The Message in Dad's Bottle by Sandy Appleyard (Review)

My father was an alcoholic all his adult life, and the disease took his life at the age of forty-one. When I was ten years old, I became exposed to alcoholism. This book describes what I saw, my reactions to it, and how each situation made me feel. Most importantly, this book illustrates how these factors shaped who I am today. It also focuses on the experiences of others in my life and how each coped with their own alcoholic family member. Included in this section is helpful advice from each person to those who may also be touched by alcoholism. I also share with the reader some of my poems that I have written to help me deal with my past and explain the significance of each.

(From Amazon) Sandy Appleyard was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She currently resides in Milton, Ontario, with her husband and two daughters. She has a diploma in business administration, and majored in human resources management; and graduated with honors from Humber College-North Campus in Toronto, Ontario, in 2000. This is Sandy’s first book, although she has completed one other that is not yet published. “I am inspired to write mostly by love and the desire to help others through words. I have written many poems for many people to help them in their time of need, and I have also written to help people celebrate life. I wrote this book as a tribute to my father, and I felt it fitting to have it published during the year of what would have been his sixtieth birthday.”

My Review:

The cover of the book is unusual and indicative of the story inside. I found the book to be very informative about how alcoholism not only affects the person doing the drinking, but also the immediate family, co-workers, and beyond. Everyone in an alcoholics life is affected by the drinking and therefore alcoholism may be seen as a pebble being dropped into a puddle of water with its ripple effect.

As a book, I felt the writing was redundant. There was a lot of repetition in the sentences as well as paragraphs. I felt as though I were reading the same information over and over. But, as a conversation, the book then takes on a different angle and I feel has much more merit. I found myself very unsure on how to rate the book and therefore decided not to. THE MESSAGE IN DAD’S BOTTLE is a quick read and does show the effects of alcoholism on family dynamics.

Purchase THE MESSAGE IN DAD’S BOTTLE on Amazon in Kindle or Paperback.

I was given a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Between Boyfriends by Sarka-Jonae Miller

Between Boyfriends HR cover (1)

At first glance, twenty-one-year-old Jan Weston has it all: a gorgeous boyfriend, fun friends, and wealthy parents who take care of all those pesky credit card bills.

Then her boyfriend dumps her, her friendships fall apart, and her parents cut her off. Suddenly without money, without a man, and without a plan, it’s time for Jan to grow up.

Determined to get her life back on track, Jan decides it’s time to make it on her own. Can she find her way as a single lady in San Diego? Can she fix her friendships, her job prospects, and her hair? And can she keep her vow that she’ll never date again, even after she meets a guy who just might be perfect for her?

BETWEEN BOYFRIENDS is a sexy, hilarious story of living life, finding love, and growing up… but not necessarily in that order.

Book Links:
Barnes & Noble

About the Author:
Sárka-Jonae Miller is a novelist and freelance health writer. She has more than 4,000 articles published on topics such as fitness, sports, martial arts, yoga, nutrition, travel, spirituality, and natural health. Her work has appeared on websites such as,,, and, as well as in the “Post-Standard” newspaper and both the New York and Washington Home & Garden online magazines. Sárka-Jonae is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. She is as a former personal fitness trainer and massage therapist. She is also an avid traveler, having spent time in Costa Rica, Canada, England, Mexico, and Paradise Island. She has also been to France and Thailand researching her next books. She lives in San Diego with a menagerie, including two cats, two dogs and a horse.

Author Links:


BETWEEN BOYFRIENDS is exactly as described – “sexy, hilarious story of living life, finding love, and growing up”. The author describes the protagonist to a tee which allows the reader to picture her exactly as she is – a spoiled, little rich girl who is used to getting what she wants.

The writing is good, but at times tends to get bogged down with detailed descriptions. I think the targeted audience (young adult – 20ish) would enjoy the book a little more than someone my age.

I am giving the book three stars.



