TSS: COZY READING & BLOGGING — JAN. 15

Grab some coffee and let's talk!

Good morning!  Let’s welcome in our third Sunday of the year by joining in another Sunday Salon.

I started off Saturday lounging around in bed.  Today (Sunday), I thought I’d have breakfast in bed.

Now that I’m feeling cozy, let’s talk books and blogging.

Here are some of my favorite blog posts this week:

MONDAY POTPOURRI:  READING THOUGHTS

TUESDAY POTPOURRI:  BOOKS INTO MOVIES

AUTHOR INTERVIEW OF L. J. GARDNER

THURSDAY POTPOURRI:  ATTITUDE

FAVORITE MEMORIES: EXCERPT FROM INTERIOR DESIGNS

SATURDAY MEANDERINGS

Books Read-Click Titles for Reviews:

1.      So Pretty It Hurts – Kate White

2.  I’ve Got Your Number, by Sophie Kinsella

3.  Hot Chocolate (e-book), by Dawn Greenfield Ireland (Review will be posted on 2/2/12 at Chocolate & Mimosas)

4.  One for the Money (e-book), by Janet Evanovich

***

That was my week…it was a nice mix of mystery and women’s fiction.  Next week is going to be unique in that I’ll be reading the first of my chunksters from the TBR stacks.

Hope you all have a great day…and a wonderful week!  What did you read and blog about?

WOW — FIRST, BEST & ONLY — JAN. 11

 

Welcome to another edition of Waiting on Wednesday, our wonderful bookish event hosted by Jill, at Breaking the Spine.

To join, just click on the the logo and add your blog direct link to the list.  Celebrate with your own upcoming releases and visit everyone else, too.

Today I’ve decided to talk about Barbara Delinsky’s newest book, due out on 3/1/12:  First, Best & Only.

A passionate tale of love, tragedy and forgiveness by a best-selling author – Marni Lange was just seventeen when she fell passionately in love with the irresistibly sexy Brian Webster. Then a tragic accident tore them apart. Fourteen years later, Marni is now a successful businesswoman, about to appear on the cover of a national magazine – and come face-to-face with the world-famous photographer profiling her . . . Brian Webster. As Marni struggles with her attraction to the man who haunts her past, is she now brave enough to follow her heart and fight for what matters most?

***

When the accidental events in our lives separate us from our loved ones, is there hope for a reunion?  Or is it serendipity when the loved ones find each other again?  Whatever is happening, isn’t it great to read such a story?

I hope you’ll stop by and share your own exciting books today.

WAITING ON WEDNESDAY — THE ACCIDENTAL FEMINIST — DEC. 21

 

Welcome to another edition of Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Jill, at Breaking the Spine.

Today I’ve found a title that fits in with the theme of this blog about “accidental moments” and “serendipity.”

The Accidental Feminist, by M. G. Lord, is all about how Elizabeth Taylor, the legendary actress, has lived her life defiantly in public—undermining post-war reactionary sex roles, helping directors thwart the Hollywood Production Code, which censored film content between 1934 and 1967.

 

Movie stars establish themselves as brands—and Taylor’s brand , in its most memorable outings, has repeatedly introduced a broad audience to feminist ideas. In her breakout film, “National Velvet” (1944), Taylor’s character challenges gender discrimination,: Forbidden as a girl to ride her beloved horse in an important race, she poses as a male jockey. Her next milestone, “A Place in the Sun” (1951), can be seen as an abortion rights movie—a cautionary tale from a time before women had ready access to birth control. In “Butterfield 8” (1960), for which she won an Oscar, Taylor isn’t censured because she’s a prostitute, but because she chooses the men: she controls her sexuality, a core tenet of the third-wave feminism that emerged in the 1990s. Even “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (1966) depicts the anguish that befalls a woman when the only way she can express herself is through her husband’s stalled career and children…

Defying death threats she spearheaded fundraising for AIDS research in the first years of the epidemic, and has championed the rights of people to love whom they love, regardless of gender. Yet her powerful feminist impact has been hidden in plain sight. Drawing on unpublished letters and scripts as well as interviews with Kate Burton, Gore Vidal, Austin Pendleton, Kevin McCarthy, Liz Smith, and others, The Accidental Feminist will surprise Taylor and film fans with its originality and will add a startling dimension to the star’s enduring mystique.

***

I would never have pictured Taylor as a “feminist,” but from this blurb, I can see how we could reach these conclusions.

I’m eager to read this book.

What are the rest of you waiting for?  I hope you’ll come on by and share.

TSS: CONTEMPLATIONS — DEC. 11

 

Good morning, and welcome to another edition of The Sunday Salon, our venue for discussing our blogging, reading, and life moments.

As so often happens for me at this time of year, I look back at what has come before, and contemplate what is ahead.

Looking ahead in terms of reading leads us to thoughts of challenges.  I am determined not to join as many this year, but already I’ve signed up for four.  I tell myself that each of these will serve to advance my reading in some way.  They will expand my reading horizons; they might open up genres previously unexplored; and they might help me make a dent in those TBR stacks.

