Donna Reads: The Book of Life


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bookoflifeThe Book of Life by Deborah Harkness is her third and final installment in the All Souls Trilogy. I finished the book over a week ago, and I’ve dragged my feet on writing a review. This book was supposed to finish Diana and Matthew’s story and explain everything. It doesn’t.

I really enjoyed the first book in the series – A Discovery of Witches. I read it twice. I struggled with the second book – Shadow of Night. Shadow of Night was very slow starting, and it took me a long time to get into it. It was enjoyable but not as good as A Discovery of Witches. This last book is a mess, frankly. It also took a while to get going, and once it did, it was all over the place.

Vampires, witches and daemons work together to solve the mystery of Ashmole 782, a manuscript that tells the story of all creatures, but it really doesn’t. The purpose of the book is never revealed, and what happens with the book itself was beyond bizarre to me. This series started out being about a witch and a vampire falling in love and taking on the entire Congregation (a group that oversees and controls creature affairs) and a covenant that forbids creatures from marrying each other. I expected this last book to have more of that aspect to it, and Diana and Matthew would fight to stay together. At the end of book two, they had come home (returning from a time travel trip to the 1500’s) and were ready to take on the world together. Book three ended up being full of nonsense about blood rage and a psychopathic son of Matthew’s.

I read another reviewer’s comment about the ridiculousness of blood rage, and I have to agree with her analysis. Matthew has blood rage, but he’s been able to control it with various stress management techniques! It’s hard to take it seriously when the afflicted does some deep breathing and refocuses their thoughts and then it’s gone. I also felt that the storyline in The Book of Life focused way too much on Matthew’s son, Benjamin. It ruined the story for me. I felt that Matthew’s character deserved better. He is supposed to be the family’s assassin, and he walks up and gives himself up to his son. Why? It was pointless. I wanted Matthew to fight and be the aggressor (use some of his blood rage for good and get rid of the evil son). He is supposed to be leading his own branch of the family. He should have kicked the son’s ass. Harkness ruined his character by making him give in and let others finish off the bad guy. I found the entire plot line disappointing and found myself at times wishing the story would just end. It all worked out in the end, but a lot of questions went unanswered. I was hoping for a better ending to the trilogy.

I’m Still Here!


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School has begun for me again, and there just doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day for all that I must fit in. I haven’t given up on blogging. Some of you may have figured out that I’ve resurrected Sera’s blog ( Sera is my “pet” squirrel. Sera may very well be more than one squirrel, but I like to think it’s the same one all the time. She sits on the front step railing and begs for food.

20131107-071954.jpgBlogging on Sera’s blog has become more fun since I went to posting squirrel advice. I have so many great squirrel photographs taken in my own front yard that it seems a shame not to use them or re-use them for another purpose. I thought posting squirrel-isms or suggestions as a squirrel might look at life sounded like a cute idea. It gives me the opportunity to be creative (I’m using PowerPoint a lot more). I can quickly toss ideas onto a photo, and then I have a post. With all the schoolwork I have, posting every other day as Sera is about all I can handle at the moment.

I will post here from time to time as the mood strikes me or as I get the time.

Donna Reads: What Alice Forgot


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alice2In ‘What Alice Forgot’ by Liane Moriarty, Alice Love is a 39 year old who falls off of her bike during a spin class at her gym. She bumps her head hard enough to give herself amnesia. She’s forgotten the last ten years of her life. She wakes up, thinking she’s 29, happily married and pregnant with her first child. She discovers to her dismay that she’s in the process of a divorce and is the mother to three children who are strangers to her.

I loved this book! It caught my attention right from the start. As the story unfolded, I kept turning pages and couldn’t wait to see what happened next. My book club group chose this book, and I finished it in a matter of days. I just kept reading it and reading it. At first I felt sorry for Alice who is so disoriented and confused. As she begins to unravel bits and pieces of her memory, I began to think that 39 year old Alice had not been a very nice person. Everyone kept telling her they’d lost touch because Alice had been so “busy”. Older Alice was busy running kids to and fro and was involved in several different committees and projects. I enjoyed the interaction between Alice and her husband, Nick. Nick had also changed as the years went on, and he was a bit of a workaholic. Alice kept trying to win him back. Complicating matters, older Alice also had a boyfriend, Dominick, who is also the school principal. I didn’t care as much for Dominick. He was too nice, and everyone in the story worried about Alice hurting his feelings. I didn’t care and found myself hoping she’d dump him!

Without giving away the ending, Alice, of course, gets her memory back. She must then decide what she will do. I liked that she didn’t just go back to being old busy, (bitchy) Alice. She realizes that there are now two Alices – younger, calmer, nicer Alice and the older and wiser Alice. She blends the two and comes up with a happy ending. I also liked that this book told two other stories in a unique fashion. We hear Alice’s Grandmother, Frannie’s story, too. Frannie is writing letters to tell her tale. We also hear Alice’s sister, Elizabeth’s story, and Elizabeth is writing a journal. The book jumps back and forth between their different viewpoints, and I thought this was kind-of an interesting way to progress through the story. I thought the character development and interaction was great. Yes, there were some cheesy, oddball characters, but they did not spoil the book. I highly recommend this one.

A Squirrel’s Advice


Good advice, Sera.

Originally posted on A Squirrel Named Sera:

As summer winds down, we squirrels have a few words of advice for all of you busy people out there.


Take a few minutes to relax and lie in the shade.  Let the grass tickle your tummy every once in a while.  It will make you smile.


Try to remember where you stashed the “good stuff”.  Finding hidden treasures can brighten up your whole day.


Offer to share some of your bounty with friends.  Sometimes a found peanut should be a shared peanut.


Take your time and don’t make hasty decisions.  Should that peanut be lunch today or next week’s dinner?


Live in the moment.  Eat it now!  What the heck?  If you want that treat, go for it!

Enjoy your week, everyone!  Watch out for us squirrels, and enjoy the heck out of that peanut.  You deserve it!

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