Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!

It is the final couple of days of October, here in the UK the clocks have gone back and the early mornings are darker, Halloween means Trick or Treaters will be on our doorsteps within days….and November beckons.  Despite the drop in temperature, I can’t believe that winter is nearly upon us and that there are Christmas jumpers in the shops!

Monday Magic 29th Oct 2018

My family know that I am a huge Strictly Come Dancing fan and I love the Halloween show, so Saturday night was one of the highlights of the year for me.  The dance of the night had to be the new couple’s choice Musical theatre & Jazz number from Faye and Giovanni, but as with every series there are a couple of contestants with no dance experience who are positively shining.  I mean of course star of social media, Joe Sugg, and the wonderful gritty news reporter, Stacey Dooley, who are both taking to dance like naturals.  Joe has a wonderful frame with a real Marfanoid look to his neck and limbs, whilst we are more accustomed to seeing Stacey squaring up to drugs gangs or on the frontline rather than dressed as a time lord (Dr Who) and strutting a tango under the glitter ball.  I am kicking myself that once again I left it too late to book accessible tickets for the live tour shows in London – I really can’t manage not to be in my wheelchair these days – please someone remind me to make that call next year!

We were joined by a gaggle of 16 year old girls for part of the Halloween show on Saturday before they took over the kitchen with vegan food and an oven load of chips.  It is unbelievable just how much noise these girls can make and then add in the incessant barking of our geriatric dog as he joins in the fun ……well, I think you can begin to imagine how far away they could be heard.  Meanwhile the young engineers (son and boyfriend) were on a party crawl with invites to 4 Halloween affairs in London.  It is now Monday afternoon and he has just walked through the door…..

I think that I have found some fantastic posts for you this week – some from old friends and some are new to me.  There are some suggestions for activities with kids, ghostly writing and a beautiful poem.  I have also focused on posts that look at making a difference – for yourself and others, so sit back with a cuppa, put your feet up and enjoy!

https://lisaorchard.wordpress.com/2018/10/27/stay-true-to-yourself/

https://mydailyjournalonline.com/expectations-and-acceptance-two-sides-of-the-same-coin/

http://wellingtonworldtravels.com/fun-fall-activities-for-families/

https://mjmallon.com/2018/10/28/author-feature-mary-r-woldering-ghostly-writes-anthology-2018/

https://fancypaperblog.com/2017/11/04/midterm-break-in-ireland-with-kids-to-cork/

https://tinybuddha.com/blog/why-my-chronic-illness-cant-stop-me-from-making-a-difference-in-the-world/

https://brainlessblogger.net/2018/10/24/things-i-learned-from-depression/

https://nothingbutpoetry.wordpress.com/2018/10/23/forever-dancing/

dancers

https://janetmarycobb.com/2018/10/24/what-difference-did-i-make/

https://www.mollytotoro.com/2018/10/youre-never-too-old-to-learn-something-new/

Please share some love by commenting and sharing to social media.

Have a great week and….keep dancing (so sorry, couldn’t resist),strictly-come-dancing.jpg

Claire x

 

 

 

 

Stream of Consciousness Saturday – Bone!

Have you ever wondered why tea tastes so much better out of bone china?  As a youngster I could never understand why my grandma and great aunt always insisted on a teacup and saucer for their cuppa, but as I get older I start to appreciate these things.  I’m not saying that I use a teacup – there is no way that I am ladylike enough to manage one, crook my little finger and balance a saucer for that.  The EDS shaky hands make it hard enough to cope with a mug, believe me!  But I do enjoy drinking from a bone china mug these days.

Stream of Consciousness Bone

What happened to those teacups and saucers though? How many of us have inherited dinner services and tea sets from loved ones that never see the light of day?  Afternoon tea is becoming trendy here in the UK and there are various tea and coffee shops that serve delights upon and in a mismatch of tea plates, cups and saucers.

However my grandmother’s bone china tea cups came in very useful earlier this year, and not for drinking from!  The lovely girl made a sculpture for her final piece of art work in the summer and you guessed it, one side is adorned with smashed china to fit with the subject title “Fragments”.  I hope that my relatives are looking down with approval!

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“Fragments”

This is for Linda Hill Stream of Consciousness Saturday!   Linda gives us a writing prompt and participants just write!  Hence stream of consciousness.  Have a look at her site for more prompts and ideas.

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Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!

