A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana by Haven Kimmel

Title: A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana
Author: Haven Kimmel
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: 2001
Format: Paperback
Length: 275 pages

A Girl Named Zippy is a fun memoir that I found while browsing the biography section at my local library. Haven Kimmel (born Susan Elizabeth Jarvis) writes about her memories from K-5th grade growing up in Mooreland, Indiana, a small town of 300 people. The memoir is humorous and witty as she writes about her surroundings from a young girl’s perspective. Kimmel’s mother struggles with depression and her father with alcoholism. She brings light to the family with her sense of humor and quirkiness. Kimmel’s sister, Melinda, was 10 and her brother, Daniel, was 13 when she was born. Kimmel writes in the book “My mother always cheerfully refers to me as “an afterthought,” which I consider a term of immense respect and affection, in spite of Melinda’s attempts to convince me otherwise,” (p.4). Kimmel had a big heart growing up. Her sister competed for Mooreland Fair Queen and Zippy emptied her piggy bank so Melinda would receive the most votes. Kimmel writes “The queen was decided by a process called “a-penny-a-vote,” which was modeled on democracy but confused with capitalism, and thus was successful, as processes go,” (p. 46). She spent time with her father fishing and went to church with her Mom every Sunday, even though she didn’t really want to go. She would hide her shoes and little pink Bible in an attempt to delay the process of going to church. If you loved the character Ramona Qumiby created by Beverly Clearly, you will love Zippy. A Girl Named Zippy was a #1 New York Times Bestseller and chosen as a must read by The Today Show’s book club.

five out of five bookworms
Haven Kimmel in her hometown of Mooreland, Indiana

About the author…

Haven Kimmel was born in New Castle, Indiana, and was raised in Mooreland, Indiana, the focus of her bestselling memoir, A Girl Named Zippy: Growing up Small in Mooreland, Indiana .

Kimmel earned her undergraduate degree in English and creative writing from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana and a graduate degree from North Carolina State University, where she studied with novelist Lee Smith. She also attended seminary at the Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, Indiana.

She lives in Durham, North Carolina.

The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner

Title: The Sound of Gravel
Author: Ruth Wariner
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: 2016
Format: Hardcover
Length: 336 pages


The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner is a memoir that truly stays with you long after you’ve finished reading the last page. Wariner grew up in Colonia LeBaron, a polygamist community in Mexico. Her grandfather founded the colony and her father, considered to be a Mormon prophet, helped with the church by recruiting members. Wariner’s father died when she was only three months old. Her mom remarried a man named Lane so he could support her children in LeBaron. Her mother was a devout Mormon and wanted all of her children to have polygamous marriages. Wariner’s stepfather was sexually and verbally abusive. He was not able to provide support for all of the children he fathered so the family grew up in poverty. Their house at LeBaron lacked modern conveniences such as running water and electricity. Wariner would shake mouse droppings off her pajamas before getting dressed. Her mother continued having children with Lane. Wariner helped with her younger siblings and when her mother passed away tragically, Wariner escaped LeBaron at the age of 15 with the assistance of another wife of Lane’s and her oldest brother. She took her three young sisters with her and raised them on her own.

Ruth Wariner’s mom and her siblings
Ruth Wariner with her sisters on her wedding day

The memoir is powerful and shows the strength Wariner had to leave the community she grew up in. She writes honestly and openly about her past. One of the most devastating parts of the memoir to me is when her mother escapes to her hometown in California and then decides to return to him when he shows up one day at the house. The kids become well adjusted to a good school across the street from their maternal grandparents, her daughter is getting assistance for medical issues and she is able to make it on her own living in a rental down the street from her parents. Wariner’s mom decides that the best decision is to stay with Lane and continue raising her kids at LeBaron.

Favorite Quote: I knew that my life would never be happy if all it amounted to was having several children by a shared husband. I couldn’t understand how love or adoration could be possible in that kind of arrangement, and I desperately wanted those. But I also knew that it wasn’t enough to want them. You had to know how to get them. Mom couldn’t teach me that because she didn’t know herself. She couldn’t show me how to be happy, only how to barely survive. ( The Sound of Gravel, p. 258)

five out of five bookworms

For more information about Colonia LeBaron and the history of polygamy, click here to visit Ruth Wariner’s site.

Click here to listen to Jen Hatmaker’s For the Love of Moxie podcast with guests Ruth Wariner and her cousin, Anna LeBaron, author of The Polygamist’s Daughter.

