18812464It was 1969, and a man had just walked on the moon. In Biloxi, Mississippi, the town is ready to celebrate and ponder the possibilities.

For the Blake sisters, Beth (Sis) and Emily, family and those bonds are everything. Together, along with their grandmother Lucy (Sweet Mama), they run the town café, specializing in down home recipes, including one famous for miles around: the Amen Cobbler. Helping out at home and in the café is Beulah, Sweet Mama’s oldest and dearest friend. To round out the family, Emily’s twin brother Jim has come home from the war in Vietnam, minus one leg, and his emotional scars are deep. But they all hope that time will heal these wounds.

As they struggle to deal with adversity and death (the girls’ parents), and rise above the shame of Emily’s illegitimate son Andy, age six, this new era seems to promise only good things.

Like the man Emily is planning to marry, someone she hopes will lend her the respectability she has sought.

But Sis has a bad feeling about Larry, and before long, there is evidence that she was right.

What will Emily have to survive in order to finally put her life back together? How will the Category 5 Hurricane headed their way change everything? And will the turmoil and new problems keep them from their happiness?

The Oleander Sisters was filled with wonderful characters that made me smile and root for them, and when they came up against the evil that would stand in their way, their strength would see them through. A story of courage, hope, and sacrifice…not to mention some very deep secrets, kept me reading. Recommended for those who enjoy family drama, and stories set in the South. 5.0 stars.


PicMonkey Collage-october weekly updates image


Good morning!  Today’s post will link up to Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post,  and Book Journey, for  Weekly Updates.

**Mailbox Monday is now hosted at the home site:  Mailbox Monday.

Good morning, Bloggers!  Grab some coffee (or a mimosa), and let’s talk about our weeks.




The week has been a great one, with some good reading and blogging…and a nice lead-in to my birthday weekend.  Celebration started yesterday, at my daughter’s salon, where I got my trim and color done.  This is Day II, which never looks as good as when it is fresh from the stylist’s touch.




Today I lounged around, bingeing on Gilmore Girls again, Season III now; tomorrow is lunch with family.


Here’s what happened last week…


Weekend Potpourri:  Cozy Moments

Curl up with Intros/Teasers – “Further Out Than You Thought”

Savoring an Upcoming Release – “Driftwood”

Hump Day Potpourri:  Seasonal Treats – Bookish & Non-Bookish

My Bookish (and Not So Bookish) Thoughts:  Family Drama & Engaging Reads

Creative Friday:  Book Beginnings/Friday 56 – “The Oleander Sisters”

A Saturday of Savoring the Moments – Family Time

Review:  Dear Daughter, by Elizabeth Little

Review;  Ruin Falls, by Jenny Milchman

Review:  Further Out Than You Thought, by Michaela Carter

Review:  A Good Marriage, by Stephen King




INCOMING BOOKS:  (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

Three books came in my mailbox from Amazon Vine; I purchased one book at Barnes & Noble; and I downloaded three e-books for Sparky.





The Rosie Effect, by Graeme Simsion (Vine)






Don Tillman and Rosie Jarman are back. The Wife Project is complete, and Don and Rosie are happily married and living in New York. But they’re about to face a new challenge because— surprise!—Rosie is pregnant.

Don sets about learning the protocols of becoming a father, but his unusual research style gets him into trouble with the law. Fortunately his best friend Gene is on hand to offer advice: he’s left Claudia and moved in with Don and Rosie.

As Don tries to schedule time for pregnancy research, getting Gene and Claudia to reconcile, servicing the industrial refrigeration unit that occupies half his apartment, helping Dave the Baseball Fan save his business, and staying on the right side of Lydia the social worker, he almost misses the biggest problem of all: he might lose Rosie when she needs him the most.


