Summer Reading Challenge – Libraries Rock!

When I think about summer, I think of sitting outside somewhere on a nice warm day, with an iced tea close by and a book in my hand. Summer reads should be fun and not too difficult, right? They should be easy to pick up, put down and pick up again because we all know what happens to our attention spans when the weather gets hot!

Summer reading challenges are in full swing at the library where I work. This year’s theme is Libraries Rock! I’m all signed up and have begun working on my BINGO card. Most of the squares are for reading, but some of them involve attending library programs, visiting museums and signing up for walking challenges. I’m hoping to win a prize, but I’ll have fun even if I don’t!

I’m off to make a pitcher of tea and find a shady spot outside. What about you? Are you doing a summer reading challenge? Hope to see you out there!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

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Miller’s Valley by Anna Quindlen

Miller’s Valley
by
Anna Quindlen

Genre: Fiction

Rating:

Does the land you live on define your family? That question may not be as relevant in today’s world, but there was a time when multiple generations of families were born and raised in the same place. What happens when a family like that is forced to leave the only home they have known for hundreds of years?

That’s the problem Bud and Miriam Miller face when they learn that the government plans to displace an entire town and turn Miller’s Valley into a reservoir. It’s the central conflict in the Millers’ marriage and one which affects their family and neighbors in a multitude of ways. Bud does not want to leave, but Miriam is ready. Some friends sell, others are holdouts.

Miller’s Valley takes place during the 1960s and 70s in a small farming town in Pennsylvania and is narrated by Mimi, the youngest Miller. In addition to a story about eminent domain, it is Mimi’s coming-of-age tale. As a ten-year-old girl, her world is made up of her family and a couple friends, but as she grows and her two older brothers leave, Mimi tries to imagine what she will do. Her brother, Tommy, urges her, “You come up with your own plan, Meems. No matter what happens.”

Despite a promising future, family obligations and loyalty to her father’s beliefs press hard against Mimi’s heart and she becomes more entrenched in life in the valley, despite its doomed future. Mimi’s best friend, Donald, moves to California and her Aunt Ruth hasn’t left her house in years. Tommy and her other brother, Eddie, go off in completely directions and Bud Miller continues to ask, “Who will run the farm when I’m gone?”

I enjoyed reading Miller’s Valley because I had only thought of eminent domain in terms of roads being built, and did not know of the government’s practice of flooding towns in order to build reservoirs. I live near a manmade lake with a very similar story, so this book was interesting to me.

Miller’s Valley had the potential to be a great story, but it is a more of a fast read with characters I seem to have met in other books. In addition, Quindlen finishes fast, with a couple hanging plot lines and a “didn’t see that coming” moment that may frustrate some readers. But as I have many reading moods, this one fit in with a busy week and I enjoyed starting and ending my days with an easy story.

I recommend Miller’s Valley to readers who like light historical fiction about family and conflict.

And for those who are interested in the history, here’s a definition of eminent domain and a couple stories about towns that were flooded:

Merriam-Webster definition of eminent domain: a right of a government to take private property for public use by virtue of the superior dominion of the sovereign power over all lands within its jurisdiction

Ephrata Review: “Cocalico Corner: Two tales of two valleys” by Donna Reed – April 27, 2016

Pleasant Valley Lost by Joseph J. Swope – 2015

The Story of Milford Mills and the Marsh Creek Valley: Chester County, Pennsylvania by Stuart and Catherine Quillman – 1989


Other Anna Quindlen books reviewed:

      

Black and Blue
Good Dog. Stay.
Still Life with Bread Crumbs


I read Miller’s Valley as part of my library’s Summer Reading
Challenge to “read a book you own but haven’t read.”


Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

 

Guest Blogger Austin Vitelli: Things That Matter by Charles Krauthammer

Here’s a guest review from the archives of Things That Matter by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Charles Krauthammer, who died yesterday (6/21/18).

Book Club Mom

I’d like to welcome my next guest blogger, austinv56 of The Philly Sports Report (http://austinv56.wordpress.com/).  He has reviewed Things That Matter, by Charles Krauthammer.

things that matter pic

Things That Matter
by Charles Krauthammer
Rating: 3.5/5

There is no doubt that Charles Krauthammer, graduate of McGill University and Harvard Medical School, knows what he’s talking about. He’s been a syndicated columnist for The Washington Post for nearly 30 years. He’s also a regular on Fox News in the Special Report with Bret Baier. His knowledge of U.S. foreign policy is unparalleled by many in the world, especially for political journalists such as himself. His life, as told through his columns, certainly makes an interesting story.

