Ice Cream Truck Nostalgia


, , ,

Yesterday an ice cream truck toured our cul-de-sac. It was the standard white van with neon popsicles and ice cream sandwiches decorating the sides. My kids heard the music and quickly looked for shoes and money.

In the six years we’ve lived here, this is only the second time an ice cream truck has driven by our house. Are they rare now? Or have they all been bought-up and refurbished as food trucks? Whatever the reason, ice cream trucks don’t seem to be as popular as they were when I was a kid. It seemed they were at the park every day.

Maybe my memory has distorted reality or maybe I just long for a different time period when life was simpler. Many historical fiction books, like ice cream trucks, have the ability to transport me to another era. As they describe food, clothing, activities, transportation and family life in their respective times, I get completely sucked into historical fiction every single time.

If you also love historical fiction, here are a few that are worthy of checking out:


A Buss From Lafayette by Dorothea Jensen:

Fourteen-year-old Clara Hargraves lives on a farm in Hopkinton, a small New Hampshire town, during the 19th century. She has a couple of big problems. First of all, she has a stepmother, Priscilla, who used to be her spinster schoolteacher aunt. Clara, still grieving her mother, resents that her late mother’s older sister has not only married her father but is about to have a baby. To make matters worse, “Prissy Priscilla” keeps trying to make the rambunctious, clever, and witty Clara act like a proper young lady. Secondly, Clara has red hair, making her a target for teasing by a handsome older boy, Dickon Weeks, and by her pretty seventeen-year-old Dread Cousin Hetty. Clara, however, has a secret plan she hopes will change this.

During the last week of June, 1825, Clara’s town is abuzz because the famous General Lafayette is about to visit their state during his farewell tour of America. In those eventful seven days, Clara learns a lot about her family, Hetty, Dickon, and herself. In addition, she hears many stories from her family, neighbors, veterans, and from Lafayette himself. Through these tales, she comes to understand the huge and vital role the French aristocrat played in America’s Revolutionary War. She also comes to see that her problems might not be quite so terrible after all.

watching-406x600Watching the Water by Donna Gentry Morton:

In “Watching the Water,” book 1 of the Heart Tide series, Julianna Sheffield is a rogue wave, one that doesn’t want to land on the shore it seems destined for.

It’s 1934 and the currents pushing her include an unscrupulous father determined to keep the family solvent during the Great Depression, a mother suffocated by the bubble of high society, and a greedy fiance’ named Leyton, who is proving why his name rhymes with Satan. Julianna longs to chart a different course. She wants to help the widows, farmers, and polio victims her family forced into the bread lines. She wants to exchange teacups for drinking milk from the jug. And she dreams of a man named Jace McAllister, another rogue wave who wants to love her but fights the seas bringing them together.

Jace also has a heart for those who are Depression-weary, but his method of helping includes retribution. His reasons are his own, but connected to Julianna’s family. For this seemingly doomed couple, moving forward brings on storms of rage, moral dilemmas, and difficult personal growth. Their love could be the kind that is impossible to live out. . .or the kind from which legends are born. The outcome of their journey depends on how carefully they navigate the waters.

“Seeking the Shore,” is the second and final book in this series.

9781939371850The Children’s Train – Escape on the Kindertransport by Jana Zinser:

The Jewish children of Germany are frightened, and their parents are too. Hitler’s men have just broken their store windows, stolen and destroyed their belongings, and arrested many Jewish fathers and brothers. When England arranges to take the children out of Germany by train, the Kindertransport is organized. The train filled with Jewish children escaping the Nazis chugs over the border into Holland, where they are ferried across the English Channel to England and to freedom.

But for Peter, the shy violin player, his sister Becca, and his friends Stephen and Hans, life in England holds challenges as well. Peter’s friend Eva, who did not get a seat on the Kindertransport, is left to the evil plans of Hitler. Peter, working his musician’s hands raw at a farm in Coventry, wonders if they should have stayed and fought back instead of escaping.

That night the Coventry farm is bombed. The Nazis have reached England. Peter has nothing left. He decides it’s time to stand and fight Hitler. Peter returns to Germany to join the Jewish underground resistance, search for the mother and sister he left behind in Berlin, and rescue his childhood friend Eva.

All books by BQB and WriteLife Publishing are available on Amazon, B&N, or can be ordered from your favorite local bookstore.

Russia: It’s Complicated


, , , ,

The relationship between the United States and Russia can only be described one way: complicated. Throughout history, and especially during the Cold War, there has been mistrust, spying, threats and fear between these two large and powerful countries.

The villages in Alaska where I grew up were only a ‘stone’s throw’ across the Arctic Ocean from Russia. Some of my friends had family members in Siberia they stayed in touch with or met in the middle of the sea for hunting trips. They spoke in Yupik when they met because the Russian relatives spoke Russian and Yupik while the American relatives spoke English and Yupik. Even through the Cold War, these relatives were able to stay in touch and look past the differences of their governments. Like I said, it is complicated.