Saving Grace, by Jane Green (Vine)





Grace and Ted Chapman are widely regarded as the perfect literary power couple. Ted is a successful novelist and Grace, his wife of twenty years, is beautiful, stylish, carefree, and a wonderful homemaker. But what no one sees, what is churning under the surface, is Ted’s rages. His mood swings. And the precarious house of cards that their lifestyle is built upon. When Ted’s longtime assistant and mainstay leaves, the house of cards begins to crumble and Grace, with dark secrets in her past, is most vulnerable. She finds herself in need of help but with no one to turn to…until the perfect new assistant shows up out of the blue.  To the rescue comes Beth, a competent young woman who can handle Ted and has the calm efficiency to weather the storms that threaten to engulf the Chapman household. Soon, though, it’s clear to Grace that Beth might be too good to be true. This new interloper might be the biggest threat of all, one that could cost Grace her marriage, her reputation, and even her sanity.  With everything at stake and no one to confide in, Grace must find a way to save herself before it is too late.


Getting Even, by Sarah Rayner (Vine)





Revenge has never been such fun

How would you feel if your best friend at work betrayed you? Was secretly having an affair with an influential colleague? Won a coveted promotion, then teamed you up with a mere junior, leaving you feeling completely demoted? What would you do? For Ivy there’s no choice. The only person she has ever trusted, Orianna, has blown it big time. So there’s only one way forward: revenge.

Ivy’s campaign is brilliant, if horribly destructive, and she’s determined to get even with the woman who has dared to cross her. But is Ivy really the innocent party? Or is she hiding secrets of her own?


Copper Beach, by Jayne Ann Krentz (Purchased)





A New York Times Bestselling Author — Within the pages of centuries-old books lie the secrets of the paranormal. Abby Radwell’s unusual psychic talent has made her an expert in such volumes — and sometimes taken her into dangerous territory. After a deadly incident in the private library of an obsessive collector, Abby receives a blackmail threat and rumors swirl that an old alchemical text has reappeared on the black market. So Abby hires Sam Coppersmith, an investigator who can also play bodyguard.




Leaving Time (e-book), by Jodi Picoult





For more than a decade, Jenna Metcalf has never stopped thinking about her mother, Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in the wake of a tragic accident. Refusing to believe she was abandoned, Jenna searches for her mother regularly online and pores over the pages of Alice’s old journals. A scientist who studied grief among elephants, Alice wrote mostly of her research among the animals she loved, yet Jenna hopes the entries will provide a clue to her mother’s whereabouts.

Desperate to find the truth, Jenna enlists two unlikely allies in her quest: Serenity Jones, a psychic who rose to fame finding missing persons, only to later doubt her gifts, and Virgil Stanhope, the jaded private detective who’d originally investigated Alice’s case along with the strange, possibly linked death of one of her colleagues. As the three work together to uncover what happened to Alice, they realize that in asking hard questions, they’ll have to face even harder answers.

As Jenna’s memories dovetail with the events in her mother’s journals, the story races to a mesmerizing finish. A deeply moving, gripping, and intelligent page-turner, Leaving Time is Jodi Picoult at the height of her powers.


Florence Gordon (e-book), by Brian Morton





Meet Florence Gordon: blunt, brilliant, cantankerous and passionate, feminist icon to young women, invisible to almost everyone else. At seventy-five, Florence has earned her right to set down the burdens of family and work and shape her legacy at long last. But just as she is beginning to write her long-deferred memoir, her son Daniel returns to New York from Seattle with his wife and daughter, and they embroil Florence in their dramas, clouding the clarity of her days and threatening her well-defended solitude. And then there is her left foot, which is starting to drag….


Some Luck (e-book), by Jane Smiley






On their farm in Denby, Iowa, Rosanna and Walter Langdon abide by time-honored values that they pass on to their five wildly different children: from Frank, the handsome, willful first born, and Joe, whose love of animals and the land sustains him, to Claire, who earns a special place in her father’s heart.

