Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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The Season of Hope: Advent 1 A Child Will Be Born to Us

Photo by Angie Quantrell

Text taken from Isaiah 9:2-6 NIV

2 The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation
    and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
    as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
    when dividing the plunder.
For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
    you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
    the bar across their shoulders,
    the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior’s boot used in battle
    and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
    will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

I am hopeful, this season, for a new year filled with fresh possibilities and renewed spirits. I am thankful, this season, for the hope that arrived so many years ago in the form of a tiny baby. Jesus.

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Cor. 9:15 NIV)


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Book Review: “Smelly” Kelly and His Super Senses by Beth Anderson

“Smelly Kelly” and His Super Senses, How James Kelly’s Nose Saved the New York City Subway

Written by Beth Anderson

Illustrated by Jenn Harney

Calkins Creek, An Imprint of Boyds Mills & Kane; 2020

Thank you, Beth Anderson and Tina Cho, for sending me this delightfully smelly picture book! I first read about “Smelly Kelly” and His Super Senses when I read a post by Tina Cho on the Group Blog. You can read the post here: https://groggorg.blogspot.com/search?q=smelly+kelly

We all want to be special in some way, right? James Kelly had a super sense-his nose! Besides his great sniffing skills, Kelly was an inventor and investigator. Using his skills, “Smelly” Kelly kept the New York City subway safe for years.

I enjoyed reading this well-written and colorful picture book. I shared it with two of my grands, and my grandson in particular was captivated by the information and illustrations. His little scientific mind was hard at work, trying to figure out what was going on. He often figured it out before I even read the entire page!

Congratulations, Beth Anderson and Jenn Harney, for a book well done!

Why I Loved This Book:

~ fascinating story about a historical person

~ reading about someone with an unusual super power

~ wonderful illustrations that set the tone just perfectly

~ lots of interesting tidbits and events from the life of James Kelly

~ very informative backmatter, which includes a photo of the real James Kelly

~ great read

~ lots of STEM concepts and problem solving included

Amazon Blurb:

James “Smelly” Kelly used his super-senses and intelligence to make sure that the New York City subway in the 1930s ran safely throughout his lifetime and beyond.

James Kelly smelled EVERYTHING: rats in the shed; circus elephants a mile away; tomorrow’s rain. His sense of smell was EXTRAORDINARY. But what good was a powerful nose? How could his super-sniffer make him special? In the New York City subway, James found his calling–and earned the nickname “Smelly” Kelly. Armed with his super-sniffer and the tools he invented, he tracked down leaks from the dangerous to the disgusting, from the comical to the bizarre. Then, he sprang into action to prevent cave-ins and explosions in the tunnels beneath the city. Smelly Kelly not only hunted leaks but also saved lives–and he discovered the truly extraordinary power inside him. Beth Anderson’s fast-paced text and Jenn Harney’s comical illustrations bring to life this everyday superhero.


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Happy Thanksgiving!

May the Lord bless you and keep you! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.


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Haiku Moment: fall’s siren song

crimson flames top trees,

fire-tipped shelter burns my eyes

with fall’s siren song

fall’s siren song by Angie Quantrell

photo by Angie Quantrell, Yakima Valley


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Book Review: Cluck and Fluffy by Ceasar R. Castro

Cluck and Fluffy

Written by Ceasar R. Castro

Illustrated by Alaina Luise

Mascot Books; November 3, 2020

I looked forward to reading Cluck and Fluffy, a story about a rabbit who lived with chickens.

Just last summer, we had several “wild” (someone let them loose)bunnies running through our pasture and eating my flowers. Not long after (and everyone knows, there is never just ONE rabbit), our neighbors mentioned they had caught the big female. They put her in the chicken coop with their chicks. She quickly dug an arm-length deep hole and had 10 kits. We were invited over to visit, which resulted in the adoption of Pretty and Rocky. So far, no extra babies. Whew.

