Review: A Life Before






Synopsis:

Picture yourself as Mike Strange, a lawyer in 1989 who agrees to represent residents of a large condominium complex, twelve of whom have lost a spouse to lung cancer in the past five years. Surprisingly, all twelve were non-smokers, nor were exposed to second-hand smoke. But all were exposed for years to radon gas emanating from the basements of their condo units. 
As this young lawyer starts ruffling too many feathers to bring those responsible to justice, his wife Susan is brutally murdered by an unknown assailant, clearly as a warning to Mike to back off. For twenty years, her murder has eluded a suspect by the police. 

Only one person seems to have a clue after all this time, a young college student, Samantha Collins, who has recurring dreams of the murder of a young housewife by a tattooed man with a scar on his chin. She has had this dream since she was thirteen, but now in 2011, the dreams are more frequent and include more and more information that place Samantha Collins as the reincarnated Susan Strange from years ago. 

Share the excitement as this one cold case is brought back to life through the vision of Samantha, as the perfect crime may not have been so perfect after all. 

Rating: 5-stars

Review:

A Life Before by Julien Ayotte is an exciting thriller. Right away, I was swept into the book. The characters were believable and the scenes fly by fast. I was completely lost within the pages. There are several cases inside that keep readers like myself guessing. Intriguing, stunning, and well-told. Julien Ayotte is a new writer to watch out for…his words come to life. Danger, excitement, and emotional. Crime happens everywhere. These crimes were entertaining to follow. Overall, I recommend A Life Before to readers everywhere. 

Review: The Sweet Smell of Magnolias and Memories



Synopsis:

Jacey met the man of her dreams a year ago—and hasn’t seen him since. Finally relocating him as the pastor at her best friend’s wedding was the very last thing she expected.

A year ago, Jacey was trapped on a rooftop during a flood with perfect strangers, including a family and a man named Colin. After two days there together, she had no doubt that Colin was the man of her dreams. When they were finally rescued he tucked his phone number into her pocket. But an accident with the rescue boat left her hospitalized with amnesia and PTSD . . . and his number nowhere to be found.

Now, Jacey has still only recovered bits and pieces of her memory from that time. She clearly remembers Colin—but not his last name or any other details that would help her locate him. She’s trying to immerse herself in the joy of her best friend’s wedding . . . when she looks up at the end of the aisle only to discover Colin there in the minister’s role. Shock is an understatement.

On one hand, she’s elated to see him again. And then reality sets in. She never intended to get married or have kids. And being a minister’s wife was definitely never on her list. Was Colin not the man she thought he was? Or has the amnesia changed her more than she realized?

With the typical wit and honesty Celeste Fletcher McHale is becoming known for, it’s time for Jacey to take a fresh look at her life. Could this string of unexpected events have been setting her up for something far better than what she had planned for herself?

Rating: 4.5-stars

Review:

The Sweet Smell of Magnolias and Memories by Celeste Fletcher McHale is an enchanting tale. Love is a powerful thing, if we leapt it into our lives. Jacey isn’t sure about love. Yet life has offered her the opportunity to take it. First, she must find courage in herself. Or else lose what could have been…

Celeste Fletcher McHale has combined fear, love, faith, and hope into a masterpiece. The outcome is phenomenal. I felt sadness, fear, and hope. The main character struggles each day and little by little she transforms into a braver woman. The Sweet Smell of Magnolias and Memories is indeed a perfect read for all. Especially, women. Memories and feelings come out and it’s up to Jacey to decide what will come. Overall, I recommend this beautifully written novel to readers worldwide. 

Review: The Hideaway

Synopsis:

When her grandmother’s will wrenches Sara back home from New Orleans, she learns more about Margaret Van Buren in the wake of her death than she ever did in life.
After her last remaining family member dies, Sara Jenkins goes home to The Hideaway, her grandmother Mags’s ramshackle B&B in Sweet Bay, Alabama. She intends to quickly tie up loose ends then return to her busy life and thriving antique shop in New Orleans. Instead, she learns Mags has willed her The Hideaway and charged her with renovating it—no small task considering Mags’s best friends, a motley crew of senior citizens, still live there.
Rather than hurrying back to New Orleans, Sara stays in Sweet Bay and begins the biggest house-rehabbing project of her career. Amid Sheetrock dust, old memories, and a charming contractor, she discovers that slipping back into life at The Hideaway is easier than she expected.
Then she discovers a box Mags left in the attic with clues to a life Sara never imagined for her grandmother. With help from Mags’s friends, Sara begins to piece together the mysterious life of bravery, passion, and choices that changed Mags’s destiny in both marvelous and devastating ways.
When an opportunistic land developer threatens to seize The Hideaway, Sara is forced to make a choice—stay in Sweet Bay and fight for the house and the people she’s grown to love or leave again and return to her successful but solitary life in New Orleans.

