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Williams Writes Blog – June 2022

Summer Break Time

School is outso, now what?!

The end of the school session means graduation parties, vacation excursions, summer camp, swimming, BBQs, iced beverages, beach picnics, and road trips. As I toss around my own schedule, I am reminded that the dog days of summer zip by quickly but there was a time when the days seemed to stretch on forever as though they were endless. No matter where your journey takes you over the summer, do try to be safe and spread a little kindness along the way.

So, what’s everyone up to during the school break? Share your special hobbies and creative ideas for beating the summer doldrums in the Leave a Reply box at the bottom of this Blog. Will it be full of adventure in hopes of eluding boredom or spans of deliberate do-nothing days? For me, I tend to look at the clock a little less and take more self-care time.

Flag Day

A bit of history on the subject… but only because my brain was alerted and pushed me to dig deeper into consuming just a mere sliver about Old Glory, our American flag. I won’t go on and on regarding ALL the history but here’s a touch of trivia.

Why celebrate our flag every June 14th of all days?

USA National Flag / Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

The holiday commemorates the date in 1777 when the United States of America approved the design of its first national flag. Since that time, there have been several flag variations but the current design was approved in 1958 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower… over 60 years ago.

So, on this glorious day, fly a flag, thank a veteran for their service to our country, or recite “I, pledge allegiance…” and pause for a grateful moment. Reflect on the freedom this symbol represents.

Book Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The House at Strone by Claire Nielson

First things first, I would be negligent in not mentioning that the hand-sketched illustrations throughout were created by the author, including the detailed artwork on the vibrant cover. It drew me in as though a challenge had been presented. What was the significance of such a grand structure along the shores at Strone? Much to my delight, it didn’t take long for me to discover the answer. The first few pages clutched my desire to read on by intricately laying out the close-knit family dynamic. A touch of nostalgia sunk in quickly and allowed my curious appetite to chomp down firmly on a very relatable subject. I was transported back to when my sister, brother, and I were first left on our own without adult supervision. We’ve got this! Uh-huh?!

The story takes place in 1947 with the residual fallout from World War II hovering around as though victory hadn’t been declared quite some time ago. Households were still dependent upon rations distributed via government-issued coupons like in previous embattled years. With the school year nearing its end, the children suddenly learn the disturbing news about their mother’s illness and pending hospital treatments. Their father must make a difficult decision. Should he send the youngsters as planned to their grandfather’s seaside home at Strone on their own, or keep them home while he works and cares for their mother? With their grandfather’s recent passing, he explains over the children’s cries of disappointment that they’d be too far away if they should need his help and he couldn’t be certain how long their mother’s treatments would take.

“No, no, that wouldn’t do at all. You’re far too young to be left on your own. We’d be worried sick about you.”

Excerpt from Chapter One, The House at Strone

With relentless debate and pleading, the eldest 13-year-old, Elsa, convinces her father of her readiness for this new responsibility. After all, she already watches them on her own most of the time and then gently reminds him that the neighbors they’ve known for years are right next door. With a reluctant nod of approval, the plans are underway.

After an arduous day’s journey, the exhausted children sight the familiar outline of the family estate. They begrudgingly drag their luggage up the final steep incline wishing someone, anyone, would rush down and help them the rest of the way. They pause a few chilling seconds and glare up at the dark, empty house. A noticeable dreariness has crept over the once-lively estate. With a sense of sadness emphasized by the senior’s passing, a warm greeting at this very moment would have indeed been a welcomed sight! Shaking her head of such nonsense, Elsa turns the worn knob and enters the cold uninviting abode. The others follow closely behind. A rush of uncertainty grabs them as they stop dead in their tracks. Gulp. The place has been ransacked and stripped of its essential household goods. But who would do such a thing in this coastal quaint village? They begin to think maybe this wasn’t such a terrific idea after all!

Elsa comforts Claire and John, her two younger siblings, then rapidly snaps into action by initiating a game — a scavenger hunt of sorts to find as many useful items as possible. The teen’s objective is to continue to stay at the house on their own without getting their parents involved. She inwardly pleads for wisdom. With buckets of creativity, the youngsters gather enough sundries to make do for their first night’s stay. Exhausted from the travel, and then scouring for necessities, the youngest, Claire hopes she’ll be able to fall asleep without seeing any ghosts. Although the other two would never admit being scared, Claire could eye their uneasiness.

As the days press on, the children are put through a series of rigorous, and dangerous trials. They find themselves entrenched in foraging for food in the unkempt garden along with succumbing to the awkward (but very much needed) offers of goods from their friendly neighbors. When they encounter an unruly local bully, they assume he must have stolen John’s beloved bike, a gift from his grandfather. It sets a string of events in motion with bending twists. Intrigue and slivers of suspense prompted me to root for the children’s success. I even smiled when the newborn kittens were secretly introduced to Claire; what a timely softening from the daily hardships they were enduring.

