Katie Shaeffer Pancake Maker

By Cynthia Mackey


Book Blurb

Katie is too young to use the stove so she dreams of making her very own pancakes. Join Katie and her friend Baxter in this fun story as they use a passion for collecting and building to find a way to realize Katie’s pancake dream! This upbeat energetic tale with great potential for reading aloud will appeal to adults and young children alike. The book includes a predictable rhyme that will have children chiming in as the story unfolds. Children will celebrate with Katie and Baxter as their pancake dream becomes reality! Recipe included. (Taken from Goodreads)

My Review

Katie Shaffer loved building things, but more than that she loved eating pancakes. In fact, she dreamed of making “Golden brown, fluffy as a cloud, perfectly round, PANCAKES!” herself, but her parents said she was too young to use the stove. So, Katie went to her collection box where she had saved all sorts of castaways – cardboard, ribbon, buttons, kitchen gadgets, and more. She and her new neighbor Baxter decided to build their own pancake maker so they could make, “Golden brown, fluffy as a cloud, perfectly round, PANCAKES!”  Together they blended the ingredients and then Katie mixed in a magic ingredient. The pancakes were delicious, so they decided to go to the store to get various butters, syrups, and jams to top their “Golden brown, fluffy as a cloud, perfectly round, PANCAKES!”  When they returned they found pancakes on the floor, the ceiling, the bed, everywhere!  They had forgotten to turn off the pancake maker and now had enough pancakes to feed their families, friends, and neighbors.  That is exactly what they did!

This wonderful story shows children that some dreams do come true and you can accomplish a lot through cooperation.  If you want the young children in your life to hear or read stories of hope, the rewards of working toward a goal, and friendship and cooperation, then this book is for you. The book even includes the recipe for Katie’s “Golden brown, fluffy as a cloud, perfectly round, PANCAKES!”  I thoroughly enjoyed reading KATIE SHAEFFER PANCAKE MAKER! Without a doubt, I give this book 5 gold stars!

About the Author

Cynthia Mackey has always loved children’s literature. After years of teaching preschool and kindergarten, she is proud to have written her first children’s book, KATIE SHAEFFER, PANCAKE MAKER.  She lives on the west coast of British Columbia wither her family and her piano where she faithfully continues her Saturday morning pancake tradition.  (Author Bio taken from the back cover of the book)

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Where’d You Go, Bernadette

By Maria Semple

Book Blurb

A compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle – and people in general – has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence – creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.  (Blurb is from Goodreads)

My Review

Bernadette Fox had many idiosyncrasies and was too unbelievable to keep my interest.  When she disappeared, leaving her teenaged daughter and husband without knowledge of her whereabouts, I totally disliked her, never mind that she had tried and failed.  She should have done better.

I know this book has had a lot of rave reviews, but it just fell short for me.  I couldn’t abide Bee’s mother and father raising a child in the mess of the house they called home.  Plants coming up through the floors, mold in abundance, structural issues are unacceptable for a family who had the know-how and the money to do something about it.  Bernadette should have pulled herself together and used her education and resources to correct the major issues.  Elgie, her husband, should have put his foot down instead of escaping by working late and pretty much being an absent parent.  I had many more issues with this book.

On the positive side, I loved Bee.  She did her best in her circumstances, generally more adult than either of her parents.  Then there was Audrey.  At first, I disliked her, but she showed her true colors in the end and they were beautiful.  She saw her own faults for what they were and owned up to them.

If the author intended this book for a younger audience, perhaps 40’s and younger, she probably hit her mark.  My book club read Where’d You Go, Bernadette and all of the ladies agreed it is not meant for the older age group.

This honest review reflects my own thoughts and feelings about the book.