Rating: 5-stars

Review:

The Hideaway by Lauren K. Denton is a great read for women everywhere. The tale is easy to relate to and connect with the main characters. The writing was well-done. Readers like me will travel to New Orleans. There the story takes place. This book was an eye opener. It laid out choices. Choices that readers like me have to make in life. It’s never easy to make a decision. It just get harder as the time gets closer and places the pressure onto the charcater’s shoulders. Here, I got to explore topics such as family, love, and career. The plot goes further in showing that despite being happy in a successful life that there were things missing that only the life inNew Orleans could provide. I found it inspiring.

Lauren K. Denton’s main character, Sara Jenkins,  returns back to The Hideaway. A place where her grandmother lived. Now, her grandmother is gone and the place needs major repairs before selling it and heading back to her previous life. There Sara finds things belonging to her grandmother that affects her decision on life and whether she stays or not. Plus, there’s the people around her that she has come to love and know that will make saying goodbye that much harder. Nothing’s easy or predicatable in this read. The charcater can take either route and the intrigue is powerful enough to have kept me reading. But there’s also a danger. A land developer threatens to take The Hideaway…and only Sara can stop it. Choices…

The Hideaway is a fascinating read. The charming charcaters, the realistic lives they live, and their believable situations have hooked me. Southern way of life is sweet, memorable, and enchanting. Overall, I recommend Lauren K. Denton’s novel to all. 

Review: Trout Run



Synopsis:

Eddy Trout, part-time bartender, and pot-grower had a troubled heart. In this, the second novel of the Eddy Trout Series, Eddy has left his wife and buried his father in a gone-to-seed garden, and now he’s running hard toward what he hopes is a new, brighter tomorrow. His sister, Em, has disappeared, and he’s got to find and “save” her. She turns up where they both swore they’d never return—Oak Creek, the small Oregon logging town of their childhood, where dark memories threaten … and may possibly free them.

Rating: 5-stars

Review:

Trout Run by Paul Allen Dage is a fascinating read. Dark, emotional, and haunting. This second novel in the Eddy Trout Series was engaging, suspenseful, and well-developed. I found the main character, Eddy Trout, as a man with many flaws. His past haunts him. His present seems to drag onward in a way that readers, like myself can feel he’s not happy with…a lot of interesting moments happen inside this book. Eddy Trout drifts further away from his wife. A good woman he doesn’t love anymore. Then, there’s his sister, whom he loves very much. She goes missing and Eddy is determined to find her. Last, Eddy finds himself in trouble. He went and did something deadly…like dumping his father in a garden. Anger, loss, grief and determination can be found on every page. The character’s journey is definitely like that of a rollercoaster. One never knows what to expect next. Paul Allen Dage’s writing is superb. His words have a way of dragging me deeper into Eddy’s life. The further I went, the more I found an explosive destiny ahead. The ending leaves my mind wondering what will come after this. Overall, I recommend this stunning piece to readers everywhere.

Review: Book of Summer 



Synopsis:

Physician Bess Codman has returned to her family’s Nantucket compound, Cliff House, for the first time in four years. Her great-grandparents built Cliff House almost a century before, but due to erosion, the once-grand home will soon fall into the sea. Though she’s purposefully avoided the island, Bess must now pack up the house and deal with her mother, a notorious town rabble-rouser, who refuses to leave.

The Book of Summer unravels the power and secrets of Cliff House as told through the voices of Ruby Packard, a bright-eyed and idealistic newlywed on the eve of WWII, the home’s definitive guestbook, and Bess herself. Bess’s grandmother always said it was a house of women, and by the very last day of the very last summer at Cliff House, Bess will understand the truth of her grandmother’s words in ways she never contemplated.
The bestselling author of The Paris Apartment and I’ll See You in Paris, Michelle Gable now transports readers to Nantucket.