Welcome back to a new week and another Monday Magic!  It is a beautiful day here in the South East of the UK and a fantastic start for half term.  Of course here in the PainPals house there is only one child on half term and being a teen, we will be lucky to be graced by her presence before lunchtime no matter the weather.  The paper round will be done, but then it is back to bed!

Monday Magic Inspiring Blogs for You! 22.10.18

 

For me the week revolved around a dinner at my old school celebrating 40 years of c-education and as one of the original 10 year old girls back in the day, it has been a pleasure to contact others from my generation.

The very first girls!

The first little girls!

I had fun creating collages from photographs sent to me by old friends and enjoyed a wonderful trip down memory lane with old staff and old friends.   Our old headmaster added to this with his speech – several of the boys, now middle aged men, were just as badly behaved during this as they were 39 years ago! – and recalled the incident in the school hall where we all  sat for an end of year assembly when suddenly the hall doors flew open and in stalked a rather glamorous young lady.  Making her way up the middle aisle between the students, she slowly started to disrobe to the sniggers of the whole school whilst the head was slowly gathering his wits and said he wondered if she was a strippergram or a kissogram.  Meanwhile the school deputy, an altogether smaller, older and very conservative man, literally flew from the stage flapping his black gown around him.  I can’t remember seeing him without his gown and he always reminded me of a raven about to take flight as he dashed along the outdoor pathways, ruffling out his gown behind him.  On this occasion the gown was wrapped around the young lady and he bundled her out the back of the hall into a waiting classroom.  The head was a bit disgruntled – well he never discovered if she was a kissogram or strippergram! – as many pupils knew that the 6th form boys had arranged this stunt, including his own young son who kept the secret completely.  Little tyke!!  We never found out what the deputy did with said young woman after he bundled her out at speed.  It never fails to amaze me how the years just fall away when old friends catch up, and we girls had a really tight bond as there were so few of us – only 8 initially and 4 of us attended the dinner.

KGS girls.jpg

Lovely to see old friends and feel like a teen for a few minutes!  The chronic body stood up to a whole night out very well – not sure if that was down to adrenaline or wine – but needless to say the high is generally followed by a fall, or crash, and this has given me time to find some blogs which I have enjoyed.

So sit back with a cuppa and have a look at these great sites – I hope that you enjoy the variety as much as I did!

 

https://trend-able.com/chronic-bloggers/

https://chronicallystrong.com/lessons-from-cancer-caregiver-caregiving/

https://pamelajessen.com/2018/10/12/interview-october-roger/

https://www.jenhardy.net/is-laughter-the-best-medicine/

https://worldisateaparty.wordpress.com/2017/09/25/long-autumn-shadows-at-tea-time/

https://youtu.be/ZIAUD6eaN3Q

https://theimmortaljukebox.com/2018/10/17/pete-townshend-willie-mitchell-robert-parker-barefootin/

https://www.style-yourself-confident.com/seasonal-color-analysis-autumn.html

https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/2018/10/18/20-fun-facts-about-my-blog-and-me/

https://sugarmuffin.home.blog/2018/10/16/bones-for-the-boneless-tv-shows-you-must-watch-this-halloween/

Please share, comment and spread some love for these bloggers!

Have a great week,

Claire x

5 of My Favorite TED Talks

Emmie on Illness to Wellness Blog shares 5 TED talks here that have inspired her to have msre self confidence and build self care skills – enjoy!

Illness to Wellness: A Journey

Originally posted on Sweatpants & Coffee.

I’m a student at seminary. I spend the vast majority of my time thinking about the deeper parts of life, what might come after life, and how we bring the two together by serving and loving one another right here and now. It’s an absolute ball and the greatest privilege of my life. It’s not just books, class discussions, and work experiences that spur my imagination; there also are TED talks for me to listen to when I want to keep thinking in a new vein. I put together a list of five that have moved me the most.

Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnerability

Being in a group therapy book club about I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t), one of Brené Brown’s books about shame and how to move through it, changed my life and helped to convince…

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Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!

It is nearly Tuesday and I have almost missed Monday Magic – probably as i spent large parts of the day putting together 3 collages of old photographs for a dinner/reunion for next weekend.  We are celebrating 40 years of co-education at my old school and as one of the original 8 little girls to start the school, and as a member of the alumni committee, it seemed like a good idea.  But it took me a lot longer than I expected – what a trip down memory lane though, looking at the various photos sent to me!!