This book includes many of his columns from The Washington Post, as well as other pieces he wrote for Time, The New Republic, and Weekly Standard. He organizes it into three parts—personal…

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The Dry by Jane Harper

The Dry
by
Jane Harper

Genre: Mystery

Rating:

Federal Agent Aaron Falk left his home town of Kiewarra in Victoria, Australia, twenty years ago, right after Ellie Deacon died in the river. Now another of Falk’s childhood friends, Luke Hadler and his family, are dead. Despite the friendship, Falk would rather stay in Melbourne, but when he receives a letter from Luke’s father, he knows he must go back. Gerry Hadler’s words are unsettling: “Luke lied. You lied. Be at the funeral.”

Falk dreads returning to a town that chased him and his father away years ago, all because of an alibi that no one believed. Since then, lies and secrets have crippled the small farming town and a two-year drought has made everyone desperate. Falk wants to get in for the funeral and get out as soon as he can, but at the service, a chilling picture rotates through the slide show. Luke, Falk, Ellie and Gretchen Schoner, a tight teenage foursome and now only two are left. Is there a connection between Ellie’s death and the Hadler murders?

When Luke’s parents ask him to look into the murders, Falk reluctantly agrees. Headed by Kiewarra’s new Sergeant Raco, Falk and Raco follow leads and suspicions as hostility against Falk grows. Nothing is at it seems, however, and Falk will have to dig to the raw core to understand, if he survives the process.

The Dry is a terrific atmospheric thriller in which Kiewarra’s setting on the edge of the bushland and the drought’s devastating effects weigh heavy on the characters. False leads, unclear motives and complex relationships make this story both an entertaining read and a more serious study of human behavior. Why do people keep secrets and what could have been different if the truth were told? Harper may not have the answer, but she shows how lies and secrets can crush.

I recommend The Dry to readers who enjoy mysteries and to anyone who is interested in human behavior. I’m looking forward to reading Harper’s next book, Force of Nature.


I read The Dry as part of my library’s Summer Reading
Challenge to “read a book set in a place you’d like to visit.”


Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

ENCOUNTERS: A BOOK REVIEW

I am reblogging this wonderful review of Encounters by my father, Fred H. Rohn. What a great Sunday surprise! Thank you, Annika Perry, for such a thoughtful post. He would have been very pleased to know how much you enjoyed reading his short stories!

Annika Perry's Writing Blog

EncountersCreativity is wondrous gift and one that has no expiration date! 

This thought came to me whilst reading ‘Encounters’ by Fred. H. Rohn. Fred Rohn came late to writing after a two hugely successful careers in public accounting and venture capital investment behind him. His first book, ‘A Fortunate Life’, was published last year when he was aged 91, followed by ‘Encounters’ this year.

I admire and am in awe at the ease he seemed to have entered his third career. Age was no boundary for him, nor for many other artistic people as he explains in the preface, stating that ‘creativity doesn’t stop as you age’ and Herman Wook still wrote at 102.

I myself also aspire and hope to be writing to the last of my days!

‘Encounters’ is a collection of stories of varying lengths which explore ‘Relationships in Conflict’. All the stories are brilliantly written…

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Weeding behind the azaleas

A memory from the past to celebrate all fathers and what they do!

Book Club Mom

azalea

“Don’t forget the weeds behind the azaleas,” my Dad reminded me. I was ten years old and I hated weeding. I hated the heat and how the backs of my knees were sweating and how the bugs and twigs tickled my arms and legs. I wiped the sweat off my face and looked at the weeds that grew around and in back of the bushes. It was a big job, an impossible job for a girl my size, I thought, and I could hear my best friend Eileen calling me from her house, one street down, with our secret signal. The signal we used instead of the phone, to announce we were outside and ready. I wanted to quit and run to her house.

Today was my day to help my father. He worked hard in his garden and in the yard, I thought, harder than I knew how. He…

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Book Talk – Second Chance Romance by Jill Weatherholt

Image: Pixabay

Welcome to a new and occasional feature on Book Club Mom called Book Talk, home to quick previews of new and not-so-new books that catch my eye.

Sometimes you need a feel-good book, a story in which realistic characters face many challenges, but are able to overcome them through love and faith. That’s what you get in Second Chance Romance by Jill Weatherholt, a wonderful inspirational romance that promises just what the title suggests.

Jackson Daughtry doesn’t know what to think when a young, and very attractive, career-driven divorce lawyer arrives in Sweet Gum, Virginia. Melanie Harper is there to convince her Aunt Phoebe to move to Washington, D.C. because she is sure that Phoebe, her only relative, cannot manage on her own. But it may be that Melanie is the one in need, for despite a successful career and head-turning looks, Melanie lives in a shadow of sadness.

