She hopes to work with a couple in Denver who help authors self-publish their work on CreateSpace, Amazon, and Smashwords. What kind of a name is Smashwords, anyway? Is it really possible to smash a word? Okay, okay, I gotcha. Just the facts, Ma’am.

In May, Abbie went to a women’s writing retreat where she hoped to spend two days working on her memoir. As it turned out, she didn’t get any more work done than she would have if she’d stayed home. They spent most of the time writing from prompts, doing yoga, and eating a vegetarian spa diet. Yuck! Actually, they did have ice cream sundaes so it wasn’t all vegetarian, and Abbie brought home about half a gallon of Neapolitan ice cream that would have been thrown out otherwise. Nevertheless, the first thing she did when she got home, after consuming a Dr. Pepper while checking email and venting her frustrations through a series of loud, rambunctious belches, was to toss a steak on the grill.

In April and June, Abbie went to her usual writers’ conferences she attends every year. This year, she was elected to the Wyoming Writers board of directors. In September, she was elected secretary of Behind Our Eyes for the third time. If you ask me, she’s a glutton for punishment. Okay, onward and upward.

Earlier this month, Abbie gave a poetry reading at a meeting of Akcita Win, a women’s organization that does community service projects and offers scholarships every year. She learned that her grandmother formed the organization years ago so feels compelled to join them, but she’s not that much of a glutton for punishment.

Anyway, they really enjoyed her program where she sang a few songs a Capella which she incorporated into her poems. They’d better have liked it. I had to listen to her practice that routine for three days. Now, she’s gearing up for more performances with her guitar at nursing homes, an assisted living facility, an adult day care program, and maybe even the senior center. I have to listen to that now for God knows how long. Oh, I suppose I should also mention her gigs with Just Harmony. She thinks she’s a better singer than I am. Well, if we ever end up on American Idol, we’ll see what happens.

That’s the news from Sheridan, Abbie’s home town, where the men are… All right, all right, never mind. You get the picture. Happy holidays.

For the past hour, I had to listen to Abbie record another holiday song, and you can click below to hear it. She’s been using a new device called a BrailleSense U2 to make the recording, and she’s had to do several takes. Oh well, I guess that’s what it’s like in a recording studio so if I want to make it to the big time, I’d better put on my big girl pants and deal with it.

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https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/chestnuts%20roasting.mp3

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Abbie J. Taylor 010Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

Front Book Cover - We Shall OvercomeWe Shall Overcome

Cover: How to Build a Better Mousetrap by Abbie Johnson TaylorHow to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

Order from Amazon

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

Vote for my new book idea.

 

 

Holiday Review: The Thirteenth Gift

The Thirteenth Gift: A True Story of a Christmas Miracle by Joanne Huist Smith. Copyright 2014.

In the fall of 1999, journalist Joanne Huist Smith’s husband passed away unexpectedly. In this memoir, she details how an anonymous gift left on the family’s doorstep during each of the twelve days leading up to Christmas helped make the holiday season more than bearable for her and her three children. Instead of a partridge in a pear tree, two turtle doves, etc., they received one poinsettia, two bags of bows, three rolls of wrapping paper, four gift boxes, five angel gift cards, six holiday cups, seven golden apple ornaments, eight Christmas cookie cutters, nine holiday candles, ten paper doll Santas, eleven candy mice, and on the twelfth day, a miniature Christmas tree with twelve ornaments. Each gift came with a card signed, “Your true friends.”

At first, they tried to figure out who left the gifts, thinking it was someone they knew. Then, they realized the gift giver’s identity wasn’t important. The book has twelve chapters describing each day in the gift-giving scenario. In the thirteenth chapter, the author describes how over ten years later, she met the anonymous donors, complete strangers, who were the second generation of a trend that started back in the 1980’s.

This writer draws the reader into her story. Like Martin Sixsmith, author of Philomena, she writes terrific prose that make you forget she’s a journalist. I also like the way she illustrates the concept of paying it forward during the holiday season. However, I found the ending to be a bit of a disappointment. I guess I expected something more spectacular, but this is a true story, and as stated by Lee Gutkind, editor of Creative Nonfiction, “You can’t make this stuff up.” To learn more about Joanne Huist Smith, go to http://www.13thgift.com/bios/joanne-huist-smith .

Now, click below to hear me sing the song that inspired this gift giving idea. This is one of those songs I can practice until the cows come home and still mess up so I hope you enjoy listening to it.

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https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/12%20days%20of%20christmas.mp3

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Abbie J. Taylor 010Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

Front Book Cover - We Shall OvercomeWe Shall Overcome

Cover: How to Build a Better Mousetrap by Abbie Johnson TaylorHow to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

Order from Amazon

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

Vote for my new book idea.