Monday Magic Venice

So without further ado or chat about the happenings in our household this week, I will launch straight into the blogs that I have been enjoying.  There are several travel posts including a fantastic visit to a bookshop in Venice, and if space travel is your thing then you must have tuned in to the new series of Doctor Who along with Hugh (Hugh’s Views0 and the PainPals house.  The first female Doctor is a hit in this house and she already has a Barbie doll in her image! There are some great writing posts and a pamper treat for your hands in preparation for the cold weather.

 

You might still be able to sit back with a glass of wine, or you might be reading this with your morning cornflakes, but whichever please sit back and enjoy!

https://soniasmusings.com/2018/10/13/exploring-the-world-through-blind-dates-over-the-years-sayyestotheworld-theblindlist/

http://chronicallyhopeful.com/twiddle-muff-for-anxiety-an-alternative-to-the-fidget-spinner/

http://www.salt-pepperlife.in/time-to-speak-up-metoo/

https://aurorajalexander.wordpress.com/2018/10/13/4th-halloween-poem-contest-1st-group-of-submitted-poems/

https://hopenlyme.com/coming-out-proud-mental-illness-stigma/

https://silentiousdreamer.com/2018/10/12/please-tell-me-how-im-not-handicapped/

https://www.style-yourself-confident.com/pamper-your-hands.html

https://hughsviewsandnews.com/2018/10/08/how-jodie-whittaker-saved-doctor-who/

https://legendsofwindemere.com/2018/10/10/finding-time-to-write-by-darlene-foster/

https://johnrieber.com/2018/10/14/venice-italys-legendary-hidden-bookstore-climb-the-books-at-libreria-acqua-alta-explore-undiscovered-venice/

Please comment, like and share the posts that you enjoy.

Have a great week,

Claire x

 

 

Farewell to Me and Hello to Myself – Changes with Chronic Illness

I’ve been struggling to write, to take part in blog shares or blog parties. I don’t know why….brain fog, the constant nagging pain in a near permanent dislocated shoulder, stress from an adolescent, lack of pacing, all manner of things could be blamed….I just don’t really know.

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Farewell to Me

Hubby was clearing out earlier this week and came across some DVDs that he and my brother compiled years ago from my parent’s camcorder.  You must remember the black boxes carried by all self respecting tourists about 15 years ago?  Unlike the traditional camera with a film to be exposed and turned into photographs, the stream of moving images needed to be converted from a small cassette into a format suitable to be viewed on a home system – usually a DVD player by this time!  We had forgotten we even had them but, when the writing refused to flow, I have spent several afternoons watching short clips from 12 – 20 years ago.

 

A wonderful trip down memory lane from the eldest being an inquisitive toddler – did you really let him use let hammer and hit himself, Dad/Grandad?  – to holidays abroad with all three kids, to Christmases where departed family are still very much alive and laughing alongside the rest of us.  For me it was my young children that I was watching closely and shed a few tears when my lovely Grandad appeared with the then 4 year old politics student discussing a Ninja turtle gift for Christmas 2003.

But hubby told me today that he struggled to view the clips as he was watching me!  Why?! I wondered –  what was so interesting about me being mum….pregnant, with new babe and toddler, unwrapping presents, pushing a buggy, going to work. Hmmmm – that was it!  He saw me – how I was, always on the go, winging it most of the time, particularly around my back problems, pain and EDS.  Walking, running, playing, dancing, swimming, working.

Claire & Lucy

A particularly poignant moment was hearing our lovely girl’s voice, aged 2, telling Mummy and Daddy to cuddle as she zoomed the camcorder in on us – with a little help from her brother.  On hugging a little voice shouted out “Kiss!!” – we were on holiday in France and this was our last holiday abroad as a family as chronic pain was soon to strike.

Whilst I had not really seen myself, much less watched myself (who likes watching and hearing themselves?), hubby saw the person I was and remembered the person I became.  The woman turning 40, riddled with pain and opiates, puffed up with drug weight gain and lunging into reactive depression.  The woman struggling to be a wife and mother.  Sometimes it is easy to forget that this journey with chronic illness is not ours alone.  Our nearest and dearest live it with us, the good with the bad, the happy with the sad.

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The Moonwalk

When I mentioned her dad’s comments to the lovely girl, I did feel sad that her answer was that yes, she noticed it too as she can’t remember me before my symptoms took over and my general health deteriorated.  The mum on the film looks like me, sounds like me but is almost a stranger.  Or is she?

