Favorite scents to write to

Love this post!

Gwen Bristol

I often see posts from other writers about songs that inspire them, but what about scents? Is there a favorite scent that sparks the imagination more than others?

Personally, I think I work quite well to the scent of clean. In my home, this seems to be a mix of citrus scents, light floral scents and an occasional very light whiff of bleach. I’m sure this is because I’m less distracted when my home is clean. However, I’m starting to wonder if there’s more to it than that.

Years ago, someone told me people think more clearly when they smell peppermint. If I remember right, it had something to do with helping oxygen cross the blood-brain barrier. I wondered about it for a long time, particularly after the school my daughters were attending started passing out peppermint gum for children to chew during testing situations.

More recently, I read about

View original post 428 more words


The Cheesemaker’s House by Jane Cable

The Cheesemaker's HouseThe Cheesemaker’s House by Jane Cable

Inspired by a framed will found in her dream Yorkshire house, which had been built at the request of the village cheesemaker in 1726, Jane Cable discovered the historical aspect of her novel. Set near Northallerton in North Yorkshire, The Cheesemaker’s House is a page-turner that will have readers hooked instantly.

The novel follows the life of Alice Hart, who escapes to the North Yorkshire countryside to recover after her husband runs off with his secretary. Battling with loneliness but trying to make the best of her new start, she soon meets her neighbours, including handsome builder Richard Wainwright and kind café owner Owen Maltby. As Alice employs Richard to start renovating the barn next to her house, all is not what it seems. Why does she start seeing Owen when he clearly isn’t there? Where – or when – does the strange crying come from? And if Owen is the village ‘charmer’, what exactly does that mean?

Cable’s characters are shrouded in mystery, particularly Owen, who had been in her head from the summer of 2008. Her father had an interest in folklore and she discovered ‘charmers’ in a book from his extensive library. Around the same time she created Alice through a short piece of fiction which became the original opening of the novel, and the rest of the story simply fell into place.

The Cheesemaker’s House won the Suspense & Crime category of The Alan Titchmarsh Show’s People’s Novelist competition, reaching the last four out of over a thousand entries.–from Goodreads

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yay for the good old-fashioned ghost story with a great romance as well. I really enjoyed this book. The pace is slower at the beginning as the author sets up the story and introduces her characters and their situations, but I promise you it is worth it to stick around.

This book is haunting and beautiful at the same time. The main character is easy to get to know and she reveals enough about her current life, past and personality so that by the end of the novel, you feel as though she has become your friend and you genuinely care what happens to her.

One of the things that I liked about this book so much, was the way the author revealed the past history of the house and lives of the characters while still progressing forward with their current lives. In this story, the tales of the past and the present collide in a most shocking and interesting manner.

This is a book that kept me turning pages long into the night after I should have long been asleep. I would certainly recommend this to anyone who enjoys a well told paranormal story with a strong romantic angle.

This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher and Netgalley.

Without a Claim by Grace Schulman

Without a ClaimWithout a Claim by Grace Schulman

“Without a Claim is a modern Book of Psalms. Indeed, the glory in these radiant sacred songs meld an art of high music with a nuanced love of the world unlike any we’ve heard before. No matter your mood upon entering this world you’ll soon be grateful, and enchanted. In any such house of praise, God herself must be grateful.” — Philip Schultz, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Failure and The God of Loneliness

Grace Schulman, who has been called “a vital and permanent poet” (Harold Bloom), makes new the life she finds in other cultures and in the distant past. In Without a Claim, she masterfully encompasses music, faith, art, and history. The title poem alludes to the Montauk sachem who sold land without any concept of rights to property, and meditates on our own notion of ownership: “No more than geese in flight, shadowing the lawn, / cries piercing wind, do we possess these fields, / given the title, never the dominion.” She traces the illusion of rights, from land to objects, from our loves to our very selves. Alternatively, she finds permanence in art, whether in galleries or on cave walls, and in music, whether in the concert hall, on the streets of New York, or in the waves at sea.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you are a lover of poetry and beautifully crafted prose, then this is a book that you will not want to miss out on.

Grace Schulman is a poet who commands language to bend to her will. She uses words as artists use paint and canvas, painting an illustrious and lasting picture for her audience.

These poems have a melodic flow that makes them a joy to read aloud. I daresay they are almost more incredible passing the lips than whilst still in the mind.

Heavily steeped in nature, art and history, you will find complete stories here within the confines of each contemporary psalm. Some of the pieces are of a rather melancholy nature, but still written in such a way that you feel better after having read them.

I would certainly recommend this book to anyone. Find a quiet place, turn down the lights and allow yourself to fully enjoy this incredible book.

This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher and provided through Netgalley.

Hitler’s Furies by Wendy lower

Hitler (left), standing behind Hermann Göring ...

Hitler (left), standing behind Hermann Göring at a Nazi rally in Nuremberg (c. 1928) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Adolf Hitler in Yugoslavia.

Adolf Hitler in Yugoslavia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hitler's Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields












*Avert your eyes Yallowitz.


Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields by Wendy Lower

A revelatory new history

of the role of German women in the Holocaust, not only as plunderers

and direct witnesses, but as actual killers on the eastern front during

World War II.

Wendy Lower’s stunning account of the role of

German women on the World War II Nazi eastern front powerfully revises

history, proving that we have ignored the reality of women’s

participation in the Holocaust, including as brutal killers. The

long-held picture of German women holding down the home front during the

war, as loyal wives and cheerleaders for the Führer, pales in

comparison to Lower’s incisive case for the massive complicity, and

worse, of the 500,000 young German women she places, for the first time,

directly in the killing fields of the expanding Reich.


Furies builds a fascinating and convincing picture of a morally “lost

generation” of young women, born into a defeated, tumultuous post-World

War I Germany, and then swept up in the nationalistic fervor of the Nazi

movement-a twisted political awakening that turned to genocide. These

young women-nurses, teachers, secretaries, wives, and mistresses-saw the

emerging Nazi empire as a kind of “wild east” of career and matrimonial

opportunity, and yet could not have imagined what they would witness

and do there. Lower, drawing on twenty years of archival and field work

on the Holocaust, access to post-Soviet documents, and interviews with

German witnesses, presents overwhelming evidence that these women were

more than “desk murderers” or comforters of murderous German men: that

they went on “shopping sprees” for Jewish-owned goods and also

brutalized Jews in the ghettos of Poland, Ukraine, and Belarus; that

they were present at killing-field picnics, not only providing

refreshment but also taking their turn at the mass shooting. And Lower

uncovers the stories, perhaps most horrific, of SS wives with children

of their own, whose female brutality is as chilling as any in history.


Furies will challenge our deepest beliefs: genocide is women’s business

too, and the evidence can be hidden for seventy years.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There have been many books, case studies and articles about the Holocaust and many of them have had a special focus but this is the first time I recall seeing an in-depth look at the roles of German women in the Nazi regime. This was a rather ambitious project, with a specific focus and I thought it was compelling.

First of all, let me say that this is a tough book to read without feeling sick to your stomach. That has nothing to do with the abilities of the author of course; I didn’t expect this book to be a happy walk in the park based on the subject matter–and it wasn’t.

The author is very honest with her audience about what she uncovered digging through various archives and learning about the daily lives and roles of these women. The atrocities they not only witnessed but also participated in are not sugar coated. They are outlined in a detailed manner in just the way she uncovered them. If you are not familiar with the many failings of human empathy and compassion that arose during this period, prepare yourself before you read.

One thing that made me like this book, was that the author did not interject a lot of personal feeling into it. It’s not that she was completely devoid of feeling for the period she described, but that she let the research tell the story without offering the sway of her own opinion. I appreciated this approach as it put the facts first.

I was particularly interested in the section of this book that dealt with Eugenics. I had never considered before that German women may have played a larger role and for that matter that more than just the famous few, may have been involved with the ideals of the Reich and the carry out of orders from Hitler himself.

I suppose, before reading this, I thought of these women as being martyrs as well. I would have said that they were forced in a situational way into taking actions to please the Nazi Regime and therefore protect their own lives and that of their families. This book was certainly eye opening to truths that I had not previously considered.

This book features bios of specific women involved in the Nazi movement and really highlights the differences amongst them and the diversity found in their personalities, status and professions very well.

A relatively short look into the lives of these women, this book can be digested in one sitting, yet contains a lot of information. The supportive roles of the women mentioned have been seen in other literature, but not exactly from this angle. Knowing that many of them were there by choice and shared the skewed view of the Nazi administrators was a bit of a shock.

The last chapter of the book, dealing with the court trials, international law mishaps and all of the women who effectively got away with their crimes was also of particular interest.

If you have a fascination with history, or simply want to learn more about a unique aspect of this important period, I would recommend reading this book.

This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher and provided by Netgalley.

Forever Friday by Timothy Lewis

Hey John Howell–This book is a Texas Coastal Tour–I think you’d like it. We all know you’re soppy when no one is watching.
Forever Friday: A NovelForever Friday: A Novel by Timothy Lewis

Ideal for readers of Nicholas Sparks, Forever Friday is the heartwarming and captivating tale of an unlikely couple, a weekly gift of devotion, and a heartbroken man longing to discover the secret to lasting marriage.

After a devastating divorce leaves Adam Colby heartbroken, he is not sure how he can put the pieces of his life back together. He wonders if even God can make sense of the mess that remains-until a package of mysterious postcards that direct Adam to the story of Gabe and Huck Alexander. Drawn by her desire to find a true soulmate, Pearl “Huck” Huckabee breaks a turbulent engagement with her fiancé to marry Gabe Alexander, a man she’s known just a few short weeks. Wanting to celebrate and protect their love, Gabe mails her a meaningful postcard every week-beginning in 1926-for the next sixty years. Designed to arrive on Fridays, each postcard not only contains an original poem, but holds precious truths, the sum of which answer the universal question: what makes a marriage last? As Adam begins to uncover the Alexanders’ secret, he records Gabe and Huck’s extraordinary romance. It’s a process that will change his life forever.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There are really no words to fully describe this book. It is one of the most well written and beautiful books that I have ever read.