Each chapter in Some Luck covers a single year, beginning in 1920, as American soldiers like Walter return home from World War I, and going up through the early 1950s, with the country on the cusp of enormous social and economic change. As the Langdons branch out from Iowa to both coasts of America, the personal and the historical merge seamlessly: one moment electricity is just beginning to power the farm, and the next a son is volunteering to fight the Nazis; later still, a girl you’d seen growing up now has a little girl of her own, and you discover that your laughter and your admiration for all these lives are mixing with tears.




WHAT’S UP NEXT?  (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)


When We Fall, by Emily Liebert





The Oleander Sisters, by Elaine Hussey





The Children Act (e-book), by Ian McEwan






As we look back at our week, and contemplate the new one, let’s enjoy the moments.  Thanks for stopping by!







18505817They had come to Los Angeles as dreamers, eager to imbue their lives with the magic of Neverland, and hoping to fulfill those dreams.

Gwendolyn Griffin, 25, has been putting herself through graduate school, and her job as a stripper was her way of paying for it. Living with Leo, the boyish man she had fallen in love with a few years before, she is now beginning to question her choice, as his perpetually stoned state leaves him no closer to his dreams as a musician and has put her in charge of paying the bills and keeping a tenuous grip on reality. A neighbor, a former nightclub crooner named Count Valiant, is slowly disappearing before their eyes as death marches toward him.

In Further Out Than You Thought: A Novel, we watch the slow crumbling of their dreams as they try to move forward, even while sliding backward. Then, on one explosive day as riots break out throughout the city after the Rodney King verdicts, we see events become a catalyst for change.

Poised to make a big decision about their futures, they take drastic actions. Will fleeing the city for an idyllic journey to Mexico help them find a new perspective? What will happen to them there that will put Gwendolyn’s choices in sharper focus? How will the trip clarify things between them all?

A dark, gritty story with poetic language that softens the harsh glare of their lives, I was totally engaged with what would happen to them, but mostly I connected with Gwendolyn, whose persona at the strip club is “Stevie.” Her narrative revealed much about her and her challenges and even as I questioned her choices, I could also understand how life sometimes throws curves that make logic and rational thought go out the window. By the end, I was rooting for her, even as I suspected that none of her future choices would be easy. This is not a book for those turned off by explicit sex and the harsh realities of lives gone wrong, but for those who do take it on, there is an opportunity to see how the downside of life can have rooting value. For me, this one earned four stars.


PicMonkey Collage-october weekly updates image

Good morning!  Today’s post will link up to Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post,  and Book Journey, for  Weekly Updates.

**Mailbox Monday is now hosted at the home site:  Mailbox Monday.

Good morning, Bloggers!  Grab some coffee (or a mimosa), and let’s talk about our weeks.




What happened to this week?  All I know is that I continued my purging and rearranging, even going so far as to add a spit and polish to things…and then I enjoyed catching up on movies and TV shows on my DVR.  The reading was very intermittent…and so was the blogging.

On Thursday night, my granddaughter Fiona spent the night, and we rose early on Friday to take her to the train for her trip.

So that’s what happened to my usual activities.  But some weeks are like that, aren’t they?



fiona starting over




Guess What?  My Interiors Are In Flux Again!

Tuesday Potpourri:  Intros/Teasers – “Ruin Falls”

Hump Day Creativity:  Waiting for “A Small Indiscretion”

My Bookish (and Not So Bookish) Thoughts:  Savoring the Moments

Thursday Potpourri:  The Aftermath of the Purge

Review:  The Carrier, by Sophie Hannah (4 ****)

Review:  Accidents of Marriage (e-book), by Randy Susan Meyers (5 *****)



INCOMING BOOKS: (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

The mailbox was alive and waiting with goodies this week, albeit only two gorgeous ones from Amazon Vine.  And then I downloaded an e-book, as Sparky was complaining about hunger again.





When We Fall, by Emily Liebert (Amazon Vine)






Ready for a fresh start, Allison Parker moves back to her hometown in the suburbs of New York. While she’d once savored the dynamic pace of city life, sadly, it lost its allure after her husband’s untimely death. Now, ready to focus on her art career accompanied by her ten-year-old son, Logan, Allison doesn’t anticipate that her past will resurface. When the wife of her husband’s best friend from summer camp takes her under her wing, things begin to spin out of control.