Ruth Wariner and her husband

About the author…

From the author’s website:
RUTH WARINER is an internationally renowned speaker and author of the New York Times bestselling memoir THE SOUND OF GRAVEL. At the age of fifteen, Ruth escaped Colonia LeBaron, the polygamist Mormon colony where she grew up, and moved to California. She raised her three youngest sisters in California and Oregon. After earning her GED, she put herself through college and graduate school, eventually becoming a high school Spanish teacher. She remains close to her siblings and is happily married. The Sound of Gravel is her first book. www.ruthwariner.com


Coming of Age

Happy Saturday readers! I hope your weekend is going well so far. I had Friday afternoon off yesterday and spent time with my daughter. I’m now at work and thought I would catch up on my blog since it is not busy. I spent time this week going through my Goodreads to-read list. I deleted books that I know I’m never going to get around to reading and also tried to list one book per author so my list isn’t so overwhelming. You can follow me at https://www.goodreads.com/bschick

I have two books today that I am going to review and they are what I would label as coming of age. These type of books usually get mixed reviews. Some readers really enjoy them while others do not. I can understand both sides. My first book is Without Merit by Colleen Hoover and the second isFirefly Lane by Kristin Hannah. Most of you have probably heard of Firefly Lane. I have read this book twice-once as a young single woman and just recently as a married mom of a daughter.

I can tell you that I spent most of my childhood reading, which I am sure is not surprising to any of you that know me well outside of the blog. My mom would drop me off for a few hours at the local library in 4th/5th grade and I would spend hours reading. Connie, the children’s librarian, would always talk to me and recommend books that I might like to read. I don’t regret spending a lot of time reading. I think it helped me in school and helped me learn about the world around me. I remember reading the Nancy Drew series (still one of my favorites), the Ramona series, Babysitters Club, Trixie Belden mystery series, Judy Blume novels, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, and Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I was so obsessed with reading that I would take my literature textbook home and read all the stories in it. My 4th grade teacher read Harriet the Spy outloud to us in class and I asked for her copy to take home so I could read it. It’s another one of my all time favorite novels.

The library in Waxahachie, TX where I spent most of my childhood reading. The building is gorgeous.

If you are a fan of Colleen Hoover, then you may have heard of Without Merit. The ladies that I am in a FB group with recommended Hoover as an author to read. I love her writing and can’t wait to read more novels written by her.

Title: Without Merit
Author: Colleen Hoover
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: 2017
Format: Hardcover
Length: 385 pages


Merit is overwhelmed by all the emotions that come with being a teenage girl. She lives with her dad, stepmom, and two teenage siblings. The family lives in a church converted to a home with the basement being used as a separate living quarter for her biological mom that nevers leaves due to a severe anxiety disorder. She doesn’t understand the real reason behind her parent’s separation, why her brother always acts so weird and Merit has a strained relationship with her teen sister, Honor, the one child in the family that seems to always have her act together. Merit meets a guy she likes, but is unsure of starting a relationship with him. She has a breakdown due to all the emotions running through her which leads to all family secrets being revealed.

Without Merit is a novel that I thoroughly enjoyed. I thought Colleen Hoover did a great job of capturing what it feels like to be a teenager and not being able to process adult situations at times. Her emotions cause her reality to be skewed. The characters have quirky names which I thought added to the book. The book is a little edgy, which I like. If you are a fan of YA fiction, you will love Without Merit.

Favorite quote from the book: “Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.”

five out of five bookworms

About the author

From the author’s website:

Colleen Hoover is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of nineteen novels and novellas. Hoover’s novels fall into the New Adult and Young Adult contemporary romance categories, as well as psychological thriller. 

Colleen Hoover is published by Montlake Romance and Atria Books. Colleen also has several indie titles, including her most recent novel, Verity.

In 2015, Colleen’s novel CONFESS won the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Romance. That was followed up in 2016 with her latest title, It Ends With Us, also winning the Choice Award for Best Romance. In 2017, her title WITHOUT MERIT won best romance.

Her novel CONFESS has been filmed as a series by Awestruck and is available on Go90.com. Katie Leclerc and Ryan Cooper star in the series.

