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The Wishing Tree by Marybeth Whalen

Title: The Wishing Tree
Author: Mary Beth Whalen
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication Date: May 2013
ISBN: 9780310334897
Pages: 302
How I Got It: supplied by author

Ivy Copeland Marshall is having a very rough couple of days.  Her father has closed his Asheville commercial real estate office leaving her unemployed, her sister Shea was just proposed to on national television and Ivy witnesses her husband Elliot leaving the apartment of the woman he is having an affair with. Deciding between going to her family home, where she has not been in years, and staying in Asheville to listen to her husband's apologies, she choses to go home to Sunset Beach. Under the pretense of coming home to help her sister with her wedding but not telling her family her own marital situation,  her return is still less than smooth. Ivy has not returned to Sunset Beach since she broke off her engagement to Michael in order to elope and move away to the mountains with Elliot. And she won't be able to avoid seeing Michael because his brother Owen is Shea's new fiance.  Sorting out her feelings for her ex-fiance and her husband, as well as patching up her relationship with her sister has Ivy on an emotional roller coaster. Adding to her stress is the job her mother has appointed her for Shea's wedding, the wishing tree. Guests mail well wishes for the couple and Ivy is to tie them to the small potted tree that will be on display at the wedding. Memories of planning her own wedding to Michael and a psalm keeps popping up while  Ivy tries to understand what love really is. 

I enjoyed this book and included as one of my three summer beach reads. The relationships were complicated and strained but relatable and authentic. Ivy isn't depressed and devastated, she's pissed and confused. I found myself saying "I would say that" or "I would do that" when Ivy talks to her friend about Elliot or wants to look great when she first sees Michael again. I personally related to how Ivy felt that she didn't belong in Asheville or Sunset Beach, how neither place felt like home. As we grow and branch out on our own, we often feel torn between the home of our youth and the homes we build for ourselves. Looking back from our adult lives of responsibilities and obligations we too often see forgotten dreams and abandonded potential instead of finding strength in our life's lessons. Marybeth Whalen did a wonderful job of showing that everyone has their own ideas and expectations of love but without nurturing and communication these relationships can crumble. Whalen also emphasized that it's never too late to try and mend these relationships to grow again or if not then simply for the sake of closure and peace. 

Marybeth Whalen released The Mailbox in 2010, She Makes It Look Easy in 2011 and  The Guest Book in 2012 (which there is an excerpt of at the end of 2013's The Wishing Tree.) At this rate, fingers crossed, she will have a release next year and I will be be snatching it up to let her take me away with a story. 

The Scream of the Butterfly

Title: The Scream of the Butterfly (The Challenge of "Substitute" Parenting)
Author: Gary C. Barnett
Publisher: Deeds Publishing
Publication Date: October 2, 2012
Pages: 240
How I got it: Deeds Publishing

Kids may not come with owner's manuals but Gary C. Barnett provides the closest thing with his book The Scream of the Butterfly (The Challenge of "Substitute" Parenting.) Families have changed. Grandparents raising their grandchildren, foster parenting and step parenting "are now the norm, not the exception." Some children adjust to these situations with ease, while other are what Barnett calls "screaming butterflies--beautiful on the outside but hurting on the inside." These children require special attention and  Barnett provides a wonderful resource for adults stepping into the role of caregiver. With chapters focusing on effective discipline, discussing emotional issues and dealing with the child's "real family," Barnett supplies examples and suggestions as well as gives personal insight. After forty years of experience working with children, Barnett has seen what does and doesn't work. While every situation is indeed unique, most of these relationships have the same core issues. 

This book is not written in an elevated language with a bunch of psycho babble. It is accessible, informative and broken into easy to navigate chapters and sections. It is a book that will be referenced time after time by any "substitute" parents who have it on their bookshelf. I only wish that I was lucky enough to have read it when we blended our family ten years ago. I will be recommending this to every struggling "substitute" parent I know!

My Favorite Books

My Favorite Books

All Over But the Shoutin'
Ghost on Black Mountain
The River Witch
Man in the Blue Moon
The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow

Barbara Kingsolver
Prodigal Summer
The Poisonwood Bible
Flight Behavior

My Antonia
A Room of One's Own
Jane Eyre
East of Eden
The Wife of His Youth

The Handmaid's Tale
The Road
Never Let Me Go
Maddaddam Trilogy
Hunger Games
The Giver
When She Woke
Brave New World

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming
Gone Girl
Then Came You
A Grown Up Kind of Pretty
The Memory Keeper's Daughter
The Night Circus

When Women Were Birds
This is not the Story You think  It Is
 The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
The Year of Magical Thinking
Reading Lolita in Tehran

Historical Fiction
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
The Orchardist
The Dovekeepers
The Crimson Petal and the White
The Historian
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
In the Company of the Courtesan
The Birth of Venus
The Red Tent
Memoirs of a Geisha
the Mist of Avalon
Dark Angel
Saving Fish from Drowning

The White Forest
House of Leaves
The Memory Palace
Her Fearful Symmetry
Half Life
His Dark Materials
We Were the Mulvaneys
White Oleander

Imperial Woman

Title: Imperial woman
Author: Pearl S. Buck
Publisher: Open Road Media
Publication Date: May 21, 2013 (orig 1956)
ISBN: 9781559210355
How I got it: NetGalley

