We Are the World Blogfest #WATWB

It’s the last Friday of the month–time again for some good news to take you into July with a smile.

The story I’ve chosen for this month is another in a continuing string of environmental/conservation stories that I’ve been sharing for months. Fishermen in India have been retrieving plastic from the ocean instead of tossing it back. The plastic is being used to shore up road construction.

Click here to read the story.

Here’s how #WATWB works: On the last Friday of each month a number of bloggers participate in a blog hop in which each blogger highlights a story that spreads good news, happiness, and hope.

These are the cohosts for this month: Shilpa Garg, Simon Falk, Mary J. Giese, Don Antion, and Damyanti Biswas.

Want to join? Click this link to sign up and help spread some happiness!

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The Last Tuesday Book Club: The Alice Network

Wow. That’s the first word that came to mind when I finished this book. It was a roller coaster of a ride, with a (very) few ups and enough soul-crushing downs to make the most devoted reader require a break every now and then. But it was also riveting, addicting, and based on  a network of spies that actually existed during World War I.

It’s the story of two women: Eve, the WWI spy, and Charlie, a young woman who enlists Eve’s help in looking for her cousin following the end of World War II. Eve is broken and bitter; Charlie is unsure of herself and lacks confidence in her future. They are connected in ways that aren’t immediately apparent, and their similarities are many. I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone who hasn’t read it, and I highly recommend that you read it if you haven’t.

So here are the questions I have this month, some of which I have borrowed from the discussion at the end of the novel:

  1. How do you think the ending of the book would be different if Charlie had found Rose, alive and well?
  2. How do female friendships grow and change throughout the course of the book? Not just the relationship between Eve and Charlie, but also the relationships between Eve and Lili and Eve and Violette?
  3. Did you think Charlie was going to find Rose? Do you think it would have been a better story if she had? More or less realistic?
  4. How and when did young Eve begin to change into the person we meet at the beginning of the book? What prompted those changes?
  5. Finn and Captain Cameron are parallels for each other: both are Scots, ex-soldiers with war wounds and prison terms, and the support systems for the women they love who go into danger. How are the two men different as well as alike? Why does Finn succeed and Cameron fail?
  6. Charlie argues that Rene should face justice through the legal system whereas Eve favors a form of vigilante justice. Who’s right?
  7. The theme of fleurs du mal carries from Lili to Eve to Charlie. When does Charlie become a fleur du mal in her own right? How has knowing Eve changed Charlie’s life, and vice versa?

This will be the last book club discussion for the time being. It hasn’t been as successful an idea as I had hoped, and I would like to come up with other ideas for a regular blog feature that might get more interaction. Any ideas?

A huge thanks to those who read and discussed the books–a discussion makes the experience of reading a book even richer and deeper, and I loved hearing your thoughts and learning from you.

Until next time,

Amy

My Summer Reading Wish List

Since the official start of summer is only two days away, I thought I’d get a jump on deciding which summer-themed books I’d like to include in my seasonal reading wish list. This is only a guide: we all know I’m never going to get through the list before autumn begins. But I can try. Since I don’t read too much romance, I’ve stayed away from books that are primarily romances. If that’s what you’re looking for, I encourage you to Google “summer romance books” and see what you can find (there are billions).

If you’re interested in any of the books below, click on the title and you’ll be redirected to its Goodreads page.

The Weekenders: A Novel

The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews

 

The Beach House Cookbook by Barbara Scott-Goodman

 

A Garden Wall In Provence by [Knowles, Carrie Jane ]

A Garden Wall in Provence by Carrie Jane Knowles

 

Miss Julia Weathers the Storm: A Novel by [Ross, Ann B.]

Miss Julia Weathers the Storm by Ann B. Ross

 

The Identicals: A Novel by [Hilderbrand, Elin]

The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand

 

To Kill a Mockingbird (Harperperennial Modern Classics) by [Lee, Harper]

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

 

The Outermost House: A Year of Life On The Great Beach of Cape Cod by [Beston, Henry]

The Outermost House: A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod by Henry Beston

 

Bats and Bones (The Frannie Shoemaker Campground Mysteries Book 1) by [Nortman, Karen Musser]

Bats and Bones by Karen Musser Nortman

 

Deadly Readings (Jenkins & Burns Mysteries Book 1) by [Bradford, Laura]

Deadly Readings by Laura Bradford

 

Death by Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake (A Death by Chocolate Mystery) by [Graves, Sarah]

Death by Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake by Sarah Graves

 

What’s on your summer reading list?