About the Author

Maria Semple is the author of the novels Today Will Be Different (2016), Where’d You Go, Bernadette (2012) and This One is Mine (2008), all published by Little, Brown and Co.  Before writing fiction, she wrote for the TV shows  90210, Mad About You, Arrested Development and others.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette, an international bestseller, has been translated into 30 languages.  It spent over a year on the New York Times bestseller list and made over a dozen year-end best lists.  It was short-listed for the Women’s Prize and received the Alex Award from the American Library Association.  It’s currently being made into a film starring Cate Blanchett, Kristen Wiig and Billy Crudup.  Richard Linklater writes and directs.  The movie is slated to open in 2018.  Today Will Be Different was an instant international bestseller and was featured on the cover of the New York Times book review.  It, too, made over a dozen year-end best lists.  It’s currently in development with Annapurna pictures as a limited TV series with Maria writing and executive producing.

Maria loves to teach.  She’s taught her popular writing workshop at Hugo House and the Cloud Room in Seattle, the Aspen Writers Conference, and Wordstock in Portland.

Maria spent her early years traveling around Europe with her bohemian parents, but that ended abruptly when her father, Lorenzo Semple, Jr., finished a pilot for Batman while living in Torremolinos, Spain. He airmailed it in, they shot it, and the family moved to LA.  After the Batman TV series and feature, Lorenzo went on to write a bunch of movies. Once he was established, the family moved to Aspen, Colorado.  Maria attended boarding school at Choate Rosemary and college at Barnard, where she majored in English.  She moved to LA shortly after graduating Barnard and wrote screenplays which never got made, and TV shows which did.   In 2008 Maria, George Meyer and their little daughter moved to Seattle just because. It was a difficult adjustment for Maria, which became the basis for Where’d You Go, Bernadette. The novel came out in 2012 and became an instant bestseller. (Author Bio from Author’s Website)

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The Summer of New Beginnings

By Bette Lee Crosby


Aspiring journalist Meghan Briggs has always been the responsible one in the family. So when her father passes away unexpectedly, leaving behind his at-risk business, she steps up to save his legacy—even if that means putting her own dreams on hold.

Tracy couldn’t be more different from her sister. She’s always been the rebellious type, without much direction in life. But in the wake of her latest romantic disaster, she finds herself moving back home as a single mother.

As Tracy experiences the difficulties of new motherhood, Meghan faces her own struggle: trying not to fall for the stray puppy she rescued. This is no time for attachments—not to the adorable “Sox,” whose owner is bound to turn up any day, and certainly not to the handsome new vet in town. But as the summer unfolds, she discovers that, like Sox, she may need rescuing, too.

As both sisters navigate unexpected challenges and exciting new relationships, they’ll find that putting the past to rest can make way for beautiful new beginnings.

My Review

Bette Lee Crosby has long been one of my favorite authors.  Her Southern voice comes through in all of her books and lends a believable element to everything she writes.  THE SUMMER OF NEW BEGINNINGS is no exception.

The main characters all had depth which is what made them so believable. They navigated, each in their own way, through the trials and tribulations of a family who lost their husband and father.  This is the story of Meghan and Tracy and their mother Lila, each taking different directions and ending up at the same place, though stronger and more resilient.  You will fall in love immediately with Megan and Sox, her dog.  Lila adores her family but lacks the strength to pull them together, which is sure to frustrate you.  Tracy’s rebelliousness will have you pulling your hair.

Yes, there is some romance in this story, but it is well balanced with the underlying plot – a story of love and forgiveness, and the importance of family. No, I am not going to discuss the plot except to say that like all of Crosby’s novels, it is well executed and follows in the tradition of her other wonderful books. THE SUMMER OF NEW BEGINNINGS is the perfect read for anyone who enjoys a cozy story, whether lazing on the beach or at the pool or cuddled up at home in your favorite reading nook.  Anyone who loves a well-crafted book with an expertly developed plot and true-to-life characters you feel you know will love this book.

My thanks to Bette Lee Crosby, Lake Union Publishing, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book.  I have read nearly all the author’s books and look forward to reading more.  My honest review is my own opinion.

About the Author

USA Today Bestselling Author and Award-winning novelist Bette Lee Crosby brings the wit and wisdom of her Southern Mama to works of fiction—the result is a delightful blend of humor, mystery and romance along with a cast of quirky charters who will steal your heart away.