There is a persistent theme throughout — a feeling of hope and perseverance. I cheered for Elsa as she navigated the coming-of-age tribulations, niggling self-doubt, and unforeseen hiccups. And I was also taken in by the youngest, little Claire, who often choked back her frazzled, tender emotions. Through her growth spurts, she proved to be a tad strong-willed and even displayed the occasional defiance.

Overwrought with worry about their mother’s health and with little to no time to think about the strain of it all, Elsa stays the course. It was a swift but delightful development to see Elsa find a compassionate side in lieu of the newly assumed strict demeanor. She hoped she hadn’t driven them beyond their capabilities in her guardianship role. Would her sturdy yet positive example be enough or would despair send them all packing?

The House at Strone is superbly written and I would happily recommend it to avid MG readers and all pre-teens in middle school. Perhaps there’s an inclination by Author Nielson to create a book series with these adorable characters. (hint hint)

Note: There are no spoilers and I was not paid to write this review. This is just a simple no-nonsense perspective of my experience in reading The House at Strone.

Happy * Father’s * Day

Thank you to all the dads, stepdads, mentors, and male role models who inspire strength, courage, and character-building in every child.

The power of a dad in a child’s life is unmatched.

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The softer side of fatherhood.

Thank you for stopping by and spending a bit of time with us.

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Williams Writes Blog – May 2022

This May post honors my dear sister, a terrific mom, grandmother, and a lovely woman who has meant so much to me.

It is with a heavy heart that I share about my beautiful sister, Gay who passed recently at the young age of 67. It was sudden and it goes without saying, I miss her terribly. There’s something about a person in one’s life who is the go-to family member. She was that Someone to me. She could easily recall events from the past — our unique history — filled with decades of laughter, tears, exciting experiences, and love. I know she is with our Heavenly Father and spouting out her lively opinions to all.

I pray she is singing (as we often did) at the top of her lungs. A few of Carly Simon’s melodies come to mind, but Anticipation is definitely a fave. And I am forever grateful for the memories of the good old days with her. Rest in peace, dear sister.

I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.

Andy Bernard, The Office

Book Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Beasley Helps by Rosie Russell

In the third book of the Beasley Series, once again this sweet main character — Beasley, the friendly beagle — steals the show! This time around though he happens upon a mystery of sorts while on his usual morning trek. He stops short in his tracks when he discovers his favorite grand tree is missing! What?! Much to his dismay, he decides to investigate further. When Beasley rounds the next corner, he finds the big bright answer! A new red barn is being built by Farmer Bill and his crew. Aha! A brilliant idea soon strikes Beasley and the curious, yet creative canine puts his plan into action. Beasley not only becomes a big help to Farmer Bill and his animal friends but also makes a heartfelt impact on the surrounding community. Grab a copy for storytime for the young kiddos and animal lovers alike. Author & Illustrator Russell has also included some fun family activities at the back of the book. Enjoy!

Author’s Website: Books by Rose

Note: There are no spoilers in this review and I was not paid to write this review. Just a simple no-nonsense perspective of my experience in reading Beasley Helps.

Happy Mother’s Day

Delicate and magical harmony!

Thanks for stopping by and spending a bit of time with us.

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Williams Writes Blog – April 2022

Hello all and welcome! In case you didn’t know, I enjoy reading a variety of blogs, especially from other authors revealing their latest creations or personal happenings. With that said, although I am never sure WHAT to write, I’ve learned to keep it brief and throw in some humor to mix it up. It tends to lighten up the content AND my day. Keep it simple, right?!

You grow up the day you have your first real laugh — at yourself.

Ethel Barrymore

BUT first, let’s kick off with this vibrant photo of nature’s colorful splendor. And no matter how you’re celebrating the weekend, may peace be with you and yours throughout the holiday.

The Easter bunny has arrived once again and brought giggles to the kiddos as they search feverishly for the hidden Easter treasures. Smudged chocolatey smiles add to the sheer delight of this tradition.

Book Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

The very first line sets the tone for the initial chapters until the reader gets encaptured by the protagonist’s (Nina Redmond) inevitable change in direction and attitude. “The problem with good things that happen is that very often they disguise themselves as awful things.”

