Friday, May 25, 2012

...And The Whippoorwill Sang by Micki Peluso (Book Thoughts)

It's 1959, and seventeen-year-old Micki has just married eighteen-year-old Butch Peluso in a double ceremony with her mother. So begins Micki's story that spans 22 years and 6 children. This memoir goes cross-country and back, and through the years up to 1981, while Micki struggles with an uncertain future as one of her children lies in a hospital bed, fighting for her life.

When Micki contacted me about reading her book, I had already known she had lost a child to a drunk driver. I was honored to read and review her memoir. She not only sent me an autographed copy, but also wrote a special note inside the front cover. My apologies for taking longer than anticipated, Micki.

I expected the book to be all about her daughter, and the tragedy that occurred. I sat down with the book and a box of tissues, but surprisingly, this story wasn't like that at all. There were so many comical moments in their life, and I found myself laughing out loud, especially during the cross-country trip of Micki and her friend Anita.

However, I was quite surprised we don't learn which of the 6 children is the one in the hospital bed until page 178. Also, the Peluso family had a large number of friends, who had children around the same ages. This is a wonderful thing, except that at times, I felt their names were laundry-listed into the chapters, so as not to leave anyone out. I found these chapters slowed me down a bit. Toward the end, some of the chapters felt rushed, and the significance of the titled whippoorwill felt thrown in.

All in all, the book was well-written, and although there were times when I didn't read for several days, Micki's words always pulled me right back in.

Some good came from the Peluso's tragedy--Micki made some important strides in getting stricter punishments for drunk drivers, and her book is recommended by MADD.

I did cry, but mostly I laughed and smiled at this heartfelt memoir. If you like memoirs, it is definitely a good book to curl up with. I could almost see her life story made into a Lifetime movie.

Thank you, Micki, for sharing your book with me and for sharing your life with thousands of others.


I am not a professional book reviewer. 'Book Thoughts' is purely for entertainment and these thoughts are only my opinion.
While I have received a few books free of charge, I usually purchase the books I blog about. (Sometimes, second-hand)
I do not receive compensation for any of the books I feature on 'Book Thoughts.'


Monday, May 21, 2012


Taking A Break

I'm taking a break. I guess they also call it a hiatus. In April, I participated in Robert Lee Brewer's Platform Challenge. (NOTE--If you do not follow Robert's blog, I highly recommend you do.) 

I did the thirty challenges. Well, for the most part. I still haven't done a guest blog or interviewed an expert, but I defined myself, upgraded my blog and Facebook pages, learned a few Twitter tricks, and made lots of new friends who also completed the challenge. Then, my mind shut down. I'm serious. It shut down.

I could blame it on the fact that we are really busy at work, I came home from Florida and attended a dear friend's very emotional funeral, in the midst of tackling major yard work, my body's battery needs to be recharged, or a combination of the above. Either way, I decided to stop, drop, and roll. No...wait. That's not right. Stop, look, and listen? Whatever. Anyway, I stopped everything I was doing, and chose one primary task. WRITING.

With only four weeks to complete my novel, A Clover Key's first draft before my 50th birthday, I am knee-deep in the climax and last third of the manuscript. I can't seem to get my head out of the world I created, and quite frankly, I'm enjoying it.

So for the next month, my blog posts and my social media presence will be sporadic. I'm sure I'll need to come up for air every one in a while, and write about whatever is on my mind. Like this:

Top Ten Reasons To Give Up Writing

10. You'll have more room on your bookshelf without all the market guides and 'how-to-write' books.

9.  You'll no longer see your family and friends cringe when you ask them to read your manuscripts.

8.  You can use your pocket recorder for grocery lists and parking locations.

7.  You can take all the notebooks and pencils out of your car, purse, nightstand, and bathroom.

6.  You can read a novel for its story and not dissect it for style, point of view, and voice.

5.  You can have a normal conversation with people without zoning out when a story idea comes to mind.

4.  You can read a magazine and not feel the need to Google the submission guidelines.

3. You can shower in peace and throw away the bathtub crayons you use to jot ideas on your tile.

2. You're more likely to get a full night's sleep without having your characters wake you in the middle of the night to tell you what happens next.

And the number 1 reason to give up writing:

Eating two-handed food, like fried chicken, will be easier without a pencil in your hand.

So---please be patient with me, because I refuse to give up writing. I'll be back soon.


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Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Daytona Beach, Florida

When we decided to visit my daughter in Daytona Beach, I thought it would be a good idea to finally visit

The entrance to Hogsmeade

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

If you've read This post, you know it took me awhile to become a fan. I've read the first 4 books already, but I wished I had gotten a chance to read the rest of the series before our visit. It really wasn't necessary.

When we walked beneath this archway into Hogsmeade, my eyes filled with tears. I can't explain my emotions. It felt like we were magically transported into the pages of a book.
Our first stop?

Honey Dukes

Chocolate Frog
Since Sunday was the hottest day so far (94 degrees) in the Orlando area, I waited until we left the park before purchasing this chocolate treat. Surprisingly, the box did not crush in my luggage. I still haven't opened it, so I don't know if the chocolate is still in the shape of a frog or just a chocolate blob.

Of course, we had to get in line for a frozen butterbeer. Why didn't I take a photo of this? The continuous brain freezes I experienced must have had something to do with it!

Across from Honey Dukes, we spotted the train platform.

We wandered through the cobbled streets of Hogsmeade, gazing at the snow-covered roofs and crooked chimneys. My daughter and I squeeeeed the whole time!
Three Broomsticks

Across the street, what did I see? 

Ollivander's Wand Shop

Of course, I made my family stand on line to watch the demonstration. My daughter had already witnessed this last year, but I would not be swayed by her comments about it being cute but possibly not worth the time. Heck, the wait was only 20 minutes! I would be the judge of worth...

We piled into the small shop and I stood in the front row, trying to make myself look shorter and younger. It didn't work. Austin, a young boy, of about 12 years old, who could have passed for a member of the Weasley Family, was chosen. I couldn't be upset. The young man was so excited, he giggled like a school girl. Of course, it was corny and predictable, but it was adorable.

The group was led into Dervish and Banges, where assistants eagerly helped me find the wand that would choose me. The oak wand with the snake and skeleton was perfect for my birth month, but it was meant for someone else. Across the room, a 12-1/4" wand made from ash with the core being a hair from the tail of a unicorn, called out to me.

My wand--just like Cedric Diggory's.
Hogwarts Castle was by far the highlight of my visit. What an impressive sight!

Hogwarts Castle

In a way, I was disappointed there were no crowds to slow my progress through the rooms. Almost every corner and nook held an interesting prop. The ride was awesome, even though it left me a bit queasy.

While Amanda went on to the Flight of The Hippogriff, hubby and I sat on a bench--acting old. But I did get a great photo of the Beauxbaton students.

Can you imagine writing a series of novels, made into films, and then having your imagined world come to life, where millions of people visit every year? John and I spent a good deal of time people-watching. I marveled at the diversity of languages we heard. Yet, in any language, they all knew Harry Potter.


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