Hubby had the final say by reminding us all that it is possible to move beyond those awful middle years.  He says that I am me again!  It sounds a bit dramatic doesn’t it?! Accepting my situation, being pushed to come off the regular opiates in order to have a spinal cord stimulator and keeping as healthy as possible(!) has been transforming.

Whilst I will never be that thirty something who seemed to lose so much almost overnight as she turned 40, now as I look toward turning 50, I think that I can say that I am ME again.  I look in the mirror and as I look past the grey hair, the lack of sleep, the metal spine, the splints and mobility aids, I feel like myself and so I see MY reflection once more.

closeup photo of primate

Photo by Andre Mouton on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You

Good evening and welcome to another new week and another Monday Magic.

Monday 8th October

Hubby and I have celebrated our wedding anniversary in the last week – 26 years! surely we aren’t old enough….We had a great night out at the Royal Festival Hall (second time in recent weeks) watching the glamorous and very pregnant Sophie Ellis Bextor supported by a full orchestra alongside her band.  It shouldn’t be possible for a woman expecting her FIFTH child to look so gorgeous in a figure hugging black sequin cat suit!!!  That lady can still boogie as she belts out all her classic numbers – I don’t know about “Murder on the Dance Floor”, there were moments when there we thought there might be a birth on the dance floor as mum to be danced so energetically. Wow!  Full accessibility post about the RFH to follow.

sophie-ellis-bextor-exhibits-blooming-baby-bump-in-sparkling-sequinned-jumpsuit

The stunning S E-B!

I haven’t done a good job with pacing this week – why is it nights out all have to come together?  A concert, a curry with friends and a quiz night has left my chronic pain screaming at me at full volume.  But today I was reminded that there is always someone in a worse situation than you when I received the awful news that the brother of a school friend has recently died from cancer in his early 50s.  He leaves a wife and  3 teenage children and as a GP leaves a huge number of patients at the surgery that he took over from their father.  Once again life is put into perspective.

On this note I want to give you some blog posts to read that I hope will be uplifting and inspiring, practical and entertaining.  Sit back, raise a glass to living life as well as possible and enjoy these blogs.

beautiful casual cute day

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

http://jesdickerson.com/2018/10/01/break-free-comparison-trap/

https://www.lifeinslowmotionblog.com/do-coping-skills-really-help/

http://theunchargeables.com/pain-awareness-month-why-does-it-matter/

https://pamelajessen.com/2018/10/06/interview-october-derek/

http://notjusttired.com/2018/10/08/joy-in-autumn-challenge-joyinautumn/

https://www.mostlyblogging.com/go-viral/

https://beetleypete.wordpress.com/2018/10/08/the-settlement

https://www.graphic-organic.com/single-post/2018/10/03/HalloweenFall-Home-Decor?utm_campaign=2b769dce-26eb-45c0-b080-ab4bfead9564&utm_source=so

https://risingabovera.com/review-mighty-medcase-by-mightywell/

https://anhistorianabouttown.com/rwbs-the-handmaids-tale-10-14-october-2018/

Please like, comment and share!

Have a great week,

Claire x

Book Review and Blog Tour for “The Water and The Wine” by Tamar Hodes #LoveBooksGroupTours

water-wine

Many thanks to LoveBooksGroup and Kelly for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour.

It is the 1960s and a group of young writers and artists gather on the Greek island of Hydra. Leonard Cohen is at the start of his career and in love with Marianne, who is also muse to her ex-husband, Axel. Australian authors George Johnston and Charmian Clift write, drink and fight. It is a hedonistic time of love, sex and new ideas.

As the island hums with excitement, Jack and Frieda Silver and their young family join the community, hoping to mend their broken marriage. However, Greece is overtaken by a military junta and the artistic idyll is threatened.

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Water & Wine pin.png

There will be few keen readers who have not heard of Leonard Cohen and his infamous muses, but I confess that I knew very little of the artistic community on Hydra in 1960s beyond this.  I have always been fascinated by the likes of Virginia Woolf’s Bloomsbury set, so the premise and promise of this novel immediately had appeal for me.  Whilst reading the novel, I have also done some background reading of the many articles available describing the actual artistic community and the island of Hydra through the 1950s, 60s and into the Greek Military Junta (the Regime of the Colonels) of 1967-74.

