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Author Archives: ellasurreau

Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

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It is not often I write about the books I read.  Though I have written about many

It is even less often that I feel the importance of sharing my review with my other blogs

This book review will find a place on all the pages.


This book is one of those rare Gems, like…a shell found intact on the sea shore, that it must be shared.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s “Gift by the Sea”

Is a perfect analogy  for life.   Really most of it pertains to all humans, but being a woman, her focus is on how We(women) live so much for other’s (people and things) that we forget to take time for ourselves and what is really important.

The amazing thing about this book is it still stands firm today.

She died in 2001

This book was first published in 1955.

1955 a time when looking back we think of black and white tv shows, where the mothers were happy to push their vacuums and wash their dishes.

LIndbergh, though really living a life of privilege touched by great tragedy(the kidnapping and death of her first son)

is so very insightful to the plagues of modern society.

She cleverly weaves her thoughts while comparing stages of her life to the different types of seashells you find at the shore.

Written with no pretense, and easy to follow, if only everyone had someone so wise in their lives.

I wish I could share all I love about this book

but I will try to pare it down to one quote from each chapter that stood out to me in an attempt to get you to want to go on and read more.

From Chapter 2, Channelled Whelk

…My Shell is not like this, …Surely it had shape once.  It has a shape still in my mind   What is the Shape of my life?

…For to be a woman …the pattern of our lives is essentially circular.  We must be open to all points of the compass….How difficult for us then, to achieve a balance in the midst of these contradictory tensions, and yet how necessary for the proper functioning of our lives.

….we who should choose simplicity, choose complication…

…One is free like the hermit crab to change ones shell…

From Chapter 3, Moon Shell

…We feel so frightened today of being alone, that we never let it happen….

…When the noise stops there is no inner music to take its place.  We must re-learn to be alone….

…If one is out of touch with oneself then one cannot touch others…

…If it is a woman’s function to give, she must be replenished too…

…By and large, mothers and housewives are the only workers who do not have regular time off. …

…The world does not understand , in either man or woman, the need to be alone…

…Not knowing how to feed the spirit, we try to muffle its demands…

…What matters is that one be for a time inwardly attentive…

From Chapter 4, Double-Sunrise

……It was a gift, freely offered, freely taken, in mutual trust….

…Somehow, we mistakenly feel that failure to maintain its exact original pattern is tragedy…

…that there is no holding of a relationship to a single form…

From Chapter 5, Oyster Bed

…That is what marriage is, isn’t it–continuity of a relationship? Of course, but not necessarily continuity in one single form or stage…

…It is made of loyalties, and inter-dependencies, and shared experiences…

…We push the clock back and try to prolong the morning…..In our breathless attempts we often miss the flowering that waits for afternoon…

From Chapter 6, Argonauta,

…The light shed by any good relationship illuminates all relationships…

…good communication is stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after…

…When you love someone you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment..   It is an impossibility…

…Perhaps this is the most important thing….each cycle of the tide is valid; each cycle of the wave is valid; each cycle of a relationship is valid…

From Chapter 7, A Few Shells:

…For it is not merely the trivial which clutters our lives but the important as well…

…Then communication becomes communion and one is nourished as one never is by words…

These were not my only highlighted passages in the book but the few that I thought would make you want to read the book.

Use this book as your few minutes away for renewal  and then..share it with someone else…


May you find your own sea shore.

Homer’s Odyssey

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(not the Simpson)

How does someone who is allergic to cats…and quite frankly doesn’t like cats come to read a novel about a cat?

Well for starters it is a New York Times BestSeller, and I’ve come to read mostly books from best seller lists.

I had my qualms as I started to read(the book), not just a novel about a cat but really an Autobiography of the author and her life with the cat.   While I enjoy the occasional Autobiography, and/or biography of various people how could someone as young as Gwen Cooper really have anything that insightful, that interesting.

Throughout the book Gwen quotes “Homer, The Odyssey” and those quotes were well picked and placed at the start of chapters.


I finished the book in a few days so guess what?? It must have been good.

Let me share one, just one quote from the book.

Sometimes, I thought, you could end up resenting someone in direct proportion to how important it was to you to make them happy.  The resentment was second only to the devastation you would feel if you lost that someone altogether.