Rating: 5-stars

Review:

The Book of Summer by Michelle Gable is a beautiful tale. Memories that won’t ever fade. History and secrets are found as the main character, Bess Codman, goes to her mom. She must convince her mother to leave the house on the cliff. Her father persuades her to do so. When she reaches there, so many things come unraveling. Emotions spills across the pages. Michell Gable created a crazy, hilarious, yet engaging story of a family. Their lives may not be perfect but they care. 

The Book of Summer is centered around a house that has seen its days. Erosion is happening and it’s only time when it collapses. One woman determined to keep it standing and another to help get her out before it’s too late. I found the history colorful and interesting. My imagination went wild with all the what happened back then. Anything with a historical moment attached captured my undivided attention.  Michelle Gable has once again, brought another women’s fiction piece to my heart. I’ll ever forget the journey that trapped me inside…

Review: The Hope Chest


Synopsis:

The Hope Chest is a deeply emotional novel about three people who have seemingly lost all hope until one woman’s heirloom hope chest is rediscovered in the attic, along with its contents and secrets.

Mattie is a fiercely independent woman battling ALS; Don, her deeply devoted husband is facing a future without his one true love; and Rose, their struggling caregiver, is a young, single mother who feels trapped in her life. With each item that is discovered—including a beloved doll, family dishes, an embroidered apron, and an antique Christmas ornament—the hope chest connects Mattie, Don and Rose to each other and not only helps them find hope again in the face of overwhelming life challenges but also brings new meaning to family.

Rating: 5-stars

Review:

Once more Viola Shipman has stunned me with her characters. The plot is like a vine. It keeps growing until it has me wrapped itself around me…taking me deep into it’s story. The heart of it, is sad yet beautifully told. Life, love, family and most of all hope. A family passes on the words of hope to their daughter. Later on in her life, she passes it onto her helper and her husband passes it on the the helper’s daughter. The Hope Chest is more than just a title or suggestion. It has meaning. A purpose that draws more life into the lives of others. Viola has sucked me into her main character, Mattie’s life. She’s suffering from ALS. Her hope has vanished. Until the Hope Chest is found and once more the forefront of the tale. Mattie’s suffering brings tears to reader’s eyes. Her husband has to watch as his once strong wife grows weaker each day. So much hope and joy has vanished that it’s intense when Mattie looks at her old home. Remembering her life as it was. But then enter’s a new woman. Rose. She is a helper for those needing extra care. Mattie and her husband need Rose’s help. Don, Mattie’s husband is trying not to cry and trying to breathe. It’s hard for a man to keep strong around his wife. Her life isn’t the same anymore. With Rose, life becomes more joyful. Don once more has hope…even as Mattie is deteriorating. The ending made my heart break and mend with love and hope. Overall, I loved reading this book. Viola Shipman creates a world where readers lose the,selves completely. Getting caught up within the emotions brought on by the scenes on every page. Stunning, well-developed, and the most engaging novel, I have read. Truly, a masterpiece all should read. I highly recommend it to all. 

Review: Pepper’s Ghost

Pepper's Ghost by [Auten, William]

 

Synopsis:

Charlotte Alexandra Long is determined to create her own life, but severe reverberations await her at the crossroads of each decision and always the possibility that the very thing she put in place on her own terms could be wiped away by an uncertain future. As Pepper’s Ghost weaves in and out of her experiences as a teen and young adult, and locations in the South and Midwest, Alex emerges from the remains of young Charlotte, but her evolving identity will never escape being an outsider in society’s eyes. After a series of ill-fitting jobs, Alex joins a traveling amusement company as a sideshow performer, where illusion and reality interplay through the metaphor of an old theater trick. She faces challenges from her troubled but devoted father, her self-absorbed mother, a spectrum of circus employees, and emotional ties to memories and places that give solace in times of ambiguity and loneliness.