When I first saw this novel, I wasn’t sure exactly what to think. It sounded interesting, but I feared it might turn into another rambling romantic tale that really had no depth and didn’t go anywhere. I was wrong. I am happy to report that this book captivated me in every way reading material can.From the first page to the last, I wanted to know more. Ever read a book and wished it would never end? This is that book.

The main character has recently gone through a divorce, which has not only tested his willpower and ability to move on, but also his faith. When he stumbles upon a series of postcards between two people who were married for many years, he begins to uncover the secrets to a happy marriage and realises that there is always hope for a brighter future.

The exchanges between partners in these post cards are incredible. There were many times when I had tears in my eyes whilst reading and other times when I wished I could have thought of something so beautiful to write to the person that I love.

This book is mostly about life, love and second chances at happiness. When you read this, you get the opinion that the author not only knows his subject matter, but this book was of great importance to him. You can literally feel the power of his affection for this writing through his words.

I would strongly recommend that you check out this book, whether you are in love, have been or intend to be someday, there is something here for us all and a valuable lesson about partnership.

*You should also read the author’s afterward…it makes the book even better.

This review is based on an ARC copy from Waterbrook Multnomah Press as part of the Blogging for Books program. My opinions are my own.

Double Mac attack: A review and a Scottish Squirrel

So, it is no secret that I love these books and am always proud to have the multitalented Mr. Mac Black guest on my blog, but this is even more fun. Not only do you get the chance to check out a book that you really should read–but you also get a squirrel in a kilt. Really? It would seem so. Check out Mac’s poem just below the review for Derek’s Revenge.

Derek’s Revenge by Mac Black

Derek has not had much success getting his first great novel started – in fact, the research it requires has nearly cost him his marriage and ruined several pairs of his wife’s tights. All he needs is a better topic, maybe he should be writing non-fiction, he is a journalist, after all… As is normal for Derek, things go pretty rapidly and hilariously downhill from there! Current titles by Mac Black: Please… Call Me Derek, Derek’s in Trouble and Derek’s Good Relations(2013) Light-hearted, quirky and funny www.macblack.info

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have really enjoyed all the books in this series, but this one is now my favourite.

When you get to know a character over a series of books, there comes a point when you feel like they have become your friend and they are more than just a two-dimensional being in a book. This happened to me with the previous book in this series “Derek’s in Trouble.” Therefore, getting the opportunity to expand on his life and learn more about him in Derek’s Revenge excited me.

Whilst this book is still filled with humour and plenty of moments that make you laugh out loud, I also felt this novel was a bit more personal than the others. The past of the main character is brought to light (explains some of his quirks) and his quest for answers became my own. He is trying to take control of his life, although he is a rather unlucky sort most of the time. His adventures are so much fun, so you partially hope he gets it together and partially hope that he doesn’t.

I am ever amazed by Mac Black’s ability to weave together a story that not only makes sense and keeps the reader entertained, but also takes you away from your own life and lets you see through the eyes of the characters before you. His characters have nicknames, previous histories and come to the reader with a story of their own.

This series will remain close to my heart. I am once more, looking forward to the next book. Until then, I will keep my fingers crossed that Derek won’t get in too much trouble and if he does…the author writes about it.

If you have not checked out this series yet, please do so. You won’t be sorry you did.

Derek's in Trouble

Please... Call Me Derek

View all my reviews


Hello, good day, ah’m pleased tae meet ye.
The name’s MacSquirrel. Ah’m a Scot, ye ken.
An’ ah wear ma kilt like all MacSquirrels
Cos it’s bloody cold in a highland glen…

Ah’m nothin’ like they foreign squirrels
Oot eatin’ pizzas an’ drinkin’ coke,
All cuddly-wuddly an’ talkin’ funny
As if bein’ a squirrel’s a ruddy joke!

Forgive me if ah seem bad tempered
But seekin’ fame is awfy hard.
Me… X-Factor application reject!
Ah didnae get a winnin’ card…

They said ‘Squirrel acts urr ten a penny.’
‘Away ye go an’ hibernate.’
See them, thon Simon Cowell especially,
He’s goat a face no hard tae hate…

Furr ah played the bagpipes, did a jig.
Ah’d practised it furr weeks an’ weeks,
But ah think the reason they didnae waant me
Was because I wisnae wearin’ breeks!

Some folk are ower high fallutin’,
Bein’ tolerant is no’ their game
An’ jist because ah’m a wee bit different.
It really is a cryin’ shame.

But you urr thinkin’, this MacSquirrel,
Whit a poet – guid as Burns.
If ah’d read this oot at ma wee audition
X-Factor would huvv hudd me as one o’ their turns!

Ah’m ramblin’ now, you urr gettin’ bored
It’s time tae stoap, an’ tae you it’s sent.
Ah hope that as a squirrel lover
Ye’ll tak this kindly, as it’s meant…