Nina Redmond is a single 29-year-old, insecure, and ultra shy librarian on the verge of losing her position now that her particular Branch is preparing to shut down for good within a few weeks. At a crossroads in both her living arrangement and career, the heavy-hearted young bookworm wills herself to make the ultimate decision to fulfill her dreams of running a bookstore on her own or succumbing to a lesser position in the new modern multi-media central library. After serious deliberation, she imagines running a bookshop in the city where readers will come from all over England to browse and purchase her selections. Pinching herself back to the reality of limited savings, she answers an ad about an oversized, dilapidated van with a frivolous dream of converting it into an ideal bookstore on wheels. There’s one huge problem — the van is in Scotland!

Albeit somewhat affordable with her minuscule funds, she’s never driven such a large vehicle EVER! So, how will she get the behemoth clunker back to Birmingham, England?! Nina keeps telling herself she’ll figure it out. Not heeding her friends’ displeasure about the half-cocked idea, she musters up the courage and heads on her journey to the countryside. After all, she can always change her mind, right? Nina feels the need to at least tickle her fancy about this possibility. Upon arrival, the fresh air of the hills and meadows envelop her senses. The naive young lass could kick herself for never venturing outside of her immediate area in England. She is awestruck by its beauty.

But before Nina gets too heady about this newfound land, there’s a bigger challenge than purchasing the monstrosity. She soon realizes she must fix it up and get permits prior to making the long trek back home. And then there’s the question of where to find a parking spot in the big city. The slight-built young woman becomes quite pleased with herself after making the purchase and starts planning out the rest of her new business endeavor. Locating a place to temporarily rent in the small village, she is determined to make this plan work.

With some tough setbacks, however, her well-intended schedule is thrust into a whirlwind of unforeseen circumstances, frustrations, and self-doubt causing her to stay put in Scotland for the time being. But Nina fears the worst — losing everything with no steady job, ending up penniless, and possibly with nowhere to go.

The Bookshop on the Corner kidnapped my interest not only with the lively cast of cagey and humorous characters but with several unpredictable roadblocks and bends between best friends, prospective beaus, lustful encounters, and Nina’s stubborn level of acceptance. Accepting her own weaknesses and strengths might just be this petite female’s ultimate challenge.

I was glad I had a weekend to pick up this book and jump headfirst into the deliciousness of Scotland. Complete with colloquialisms and seasonal village flare, Author Colgan puts the reader right beside Nina enjoying the local festivities. I gave this book Five Stars and would recommend it to my female reading friends. * (see note below)

* Note: This is not a paid-for review and there are no spoilers in its contents. This is my personal experience in reading this particular book from a simple, no-nonsense perspective and overview.

Golf is a good walk spoiled.

by Mark Twain

A Slice of Golf

Golf is one of my other joys and very much an obsessive pastime… a love-hate relationship if you will! With its unforgiving traps, water hazards, bending limbs, and edge-of-the-cup putts that just won’t fall, it’s an opportunity to get away from the laptop, commiserate with nature, get a bit of exercise, and visit with friends who have a mutual kinship with this silly sport. I mean, it must appear crazy to the non-golfer watching us parade around such beautiful grounds chasing a little white ball. Determined by sheer grit, we hunt the small sphere as though it was some kind of golden treasure. But alas, don’t be fooled. Once we’ve located the dimpled specimen, we wind up a skinny stick with all our might and hit it as far away as possible. At this point, the hunt resumes. Once in a while, the so-called Golf Gods offer up “a birdie” which ensures we’ll be back to do it again real soon.

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Happy April to all!

Thanks for stopping by and spending a bit of time with us.

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Williams Writes Blog – January 2022

***  NEW BOOK RELEASE  ***

 

The Case of the SMASHED WINDOW

(Book 2, The BROOKE LYNN Mysteries)

By Toby A. Williams

THE CASE OF THE SMASHED WINDOW (Book 2) – LINK TO E-BOOK AT:
getbook.at/smashedwindow

This gripping middle-grade novel is packed with deception, tension, and intrigue… you’ll be kept guessing until the very end!

Brooke Lynn and Mike, the crime-solving 2-K Team have a new case to crack. When a well-respected neighbor’s window gets smashed, the duo is called to help. With the town’s hyped-up Chili Cookoff looming, a big cleanup day planned – which Brooke Lynn is helping organize – and more vandalism occurring around town, the pressure is ON!

As the two sleuths work to solve the case, tensions arise and Brooke Lynn finds herself questioning everyone – even her crime-fighting buddy himself and her very own BFF Susie! With unsettled friendships and mounting conflicts, will Brooke Lynn be able to weave her way through these complicated emotions, restore relationships and solve The Case of the Smashed Window in time for the Chili Cookoff? Mystery and manipulation… a suspenseful combination for curious middle schoolers.  Available in three versions: eBook, Paperback, and Hardcover.

Thanks for stopping by to spend time with us for a little bit.