The book follows Homer from a few weeks old details his harrowing early life and how he became blind.

Just as the book follows Homer it follows Gwen, a young woman who has had cats before but never a blind cat.

From over-protectiveness to the love of a parent she mothers Homer and in some ways is schooled by Homer

From Florida to New York, from single-hood to married life, from scrimping to doing ok, and from peace to survival this book covers it all.

Homer has since passed on I learned on her website, you can read more about Gwen there

Gwen also gives some of her proceeds to charity and it says on her website:

I donate 10% of my royalties from Homer’s Odyssey to organizations that serve abused, abandoned, and disabled animals;

enjoy a little Gwen and Homer


Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

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If you are looking for a quick read, a low energy, low concentration book, with a smooth story line and little to focus on….

This isn’t it.

Jumping between memory and current happenings and back to memory again

Stegner’s Book is a wordy read.

Full of the academia expected of a renown professor/writer

but once you get passed some of the wordiness

and figure out

the story line and connections you have a a great story, that, in the end had just the right amount of words.

A novel about two couples how they meet, how they live, how their lives cross.

A novel that starts in the midst of the Great Depression and works through and around the lives touched by the two couples

Sid and Charity

Larry and Sally

Eventually, Births, near deaths, polio, cancer, arguments, and forgiveness, all find their way into this beautiful narrative.

Perhaps the most telling segment of the novel comes in these words from page 278:

“…We live as we can, we do what we must, and not everything goes by either Freudian or Victorian patterns. What I am sure of is that friendship–not love, friendship–is as possible between women as between men, and that in either case it is often stronger for not having to cross sexual picket lines. “

There is a Wallace Stegner Website you can check out: wallace stegner

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

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An old novel

by an author that died in 1960

The Author was a woman

The Author Was Black

According to the forward by Mary Helen Washington

“In it’s early years the book got mixed reviews from critics, Black and White alike”

I am not Black, nor am I of an age that  lived during the times when slavery was a close memory

But that’s Ok

This book speaks to us in our humanity

Is it not true


“…Women forget all those things they don’t want to remember, and remember everything they don’t want to forget.”


“…She had learned how to talk some and how to leave some…”

The Story is about Janie, her life, her ambitions, her loves,

It starts and ends in the same place.

Few things are fully resolved in the story, just as few things are fully resolved in life.

There are births, deaths, deaths of body, death of soul

There are triumphs too.

Their Eyes Were Watching God is a story that should in it’s essence, once fully read and digested, touch the hearts of all who read it.

Oprah made it into a movie info eyeswatchingodmovie

While she never head the song it made me think of her book

Fix My Eyes by King and Country

Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas, by James Patterson

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Although I have purchase James Patterson’s books in the past(that middle school series) and have looked at them at thrift stores, I have not been able to get in the stories so never purchased any of his “adult” books.

But I saw this one …at a thrift store for less than a dollar so I figured…”why not??”

It took me a while to start

but not long to finish

It is a fairly quick read

that will

I warn you

bring tears to your eyes

more than once

A jilted woman receives a package from her jilter(is that a word?)

and inside is a diary

by the Jilter’s first wife.

I really can’t divulge any more

as much as I would like to

create a more of a curiosity in you.

I could have done without the first part about the Jiltee

and preferred the Diary sections


in general a good read

nothing vulgar

mostly uplifting

a rainy day with nothing to do

pick up this book as a genuinely good way to pass the time

(better than laundry and dishes right!)

Patterson does have a website : James Patterson

you won’t find much there about “Suzanne’s Diary” easily.

and now for your reflective listening.

The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy

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You need to read this book

…if…you are an adult


I do think the author should do a toned down version for kids.

(there are books that do this, The Art of  Racing in the Rain being one)

it wouldn’t be difficult

the “F” word really didn’t add that much to the story I would have been able to read the anger without it.

the horrific rape scene could also be altered to make the book more appropriate for middleschoolers

and a few of the other sexual innuendos could be removed without altering the heart of the story

that said, this book does an excellent job of bringing you into the world of polish villagers during the nazi invasion

heart wrenching, heart breaking,

once you start you won’t put it down till it’s over.