It is clear that the author draws on her own memories and experiences as a child living on this idyllic island and she has also researched the period and characters in great detail.  However the reader must remember that this is a fictional work depicting the lives of real people and Ms Hodes does not pretend that the thoughts and actions of the characters are those of the real people.  This is a difficult balance to strike in such cases to be both engaging and interesting, without rewriting history.

Tamar on Hydra

Tamar on Hydra as a child

I loved this novel and probably read it too quickly in order to write this review!  The beauty of the island, the scenery and the way of life are captured in this well crafted piece.  To be able to feel the warmth of the sun on your skin and to taste the lemons used in the food and drink, for me indicates that the writing is descriptive and realistic.  The pace is slow and charming, encapsulating the life being lead by both the Greek locals and the expat community of artists.  Ordinary elements of life are catapulted into something extraordinary.

Human relationships are central to this plot – those of lovers, spouses, the artist and muse, families, friends.  The female characters are strong throughout from the “real” Charmiane and Marianne to the “fictional” Frieda to the Greek women such as Evgeniya, Maria and Kyria Sophia.  These wonderful Greek ladies are recognised and praised for their devotion and hard work whilst in the employ of the expats – as maids, nannies and eventually becoming extended loved and trusted family.  They might have shaken their heads and not understood the way of life that these brightly coloured artists pursued, but they cared for them with wonderful home cooking, maintaining their homes and loving their children.

The complex myriad of human emotions are explored, particularly intense in the lover/muse/triangle relationship of Leonard Cohen, Marianne and her ex husband Axel.  Both men are writers are in this tale they share many traits – I am not sure whether they are typical of a writer or not, but have witnessed something of their emotion and devotion to their art in my own teenage daughter when she is drawing and painting.  Forgetting to eat, to being unable to concentrate on normal life and to pouring everything into the creative process.  I found the dedication to their work both fascinating and bewildering in equal measures – yet I can understand the passion for work that one loves, as I was like this about head and neck cancer nursing and palliative care!

I have read an article by one lady who knew these real people in the 1970s and I do understand that some who were there might find it presumptuous to imagine the feelings and thoughts of real people, some still living.  But Ms Tamar is clear from the outset that this is a work of fiction, and in my opinion it deserves to be read slowly to immerse oneself in what is clearly a rather lovely work of literature.

Five stars!

The book is currently available on Kindle at Amazon for just £1.79! Click on image….

About the Author

Tamar HodesGrowing up, Tamar Hodes’ neighbours were Leonard Cohen, his girlfriend Marianne, and other writers and artists on the Greek island of Hydra. Her parents took her to the island to pursue their own art and writing. However the bohemian nature of Hydra destroyed their marriage. The Water and the Wine is a fictional account of those days.;Tamar Hodes’ first novel Raffy’s Shapes was published in 2006. She has had stories on Radio 4 and others in anthologies including Salt’s The Best British Short Stories 2015, The Pigeonhole, Your One Phone Call, the Ofi Press, MIR online and Fictive Dream. Tamar was born in Israel and lived in Greece and South Africa before settling in the UK. She read English and Education at Homerton College, Cambridge. For the past thirty-three years she has taught English in schools, universities and prisons.

Find Tamar on:

Twitter

Goodreads

and at:

HookLine Books: Website &  Twitter

 

Further reading:

Leonard Cohen Forum

Australian Bohemians on Hydra

A Pilgrimage to Leonard Cohen’s Greek Island Retreat

 

 

 

 

 

Blog Tour and Book Review – “Arcam” Debut Novel from Jason Minick #LoveBooksGroupTour

So the eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed that my book review earlier today should have been on the blog tour yesterday – so sorry Effie Kammenou!

But I am also delighted to be on the Blog Tour for Debut Thriller ARCAM by Jason Minick – thanks to Kelly at Love Books Group for the opportunity.

Arcam

The Book Blurb

A FAST-PACED CRIME/CONSPIRACY THRILLER THAT IS FULL OF SUSPENSE:

DCI Jack Robson believes he is hunting a kidnapper…

Away from his posting in London, Robson is asked to lead an investigation in the south west of England. But what begins as a baffling local kidnapping mystery, quickly escalates into something far more sinister.

In pursuit of the perpetrators, DCI Robson joins forces with Inspector Emma Wilson and the rest of the regional CID team. Together, they attempt to make sense of the lack of evidence or motive, eventually getting drawn to the tiny island of Steep
Holm, in the Bristol Channel.