Russia, with it’s size, ornate architecture, cultural variety and dominating political stances is an incredibly fascinating as a country. If you’re inclined to learn more about Russia’s history, this is the book for you:

russiaRussia in Private by Richard Yatzeck: 

From the very beginning of Russia’s history, discord has been prevalent thanks to the ruinous jealousy of the nobles, the Pecheneg and Tatar invasions, and lost wars (or brutally costly victories, as in 1812 or 1945). Autocratic government with serfdom, famine, and gangsterism have been the Russian lot. Two questions: “Who is to blame?” and “What is to be done?”, have plagued life in that one-sixth of the world’s land surface since its conception, roughly 988 AD.

During ten tours of Russia, between 1961 and 1997 (nearly thirty years in all), Richard Yatzeck was generously included in the political, kitchen table conversations concerning these very questions. Public discussion of such matters has never been safe. Russia in Private is an attempt to plumb the abyss between Russian and Western life, and explain how Russians understand and bear their history.

More about the author, Richard Yatzeck: “Richard Yatzeck is an American academic who has visited the Soviet Union and now Russia with his students over many decades and thus has a wealth of impressions and insights to share with the reader. His is inevitably a personal view, but nonetheless he offers an insight into how life was before the Soviet Union broke up and in which ways it is different – and yet somehow always the same – now. I found much that I recognised in his account, and recommend the book to anyone wishing to find out more of this most enigmatic of countries.” –  Review by Mandy Jenkinson for NetGalley.

All books by BQB and WriteLife Publishing are available from Amazon, B&N, or can be ordered from your favorite local bookstore.

Date Night – Books for Complicated Relationships


, , , ,

Yesterday my mother called and invited all my children over for dinner and a trip to Dairy Queen. Something they surely didn’t want to pass up. But the best part was, she didn’t invite me or my husband.

After navigating a massive cone-zone construction detour to drop them off, we had the evening to ourselves. We wandered downtown aimlessly, found an empty table in a quiet bar for drinks and appetizers, and then strolled across the street to our favorite sushi restaurant where we stuffed ourselves on tempura shrimp rolls.

Our conversations were uninterrupted and we could discuss anything we wanted without having to spell certain words to each other over our childrens’ heads. The time together was a relief to both of us.

Date night, as any marriage counselor would say, is time well spent. If you’re looking for a book to navigate a complicated relationship, or to make a relationship stronger, here are several that are definitely worth checking out:

He Said, She Said, I SaidHe Said, She Said, I Said by Barbara J. Peters, RN, PLC: Relationships are complicated, people aren’t perfect, and we can often each get caught in the narrow pathways of our own perceptions. When situations occur where opinions or points of view differ, a couple’s connection can either be strengthened or weakened depending on how their  differences are handled.

When a couple is engaged in the dance of relationship, it can sometimes be hard to recognize where they might be caught in the trap of what they think is occurring instead of stepping out of that mire to find out what is really going on. Often, the way one or both people are viewing the situation is at the core of the relationship issues.

In He Said, She Said, I Said, couples’ counselor Barbara J. Peters breaks down possible perceptions and misconceptions in seven key relationship areas: communication, trust, forgiveness, intimacy, acceptance, friendship, and love, by using common sense, wisdom, and some professional advice to open up the possibility for a different approach.


Learning to Love by Crystal:

Learning to Love combines Crystal’s personal experience of discovering the importance of putting time and energy into loving ourselves first with her professional knowledge of the crucial part that relationships play in every aspect of our lives. This guidebook helps us understand ourselves and the power that we have in creating our lives every moment of every day.


blueprintNot a BluePrint: It’s the Shoe Prints that Matter by Nina Norstom:

Author Nina Norstrom lost her child to a disease, but that wasn’t the only toxic relationship she endured. In this book, she explores the effects that her relationships with grief, pain, trauma, and forgiveness have had on her life.

This tale exposes a mother’s struggle to escape her world of toxicity, her journey out of the clutches of diseased relationships, and the shoe prints the experiences have left on her family’s history. This story in its raw form projects a remarkable voice to the heroic fight, courage, and bravery gained when striking back to wipe out toxic relationships. Its message reveals that life brings many challenges and that each challenge provides lessons to be learned.

This book is not intended to be a blueprint for dealing with diseased relationships. It’s about the shoe prints: those symbols of life’s journey that are left by our experiences. Not a Blueprint: It’s the Shoe Prints that Matter is an insightful and inspiring personal story of one family’s journey through toxic relationships.

All books by BQB and WriteLife Publishing are available on Amazon, B&N, or can be ordered from your favorite local bookstore.