My writing challenge (Row 80) nears its end this year, too.  A lot has been accomplished, as I have two nearly ready and completed manuscripts.

Here are some blog posts this week:

A MID-WEEK RENDEZVOUS – EXCERPT

12-7 CHECK-IN: ROW 80

THURSDAY POTPOURRI – CLUTTER

SATURDAY POTPOURRI – FAVORITE BEVERAGES, ETC.

 

Before I begin talking about my reading, I would love to mention a DVD that arrived for me this week:  The Help.

I loved the book,  the movie in the theater, and now I’m eager to curl up and watch this one…perhaps today.

Now let’s look at my reading…

Books Read and Reviewed-Click Titles for Reviews:

1.  Brownie Fix, by Ellen Cardona

2.  The Next Always, by Nora Roberts

3.  Dirty Secret, by Jessie Sholl

 

Still Reading:  Mrs. Nixon (e-book), by Ann Beattie

So that’s my week—and for the upcoming one, I have a nice mix of books to dive into.

What was your week like?  Come on by and share….

BROKEN TRUST & A SURREAL FAIRYTALE WORLD — A REVIEW

Judy McFarland has believed in the beauty of fairytales since her long-ago childhood in Germany, when books and images instilled in her an existence wrought with beauty and danger.

So it is not surprising that she would find herself teaching kindergarten in a special kind of school based on the principles of Rudolph Steiner. In this excerpt, we see a glimpse of the backdrop for this story:

“The passion I felt for the stories, the methods, the esoteric philosophies of Rudolf Steiner was all-enveloping; I threw myself into it with all the devotion a new convert has to offer. The Kingdom of Childhood, as Steiner called it, was like a magical forest we guarded with a human chain, in which young spirits unfolded like cabbage roses and children could explore with absolutely no fear.”

Even the classrooms seem magically wrapped in fantasy images. Yet all of it contrasts sharply with snippets we slowly see from Judy’s past, from her childhood in Germany where she immersed herself in the fantasies of fairytales to the shocking moments that first nurtured the person she would become later in her life.

A tepid, totally dissatisfying marriage is another piece of the puzzle that becomes Judy’s life, with the shocking choices that unfold that year in Sylvania, Maryland. In the country surrounding the characters, the scandal of President Clinton is also revealing itself to the public, creating a kind of surreal backdrop for what transpires between Judy and a sixteen-year-old boy named Zach Patterson. As a mentor, she quickly moves from the nurturing one to a predator.

But when we look at the events from Judy’s point of view, we see nothing like that. It’s almost as if she has somehow blurred the boundaries in her mind and is reliving some kind of unresolved fantasy from her past.

When we see Zach’s point of view, we also have to question how he figures into this scenario: did his mother’s affair with a younger man somehow confuse many issues for him?

Weaving together the past and the present, along with the varying points of view, we also notice many themes of fire and its dangers, set alongside the fairytale images, replete with monsters.

What factors in the family lives of these characters led to their choices? How did a proper young schoolteacher somehow veer off course in such a dramatic way? And why did none of the adults surrounding the two participants do anything to set things right?

Surprisingly, the twists and turns of The Kingdom of Childhood did not lead the reader to the expected outcome. I know that I was expecting one chain of events, but how it all played out hit me like a sucker punch. As a retired social worker, with experiences with these kinds of inappropriate relationships, I expected to feel more disgusted with Judy’s behavior. Imagine my surprise to find myself understanding her behavior, realizing instead the twists of her psyche that had set her up. Almost as if she, too, were a victim in the piece. Five stars and highly recommended for students of human behavior.

TSS: HOLIDAYS AHEAD! — NOV. 20

GRAB YOUR COFFEE & LET'S CHAT!

Welcome to the pre-holidays Sunday Salon, where we can gather around and share our thoughts about bookish things, blogging, and life.  Are you all looking forward to Thanksgiving this week?  I know that I am.

What is your favorite part?  The food, the friends and family, the football?

I am not even a football fan, but I love the “background noise” of the games playing on TV.

This past week, I’ve immersed myself in a couple of mystery books and a saga about family.  I’ve done some blogging, too. 

Here are some of my non-meme blog posts:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, FIRSTBORN!

WEEKEND THOUGHTS FROM THE INTERIOR

ENTER THE WHIRLWIND – EXCERPT

BOOKISH THOUGHTS & GRATITUDE

VINTAGE MEMORABILIA

And now for the reading!

I read and reviewed these books-click titles for reviews:

1.  The Strangers on Montague Street, by Karen White (with author bio)

2.  The Sisters, by Nancy Jensen

3.  Armed:  An Alex Harris Mystery, by Elaine Macko

***

I scarcely got up from my reading, except to write blog posts, reread my WIP Interior Designs, and visit other blogs.

Last night, I finally started reading You Are My Only, by Beth Kephart…and I didn’t get far before falling asleep (and not because I wasn’t into it…I was tired!).  I’ll be reading it today!