As the investigation progresses, Robson, Wilson and their colleagues find themselves facing something far beyond normal detective work. Unthinkable connections lead them to a conspiracy, so great it could change the course of humanity. The question is, can they intervene before it’s too late to prevent the appalling future that potentially lies ahead …

Arcam pin

What a read!  Initially the book appears to be a fast detective thriller following the spate of kidnappings, but quickly there are darker undercurrents emerging.  I like the fact that Robson is a fully rounded character from the off as a background story about his family is quickly shared with the reader.  This history shapes him and his decisions within his detective work, but also his emotional decisions and his working relationships.

This is explored throughout the book as the relationship and bond between Robson and his Inspector Emma Wilson develops.  The happenings that they stumble upon and situations that they find themselves in require honesty and trust – although Wilson at times does struggle with some of Robson’s decisions that aren’t quite by the books.  I admire both characters – they are strong, determined, bloody minded and physically capable even if they do encounter several visits to the hospital!!

The descriptions of the region are picturesque with landscapes that include the coastline, a nature reserve and the sea.  But the real adrenaline rush comes from the suspense and the sudden realisation of what is going on – the use of suspense and critical language is superb.  I applaud Mr Minick for such a fantastic quality of writing and catching such a successful feel of anticipation, fear, excitement and dread in his debut novel.  I believe that the relationship between the two detectives has a long, long way to run yet – I can’t wait for the next in the series!

I love it! 5 Stars

Available from:

Amazon

About the Author

Jason Minick is an engineer living in the south-west of England. He has a passion for the written word and reading.JM photo.jpg
Jason is a fan of many genres. His debut novel, Arcam, is a crime/conspiracy thriller set in his favourite part of the UK.
He lives with his wife, Emma, and his three children, Lucy, William and Sophie. The family share their home with two very small dogs, Digby and Tizzie.
The author is currently working on the second book in the DCI Robson series, the sequel to Arcam.

Find Jason at:

Goodreads

Twitter

Blog Tour and Book Review – Chasing Petalouthes, The Gift Saga by Effie Kammenou #LoveBooksGroupTours

I am delighted to be part of the Blog Tour for the final book in The Gift Saga trilogy Chasing Petalouthes.

EG & WFA Facebook-Twitter 1

Chasing Petalouthes – butterflies – is the final book in this wonderful family saga following the generations of Greek families as they settle in New York.  In this chapter, the younger generation – third generation – are followed through teens, adolescence and young adulthood.

chasing-petalouthes

Evvie, daughter of Sophia,  has experienced more tragedy than a young girl should ever endure, having lost both her father and a most beloved grandmother at a young age. Her rebellious ways are her only defense to mask the ever-present pain in her heart. Closing herself off emotionally, Evvie enters college life with a determination to follow her chosen path alone.  She might be a talented young dancer, like her mother, but her love for the family vineyard is strong and she discovers just how much she wants this life on a visit to France.  Her determination to work and grow her family business is tested over these tender years as relationships develop and difficult choices must be made.  She also begins to understand her Greek routes, the legacy of the soil and vines that is within her blood, during a visit to her great grandmother, Yiayia Sophia in Athens.

During this time Evvie remains resolute that she will not allow her emotions to sway her – she will not allow her heart to open up to love.  Even when a trip to the Greek island Cephalonia, with Yiayia Sophia, seems to show her where her true happiness and future could lie, she denies herself and a certain young man who she has known since college.

Stella, Demi’s daughter, is two years Evvie’s junior and struggling at high school to “fit in”.  She has a crush on a fellow student, and whilst he is happy to take her to Prom and will stand up for her honour, he makes it clear that Stella is not the girl for him whilst they are growing up.  She is the sort of girl who needs a steady relationship – a happy ever after – he tells her, and he is not ready for this.  Whilst Stella appreciates his honesty, at 16 this is a harsh truth to hear and she experiences betrayal from a friend during this time.  Meanwhile it feels to Stella that her siblings and cousins are all talented and achieving their dreams, whilst she enters college and drifts from one course to another with no real puprose.

She is insecure, a little naive and has no idea just how attractive she is.  Stella is smitten when an older, handsome, worldly young man shows interest in her and she believes that she has found love. But as his behaviour becomes more and more controlling, Stella’s family and friends become concerned that Stella has fallen into an abusive relationship.  Will she accept the situation and the help on offer before something terrible happens? 