The Oleander Sisters, by Elaine Hussey (Amazon Vine)







An emotionally riveting tale of the bonds of family and the power of hope in the sultry Deep South

In 1969, the first footsteps on the moon brighten America with possibilities. But along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, a category five storm is brewing, and the Blake sisters of Biloxi are restless for change. Beth “Sis” Blake has always been the caretaker, the dutiful one, with the weight of her family’s happiness—and their secrets—on her shoulders. She dreams of taking off to pursue her own destiny, but not before doing whatever it takes to rescue her sister.


Ruth’s Journey (e-book), by Donald McCaig (Purchased)






Authorized by the Margaret Mitchell Estate, here is the first-ever prequel to one of the most beloved and bestselling novels of all time, Gone with the Wind. The critically acclaimed author of Rhett Butler’s People magnificently recounts the life of Mammy, one of literature’s greatest supporting characters, from her days as a slave girl to the outbreak of the Civil War.

“Her story began with a miracle.” On the Caribbean island of Saint Domingue, an island consumed by the flames of revolution, a senseless attack leaves only one survivor—an infant girl. She falls into the hands of two French émigrés, Henri and Solange Fournier, who take the beautiful child they call Ruth to the bustling American city of Savannah.




WHAT’S UP NEXT? (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)


Currently Reading:  Dear Daughter (e-book), by Elizabeth Little






Former “It Girl” Janie Jenkins is sly, stunning, and fresh out of prison. Ten years ago, at the height of her fame, she was incarcerated for the murder of her mother, a high-society beauty known for her good works and rich husbands. Now, released on a technicality, Janie makes herself over and goes undercover, determined to chase down the one lead she has on her mother’s killer. The only problem? Janie doesn’t know if she’s the killer she’s looking for.



Ruin Falls, by Jenny Milchman





Liz Daniels has every reason to be happy about setting off on a rare family vacation, leaving behind her remote home in the Adirondack Mountains for a while. Instead, she feels uneasy. Her children, eight-year-old Reid and six-year-old Ally, have met their paternal grandparents only a handful of times. But Liz’s husband, Paul, has decided that, despite a strained relationship with his mother and father, they should visit the farm in western New York where he spent his childhood.

On their way to the farm, the family stops at a hotel for the night. In the morning, when Liz goes to check on her sleeping children, all her anxiety comes roaring back: Ally and Reed are nowhere to be found. Blind panic slides into ice-cold terror as the hours tick by without anyone finding a trace of the kids. Soon, Paul and Liz are being interviewed by police, an Amber Alert is issued, and detectives are called in.


Further Out Than You Thought, by Michaela Carter







Combining the eloquence and raw sensuality of Jeanette Winterson with the romantic, renegade spirit of Patti Smith, Further Out Than You Thought is a taut and erotically charged literary debut, set against the chaos of the 1992 L.A. riots, about three people searching for identity and meaning from award-winning poet and indie bookshop co-founder Michaela Carter.




And that’s all for the week, folks.  What are you all reading and blogging about?  What life moments are you sharing?











Ben and Maddy have been married for many years, and sometimes they seem to be going through the motions. Between his job at the public defender’s office and hers as a social worker, they are on automatic pilot.

There is one recurring theme in their relationship: Ben’s quick temper that sometimes seems to erupt with no warning. His impatience, his yelling, and the way he seems to be someone she doesn’t even know…these features to his personality have Maddy questioning everything about her life.

Their three children are showing the signs of the strain between them. Emma, 15, is increasingly out of control, and the younger two, Gracie and Caleb, are on the verge of following suit.

Then on a rainy day on a Boston freeway, as Ben rushes, after reluctantly picking up a stranded Maddy, there is a horrific accident. And yes, a tailgater is partially responsible, but Ben was driving too fast and too angrily…and now Maddy lies in a coma.