Thank you, Mascot Books, for sending this copy for me to review. You can read more about Mascot Books at www.mascotbooks.com.

Why I enjoyed this book:

~ Farms! I love farms and barnyard settings.

~ Bunnies and chickens

~ The themes of making friends, dealing with bullies, and doing what is right regardless of peer pressure

~ The story is based on personal family history, with a lovely fictional story built around those memories

~ The surprising names (not what you would predict)

~ Friendship is color blind

Happy Book Birthday, Ceasar R. Castro, Alaina Luise, and Cluck and Fluffy!

Amazon Blurb:

The timeless story of Cluck and Fluffy explores a friendship which endures despite the teasing, and mocking that their unique alliance garners. From the minute a brand-new rabbit is introduced to a flock of chickens at Farmer Raul’s ranch, the residents do everything they can to alienate and make fun of their new neighbor. That is, until one stormy night, when a brave chicken breaks from the crowd and befriends the rabbit, thus spawning a friendship that withstands the bullying and taunting from the other chickens.

Will this brood of close-minded chickens learn to accept the unexpected friendship of a chicken and a rabbit? Or will Cluck and Fluffy be forced to forge their own path forward?

About the Author:

Ceasar Castro grew up in the southern part of San Diego county at a time when farming was prominent in the area. His father was a farmer. In the summers Ceasar would work on the farm picking crops and selling vegetables. After graduating from high school, Ceasar attended San Diego State University and graduated with a Bachelor s degree in Engineering. He then accepted a job at the Navy Research Laboratory in San Diego. He later attended Purdue University and obtained a Master’s degree in Engineering. As an engineer Ceasar wrote numerous technical reports. This book is his first storybook. It is a reflection of his youth living in a rural area of San Diego which no longer exists. His fondest memories are of chickens and rabbits in their backyard.


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Sunday Inspiration

Photo by Angie Quantrell, Yakima Valley

Beauty and text by God


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Sunday Inspiration

Photo by Angie Quantrell, Yakima Valley

Text by God


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Book Review: Way Past Worried by Hallee Adelman

Way Past Worried

Written by Hallee Adelman

Illustrated by Sandra de la Prada

Albert Whitman & Co., 2020

I first heard about Way Past Worried when I read a post by Kathy Temean on her Writing and Illustrating blog. (By the way, this is a great place to read about new books, agents, editors, publishers, and so on.) Here is the link to Kathy’s original post about Way Past Worried: https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2020/09/24/book-giveaway-way-past-worried-by-hallee-adelman/

Thank you so much, Kathy for featuring this great book! Thank you, Hallee, for the swag bag of fun gifts and a copy of Way Past Worried! It’s already a hit with the two young readers next door (my grands).

Brock is beyond worried about going to his friend Juan’s superhero party. He has so many questions and concerns about who will play with him (or not play with him), what if his costume is not good enough, who will he visit, and what if someone laughs at him. Brock’s worries build and build, making him feel way past worried.

This well-written book gives simple strategies for dealing with worry as the young characters attend a party. If you have a child (or even an middle grade or early teen) who deals with social anxiety, reading this book will help readers talk their way through possible strategies.

What I Loved About This Book:

~ So cute! The characters, setting, story, all of it.

~ Excellent premise! Who has not struggled with anxiety at one time or another? I imagine there will be many more instances of social anxiety once COVID is contained (or managed) and people of all ages are allowed to return to in-person social activities.

~ Great story! As I said before, I think this is well written and it’s very easy to read aloud. My granddaughter was enthralled from beginning to end. That’s her, wearing the mask sent by Hallee and holding my copy of Way Past Worried (which will probably end up at her house).

~ Perfect illustrations! Child-friendly and fun. I enjoyed looking at the illustrations as we read the story together.