Rating: 4 stars

Review:

Pepper’s Ghost by William Auten is a YA read that will lure readers into its depth. The young character, Charlotte Alexandra, aka Alex, is interesting. She is unlike most leading female characters. What she really is surprised me…her journey was one wild roller-coaster ride after another.  The dynamics of family life are played throughout this read. The parents make the life for Alex a bit more complex than should be. I liked how as a main character she was constantly challenged. Alex took on each challenge moving through life the best she could do. Sometimes things worked out and sometimes not. William Auten portrayed the realities of life along with fantasy in way the just made readers like myself more curious. Memories…and emotions were strong, it was easy to be swept up within them. Pepper’s Ghost is a coming of age tale that comes off as entertaining, mysterious, and deep. The plot was developed and the pace was steady. Overall, I recommend it to all.

Review: In Robin’s Nest

IN ROBIN'S NEST by [Elizabeth Sumner Wafler]

 

Synopsis:

What if your daughter spotted you in a rock video perched on the shoulders of the father she never met?

“Robin Hamilton, New York attorney, is poised to reveal a three-decades-old family secret that will at once alter the course of three lives.

One winter evening, Robin and her adult daughter Lark are watching a television documentary when Lark unexpectedly spots her mother in a rock concert crowd, twenty-one, luminous, and perched on the shoulders of a handsome young man. That man is Lark’s father, Dean Falconer, though neither of them knows the truth. Robin decides it’s time to come clean.

Flashback to 1977. Robin Hamilton meets Dean Falconer at a concert in Washington, D.C. The two fall in love over the course of a single transcendent weekend.

But now Robin hasn’t spoken to Dean in thirty-five years. While Lark is enthusiastic about meeting her father, Robin must deal with what could have been after three decades of loneliness and broken dreams.

A spring full of revelations, and one extraordinary summer in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia will teach these three people the ultimate measure of honesty, passion and devotion.

In Robin’s Nest is a richly detailed story of love and loss; secrecy and truth; and ultimately redemption, resplendent in poignancy and charm. It’s about embracing your choices, the ties that make a family, and finding that it’s never too late.”

Rating: 5 stars

Review:

In Robin’s Nest by Elizabeth Sumner Wafler is an amazing read. Readers will instantly be dragged into a family’s deepest secrets and must live courageously to face what lies ahead. The truth needed to be released. After many years, a mother has decided to let it out of the bag. Memories from the characters’ past swept me off my feet and into a whirlwind of love, honesty, and fate. Image a father having never known he had a daughter and a daughter never knowing her father…this is one secret that will haunt and terrify a mother who tried to what was best.  The future holds a lot of hope, love, and new beginnings. I enjoyed following the characters as they grew as a family. A family that finally found everything they ever wanted. Beautifully written, inspiring, and realistic. A mother, a father, and their daughter all experience a journey. One that will stun readers with joy and above all hope. This was the first novel I have read by Elizabeth Sumner Wafler. I highly recommend it to all.

 

Review: Uncharted

Uncharted by [Renson, Jennifer]

 

Synopsis:

Welcome to the unknown and unexplored in “Uncharted”, Jennifer Renson’s third book of poetry. Prepare to dive deep into the thoughts and dreams of several lives from a leader struggling to keep his group alive, to a dark horse deserving of a title, a lovesick London man, a water sprite, a man worthy of being called a Prince, and men of liberty.
From tale to photograph be immersed in times almost forgotten as you trek through the uncharted roads ahead of your life.

Rating: 5 stars

Review:

Uncharted by Jennifer Renson is a short collection of poems that readers everywhere can enjoy. Easy to read. Absolutely an enjoyable array of poems to keep readers lured. Each poem is beautifully written. The words are very descriptive and send you into the images that are portrayed by each sentence. Jennifer Renson is a talented poet whose poetry engulfs readers completely. Swallowing me whole. I felt the raw intensity of the emotions as I read through each page. Uncharted is the third book containing Jennifer Renson’s best poetry. I love reading her work. Overall, I highly recommend Uncharted to readers worldwide.