What will become of their family now?

The story is narrated by Ben, Emma, and Maddy.

It is a tale of Before and After, and it is a sad reminder of how driving while enraged can be just as devastating as driving while intoxicated. And Ben, who I would characterize as a Rage-a-holic, needs serious treatment. In many ways, his personality resembles that of a certain type of addict that those in the program call “King Baby.” Everything is all about him and his needs, and his rage is his very infantile reaction to not getting what he wants when he wants it.

I liked Maddy and empathized with her struggle as she tried to recover from a serious brain injury. Emma was struggling and carrying too much responsibility for a young girl, and even though other family members stepped up, there was really nobody there for Maddy. Ben’s efforts were almost pointless, coming as they did with his resentments on full view and delivered with heavy sighs.

A story that could have taken an easy way out, Accidents of Marriage: A Novel did not tie up all the issues with a pretty bow at the end, but I was left hoping that Maddy would make the choices that were right for her and for the children. Ben, on the other hand, was so unlikeable that I did not really care what happened to him. Wonderful read recommended for those who enjoy family drama and dysfunctional relationships. 5.0 stars.


PicMonkey Collage-october weekly updates image


Good morning!  Today’s post will link up to Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post,  and Book Journey, for  Weekly Updates.

**Mailbox Monday is now hosted at the home site:  Mailbox Monday.

Good morning, Bloggers!  Grab some coffee (or a mimosa), and let’s talk about our weeks.




What a week!  I spent last Sunday afternoon at the movies, seeing Gone Girl, with my eyes riveted to the screen.  Powerful and intoxicating.  Over the next several days of this week, I spent time purging and organizing STUFF.  I have written some blog posts about the experience and some of my discoveries.  Meanwhile, I was suffering from a reading disorder that I can only describe as UNENGAGED.  None of the older books I was planning to read kept my attention, and I spent way too long trying to read them.  Hence, my overall reading week suffered.  But as a result, I came to some decisions….read about them in my Abandoning the Old Rules post.

Later today (or tomorrow), I hope to finally see the unveiling of what my daughter has been doing to the house she moved into…the one my son and his wife just vacated.  Fun times!

So here goes with my LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Tuesday Sparks:  Intros/Teasers – “The Bookseller”

Tuesday Potpourri:  Dealing with the Stuff of My Life

Taking a Risk:  Waiting on “Those Girls”

My Bookish (and Not So Bookish) Thoughts:  Sorting & Eliminating

Creative Friday:  Book Beginnings/Friday 56 – “The Carrier”

New Beginnings:  An Excerpt from “Interior Designs”

Weekend Potpourri:  Abandoning the Old Rules

Saturday Sparks:  Starring Grandkids & Great-Grandkids

My Newly Configured Interior World

Review:  The House We Grew Up In (e-book), by Lisa Jewell

Review:  The Bookseller, by Cynthia Swanson




INCOMING BOOKS:  (Covers/Titles Linked to Amazon)





TWO review books came in my mailbox…and I received one review book from the author via download.  Then I purchased one downloaded book.


Ruin Falls, by Jenny Milchman (Amazon Vine)






In a suspenseful follow-up to her critically acclaimed Cover of Snow, Jenny Milchman ratchets up the tension with this edge-of-your-seat story of a mother determined to find her missing children.



Further Out Than You Thought, by Michaela Carter (Amazon Vine)






Combining the eloquence and raw sensuality of Jeanette Winterson with the romantic, renegade spirit of Patti Smith, Further Out Than You Thought is a taut and erotically charged literary debut, set against the chaos of the 1992 L.A. riots, about three people searching for identity and meaning from award-winning poet and indie bookshop co-founder Michaela Carter.


Trail Mix (e-book), by Paulita Kincer (From the Author)






In the tradition of Wild by Cheryl Strayed, comes a novel of two suburban women who decide to hike the Appalachian Trail, escaping their lives as moms and wives in search of nature, adventure, and the ultimate diet plan.