Learn more at www.colleenhoover.com

Title: Firefly Lane
Author: Kristin Hannah
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: 2008
Format: Hardcover
Length: 479 pages

I recently read Firefly Lane for the second time. The novel first captured my attention as a young adult because of the close friendship between Kate and Tully. They spent time sneaking out of their houses and riding bikes together. I had close friends that I grew up with and some of my favorite memories are of us riding bikes together. There was a creek behind the neighborhood I grew up in and I would ride my bike over it to visit a best friend. We remain close today even though our lives have taken us different places.

Kate and Tully are close friends and go through several stages of life together. Tully betrays Kate and the friendship becomes strained, but Kate is able to forgive even though she still feels a little insecure around Tully. Tully remains single and focuses on her successful career as a reporter. Kate begins her life after college working for the same news station as Tully and finds love at work. She marries and becomes a stay at home mom.

I view the novel differently as a woman in my thirties than I did as a young woman in my twenties. I appreciate the relationship between Kate and Tully so much more. Friends go through different seasons of life and the ability to remain close to each other takes work. They both show an amazing amount of forgiveness to each other and support each no matter the consequence. Both women are so strong in their own ways. Each time I have read the book, I thought Tully needed more development as a character. She came so far in the novel by escaping her difficult past and becoming successful. I thought she needed her own successful relationship with a man in the novel as well. I started the sequel, Fly Away, but haven’t finished. I’m glad that Hannah decided to further develop Tully’s character.

Favorite quote from the book: “To make real friends you have to put yourself out there. Sometimes people will let you down, but you can’t let that stop you. If you get hurt, just pick yourself up, dust off your feelings, and try again.”

five out of five bookworms

Firefly Lane is being developed as a Netflix series and will be released in 2020.

About the author

From the author’s website:

Kristin Hannah is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 novels including the international blockbuster, The Nightingale, Winter GardenNight Road, and Firefly Lane.

Her novel, The Nightingale, has been published in 43 languages and is currently in movie production at TriStar Pictures, which also optioned her novel, The Great Alone. Her novel, Home Front has been optioned for film by 1492 Films (produced the Oscar-nominated The Help) with Chris Columbus attached to direct.

Kristin is a former-lawyer-turned writer who lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband. Her novel, Firefly Lane, became a runaway bestseller in 2009, a touchstone novel that brought women together, and The Nightingale, in 2015 was voted a best book of the year by Amazon, Buzzfeed, iTunes, Library JournalPasteThe Wall Street Journal and The Week.  Additionally, the novel won the coveted Goodreads and People’s Choice Awards. The audiobook of The Nightingale won the Audiobook of the Year Award in the fiction category.

Learn more at www.kristinhannah.com

What I’m watching now…

Virgin River is based on the romance novel series by Robyn Carr. A nurse practitioner moves to a rural town in California to start life anew. Available to stream on Netflix.

A documentary about Navarro College cheerleaders in Corsicana, TX and their fearless coach, Monica Aldama, whose Navarro cheer squads have won Grand Nationals 5 times and 14 National Cheer Association Junior College National Championships. Available to stream on Netflix.

Safe is a British mini-series created by author Harlan Coben. A surgeon’s daughter goes missing one night in an affluent neighborhood after a teen party. What he learns about his community is shocking. Available to stream on Netflix.

A little bit of family drama mixed with a little bit of mystery

My two latest reads I have to share with you today are perfect if you are into family dramas and cozy mysteries. I’m also going to be sharing with you where I go to read about books online. I love to learn about what other people are reading.

Title: The House We Grew Up In
Author: Lisa Jewell
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: 2014
Format: Hardcover
Length: 388 pages

I have heard so much about Lisa Jewell from other readers that I decided to grab a copy of her book at Half Price. The family in this book is a little quirky, but it’s what makes for good drama. The mom is very eccentric and is hiding secrets of her past. Secrets that spill over to the next generation until all four children are carrying the burden of their mom’s past as well as their own. Jewell writes from the perspective of the mom and grown children. I don’t think this is the most popular out of Jewell’s writings, but it was enough to keep me interested to read more of her works. This read is perfect if you are into family drama with idiosyncratic characters.