 

Review: The A to Z of You and Me

 

Synopsis:

A striking literary debut of love and mortality, The A to Z of You and Me is the story of a man who doesn’t have much time, his love for a girl who isn’t there, and the game he plays while waiting that illuminates the devastating and beautiful turns of life. The A-Z game. For Ivo, it’s a way to pass the time, a way to avoid the pain and a way to think about what really got him here. His hospice nurse suggested it – think of a body part for each letter, and think of memories connected to each one. And so begins the revealing of his misspent life: the terrible teenage choices, friendships made and cracked, the love he’ll never get back. He remembers the girl who tried to help him, the friend who wouldn’t let her, and the sickness that chases him even now.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Review:

The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah is a journey that sucks me in whole and keeps me turning the pages. Ivo is just a regular everyday kind of man. He fell into the wrong crowd, did stuff that he wasn’t proud of, and lost a chance at love. Now, as an elderly man, in a hospice, he knows his life is short. A nurse has him go through an exercise using every letter of the alphabet to come up with a story or a life memory attached to each letter. As Ivo goes through the alphabet, I got to travel through snippets of his younger self. Ivo lost his father to cancer, he experienced both bad and good days during his younger life. I enjoyed following the person he was back then and the man he has become. He knows what he did wrong and wants to make things better. He’s a little afraid, but soon…he finds some peace and love in the end. I truly enjoyed this talented writer’s style and the well-written plot. The characters were well-developed and were able to drag me into the scenes as though I were experiencing it all for real. The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah is definitely a literary novel that I would recommend to all.

 

Review: The Bookshop

 

Synopsis:

Even I, who had resisted kicking and screaming, had to admit defeat. Why would love be impressed by the protests of a simple bookseller?

Jakoba has had enough. It is 1999 and she looks back on her life that began at the start of the century. Her arrival was unexpected, but joyfully welcomed, by her middle-aged parents. In a time where a middle-class girls has one destiny, namely to become a wife and mother, Jakoba is allowed to start working at a bookshop. Books become one of the loves of her life. Later she will inherit the shop.

She values friendship, but romance has no meaning for her. She values her independence too much and knows all too well what price women pay for being married.

It is German army photographer Armin who will change the course of her life. Jakoba is forty when she meets him. Armin is almost thirty, and Germany has occupied Holland. It does not matter. For him, she’s the one, and despite her hesitation both because of the war and because she can’t understand what this handsome man sees in her—a plain woman—she has to admit her feelings for him.

Such love has consequences for both of them that will reach far beyond the war and in ways, Jakoba could never have imagined.

Rating: 5 stars

Review:

The Bookshop is definitely for fans of women’s fiction. Seeing as this stunning yet brilliantly well-written novel features a woman and her journey back to her younger life. R.A. Padmos takes us to the character’s beginning and all the way back to the present moment in time where the woman is old and sharing her memories with us. The tale is beautiful, sad, and sweet. A strong independent woman who has lived life to the fullest. I enjoyed reading this new book and I highly recommend it to readers everywhere. The journey is inspiring, motivational, and entertaining. Readers won’t be disappointed once they open up this story…

 

 

Review: The Charm Bracelet

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Synopsis:

Lose yourself to the magic of The Charm Bracelet.

Through an heirloom charm bracelet, three women will rediscover the importance of family and a passion for living as each charm changes their lives.

On her birthday each year, Lolly’s mother gave her a charm, along with the advice that there is nothing more important than keeping family memories alive, and so Lolly’s charm bracelet would be a constant reminder of that love.

Now seventy and starting to forget things, Lolly knows time is running out to reconnect with a daughter and granddaughter whose lives have become too busy for Lolly or her family stories.

But when Arden, Lolly’s daughter, receives an unexpected phone call about her mother, she and granddaughter Lauren rush home. Over the course of their visit, Lolly reveals the story behind each charm on her bracelet, and one by one the family stories help Lolly, Arden, and Lauren reconnect in a way that brings each woman closer to finding joy, love, and faith.

A compelling story of three women and a beautiful reminder of the preciousness of family Viola Shipman’s The Charm Bracelet is a keepsake you’ll cherish long after the final page.

Rating: 5 stars

Review:

The Charm Bracelet by Viola Shipman is beautifully told. A story readers everywhere will pass on to the next generation…A tale about family, happiness, and hope. One mother passes on charms  her daughter on her 10th birthday…a year later the mother passes away from cancer. Lolly remembers her promise of sharing the story of the charm bracelet. Now, at 70 years old, Lolly finds a way to pass the story of each charm to both her daughter and granddaughter. All three women have experienced ups and downs of life and somehow…the charm bracelet stories help all three find peace and happiness in their lives as well as love.

