Under the Maidenhair – Billie Milholland

Absolutely Wonderful

In 1953, twelve-year-old Natalie spies on her neighbours recording their lives for future historians. Theoretically, not much should be going on. WWII is over, people have gone on with their boring daily lives in small town Alberta. Or have they?

Turns out the legacy of war lingers with sorrow for those killed, with unseen wounds in those who returned. The war may have changed lives, but prejudice and superiority remain.

As Natalie’s spy glass hones in on citizens’ lives — good deeds and bad — are exposed much to the readers’ delight.

Kudos to Milholland for this wonderful story which is much more than YA.



An engaging, coming-of-age story set in a small Alberta town struggling to come to grips with the aftermath of World War II. The people in Deep Creek are trying to get back to normal, but there is nothing normal about Nathalie Smythe’s life.

The youngest child in a family still torn apart by complications caused by war, Nathalie (Tally) talks to ghosts. When she discovers something that is “…not the kind of thing you can tell a granddad either, no matter how dead he is” she confides in her ‘Dearest Diary’, her only constant friend. But when her friend Mary is accused of a crime she didn’t commit and is in danger of being sent to the Red Deer Provincial Training School for Mental Defectives, Tally is forced into action.

As small secrets beget larger secrets how can two intrepid children bring to light enough proof to convince adults the truth about what they have discovered?



Mistress of the Ritz – Melanie Benjamin


Even though the Ritz Hotel in Paris is swarming with Nazis, Claude and Blanche Auzello manage to keep it running throughout WWII, but not without grave personal consequences.

Little is known about Claude and Blanche, but as Benjamin brings them to life for us, we experience a different kind of war taking a toll on individuals that is just as damaging, in its own way, as being in battle.


Nothing bad can happen at the Ritz; inside its gilded walls every woman looks beautiful, every man appears witty. Favored guests like Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Coco Chanel, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor walk through its famous doors to be welcomed and pampered by Blanche Auzello and her husband, Claude, the hotel’s director. The Auzellos are the mistress and master of the Ritz, allowing the glamour and glitz to take their minds off their troubled marriage, and off the secrets that they keep from their guests—and each other.

Until June 1940, when the German army sweeps into Paris, setting up headquarters at the Ritz. Suddenly, with the likes of Hermann Goëring moving into suites once occupied by royalty, Blanche and Claude must navigate a terrifying new reality. One that entails even more secrets and lies. One that may destroy the tempestuous marriage between this beautiful, reckless American and her very proper Frenchman. For in order to survive—and strike a blow against their Nazi “guests”—Blanche and Claude must spin a web of deceit that ensnares everything and everyone they cherish.

But one secret is shared between Blanche and Claude alone—the secret that, in the end, threatens to imperil both of their lives, and to bring down the legendary Ritz itself.

Based on true events, Mistress of the Ritz is a taut tale of suspense wrapped up in a love story for the ages, the inspiring story of a woman and a man who discover the best in each other amid the turbulence of war.


No parade is complete without horses. Mexico’s Revolution Day

Revolution Day is an official Mexican government holiday, celebrated annually iRevolution Day is an official Mexican government holiday, celebrated annually in Mexico on November 20th. On this date, in the year 1910 the revolutionary war to overthrow the dictator Porfirio Díaz, began. http://www.darlenejonesauthor.com




Ayesha at Last – Uzma Jalaluddin

A fun read!



AYESHA SHAMSI has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.

When a surprise engagement between Khalid and Hafsa is announced, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and his family; and the truth she realizes about herself. But Khalid is also wrestling with what he believes and what he wants. And he just can’t get this beautiful, outspoken woman out of his mind.


By Darlene Jones Posted in Books

Squirrels – abundant and no big deal, right? But take a look at this guy.



Saw this guy today scampering from a nearby tree, huge round guava in his mouth.

“He eats the fruit and almonds as well,” said our friend.

We watched him race across the sand and clamber up the tallest palm tree in the vicinity.

“What’s he doing up there?” we asked.

“He’ll find a small ripe coconut to break open and eat.”

Would dearly have loved to see him do that, but he chose not to oblige, staying hidden under the fronds presumably enjoying his fruit.

The Sun is also a Star – Nicola Yoon


Korean immigrant Daniel, a hopeless romantic, and Jamaican immigrant Natasha, a hard core scientist, meet by chance as each rushes to a meeting that could change their lives. As they spend the day together, we are given a bird’s eye view of their lives and families. As I read, I often forgot that they were teens. I came to care for, them, their families, and those they interacted with. Narration chapters from the POV of others added an interesting twist.


Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?


The Flood — Part 2

The flood waters have receded, the streets are more or less dry and we are–dare I say it?– almost finished the cleanup.

BUT take a look at this.



Yep, that’s the drainage canal. Just how much water can it hold? Enough to prevent another flood during the next one or two or ten storms predicted for the area in the coming weeks?

NO, there are no signs of backhoes or excavators coming to the rescue.

So we wait with fingers crossed for the end of hurricane season.



It rains and now it’s personal.

No photo description available.


It rains. Within an hour a river is running through your house.

We’ve seen it on the news hundreds of times. The destruction. The devastation. The panic. Terrible, yes, but so far away.

This time, though, is different. This time it’s your family fleeing the water. Now, you truly understand the horror that people face. Overwhelmed with the task of cleaning, as you survey your property in the aftermath and search for valued possessions — the mementos that hold so many memories.  Where do you begin? And when you have restored your home, will you ever feel safe again?