I was a little leery at first, comparing the story of Hansel and Gretel to things that things that happened in  Poland during the nazi invasion

but the story works

it works so well

you’ll be in tears one moment and rushing to read what happens in the next

do yourself a favor get the book

penguin house publishes it and here is the books hansel and gretel

you can find more about the author about the author

The Summer Guest, by Justin Cronin

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The following is an “add to the winter reading list” type of book.

why?? because you need to read it when you have time to sit and read every day till it’s done

picking it up once or twice a week doesn’t cut it

you forget details and find it harder to stick with the story

which to me really wasn’t “grab you keep reading till it’s done” till about the time you are 2/3 way through the book.

Not to say it wasn’t a good book…it was or I would not be talking about it here.

But it takes that long to start putting the pieces together and figuring out who everybody is and how they are connected.

If you are into the northern woods


stories about deserters crossing into Canada

and the way that affects their lives and the lives of those they love

topped off a hidden love triangle or two

you may enjoy this book

it spans the from world war to Vietnam and beyond

During this time we seen friendships develop

the waxing and waning of marriages and loves

life and death

the characters



Joe’s dad

their respective wives, children and friends

a campground originally bought and owned by Joe’s Dad

and really….perhaps ….you should get the book

you can learn more about Cronin by going to his justin cronin website

on his twitter cronintwitter he says he’s a pumpkin despiser  and I’m not sure how anyone cannot like pumpkins!!!!

spaghetti squash…that’s another issue.

the book made me think a little of this song

The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd

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Historical, realistic fiction of the deep south during the time of plantations and slavery.

That’s where you find yourself planted when you open up the pages of Kidd’s book.

This is not a “Gone with the Wind glamorization”

but a digging deep, into the history of a specific plantation and its family and its slaves.

Beyond that we learn about the slaves Hetti(Handful) and her mauma and how they have their own way about finding their freedom.

We fall into the lives of Sarah and Nina the daughters of a slave owner, Hetti a gift to Sarah on an early birthday.

Sarah, repulsed by slavery goes against all her family stood for.

The give and take between Hetti and Sarah is staggering, from friends, to owner/slave, to realization of what that means for both Sarah and Hetti.

Expect a raw, brutal read of the evils and  realities of slavery.

Detailed descriptions of a memory quilt follow the story along

but before I spoil it…perhaps you should go get the book.


watch a youtube of Kidd as she answers questions of her book here:

here you can find her website:

Sue Monk Kidd

and here a song to end your perusal of this page

I’ve read two other books by Kidd but have not reviewed them yet they are:

The Secret Life of Bee’s

(I really liked this one)


The Mermaid Chair

(Had a harder time getting into this book)

My Old True Love, by Sheila Kay Adams

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A circle of life type of story.

A mesmerizing account of an Appalachian family living in North Carolina before, during and after the civil war.

Sporadic folk songs flung throughout enhance the telling of love, and loss.

From Babies being born to death of young and old, all stages of life are painted on the pages of this book,

In language only heard in the mountains, reckoning, fiddling, and love,

As you read the pages will wet with tears, and you will laugh and scorn and feel deeply as the characters in Adam’s book.

If not…perhaps you are already dead.

of course the author has her own website

Sheila Kay Adams

and you can listen to some of this Appalachian  music, from her book on her site

50 Ways To Pray, by Teresa A. Blythe

a great book for folks looking to deepen their spiritual/prayer life


Usually I reserve my book reviews for my “Book Reviews” page, but his one is so appropriate even more so for those of us who teach others to pray I thought it really belonged here.

50 ways to Pray

Practices from Many Traditions and Times

By: Teresa A. Blythe

What I like about this book is first of all it’s about prayer

Secondly we (humans) as individuals connect to the “sacred” (our God) through prayer, but as we are all individuals perhaps we may feel inner connection more through one type of prayer vs. another (type of prayer)

In her book she has chapters on

  • Biblical Reflections
  • Meditation
  • Centering Prayer
  • Deep Listening
  • Praying with Icons
  • Lectio Divina
  • Traditional Ignatian Examen
  • Prayer Journal
  • Prayer as art
  • Quaker Clearness
  • Breath Prayer
  • Prayer walk
  • Praying with Beads
  • Wall of Prayer
  • Ignatian Imagination Prayer
  • Intercessory Prayer
  • Healing Prayer
  • Prayer Partnering
  • Praying the…

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