Welcome to my Den of Delights! Please make yourselves comfortable.

Monday, December 31, 2012


Happy New Year 2013, everyone!!! 
May it be filled with wonderful, memorable, 
inspirational and creative moments! :-)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Blessed Christmas to all!!! ♥

Wishing all my friends of Lady Jayne's Reading Den  
a wonderful, safe, blessed and love and hope filled Christmas with your loved ones! 
And to those who are grieving, at this time, 
I pray for comfort and peace. XOXO

Monday, December 3, 2012

Review: The Sweet Gum Tree by Katherine Allred

The Sweet Gum TreeThe Sweet Gum Tree by Katherine Allred

4.5 out of 5 Stars

“Growing up in the Crowley Ridge area of Arkansas, I paid little attention to the sweet gum trees except to admire their brilliant colors during the fall. And maybe to laugh when the Judge cursed each time he ran the lawn mower over the hard burs they produce, the tiny missiles banging against the house or car with a loud thunk and denting the lawn mower blades he kept so carefully honed.

It wasn’t until I was a grown woman that I realized the true nature of the tree. A sweet gum tree is the chameleon of wood, its corky exterior hiding its inner ability to imitate anything from cherry to mahogany. But its real value, one unrealized by most people, is its deep red heart, steady and strong. They see only the pale fibrous wood, easily warped, that surrounds the core.

Like the town of Morganville saw Nick Anderson…”

You know when you are just in the mood for something emotional, heart-aching and angsty? No? Oh, maybe that’s just me, then! Haha! Well, I get in those moods, and am definitely in one, now, which is what made me decide to pick this one up.

The Sweet Gum Tree was a gripping, sweet and heart-breaking story by Katherine Allred, with a well-developed cast of realistic characters set in a small town in Arkansas.

I loved the symbolism of the sweet gum tree in this love story between Alix French and Nick Anderson, which could definitely be considered “epic”. I loved both these characters, though there were moments they both exasperated me and made my heart just ache.

The story began when Alix was 8-years old and Nick was 10. Feisty Alix decided she was going to “save” outcast Nick, son of the drunken salvage yard owner. She invited him to the church picnic and lent him her treasured Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books, not realising it would spark a chain of events that would lead them through decades of love and pain.

Alix and Nick’s love story had moments of the brilliance of the heart-warming autumn leaves of the sweet gum tree, but it also bore the prickly, wintry burs of the hurts they caused each other.

( I title this "The Burs of Winter". Photo taken on 28 August 2012.)

Through the weathering of the seasons of Life, at the core, though, Alix and Nick's love stayed strong, and they managed to forgive each other. I was thrilled when they finally got their happily-ever-after.

The reason it was not quite 5-Stars for me, though, was my frustration at the assumptions and misunderstandings that abounded. I, as the reader, could see things a mile away, and it vexed me, somewhat, that the characters couldn’t. Though, you know the saying of being too close to something? It made sense for these characters to behave and react the way they did; it’s just that due to certain things in my own life, right now, the characters’ actions quite upset me.

Also, there were times when the emotional roller-coaster almost bordered on the melodramatic, for me. There's a fine line, sometimes, between a truly emotive story and a melodramatic one, and it can depend on our mood at the time how we feel about something. This was just an "almost" for me. For the most part, it was absorbing and truly poignant and emotional journey.

Despite that, I certainly couldn’t put this down and Alix and Nick’s epic story will certainly stay with me.
"He always was someone. Because the core of the sweet gum tree never changes. Like Nick, the deep red wood stays true to its nature. Strong, and steady, and pure."


My friend Wendy had a perfect and delicious image of Nick in her review. *sighs* Oh, Nick, Nick, Nick... I adored Nick!

Link to Wendy's review here.

COPYRIGHT DISCLAIMER: I do not hold the copyright to the images used in this review, except the one that bears my copyright mark under "Jayne Michellane". The images are posted to add visuals to the review and for fun. If any of these images are yours and you would like me to remove them, please let me know, and I will do so as soon as possible. If I can identify the copyright, I will do so.

View all my reviews

My Photography: The Burs of Winter

The Burs of Winter, Photo taken on 28 August 2012.