Monday, July 27, 2015

The Classics - Opening Lines: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne throng of bearded men, in sad-colored garments, and gray, steeple-crowned hats, intermixed with women, some wearing hoods and others bareheaded, was assembled in front of a wooden edifice, the door of which was heavily timbered with oak, and studded with iron spikes. (Published 1850)

I love the classics and plan to share some "opening lines" over the coming months. Comment if you like, or read for inspiration. Writing styles were different then, but were they really?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver: Book Review

The Secrets We Keep
Author: Trisha Leaver

Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2015
Age: 12 up, Young Adult
Pages: 294

It's the summer before her senior year. Ella Lawton has dreams of going to a prestigious art school with her best friend Josh after graduation, and aside from her identical twin (Maddy) sister's obnoxious behavior since starting high school, life has been manageable. Ella is the studious, artistic twin who gets good grades (geeky by the popular crowd’s standards), while Maddy is the hipper of the two. She dresses cool, knows how to wear makeup, and as co-captain of the field hockey team, is both gorgeous and popular. 

But here lies the problem. Ella often has to rescue or cover for Maddy, who loves to party. She even does her assignments and takes exams when she needs help. Ella puts up with it for the most part; she loves her sister. But one night, on yet another rescue mission (Maddy calls from a party), they get into a big fight and crash the car. Ella, who was driving, survives, but Maddy dies instantly. When Ella regains consciousness she's horrified to learn she has killed her sister, and vows then and there she will sacrifice her own life and pretend to be Maddy henceforth. Since Maddy was wearing Ella’s coat at the time of her death, convincing the hospital is easy. When asked her name, Ella claims to be Maddy and the impossible lie begins. 

Ella is convinced she can pull off the ruse. She has pretended to be Maddy numerous times before, and since she is recovering and grieving, she manages to keep Maddy’s boyfriend Alex placated when her behavior seems odd. This works for awhile until her childhood friend Josh figures out the lie (he happens to also be in love with Ella). Keeping her parents at a distance is another problem. Added to this, Ella uncovers a dark secret Maddy had been hiding that has seriously affected classmate Molly’s scholarship eligibility in college. Molly failed a drug test because of something Maddy did. Knowing what she knows, Ella is faced with doing the right thing.....telling the truth. 

Copyright 2015 © Sharon M. Himsl

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Classics - Opening Lines: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. In the first forty days a boy had been with him. But after forty days without a fish the boy’s parents had told him that the old man was now definitely and finally salao, which is the worst form of unlucky, and the boy had gone at their orders in another boat which caught three good fish the first week. (Published 1952)

I love the classics and plan to share some "opening lines" over the coming months. Comment if you like, or read for inspiration. Writing styles were different then, but were they really? 

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Classics - Opening Lines: Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. in the afternoon of a chilly day in February, two gentlemen were sitting alone over their wine, in a well-furnished dining parlor, in the town of P——, in Kentucky. There were no servants present, and the gentlemen, with chairs closely approaching, seemed to be discussing some subject with great earnestness. (Published 1852) 

I love the classics and plan to share some "opening lines" over the coming months. Comment if you like, or read for inspiration. Writing styles were different then, but were they really? 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things: Thankful for AC

W~h~e~w. Yesterday our outdoor thermometer registered 114.2 degrees. It's quite literally open the door here, step out onto
Our sturdy AC companion & back porch
herb garden (mums in front)
the porch for five minutes and slam the door again. We are sweltering here in eastern Washington, as is much of the Northwest. If this isn't global warming, please someone give me a different (intelligent) explanation. I think the argument is finally over.

We were briefly (4 am to 8:30 am) without air conditioning two days ago. It prompted a discussion on what we would do if it had lasted longer. We do have a generator attached to our camper, which means we could string an extension cord from there to our refrigerator in the house to keep the food frozen. That's a relief. We could also hunker down inside the camper and turn up the AC. None of that happened thankfully and with homes so well insulated these days, the house was a comfortable 75 degrees the entire time, but it does make you wonder how people managed before air conditioning. 

Sometimes you gotta laugh!

I have never experienced temperatures this high before, but do recall when AC in cars was an expensive option and a lot of us went without. If we had to travel in the heat, we relied on water, ice cubes in an ice chest, and towels over the windows. I can't imagine what it was like living down south in the U.S., but I read somewhere that air conditioning changed the deep south quite dramatically. 

One thing I've learned is that staying hydrated is critical, and that includes adequate intake of salt. With most of us concerned that too much salt is bad for us, this is one time when salt is a necessity. My husband lived in Turkey one year while in the Air Force. It was hot, arid and downright miserable at times. He remembers that salt tablets were dispensed at chow times and mandatory. I'm sprinkling salt in our water now. We started getting leg cramps (unusual for us) one day and I discovered online that this was possibly due to lack of salt. Well it worked....all cramping has stopped, and I'm a believer. Has anyone else experienced this?

Willis H. Carrier (1876-1950)
Kudos to New Yorker Willis H. Carrier, who in 1902 invented the first modern air conditioner. Although few benefited from it at the time, this invention would help modernize the world and change the way we live. An interesting aside is that he struggled in school with learning mathematical fractions. His mother took on the challenge and taught him the concept by cutting up an apple. Willis later wrote that the lesson taught him the "value of intelligent problem-solving." I like that it also shows the power of a parent's influence :)  

In 1998 Time magazine listed Willis as one of the“100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century.” I couldn't agree more!

Happy Weekend!


Celebrate the Small Things. To be part of this blog hop, all you have to do is visit the Celebrate page on Lexa's Blog for the rules, and then post every Friday about something you're grateful for that week. It can be about writing or family or school or general life. This is the funnest and easiest blog hop ever! (Originated by VikLitCo-hosts are: L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Katie @ TheCyborgMom

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Classics - Opening Lines: 1984 by George Orwell was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of victory Mansions, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him. (Published 1949)  

I love the classics and plan to share some "opening lines" over the coming months. Comment if you like, or read for inspiration. Writing styles were different then, but were they really?