“So, what happened with Mike? Are you okay? Did you get dumped again?”
Jan knew it was obvious. She might as well go down the street to a tattoo parlor and have “reject” permanently etched into her forehead.
“Yes, but I’m over all that. I’ve given up dating. I’m focusing on—” Oh no, I have to say something, “—school. And my health. I’ve started working out.” Jan hated lying to Raven, but rationalized that it was already tomorrow somewhere.
Raven cocked her head to the right like a curious puppy. “You’ve given up on dating?”
“Well, I’ve just realized that dating is a ridiculous concept and is better left to people without hearts.”
“Like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz?”
Jan took a drink of her iced tea. It tasted delicious after she had spiked it with three Splenda packets she had kept in her purse.
“No,” Jan answered. She began to feel confused again. She just didn’t know how to explain her logic. “It’s just that most relationships end in either breakup or divorce. So why bother? A lot of girls seem to jump into them even when it’s obvious that it’s not going to work out.”
Raven nodded. “Yeah, I know a lot of girls like that. Some guys too. They want someone to tell them they’re attractive, take them out, and to keep on reserve for weddings and parties. Sometimes, it’s worse though. They need a guy to give them an identity. If they aren’t someone’s girlfriend, they feel lost because they don’t know who they are.”
I wonder if she ever thought that about me? Jan fidgeted with her straw.
“It’s weird, isn’t it?” she agreed. She thought back on times she had panicked because she couldn’t find a date for a social event. “If you believe in soul mates, then there’s only one person out there for you, so why stay with someone once it was clear they weren’t the One?”
“Well, define ‘clear’,” Raven challenged kindly. Jan couldn’t. “Besides, if a girl doesn’t know who she is, then she won’t know what she wants out of a relationship. I hear things all the time in the salon from girls who date guys that never take them out, flirt with their best friends, blow them off consistently, and forget their birthdays or anniversaries. But these girls make up excuses instead of seeing the obvious truth that their boys just aren’t that into them.”
Jan opened her mouth to rant about what jerks those men were, but Raven cut her off.
“But it isn’t only the guys’ faults. These girls let them get away with it. They may verbalize to their guy that it’s not okay, but they stay with him no matter how many times he screws up. Their actions say it’s all right, so why would the guy change?”
Jan was stunned. It had never occurred to her that men may notice her actions and draw assumptions. She counted on people to listen to her words and forgive her tone, body language and actions inconsistent with what she said.
“But shouldn’t guys be considerate and loving to their girlfriends irregardless?”
Raven raised an eyebrow. “Why would you date a guy that wasn’t considerate to begin with? Why agree to become his girlfriend when his actions say that he doesn’t love you?”
Jan’s perception jumped to a new height. She felt like someone had switched on a spotlight and an iceberg had appeared in front of her. She choked on the emotions, ideas, and opinions clamoring for attention. She’d never really considered having a choice in becoming someone’s girlfriend, or that there should be a prerequisite for monogamy. Obtaining a boyfriend was the point of dating, wasn’t it? Why bother otherwise, and why take it slow if it was what you wanted? Then again, she had to admit that a lot of the guys she had dated had been jerks, some from the moment she had met them. So, why had she pursued them?
“I guess that makes sense,” Jan answered. “I’m not sure that people care so much about finding a great person that treats them well as they do about finding someone who’s attractive and willing to spend time with them.”
Raven shrugged. “Personally, I’m much happier spending time with my friends — male or female — that make me feel good, rather than with a boyfriend that brings me down.”
Jan couldn’t help but wonder, Is there any other kind?

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Review: The Path to Piney Meadows Gail Sattler

Will a new way of life solve problems or just create new ones?

Fed up with life in a large city, Chad Allen quits his job on Christmas Eve and drives until he’s stranded in the remote Mennonite town of Piney Meadows. He accepts a job there on a whim, but the longer he stays, the more he likes these good people and their strong faith. Most of all, he grows fond of Anna, the girl next door, and the more he gets to know her, the more he falls in love with her.

The only problem is that Anna is not happy in Piney Meadows. Even as Chad wants to settle in, Anna wants to move out. She longs to move to Minneapolis and find a new life. Reluctantly, Chad agrees to help Anna prepare for life in a large city, even as she’s helping him adjust to life in Piney Meadows.

But when a personal crisis shakes Chad to his core, he’s not sure where to turn. He’d been let down by everyone he knew, even God. Now that the situation has reared its ugly head again, can his relationship with Anna survive? Or will he have to let her go, too?

The Author:

Gail Sattler is the author of numerous novels, novellas, gift books, cookbooks and devotions. She is a longstanding member of East Ridge Community Fellowship, a Mennonite Brethren church. She lives and writes in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. For more information about Gail, check out her websites at and

My Review:

THE PATH TO PINEY MEADOWS was such a heart-warming book that I truly hated for it to end. The characters were so honest and true to God and their hearts. I became so absorbed in the story that I could feel my heart soften and I longed to immerse myself in the Mennonite community. It was that comforting a book.