First published in 1956, Imperial Woman is the historically fictionalized account of Tzu Hsi, the last Empress of China. Born of low caste in the city Orchidloves her cousin Jung Lu, but she must leave her childhood home and go to the palace. Discarding her childhood name, Orchid becomes Yehonala and is chosen by the Son of Heaven as a concubine. She sets herself apart and becomes the emperor's favorite. She is waited on by multiple servants, however she misses her one true love. She calls Jung Lu to her chambers and the two engage in a one night affair. Later Yehonala bears a son and she becomes the Empress Mother. She realizes that she must know her son's foes & requests a teacher to give her the empire's history. She is enraged at the pillaging and conquering that has occured for years by Russians & English. The emperor's opium additcition has allowed his concils to make decisions for the Dragon Throne. Now rebels, led by a man named Hung, who calls himself the Chinese Christ, wishes to restore the dynasty of Ming.
Set in multiple palaces and full of plots to thwart succession, Imperial Woman is action packed with schemes at every turn. Who else knows the young heir's paternity? Will The Three steal the throne? Who has stolen the young heir? how will she maintain control of the dynasty even when there are changes to who sits on the throne?
Pearl S. Buck gives an extremely thorough account of Tzu Hsi's rise to power. I would have loved to have found this book in high school when I hated history. I read The Good Earth but this would have affected me more. I would have much rather done a report on the last Empress of China than Napolean or a King Louis. I love that there is a powerful woman in history that can be referenced for more than her ability to breed. She brings forth an heir but she is intelligent and cunning.

The story was exhausting. As in, Tzu Hsi is a working mother. yes she has the modern equivelent of nannies, housekeepers and cooks but she is running a dynasty and raising an heir to the throne. She is sharp tongued but soft hearted, ruthless and tender, she is an everywoman but so much more, she is The Imperial Woman.
Upon doing a little research on the novel I found that scholars find Tzu Hsi's ascension representative of  "China's transition from the ancient to the modern way." Pretty impressive (empressive?)!

Addtional / Related Reading:
Anchee Min wrote also wrote a novel about Tzu Hsi called Empress Orchid

Non-Fiction Library List

And here is my non-fiction reading list from the library:

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Behind the beautiful forevers : [life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity]
by Boo, Katherine
262 pages
View Item Details
A place at the table : the crisis of 49 million hungry Americans and how to solve it
by Pringle, Peter

336 pages
View Item Details
My reading life
by Conroy, Pat, Minor, Wendell

337 pages
View Item Details
Delusions of gender : how our minds, society, and neurosexism create difference
Call #: 612.82 FINE
338 pages
View Item Details
Jackpot : high times, high seas, and the sting that launched the war on drugs
by Ryan, Jason
Call #: 363.45 RYAN
309 pages
View Item Details
A thousand sisters : my journey into the worst place on earth to be a woman
by Shannon, Lisa, 1975-, Salbi, Zainab
Call #: 305.9069 SHANNON
335 pages
View Item Details
Bringing up bébé : one American mother discovers the wisdom of French parenting
by Druckerman, Pamela
Call #: 649.64 DRUCKERMAN
284 pages
View Item Details
A charmed life : growing up in Macbeth's castle
by Campbell, Liza
Call #: 921 CAMPBELL
321 pages
View Item Details
Cruising attitude : tales of crashpads, crew drama, and crazy passengers at 35,000 feet
by Poole, Heather.
Call #: 387.742 POOLE
272 pages
View Item Details
Delirium : how the sexual counterrevolution is polarizing America
by Cohen, Nancy, 1963-
Call #: 306.7 COHEN
394 pages
View Item Details
Fiction ruined my family
by Darst, Jeanne
Call #: 814.6 DARST
303 pages
View Item Details
Flow : the cultural story of menstruation
by Stein, Elissa, Kim, Susan, 1958-
Call #: 612.662 STEIN
270 pages
View Item Details
The girls who went away : the hidden history of women who surrendered children for adoption in the decades before Roe v. Wade
by Fessler, Ann
Call #: 362.8298 FESSLER
Collection: Non-fici
View Item Details
Guts : the endless follies and tiny triumphs of a giant disaster
by Johnston, Kristen, 1967-
Call #: 921 JOHNSTON
View Item Details
Jeneration X : one reluctant adult's attempt to unarrest her arrested development, or why it's never too late for her dumb ass to learn why Froot Loops are not for dinner
by Lancaster, Jen, 1967-
Call #: 814.54 LANCASTER
View Item Details
Let's pretend this never happened : (a mostly true memoir)
by Lawson, Jenny, 1979-
Call #: 921 LAWSON
View Item Details
Lit : a memoir
by Karr, Mary
Call #: 921 KARR
View Item Details
Some assembly required : a journal of my son's first son
by Lamott, Anne, Lamott, Sam.
Call #: 921 LAMOTT
View Item Details
This common secret : my journey as an abortion doctor
by Wicklund, Susan, Kesselheim, Alan S., 1952-
Call #: 610.92 WICKLUND
View Item Details
The Sweet Potato Queens' field guide to men : every man I love is either married, gay, or dead
by Browne, Jill Conner
Call #: 818.5407 BROWNE
View Item Details
Tout sweet : hanging up my high heels for a new life in France
by Wheeler, Karen
Call #: 944.6084 WHEELER
View Item Details
Colors passing through us : poems
by Piercy, Marge
Call #: PIERCY

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