“Chasing Petalouthes (Chasing Butterflies) is the coming of age story of two flawed, young women who push their way out from the confines of the cocoons they’d built around themselves and discover how to soar.”

I am going to start by saying what I always do…..please read the first two books in the series and set on a journey with these characters.  You might have read my reviews for Evanthia’s Gift and Waiting for Aegina and will already know how much I have enjoyed this series.  In fact I will go so far as to say that I feel emotionally invested in the characters.

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Chasing Petalouths pin

My greatest enjoyment from the trilogy has been the continuing story of the generations of women from two families and friends that become one : Anastacia, her daughter Sophia and granddaughter Evvie;  Soula, her daughter Demi and grandaughter Stella; close friends, the Honeyhill girls, and their children.  The roles of these strong leading women has been quite inspirational and I see the driving force of the family in the strong Greek woman, who loves to feed her family in my own great friend Evi.

This chapter of the story examines the adolescent years of the younger generation and the author shares the highs and the lows with brutal honesty.  Emotions run high as a teen/early twenty something and we have all experienced the intense joy and sadness that come with the smallest of experiences.  The young ladies in this tale are no different to any others and they feel intensely.  As a palliative care nurse in my previous life, I was particularly interested in Evvie and how the author dealt with her grief.  Something I learnt early in my nurse training (whilst losing many young men in our London taching hospital to Aids in the late 80s) is that there is no “right” way for grief, no timeline, no “one fit for all”.  Yes, there is the Kubler Ross stages of grief, but everyone is so different and Ms Kammenou depicts this beautifully with Evvie.

By the time she is a teen, this young lady has experienced major loss and in order to deal with this she has built an emotional wall around herself.  To the outside world her moods and strange wardrobe choices might seem like those of a “difficult, hormonal” teen, but they are so much more than this.  I applaud the author for her handling and eventual breakdown of Evvie’s grief,  the way in which she slowly realises that she cannot protect herself from the possibility of pain and loss – and in fact in the process may be denying herself love and joy.

Difficult topics are once again tackled in this family saga – suicide, depression and mental health, domestic abuse, death, bereavement.  Perhaps this list should also include falling in love, sexuality & sexual relationships, and the complexities of family life.  Both Stella and Evvie are great role models as they experience the highs and some extreme lows of growing up (no spoilers!), and both come out the other side as mature, more confident and happy young women.  I am not going to say that they have grown up – I’m not sure that we ever finish growing up and I believe that Yiayia Sophia shows us this in her observations of her life.

I could write so much more here, but I think the important thing is to say that I loved it just as much as the first tow books, and I really didn’t want it to end…..surely there must be another chapter waiting in the wings about young Cia, Ms Kammenou?  There are delicious recipes peppered throughout the book, including some French treats when Evvie is dancing in Paris – there is even a recipe for the delicious lemon chicken and potatoes that my own dear Evi makes.  But my kids say that I could never compete!

Five stars for this engrossing, beautifully written contemporary family saga.

Available from:

Amazon

About the Author

Effie Kammenou is a believer that it is never too late to chase your dreams, follow your heart or change your career. She is proof of that. At one time, long ago, she’d thought that, by her age, she would have had an Oscar in her hand after a successful career as an actor. Instead, she worked in the optical field for 40 years and is the proud mother of two accomplished young women.cover photo 2

Her debut novel, Evanthia’s Gift, is a women’s fiction multigenerational love story and family saga, influenced by her Greek heritage, and the many real life accounts that have been passed down. She continues to pick her father’s brain for stories of his family’s life in Lesvos, Greece, and their journey to America. Her interview with him was published in a nationally circulated magazine.

Evanthia’s Gift: Book One in The Gift Saga was a 2016 award finalist in the Readers Favorite Awards in the Women’s Fiction category.  Waiting for Aegina is Book Two in The Gift Saga and Chasing Petalouthes is Kammenou’s latest release, completing the series.

Effie Kammenou is a first generation Greek-American who lives on Long Island with her husband and two daughters. When she’s not writing, or posting recipes on her food blog, cheffieskitchen.wordpress.com, you can find her entertaining family and friends or traveling for ‘research.’

As an avid cook and baker, a skill she learned from watching her Athenian mother, she incorporated traditional Greek family recipes throughout the books.

She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater Arts from Hofstra University.

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