Monthly Archives: September 2014

Book Review ~ Finding Eliza

Book Review ~ Finding Eliza by Stephanie Pitcher Fishman

Reading has been one of my favorite ways to relax and unwind for about as long as I can remember. As a young child, I always wanted my Grandma & Grandpa (who raised me) to read stories to me. When I was 10 years old, my family moved to a new neighborhood. This, of course, meant I would be going to a new school where I didn’t know anyone. Being a shy child, I was feeling overwhelmed and a little afraid. My first day of fourth grade started in dread and ended in happiness. Ms. Clemens, my new teacher, liked to follow a strict routine so we could accomplish everything that needed to get done and still have a little time at the end of the day to relax before going home. She liked to read chapter books aloud to the class. That first day, she introduced me to “The Boxcar Children” and I just knew I found a friend and would fit in just fine. During the next summer is when I started reading novels (aka, chapter books for kids) on my own. I started with the “Little House on the Prairie” series, and haven’t really stopped since 🙂

“Finding Eliza” by Stephanie Pitcher Fishman, is the latest book I’ve just finished. She is an experienced author, but this is her debut fictional novel. I give it 5 stars and 2 thumbs up ~ I loved it !

My Thoughts:

In this story the main character, Lizzie Clydell, learns a lot about her family’s personal history and starts to learn about the power of forgiveness. The story begins as Lizzie Clydell finally gives in to her grandmother’s relentless requests to join her genealogy group. Her grandmother had raised her since she was orphaned at 12 years old after a horrific car accident claimed the lives of both parents.

Since she could not think up one more excuse to not go to the meeting, she finally met with her grandma & “the gals”. She took her Great Grandfathers diary home, to go through entry by entry ~ to study and learn about her family history. As she read more & more, she learned how the events in the diary impacted her hometown in the Old South and more specifically her great aunt (and namesake) Eliza during the 1930’s … and she realized her life would never be the same.

Check out my other reviews & purchase your copy of Finding Eliza on Amazon.

Tracy Helps You's review of Finding Eliza by Author, Stephanie Pitcher Fishman Stephanie Pitcher Fishman

Author, Stephanie Pilcher Fishman

You can connect with Stephanie at her website.




To - Do List

How My To-Do List Helps Me Get & Stay Organized

I love lists … it’s true ! I love making them, but I especially love checking things off my to-do list.

I make many kinds of lists, but my to-do list is my main list and then I make off-shoot lists from it. For example, I may list: go grocery shopping, run errands and pay bills on my to-do list. An off-shoot list from grocery shopping would be a meal plan list and a shopping list ~ an off-shoot from run errands might be drop off dry cleaning, return library books and pick up a prescription from the drug store ~ an off-shoot for paying bills might be to balance the check book, schedule individual online payments and then file the statements. Usually my main off-shoot type list is grocery related … only if I’ve procrastinated / blown things off like running the errands or reconciling the bank account, do I break it down into doable chunks. Writing tasks down is a way for me organize my thoughts and make a plan to accomplish everything. I’m a visual learner, so having a list in front of me helps me to see the “big picture” and then be able to prioritize things. Continue reading

Book Review & Giveaway ~ The Girl in White Pajamas by Chris Birdy

When Officer Bud the PR face of the Boston Police Department is gunned down, his brother, Bogie McGruder, returns from Palm Beach for the funeral. Since the BPD is investigating the death of one of their own, Bogie believes his trip to Boston will be a short condolence visit and a chance to meet his secret love child.

But interacting with a family fueled by alcohol and mired in scandals, Bogie is reminded why he does investigations for his Boston based company from a computer in Florida. Although Bogie wants to contact his ex-lover, Bailey Hampfield, he’s reluctant to do so since Bailey dumped him four years earlier. Knowing that Bailey had his child after she cut him loose, Bogie ponders how he can establish a relationship with the three year old daughter he’s never met. While he thinks about it, Bailey gets in touch with him and asks for protection. Someone is trying to kill her.

By the time Bogie meets Isabella, it’s apparent that he still loves the mother and adores the child. Bogie tells himself that he’s not interested in the BPD investigation into Bud’s death, but he continues to be drawn into it while trying to discover who is attempting to kill Bailey. The investigations seem to parallel each other, then intersect and become intertwined. As the story develops, Isabella, a precocious child obsessed with martial arts, slowly becomes the focus.

The underlying theme of this mystery is lies. Everyone seems to be running on lies and half truths. The only pure and true character is The Girl in White Pajamas.

My Thoughts:

Bogie McGruder thinks he has finally gotten his life (and health) straightened out now that he lives in Palm Beach. He left behind a morally bankrupt, dysfunctional, blended family, as well as, a young daughter he has never met (because of an equally dysfunctional love affair), back in Boston. Then he finds out that his teenage daughter is pregnant and wants to drop out of high school to marry the father. All this is nothing compared to the tangled mess he finds when he travels back to Boston to attend his half brother’s funeral.

The plot thickens when he discovers that Bud was murdered in front of the law office where his ex-lover, Bailey, works. Soon after he arrives, he finds himself in the middle of every type of emotional drama that dysfunctional families seem to thrive on. He finally meets his daughter, Isabella, who proves to be a highly intelligent, precocious 3 year old. He then learns that her mother is in danger and proceeds to try to find out who is trying to hurt her (and by association), his precious daughter. His investigation turns up that the murder and the ex-lover’s case are deeply intertwined. To keep her safe, he takes Isabella with him as he follows leads to solve the mystery of finding out who wants to see Bailey dead. At R&B headquarters (his security company), a couple of the bodyguards are assigned to keep an eye on his daughter for a while. Needless to say, Isabella soon has these big, burly tough guys wrapped around her little finger. They bought her a miniature white “gi” (pajamas) and taught her some basic martial arts moves.

This novel is part mystery / part family drama / part reunited romance. It is fast paced with many twists & turns, scandals and skeletons falling out of lots of closets. I look forward to reading the next book in this series 🙂

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About the Author

Chris Birdy was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After graduating from high school, she did a four year stint in the Middle East. When she returned to the States, Chris settled down in the Boston area and became a true Bostonian by collecting college degrees while raising a family.

For more than twenty years, Chris has been a member of the legal community performing investigative work for Boston law firms conducting business in rough housing projects and crack house neighborhoods. Several years ago, while sitting in a courtroom with a client, Chris watched as a police officer was lambasted by an attorney. The attorney was defending a young woman who crashed her car into two other vehicles before she passed out drunk behind the wheel. The occupants of the other cars were seriously hurt and the cop, a former EMT, tried to assist the injured while waiting for ambulances to arrive. The attorney questioned the cop’s every move, shredded his testimony and made him seem inept. Embarrassed, the cop returned to his seat beside me and muttered, “Everybody lies. The judges lie, the lawyers lie, the witnesses lie..” Chris wanted to tell him not to worry that in about five years he’d be just as good a liar as they were.

The seeds for The Girl in White Pajamas were planted in that courtroom.

Chris lives outside of Boston and in Palm Beach, Florida with her husband.

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I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions above are 100% my own.




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