Until next time,

Amy

Getting Help

photo courtesy of pixabay, wokandapix

The post I originally wrote for today was about my summer reading wish list, but that will have to wait until next week.

Today my heart is broken for a family I’ve never met.

Yesterday a student at the high school two of my children attend took his own life. I found out about it this morning through my church’s prayer chain. I have no words for the sorrow I feel for this boy’s family.

This is not the first time this has happened at the school. In fact, it’s at least the fourth time in as many years. There is something really, really wrong when a child feels there is no hope and no help.

Please, please, if you know anyone who is thinking of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline via chat at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/.

Whether you contact them by phone or online, someone is there to help 24/7 all across the United States. And because I know people from all over the world read this blog, click here for a list of suicide hotlines by country. Please note that Northern Ireland, Scotland, and England are listed under United Kingdom. If you know any information on that list to be incorrect, please let me know and I’ll post the correct information below in the comments.

If you know someone who is struggling emotionally or mentally, you could be the catalyst for getting that person the help he or she desperately needs. Please visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/help-someone-else/ to find out what you can do to help. There’s also great information about things you shouldn’t do.

Please keep struggling families in your prayers, and please remember to be kind–you never know what someone else is going through.

Until next time,

Amy

 

First Tuesday Recipes for June

The unofficial start of summer may have been over Memorial Day weekend, but according to Mother Nature’s calendar, summer officially starts this month.

In the spirit of lazy summer days, I have three recipes for you this month that are a combination of easy and cool.  Serve them if you have people over, but make sure they’re people you like–because I guarantee they’ll be back after they taste these offerings.

 

Sharon’s Potato Salad

I tried this recipe just a couple days after Sharon sent it to me and it’s my new favorite potato salad. I have one child who hates potato salad and she asked for seconds. It’s that good. A quick note: I only had half an onion, so I used that instead of a whole onion. I also grated it instead of chopping it.

8 Small/medium potatoes

4 hard-boiled eggs, 1 for the top if you want to make it pretty

1 medium onion (optional), chopped

1 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup milk

3 tablespoons white vinegar

1 tablespoons prepared mustard

2 or 3 Tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Paprika

1 In a large pot, cook potatoes in boiling water until tender. Drain and cool. (I like to refrigerate for at least an hour to keep potatoes firm.) Peel potatoes; cut into bite size pieces. Chop eggs, saving one for the top, and add to the potatoes. Add chopped onion.

2 Dressing: combine mayonnaise, milk, vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper. Pour over potatoes; toss well. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Spoon into a serving bowl. Garnish with egg slices and paprika. Chill until serving. Yield: approximately 8 servings.

 

Orange Slush: for adults only!

9 c. water, divided

2 c. sugar

2 teabags, your choice of flavor

1 12-oz. container frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

1 12-oz. container frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed

1 qt. vodka

In a medium saucepan, boil 7 c. water. Add sugar and stir until dissolved.

Heat remaining 2 c. water and add the 2 teabags. Set aside while tea steeps, then discard teabags.

In a 13×9″ baking dish, mix the orange juice concentrate, lemonade concentrate, and vodka. Add sugar water and tea, stir to combine well, and place in freezer. Allow mixture to become slushy, stirring occasionally.

To serve, fill glass 2/3 full with slush, then top with ginger ale or lemon-lime soda.

 

Four-Layer Dessert

Crust:

I stick butter, melted

1 c. flour

1/4 c. chopped walnuts

Filling #1:

1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened

2/3 c. powdered sugar

1/2 large container Cool Whip

Filling #2:

2 3-oz. packages instant pudding (either chocolate or pistachio are best, in my opinion)

3 c. milk

Topping:

remaining Cool Whip

To make:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine topping ingredients until crumbly. Press into 13×9″ dish. Bake for 15 minutes, then allow to cool completely.

In a medium bowl using an electric mixer, mix ingredients for Filling #1 until fluffy. Spread on cooled crust.

In another medium bowl using an electric mixer or whisk, mix ingredients for Filling #2. Spread over first filling layer.

Cover entire dessert with the remaining Cool Whip and chill until ready to serve.

 

I hope you enjoy this month’s selection of recipes. I’m always looking for new stuff, so if you have anything to share, please let me know! I’d love to feature your recipes in upcoming posts.

Until next time,

Amy