Add to the fact that Jackson, a handsome paramedic and single dad, shares ownership with Phoebe of Sweet Gum’s local café. They need each other. And Phoebe may not be a blood relative, but she’s definitely family to Jackson. This charming small town is where Phoebe belongs, and he’s about lock horns with Melanie on the subject.

As the story unfolds, readers learn more about Melanie’s mysterious past and why she is so entrenched in her career. In addition, Jackson’s back story explains why his little girl, Rebecca, has no mother in the picture. Could Melanie fill that void?

This isn’t just a love story, however. Weatherholt tackles important issues such as how to deal with loss and questions of faith. She presents a serious conflict and shows how her characters cope, using humor and keen insight into human behavior. Readers will need to read till the end to see how Weatherholt resolves the strong attraction and tension between Jackson and Melanie, which is also threatened by outside developments.

I very much enjoyed reading Second Chance Romance, and especially liked the small-town setting in which friends and neighbors look out for each other. I recommend this lovely romance to readers who like to see the good guys win.


I read Second Chance Romance as part of my library’s Summer Reading
Challenge to “read a book in a genre you don’t usually read.”

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

When a secretary retires and the Post Office gets involved

Fred H. Rohn, 1926 – 2018

I began to receive a lot of mail about five years ago, when my father’s secretary retired. Anyone who knew my father understood the special relationship he had with the Post Office. Dad was the master of letter-writing and I became his new secretary, typing business letters, family correspondence, and ordering books for him to read. One day I opened a fat envelope filled with handwritten pages.

“I’d like you to type these notes up,” he said on the phone. “I have an idea.” The notes detailed our family genealogy and soon I received more fat envelopes, with subject titles. I knew something was happening, but never did I imagine how big it would become. I got to work typing and running to the Post Office. Over time, in his typical style, my father shared his idea to publish a book, a little bit at a time. “I’d like you to get these pages printed up for me in a little booklet,” he told me, very casually. On a later day, he said, “Why don’t you call some publishers and see what we can do with this?” Within a year, these notes became my father’s family memoir, A Fortunate Life.

There was more to come. In addition to his regular correspondence, it wasn’t long before more envelopes filled my mailbox. This time, the envelopes contained short stories, some handwritten and new and others typed in the 60s and 70s and held together by paper clips that had rusted their image onto the papers. I got to work again on what became a brand new labor of love, Encounters, my dad’s book of short fiction.

These two books represent my father’s unending drive to be productive and contribute to both our family and a larger community. For me, his books mean that and so much more. They were his gift to me, a golden period of nearly daily interaction between father and daughter. He did the very same with my siblings, in special ways that fit their relationships. This is my piece, but I know I’m part of a bigger picture.

My father passed away on June 2, after a brief illness. Yesterday, we celebrated his long and fortunate life and now my family and I are moving in a direction that is still guided by my dad’s work ethic and beliefs. I’m going to miss those letters and calls like nothing else.

Thanks for reading.

 

A Fortunate Life by Fred H. Rohn

Book Club Mom

I am very excited to share the cover to a special project I have been working on for the past year.

cover-reveal

A Fortunate Life is written by my father, Fred H. Rohn.


image0-jpgAuthor Fred H. Rohn grew up on Hurden Street in Hillside, New Jersey, a place that played a pivotal role in his upbringing.

From bike rides and street games in Hillside, to marriage and children in the town of Madison, Rohn shares his experiences of growing up during the Depression, attending college, serving in the Navy, embarking on a business career, and marrying his best friend and high school sweetheart.

Offering an important historical perspective on growing up in the twentieth century, this memoir shares what Rohn considers to be the factors of a fortunate life. Interspersed with photographs from past and present, he shows how one small life fits, as a microcosm, into the fabric of family…

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Book Review – Encounters: Relationships in Conflict

Many thanks to Jennifer Kelland Perry for this terrific early review of Encounters: Relationships in Conflict by Fred H. Rohn!

I’ve been reading various collections of short stories lately, the latest of which was written by Fred H. Rohn.
Encounters: Relationships in Conflict is a unique, insightful and entertaining read.

The preface alone is a treat, where Rohn explains how he came to create this collection from accumulated notes and short stories over the years, and how each of them exhibit relationships and the “conflict between people resulting from differing perceptions, often between men and women and between different generations.”

In his preface, he also sets forth the belief that creativity does not have to end as you age, and that many seniors like himself are productive in a variety of artistic and creative endeavors. After all, they’ve lived through some pretty tough experiences which, I surmise, affords them a better grasp and understanding of the human condition. Reading this book only further convinces me of that!

As I…

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