Lila (e-book), by Marilynne Robinson (Purchased)





Marilynne Robinson, one of the greatest novelists of our time, returns to the town of Gilead in an unforgettable story of a girlhood lived on the fringes of society in fear, awe, and wonder.
Lila, homeless and alone after years of roaming the countryside, steps inside a small-town Iowa church—the only available shelter from the rain—and ignites a romance and a debate that will reshape her life. She becomes the wife of a minister, John Ames, and begins a new existence while trying to make sense of the life that preceded her newfound security.




WHAT’S UP NEXT? (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)


The Carrier, by Sophie Hannah (Amazon Vine)






When Gaby’s plane is delayed, she’s forced to share a hotel room with a stranger: Lauren, who is terrified of her. But why is she scared of Gaby in particular? Lauren won’t explain. Instead, she blurts out something about an innocent man going to prison for murder. Gaby soon suspects that Lauren’s presence on her flight isn’t a coincidence, because the murder victim is Francine Breary, the wife of the only man Gaby has ever truly loved.



Accidents of Marriage (e-book), by Randy Susan Meyers






Maddy is a social worker trying to balance her career and three children. Years ago, she fell in love with Ben, a public defender, drawn to his fiery passion, but now he’s lashing out at her during his periodic verbal furies. She vacillates between tiptoeing around him and asserting herself for the sake of their kids—which works to keep a fragile peace—until the rainy day when they’re together in the car and Ben’s volatile temper gets the best of him, leaving Maddy in the hospital fighting for her life.



I am looking forward to a week of savoring my two books…and if I find the time, I have SIXTY-SEVEN other e-books resting on Sparky.  All purchased this year!





And for more activities this weekend, I plan to watch more Gilmore Girls on Netflix.

What does your weekend look like?  What are you planning next week?





Good morning!  Today’s post will link up to Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post,  and Book Journey, for  Weekly Updates.

**Mailbox Monday is now hosted at the home site:  Mailbox Monday.

Good morning, Bloggers!  Grab some coffee (or a mimosa), and let’s talk about our weeks.




With cooler weather here, I am totally feeling the fall ambience.  My laptop background is all about autumn leaves, and so are my table vignettes.  Here is one from last year:




This week’s reading helped make a dent in my TBR Piles…and here’s what happened:



Tuesday Potpourri:  Intros/Teasers – “The Corn Maiden”

Monthly Wrap-Up for September

My Bookish (and Not So Bookish) Thoughts:  Celebrating Family

Take a Risk Friday:  Book Beginnings/Friday 56 – “Dance the Eagle to Sleep”

Creative Saturday:  Remembering

Review:  Crooked River, by Valerie Geary

Review:  Hello from the Gillespies, by Monica McInerney

Review:  Dance the Eagle to Sleep, by Marge Piercy (Mt. TBR Challenge)

Review:  The Corn Maiden, by Joyce Carol Oates (Mt. TBR Challenge)



INCOMING BOOKS (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

Three lovely books arrived in my mailbox…I purchased one book at the bookstore and I downloaded three e-books for Sparky.


The Bookseller, by Cynthia Swanson (Amazon Vine)






The Carrier, by Sophie Hannah (Amazon Vine)






House of Wonder, by Sarah Healy (Purchased)










A Good Marriage (e-book), by Stephen King






Dream of the Blue Room (e-book), by Michelle Richmond





The House of Memories (e-book), by Monica McInerney







In this next week, I plan to mix old and new books for a hopefully satisfying exploration…

UP NEXT:  (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)


The House We Grew Up In (e-book), by Lisa Jewell (Currently Reading)






The Girl Who Played with Fire, by Stieg Larsson (Mt. TBR)





By Myself and Then Some, by Lauren Bacall  (Mt. TBR)








And here is another Autumn Vignette, just created….from my house to yours….