Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Boston Photo Walk Tour

While visiting my Boston University student son a few years ago, I decided to take a local tour. My hotel room had a recent issue of Where Magazine which listed a tour company called Photo Walks (http://www.photowalks.com/). The owner, Saba Alhadi, was delightful. It turned out to be a slow day for her, so I was her only client. She gave me a personal tour of the Back Bay and photo lessons on how to take the best shots of the sights.
Courtyard fountain at Boston Public Library
It was such a wonderful tour, I booked the Beacon Hill tour for the following day. This time there were three of us touring together with Saba. We had an interesting and informative tour with photo lessons. We strolled through the cobbled streets, taking pictures of the gorgeous architecture and amazing gardens of Boston.
Statue at Boston Public Gardens
Saba is a patient, kind tour guide and gifted photographer. Next time I am in Boston, I will definitely book one of her tours.
Flowers at Boston Public Gardens



Reflection of Architecture during Photo Tour

Look closely to see Saba and me.
Lovely historic street in Boston.
Boston Public Library
Historic Architecture meets Modern.
Love these historic homes.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Girl in the Glass Book Review


Rating: 3-1/2 out of 5

Genre: Historical Romance

"Sometimes the memories you make from a place you've longed to visit begin before you ever get there."

Meg Pomeroy's longing to visit her grandmother's homeland has been brewing in her mind since childhood. A painting of her grandmother as a child in Florence, Italy fed that desire. After her grandmother's death, the promise of a trip to Florence is made to Meg by her father, who tosses a promise around like a nuisance--much like the broken marriage he had with Meg's mother.

Meg's life as an editor of travel books, ironically, does not include much travel. Florence entices Meg to come to her, and she has always felt that call. But she longs for her father to be the one to take her there, share the experience, and make memories.

A spur of the moment visit by her father changes Meg's life in a profound way--a way she never dreamed of. Her father's brief visit to her San Diego cottage prompts him to apologize for the mess he has made in his life and not being there for her. Shortly after his visit, Meg receives a package with an airline ticket to Florence to travel that same evening--with an open-ended return.

Her father then disappears, leaving Meg's stepmother and taking some of her money. His insistence on her being on that flight led Meg to assume he would meet her in Florence, compelling her to take the flight. Her trip brought her face to face with two clients she has gotten to know through skyping, e-mails, and phone calls. Lorenzo and Renata DiSantis are a brother and sister team who create travel books. Their neighbor, Sophia Borelli, is a tour guide who is writing an unusual travel memoir of Florence's sights. She believes she is a descendant of Nora Orsini of the Medici family and that Nora speaks to her through the masterpieces scattered throughout her beloved Florence.

While Meg reads Sophia's memoirs, explores Florence, and grieves her father's absence, she develops friendships and questions her own future as well as uncovering a dark secret.

The Girl in the Glass is filled with hope and forgiveness, if we seek it. Although I would like to have seen stronger inspirational and Christian references, since few were mentioned, I found this book to be uplifting and engaging.

Recommendation: If you like "The Girl in the Glass," check out The Salt Garden by Cindy Martinusen (Coloma).

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Secret Keeper Book Review

Rating: 5 out of 5
Genre: Historical Romance

Kate Morton never disappoints me! Her style of writing immediately draws me in and I am let down when I have to turn that final page. Kate always has a great twist to the end of her novels. Always something one doesn't expect. I was sad when I was forced to close the book.

At the age of sixteen, Laurel witnesses a life-altering event at the home she has grown up in--Greenacres farm. She carries this throughout her life, never speaking of it to anyone. Laurel leaves home to fulfill her life's dream of being an actress. She becomes a famous thespian which makes her recognizable wherever she goes in her native England. Returning home to her ailing widowed mother for her ninetiety birthday, Greenacres conjures up all of the old memories of that fatefilled day in the early 1960's. Clues begin to emerge.
Laurel is driven to investigate her mother, Dorothy's past, especially now that her life is nearing the end. Dorothy's rambles about the past include World War II. She speaks of friends that Laurel has never heard of. Determined to know what led to the event she witnessed the summer of her sixteenth year, Laurel starts digging into the glimpses of the past.
The Secret Keeper travels alternately from past to present, telling the stories of Laurel, Dorothy and Vivien. The history of war-torn London during WWII is riveting and gives you a sense of what the citizens of this amazing city went through. Laurel's life growing up on Greenacres with a loving family is felt with each description Kate Morton portrays.

Ever the faithful boyfriend, Jimmy Metcalf follows Dorothy throughout London's chaos with bombs dropping around them. Vivien is a woman of wealth who is married to Henry, a well-known author, years her senior. Through Kate Morton's special talent of writing, she weaves these lives together so masterfully, you simply cannot stop reading until you know how it plays out.

Recommendation: Anything by Kate Morton. My favorite of hers is The Forgotten Garden. Susanna Kearsley is another favorite author of mine. Her book, The Winter Sea, is a fantastic plunge into history and its secrets as well.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

East Texas Christian Writers Conference

 On October 26 and 27, I attended the East Texas Christian Writers Conference in Marshall, Texas. This being the second time I have attended, I basically knew what to expect. Since my first time one year ago, I have learned a great deal about the publishing industry. I went into it totally green around the gills and full of a lot of misinformation. I invited some new friends to attend this time and they were more than pleased with the conference.
Even if you have not started a writing project--it may be better if you have not--please attend this conference if you are interested in writing at all. The workshops are diverse in subject matter and will give you a great base to get started. The instructors are friendly, encouraging and knowledgable about their area of expertise.

Judy Chrisite ( http://www.judychristie.com/) gave a workshop on having a better writing life. Lexie Smith (http://www.lexicallight.com/) taught a social media class that was really enlightening for me since I did not grow up with all the technology. Terry Burns (http://www.terryburns.net/), an author and literary agent, expounded on the merits of creating an author's persona--for those of us who are a bit shy about speaking out in order to promote our work. There were many others to choose from as well.
Writers conferences can be a blow to your budget, but this one is quite affordable at less than $100 for a full day of classes. An additional fee is charged if you want to attend the pre-conference on Friday with a buffet dinner included with guest speakers. For further information see their website:  http://www.etbu.edu/News/CWC/registration.htm.
Attending the East Texas Christian Writers Conference is a blessing. Hope to see you there in 2013!

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Baby Between Them Book Review

"A Baby Between Them" Book Review 

A Baby Between Them

by Winnie Griggs
Rating: 3 out of 5

Genre: Historical Romance
This is a story of a young Irish girl who comes to America with her sisters. Finding an abandoned baby on the ship they traveled, is about to change Nora Murphy's life, as well as those around her. Nora holds down a housekeeping job for the local sheriff, Cameron Long, while she tries to raise this orphaned infant. Cam does not seem too enthralled with the child in the beginning, but is slowly drawn to her with Nora's help. His traumatic childhood holds him back in building relationships. A tragic moment brings them together and helps all to realize they must depend on God for guidance and healing.
This is a sweet story of perseverance, hard work, reliance on God, and a heart for helping those in need.