Chad’s disillusion with the way the world has become – so fast, so uncaring, so dog-eat-dog, as the saying goes – causes him to throw the towel in and quit his job on Christmas Eve. And, as he hops in his car and begins to drive, he comes across a small town just as he runs out of gas. When you run out of gas, on a Christmas Eve, you just know that is where God has planned for you to end up.

As I opened the book to read, I was in a hurry because I needed to catch up on my reading and review this book. Once I began reading, there was no way I was going to finish it in a rush. As I turned page after page, and as I entered into the Mennonite world, I found that I no longer had the urge to fly through the book. I wanted to stay in the moment.

I absolutely loved the characters! I don’t think there was one I didn’t like. Their simpleness and easygoingness was contagious. I do want to go into a little more detail about Chad because the book also had heart-warming humor. He is presented with two baby chicks and proceeds to make them his family. They fall asleep in his lap at night and sleep in a box at the end of his bed, and even wear chicken nappies! We follow along as Chad makes a lot of discoveries about the Mennonite ways and what a different world he has stumbled upon, and eventually earns the nickname, “City Boy”.

“For the most part, a woman’s place was to be a housewife; this was a community of Mrs. Cleavers. Only Mrs. Cleaver didn’t cook like these Mennonite women. He’d never experienced such great food in his life.”

“They (chickens) started getting tired not long after supper. So on the evenings when he didn’t go out, he’d been taking them and putting a towel in his lap to keep them warm, while he curled up with a good book…He’d also noticed that since they could now hop out of their box in the kitchen, Waddles came to him whenever he sat down in the chair he used when he was reading, almost like she was expecting him to pick her up…Blinkie wasn’t so fast when he sat in his favorite chair, but when Waddles made it into his lap, Blinkie wasn’t far behind. While Waddles always waited to let Chad pick her up, Blinkie liked to jump up on his leg. “

“…I would also like to have a dog, because a dog would be good to help protect the chicken hotel (you will have to read the book to find out about that one!) Also, I do not think I would mind the chickens in their box on the floor by the bed.” He flinched at her words, and when he started to speak…”you are not fooling me. Do not think I do not know you allow your chickens to sleep in the box in your bedroom. I have seen it…I followed Blinkie to see where she was going, and she went to have a nap. I have seen you taking them into the house at night after I go to bed”…”Many people know that you have put diapers on your chickens…”

German was dispersed throughout the book, but the author incorporated the English translation very smoothly so the reader doesn’t miss a beat.

I am giving THE PATH TO PINEY MEADOWS five stars. It was a wonderful book and one I could see myself reading again. I was so taken with the descriptions of the Mennonite community that I told my husband I found the perfect place for us to move – and he agreed. In a world where people live too fast, live too selfishly, the little community would be a wonderful place to escape to.

Excerpt: Chapter 1

Chad Jones stared into the bottom of his empty mug.
Since noon, peals of drunken laughter had echoed down from the office Christmas party of the business on the floor above him.

Chad sat alone, on Christmas Eve, working. Without coffee. But he could smell the dregs from what was left in the bottom of the near-empty pot. Everyone else had gone home.

Chad glanced around his private office, not much bigger than a closet. He had barely enough square footage for his desk and chair, one filing cabinet, and one guest chair. Not that he had many guests. It was embarrassing. The building looked passable from the outside, but there was a reason the rent was cheaper than other buildings in the same area.

Gary, however, had spared no expense in renovating his own office, which was nearly the size of Chad’s living room.

Upstairs, someone turned up the volume of “Jingle Bell Rock.”

Chad gritted his teeth and tilted his head up. “I hate ‘Jingle Bell Rock’!” he called up, even though they couldn’t hear him. “Can’t you pick something else?”

With every thump of the bass, the tape dispenser on Chad’s desk vibrated.

He stared at the pile of paper Gary had plunked on his desk before he’d walked out. Gary had left early to be with his family. Chad didn’t have anywhere to go, and Gary knew it, but that wasn’t the point.

After all this time, he could finally admit that his boss had no intention of making him a partner. Everything had been a ploy to get more work out of him. The only thing that would shake greedy Gary into really making him partner was if Gary actually had to do all his own work.