Inside this story, Viola Shipman has masterfully woven a story about memories and sharing them within a fas mily from one generation to another. The story is sad but sweet and then happy at the end. I felt the love, excitement, and hope emerging from each of the three women in this novel. Their past, present, and future was a journey that will leave footprints in readers’ minds and hearts for a long time to come. I definitely enjoyed reading this book. Overall, I highly recommend it to readers everywhere. The Charm Bracelet is a must read for all.

Review: The Dinner Party

The Dinner Party: A Novel

 

Synopsis:

This Passover Seder is not just any Passover Seder. Yes, there will be a quick service and then a festive meal afterwards, but this night is different from all other nights. This will be the night the Golds of Greenwich meet the Rothschilds of New York City.

The Rothschilds are the stuff of legends. They control banks, own vineyards in Napa, diamond mines in Africa, and even an organic farm somewhere in the Midwest that produces the most popular Romaine lettuce consumed in this country. And now, Sylvia Gold’s daughter is dating one of them.

When Sylvia finds out that her youngest of three is going to bring her new boyfriend to the Seder, she’s giddy. When she finds out that his parents are coming, too, she darn near faints. Making a good impression is all she thinks about. Well, almost. She still has to consider her other daughter, Sarah, who’ll be coming with her less than appropriate beau and his overly dramatic Italian mother. But the drama won’t stop there. Because despite the food and the wine, despite the new linen and the fresh flowers, the holidays are about family. Long forgotten memories come to the surface. Old grievances play out. And Sylvia Gold has to learn how to let her family go.

My Rating: 5 stars

My Review:

The Dinner Party by Brenda Janowitz is definitely a must read. I hardly know much about the Jewish way of life and thought this was very interesting. Readers like myself will be drawn deep into the Jewish lifestyle and heritage and one woman tries to pull off the best dinner party. Many mothers can relate easily to the preparations and the tasks of setting up and cookking for any celebration but for Sylvia it means so much to her. She’s a mother who wants the very best for her family. Her children are grown adults with a special someone in their lives. I loved how Brenda Janowitz captured the family life in a real life like way, that brings humor and tears to all. A mash of different cutures is also, brought to readers, in this beautifully told tale. The Dinner Party is full of drama and love, that will fill readers with a sense of awe. Brenda Janowitz is indeed a talented writer whose words will leave readers coming back to her world again and again. Overall, I highly recommend this brilliant piece of fiction to all.

 

Novemeber Again

Omg…I can’t believe it’s November already! Time flies by when you’re busy. Busy year for us here, at Universal Creativity Inc.

My head feels like it’s spinning.  So many ideas, reviews, and jobs to complete it’s insane. The good kind of insane. Things here at home are definitely crazy. I wouldn’t know where to begin on that story. Maybe one day, I will turn my home life into a memoir. I could also write a humor novel for married couples. The Many Benefits of Marriage… it would be called. Anyone who has been married for 50 years or so and feel like their spouse drives them crazy would completely love this novel idea that I hope to write soon. Despite going nuts, the love never fades if they stuck together for 50 years or longer. Marriage is one of the world’s greatest wonders…

What made you fall in love with your spouse? Was it their sense of humor? Their charm? Their smile?

Can you remember that first date as though it were yesterday?

First kiss is always the charm… if you had to describe it, what three words would you use?

If you both were able to go back in time and were given the chance to change things, would your old self make the same choices or different ones? 

If any of you don’t mind sharing some of these answers, anonymously, with me that would be cool…

But, also, maybe these questions might help you write your own story. One of a couple that………

Once upon a time…there was this man….

It was yesterday about this time….when a woman stepped through the shop’s door and I knew immediately that she was the one…….

How We Met

Two Rebels

Opposites Attract

The Beauty & The Brains

Easy Target

Her Demon & His Angel

Two Peas in a Pod

The Lamb & the Wolf

You Made Me Whole

Two Minds One Heart

Destiny Versus Fate

Mismatched

Messy is Good

Life’s Memories- written by me

life’s memories

are what we’ve shaved,

 we we have been through

and a part of us that will never leave.

people may come and go,

 but they will never leave our hearts,

for they live deep within ourselves,

helping create who we are,

sheltering the love we have felt and shared,

grow deeper, and stronger,

making us strong to endure

life, but knowing that we carry a little part of them with us wherever we go.