Photo Credit: Jascha Gordon

About the author

From the publisher’s page:
Lisa Jewell is the internationally bestselling author of eighteen novels, including the New York Times bestseller Then She Was Gone, as well as I Found YouThe Girls in the Garden, and The House We Grew Up In. In total, her novels have sold more than two million copies across the English-speaking world and her work has also been translated into sixteen languages so far. Lisa lives in London with her husband and their two daughters. Connect with her on Twitter @LisaJewellUK and on Facebook @LisaJewellOfficial.
https://www.simonandschuster.com/authors/Lisa-Jewell/75656043

Title: Because You’re Mine
Author: Colleen Coble
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 2017
Format: Paperback
Length: 336 pages

I didn’t know Colleen Coble was a Christian writer until I was halfway into the book. I am a believer myself and will confess I don’t read much Christian fiction. I was surprised by how much I loved this book. I thought it was a worthwhile read. I loved Alanna, the main character. I wouldn’t say the book is an edge of your seat thriller, it’s more like a cozy mystery. I recommend if you love Agatha Christie, Rhys Brown, and Lillian Jackson Braun.

About the author

From the author’s website:
Best-selling romantic suspense author Colleen Coble’s novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, the ACFW Carol Award, the Romance Writers of America RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has nearly 4 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana. Visit her website at www.colleencoble.com.

Where do I read about books?

On FB:
Women Reading Great Books It’s a private group so you will have to request to join.
The Fussy Librarian Book reviews

Anytime I find a new author, I follow their FB page to keep with new works and also to read what others are saying about them.

Online:
Book Browse book blog with reviews and find additional books that match your interests by typing in one of your favorite authors or titles.
Book Riot book blog that keeps up with the latest publishing news. I also follow their FB page.
P

Across the Pond

Hi readers! I hope your holidays were fabulous. I spent mine with family, friends, good food, received many nice gifts and of course, made time for reading. This year my goal as a reader is to actually start and FINISH a series. If you’ve been on my blog before, you know how bad I am at this. We will see how this goes. I’ve chosen the Outlander series and have completed reading the first book. New Year’s goals are usually something I break, but this year I am determined to follow several of mine through. I will let you know at the end of the year how I did.

I have to brag on my Doxie for a minute. I spend so much time playing and walking with her. She’s only six months so she doesn’t sit still enough to be a reading buddy yet. I’ve wanted a tiny dog my whole life to take care of so the fact I have one now is just bliss. How can you say no to this innocent face???? You just can’t.

I subscribed to PBS Masterpiece, Lifetime Movie Club and BritBox on Amazon Prime over the break. Here is what I have found so far that I recommend…

Sense and Sensibility by the BBC is just SO GOOD. It was my favorite series that I watched over the holidays. The acting was superb. The series stars Hattie Morahan, Charity Wakefield, and Dan Stevens.

VERA is about a witty British detective created by author Ann Cleeves. A few seasons are available through BritBox. If you are a fan of Agatha Christie, you will love VERA.

Cranford is a Masterpiece drama about two spinster sisters and their young female houseguest living in a small England town. The series stars Judi Dench and Eileen Atkins.

The Durells in Corfu is a comedy series about a young widow who moves her family from England to the Greek island of Corfu. The series is based on memoirs written by Gerald Durrell.

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice starring Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. This classic is a must.

I read three books over the holidays and am going to write about two today that are popular.

Title: Outlander
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Publisher: Dell
Date: 1992
Format: Paperback
Length: 850 pages

Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander is a perfect read for those that love history, fantasy and romance. It is a perfect escape read. I love the characters of Claire Randall and James Fraser. It is obvious to me as a reader that Gabaldon spent hours studying Scottish history. There is so much detail in her novel. The romance scenes were beautiful without being too cheesy and overdone. I loved the bravery of Claire’s character. Picture of Outlander’s James Fraser below because it’s Monday. You’re welcome.



About the Author

From the author’s website:
Diana Gabaldon is the author of the award-winning, #1 NYT-bestselling OUTLANDER novels, described by Salon magazine as “the smartest historical sci-fi adventure-romance story ever written by a science Ph.D. with a background in scripting ‘Scrooge McDuck’ comics.”

Dr. Gabaldon holds three degrees in science: Zoology, Marine Biology, and a Ph.D. in Quantitative Behavioral Ecology.

http://www.dianagabaldon.com/

Title: Sense and Sensibility
Author: Jane Austen
Publisher: Thomas Egerton
Publication Date: 1811
Format: Hardcover

Jane Austen’s classic, Sense and Sensibility, is about two sisters who experience the perils of love-heartbreak, betrayal, and abandonment. As much heartbreak and anguish is to be found, the story ends on a happy note which is the trademark all Austen fans love.

About the Author

Jane Austen is the beloved English novelist that wrote Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma. Her work is best known for satire and social commentary of 19th century England.