A Note from Bette Lee…

Welcome. I’m delighted that you’ve stopped by for a visit. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to explore my website, browse through my books and get to know a bit more about me.

First off, I’m a Southerner; and Southerners are born storytellers. In the South stories are handed down from one generation to the next, and often told while sitting on the front porch or gathered around a potluck picnic table. With every telling the characters grow bigger, braver and definitely more memorable. So it is with my characters—each one born of a tale that started long ago.

Every writer begins as a reader and this is also true of me. But ignoring the gift of storytelling that my mama passed down, I majored in art and started out as a graphic artist. Fate stepped in and when one of the salesmen said to make up some sell copy for the back of a pantyhose package, I did. Before long I realized my niche was creating images with words rather than pictures and a new career blossomed.

After two decades of writing for business—magazine articles, corporate reports, marketing plans and the like—that storytelling heritage kicked in and I began my first novel. I began writing the story in longhand using sticky notes, cross outs, and asterisks for editing and then handing my messy papers over to my secretary to be typed. (Remember, I studied art, not typing.) Several chapters later, I admitted defeat, bought my first laptop and taught myself to type.

I wrote two full-length novels (which will never see the light of day) before I wrote The Twelfth Child and entered it into the National Pen Women competition as an unpublished manuscript. It won and that tiny taste of success spurred me on to make this a full time career.

Now, I write almost every day and consider myself blessed to be doing this thing that I love so much. I look back and smile thinking if Mama were still here she’d recognize bits and pieces of the stories she once told.


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How to extend the attention span of your children.

I highly recommend this insightful article from Dayne Sislen.

Dayne Sislen Children's Book Illustration

Kids today are bombarded with video games as well as fast action cartoons and movies. Picture book publishers are requesting shorter and shorter picture books for young children. No wonder our children have problems keeping their minds focused on one thing for very long.

What can you do to help your kids have a longer attention span? My advice is not some new technical invention or app for your phone or tablet, but something easy and inexpensive that you can do in your own home.


You can extend your children’s attention span by reading to them.

What better way to show them you love them and help them at the same time. Kids love getting attention from their parents and grandparents. This one-on-one time without any distractions from phones or TV is important. Children can later illustrate the stories you read together so you have a visual reminder of the time you have…

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12 Life Lessons I Learned in 2017

As we start the new year I want to share with you the wise lessons of 2017 as told by Yecheilyah Ysrayl on her fabulous blog. Though all are important, the last one stands out above the rest.

The PBS Blog


  • Growth is painful, uncomfortable, and frustrating. It reveals the raw and aching part of us and demands our masks to fall so that we may accept who we truly are and what truly is. This is unpleasant and frightening but necessary because, without this kind of mental and physical suffering, we cannot grow.

  • Deceit lies, and lack of proper communication can destroy any relationship. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve known a person, how many secrets you’ve shared, how many deep conversations you’ve engaged in or how many tears you’ve shed, deception is a rotten fruit that contaminates weak foundations. No matter how embarrassing or silly, be upfront with the people you say that you love.

  • There is, sadly, a thing as being too nice. Energy is precious and we cannot risk being vulnerable to the first smile or positive comment that is thrown in our direction. Not in this…

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A Christmas Journey

A Christmas memory from my husband.

Thinkin' Things Over

Snow Storm Christmas tree

It was a cold winter night with snowflakes falling as big as quarters.  I was about five years old and was sitting on a sled being pulled by my grandfather through the streets of our small town along the Ohio river.  It had already snowed about six inches that day with no sign of letting up.  We were off to get our Christmas tree at the local market/store about four blocks away.

As I was being pulled through the streets I marveled at the beauty of the snow glistening in the night, houses decorated with Christmas lights, the smell of fireplaces, and the sound of the sled gliding through the snow.  What peacefulness.

Outside the store was a large area filled with rows of Christmas trees sitting in concrete blocks.  Around the perimeter were oil drums cut in half stuffed with burning firewood.  As my grandfather visited with some friends…

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