Read more about Hallee Adelman at: https://halleeadelman.com/

See more of Sandra de la Prada’s illustrations at: https://www.sandradelaprada.com/

Amazon Blurb:

Brock is worried. Way past worried, with his heart thumping and his mind racing. Today is his friend Juan’s superhero party and he’s going all by himself. What if nobody plays with him? What if everyone laughs at him? Brock doesn’t feel like a superhero, but… what if he can save the day and find a way past worried all by himself? This engaging story speaks to kids’ emerging emotional intelligence skills and helps them learn to manage worry.


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Thank YOU, Veterans! We LOVE YOU!

Once our son enlisted in the Army and spent a tour overseas in Iraq, we realized the depth of thankfulness and pride we had for our son and his fellow servicemen and women.

Thank you. To each and every branch, to every single troop, to all locations of service, and to every type of work, again, I say, “Thank you!”

Thank you for your selfless service and sacrifice for our country. We appreciate you and what you have done.

Thank you for being willing to leave behind your own family – wives, husbands, parents, children, grandchildren, relatives, friends – and travel to far flung destinations. You missed much. Thank you for being willing to miss the day-to-day life events – for us.

Thank you for staring danger and discomfort straight in the face.

Thank you. From the bottom (and top and middle) of my heart, I say thank you.

And families of servicemen and women. Thank you for your sacrifice. The waiting and the missing is never easy.

For those who did not return the way we prayed, my heart is with you. For those who came home draped with a flag, my heart breaks for you and your family.

Thank you.

May we never forget.

Reposted from: http://angiequantrell.blogspot.com/2015/11/thank-you-veterans.html


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Peoh Point Hike

Last month we took advantage of a sunny fall day and drove the 4×4 pickup to the top of a ridge just south of Cle Elum, Washington.

Peoh Point is a rocky outcropping overlooking Cle Elum and Roslyn, both of which are nestled near I-90 in Washington state. The drive to Cle Elum along the freeway is fast. But the fast ends once you get off the paved road.

The drive to the parking area of Peoh Point is definitely for high clearance vehicles. We did not need 4×4 at all, but the potholes and rocks would have caused trouble for my car.

We found the Peoh Point hike through the Washington Trails Association site: http://wta.org . You can visit to read my report for our day of hiking here: https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/trip-reports/trip_report-2020-10-17-0055288474

Despite the slow ascent and very bumpy road, it was a beautifully crisp fall day with leaves full of color and drifting to the ground. Everything was damp due to recent rain, but snow was absent.

The “trail” begins about 10 miles up the unpaved road. Once you find the 5-way intersection of dirt roads, that is the place to park if you want a longer “hike” (or walk). Look closely, as I couldn’t count 5 roads so we missed this place. There is a sign which tells you to go left. We did. And parked just down the road.

The Peoh Point trail is really a cell tower access road, so the hiking was easy. Other than fallen branches, rocks, potholes, and puddles, it was a pretty relaxing hike. I’m glad we parked where we did though, to get a decent walk in. You can continue on the road to Peoh Point and get very close, about one mile, from the point. We wanted a longer walk.

The point. Wow. We had views! The cell tower is ON the point, but there is plenty of space to wander around and look at the views. We could see (and hear) the traffic of I-90 and even a train. We used binoculars to find landmarks in Cle Elum and Roslyn. We could see Ronald, the lake, and more. We could tell eastbound traffic was backed up on the freeway. It was fun to play “bird” and see from a bird’s viewpoint.

BEWARE: Peoh Point is a cliff! Steep drop-offs are all along the north side of the cliff. There is a fence around the cell tower, but even with that fence, it would be easy for a pet or child to wander through. Most of the area does not have a fence, so take care around the edges.

Fun fact: At the 5-way intersection, there was a sign pointing to a different dirt road, one that said Ellensburg, 23 miles (or so). We want to go back some day and take that back road home. We just didn’t have enough time for 23 more miles of potholes. 🙂

This hike is gorgeous. Plenty of evergreens, deciduous trees, wildflowers, chipmunks, and birds. We mostly had the place to ourselves, other than one other couple and a few passing motorcycles and vehicles. We did not see any facilities.