Chad peeled off a sticky note and started writing.

I quit! Chad

He smiled and pressed the paper to the center of his monitor. As he pulled his hand away, the note fell.

Chad’s smile also fell.

Mr. Cheapskate couldn’t even buy decent quality sticky notes.

Chad sank his teeth into his lower lip, picked up a pushpin, poked it through the note, and aimed it at the monitor.

Testing the screen, Chad poked it with his thumb. His monitor at home was a plasma screen—hard, with a glass front—but this was an LCD and was . . . pliant.

Even though he had no intention of really doing it, he speculated what would happen if he pushed the pin into the soft surface. Would the screen go blank? Would it blow up? Would there be a spark? It gave him a small degree of satisfaction to imagine Gary’s expression when he saw a hole in his precious bargain-basement monitor.

To finish reading:

Purchase THE PATH TO PINEY MEADOWS on Amazon by clicking the book:

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My Crazy Life – Starting the New Year with a little from the old

January 1, 2012

          It has become a tradition in our family for Hubby, daughter Katie-Beth and husband, Jude, and son, Joshua to play music with their dad for the Christmas children’s pageant at mass on Christmas Eve. They normally provide vocals as well. This year there was a change. A local teacher gathered a few volunteers from the church community and formed a children’s choir.

          After a few practices, Hubby had them overcoming their shyness and they were singing like angels; never more so than for the actual performance on Christmas Eve. As children go, well – we all know the unpredictable will be happen, and did. The mikes were hot so the children’s voices would fill the church, along with a hiccup that came out instead of words. Sitting up close and seeing my daughter burst out laughing (never missing a keystroke on the keyboard) and then Hubby start laughing (while keeping up on guitar), then son-in-law, Jude (still keeping beat on drums), I thought that the hiccup had come from Katie-Beth. Once the song ended and everyone had dried the tears in their eyes, Katie-Beth made motions that it had been one of the children.

          There were a few other mishaps, fortunately none of them serious. Son in law Jude, being the talented musician that he is (yeah – Manhattan School of Music), relied on one drumstick and his fingertips to get him through the Christmas pageant. No one was the wiser until after mass when he made the remark – “Note to self – next year bring sticks.”

          During the meditation after communion, it has become a tradition (started by Hubby) to sing Silent Night in the different languages of our church congregation. This year Silent Night was sung in English, Pilipino, Vietnamese, French, and Spanish. It is truly amazing to sit and listen to this one song sung in so many different languages, the world becoming a smaller place for a few minutes each Christmas Eve.

          Last year I recorded it and posted it to my blog. This year, Katie-Beth wanted me to use her Flipcam and quickly explained to me how to work it. Once. Needless to say, we have no recording. I forgot how to use it and thought the battery died. I quickly grabbed my phone and finished recording the performance, but missed Katie-Beth singing in English and Hubby singing in French. I now have my own Flipcam and will definitely know how to use it next year!

          Hubby received a ukulele for Christmas and has yet to put it down. Try being woken up to Mrs. Brown you’ve got a lovely daughter and Ave Marie each morning at six o’clock. At least he is now singing the correct words! I practically injured myself getting to the computer to print out the correct lyrics. Pet peeve – singing the wrong words to a song.

          A few highlights from 2011:

–      I started writing book reviews on my blog, reviewing 32 books since April. I found Bookblogs and Blogaholics quite by accident and began a foray into the book-reviewing world and met many friends along the way.

–      I participated in blog hops.

–      My blog won six incredible awards throughout the year.

–      I did a series of 21 days of compliments to myself. I learned a great deal from that little exercise.

–      I added two new dogs to my family, 3 year old Ryka and six-week-old Calypso. I’ve watched them grow this past year as we approach their one year anniversary with us. They have given me a lot to write about with their adventures.

–      I visited New York City twice this year and added Niagara Falls and Canada the second trip and wrote stories about those adventures.

–      I attended a writer’s conference and got to meet lots of authors.

–      I held my annual Cookie Swap for friends.

          I would like to thank all of my friends and followers for a great year and for all of the comments left on my blog. I am looking forward to visiting all of you this year and hearing about what is new on your agenda.
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More Vacation Pictures – New York, Niagara Falls

The Niagara River, just upstream from the falls.
Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls from Canada.
Water rushing over the falls in Canada.