 

A Brown or White Christmas

Abbie J. Taylor 010Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

Walking in snow and ice can be treacherous, even for people with good eyes. Needless to say, I don’t do much walking in winter, now that I’m older and more fearful of breaking bones. Since I enjoy walking, I’ve often wished our winters could be without snow and ice.

A couple of months ago while strolling on a beautiful fall day, I was thinking about this and came up with a little ditty to a familiar holiday tune which you can hear Bing Crosby sing at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGAosOoKFMs . I’ll paste the lyrics below and then a link to where you can hear me sing it with piano accompaniment.

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BROWN CHRISTMAS

I’m dreaming of a brown Christmas

so I don’t have to slip and slide.

Then I will be walking and won’t be talking

to folks, asking for a ride.

I’m dreaming of a brown Christmas

where snow and ice I will not fight.

Then I will be merry and bright.

In my heart, my Christmas will be white.

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I must admit, though, that Christmas isn’t the same without snow. Where will you be this year? Do you think your Christmas will be brown or white?

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Front Book Cover - We Shall OvercomeWe Shall Overcome

Cover: How to Build a Better Mousetrap by Abbie Johnson TaylorHow to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

Order from Amazon

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

Vote for my new book idea.

Holiday Review: The Mistletoe Inn

The Mistletoe Inn by Richard Paul Evans. Copyright 2015.

 

Kim is an aspiring romance writer who lives in Denver, Colorado, and works as a finance officer at a car dealership. She’s not too keen on romance because she was jilted at the altar, and other relationships failed. However, when she attends a writers’ retreat in Vermont during the month of December, she becomes involved with a fellow author. When she’s unable to accept constructive criticism of her manuscript from him, this causes a rift, but then the story has a surprise ending.

I like the way Richard Paul Evans provides Kim’s back story in the prolog and beginning chapters. I always get frustrated when authors start the story in the middle and then go back, although it’s said that’s the best way to hook a reader. Actually, Mr. Evans did a pretty good job of hooking me with the prolog.

I also like the way he illustrates the idea that fame and fortune don’t always make a person happy. He also does this in A Perfect Day which I reviewed on this blog a couple of years ago at https://abbiescorner.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/a-perfect-day/ . I won’t elaborate because I don’t want to give away any more of the plot. If you want to know what I mean, you’d better read the book. In fact, you should read both books. To learn more, go to http://www.richardpaulevans.com/ .

Since The Mistletoe Inn is a holiday romance, click below to hear me sing a romantic holiday song.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/winter%20wonderland.mp3

Abbie J. Taylor 010Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

Front Book Cover - We Shall OvercomeWe Shall Overcome

Cover: How to Build a Better Mousetrap by Abbie Johnson TaylorHow to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

Order from Amazon

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

Vote for my new book idea.

 

 

Holiday Reading

I was recently invited to read some of my poems at a meeting of Akcita Win. This is a women’s organization that does community service projects and offers scholarships every year here in Sheridan, Wyoming. My grandmother founded this group in the 1940’s, and I didn’t know this until the night of the meeting which was held at the First Christian Church.

My presentation was preceded by a delicious fried chicken dinner catered by a local market and followed by a rousing game of Christmas bingo and door prize giveaways. I didn’t win, but that didn’t matter. It was still a lot of fun. I was invited to join the organization, and I suppose I should since my grandmother founded it, but I don’t have time.

One of the group’s money making projects I remember from years ago was a vending stand at the local fair grounds during our annual rodeo, county fair, and other events. When my brother and I were kids, Dad took us to the fair grounds for whatever event was going on, and we often stopped by the stand where Grandma gave us each a Coke, paying for it of course. At the meeting, I spoke to a lady who worked with Grandma at the stand, flipping burgers, and she reminisced about those days. She told me that too many safety regulations make it difficult for organizations to undertake such money making projects, and that’s too bad. However, it was nice talking about those good old days.

My reading lasted about twenty minutes. I sang a few songs, a Capella, incorporating them into my poems, finishing with a parody of “White Christmas” that I wrote. I then sang the original words with everyone joining in. The audience loved it, and I passed around business cards. I brought copies of my poetry books, but nobody seemed interested.

I was able to record my program, and you can click below to hear it. Because of the file size and limited Dropbox space, this recording is contained in a zipped folder so you’ll need to download and extract it. If you’re not sure how to do this, please leave a note in the comments field, and I’ll try to help you. Be sure to check the appropriate box so you’ll receive my reply by email. Enjoy! Happy holidays.

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https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/akcita%20win%20reading%2012-1-2015.zip

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Abbie J. Taylor 010Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

Front Book Cover - We Shall OvercomeWe Shall Overcome

Cover: How to Build a Better Mousetrap by Abbie Johnson TaylorHow to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

Order from Amazon

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

Vote for my new book idea.