I don’t even think I’ll go to the movies today…even though I do want to see J. Edgar.  What are you all up to today and this coming week?  Stop on by and chat…..

AN ACCIDENTAL FAMILY — A REVIEW

It was a time of escape, of trying out new experiences, and a time for love. But for Lisa Fay, life in San Francisco in the mid-sixties became more than she could manage. She fell in with the wrong crowd, got caught up in the frenzy rather than the peace…and one day, life happened to her in ways she hadn’t expected.

Giving birth to her son one day in the park was only the beginning of her out-of-control life, and when he was three-years-old, this child who also dashed through life everyday, wreaking havoc and earning the name “Wrecker,” was lost to her when she was arrested for a number of charges. She was off to prison for thirty years (fifteen for good behavior), and Wrecker was off to the foster care system.

Enter Len, an accidental relative, husband to Lisa’s sister Meg. By age three, Wrecker had blown out of every placement and there was nothing left for him except group homes. Or this one relative.

Len and Meg, his brain damaged wife, live in Humboldt County in Northern California. They are used to a simple life, free of chaos and the complexities of the rest of the world. What can an angry, frightened, and wrecking-ball of a child bring to this world, and how will he change them? How will the neighboring communal friends step in to offer just the right mix of support, comfort, and consistency that will be just what this child needs?

Wrecker: A Novel is a story that spans more than two decades, showing a glimpse of how the gentle life into which this child has stumbled offers that “soft place to land.” Yes, there are challenges along the way. And no apparent support from the system. We don’t see any social workers checking on this child after placement, which probably was typical of the times. The rather loosely arranged placement and then later, the adoption, seem all too casual.

Meanwhile, as we learn bits and pieces of Wrecker’s life, we also glimpse Lisa Fay’s life inside prison from time to time. In the end, life seems to come full circle in a satisfying way. A loving story full of the miraculous possibilities of life. Four stars.

THE SUNDAY SALON — DISTRACTIONS — AUGUST 14

Good morning to those that have joined us in today’s Sunday Salon.  Welcome to another week in which we share our thoughts about reading, life, and whatever….

I almost didn’t write this post today, because this past week has been a little…well, less-than.  In terms of reading, that is.

But we also can celebrate our creative moments…right?  And I did have a great writing week!  Read my update HERE at CREATIVE MOMENTS.

The WIP I worked on this week (Defining Moments) could be a cautionary tale for writers and bloggers.  I’ll be posting a blurb on this one soon!

Yesterday was my daughter’s birthday, and I celebrated some moments with her at her weekend job as a bartender.  Here’s a photo she shared recently.

Heather's Body Art

I also enjoyed seeing the movie The Help with some friends, after which we had a great lunch nearby.

I don’t often say this, or find it to be true…but I actually enjoyed the movie MORE than the book!  And I LOVED the book!!

So, if you haven’t already, you really should see this one!!

For some of us older folk (LOL), the best part was recognizing many of the defining moments that surrounded that time.  The little a-ha epiphanies that might slip past some of you younger people.  But you don’t have to have that “click” to enjoy this film….

***

Since I’ve been avoiding the book talk—yes, that’s what some of this other stuff was about!—you might have guessed that my reading week was not stellar.

Here’s what I accomplished-Click Title for Review:

1.  Distant Shores, by Kristin Hannah

2.  Names My Sisters Call Me, by Megan Crane

And today I’ll be reading this one:

Burnt Mountain, by Anne Rivers Siddons…if something else doesn’t distract me!

***

What did your week look like?  Feel like sharing?  Pull up a chair and tell us….

THE SUNDAY SALON — READING, MOVIES, & OTHER THINGS — AUGUST 7

It’s that time again—time to reflect, gather around, and share thoughts about books, etcThe Sunday Salon is our place to do just that.  You know, that huge reading room in which we all gather to share events of the past week, or perhaps the past month.

Last night, after reading for a bit, I fell asleep.  And then woke up with a jolt as sounds came though the wall.  Thumping sounds.  What?  I glanced at the clock.  Eleven thirty.  What’s up with that?

Well, some people don’t sleep much on the weekends, I guess, but after awhile, I knocked hard on the wall and waited.  The thumping gradually stopped.

Perhaps the interrupted sleep in its early stage set the tone for the rest of the night, since I then had a potpourri of crazy, “retro” dreams.  Yes, that’s what I call dreams about events in the past.

The kinds of dreams where people from the past are in their previous incarnations, but the events take a new spin.  They take off in completely new directions.

Like a movie spinning backwards and then changing when it gets to the middle.

So where am I going with this?  I’m not sure, but my thoughts for today’s post are now all jumbled, which puts a new spin on how I should reflect on this past week.

For the most part, it was Kid-centric, with the grandkids in and out of my house.   Fiona slept over, and we watched a lot of movies.  On Tuesday, I took Fiona to my daughter’s salon for a new hairstyle.  Here are some “before” and “after” shots.

Now for the “after” closeup.

She looks pensive in this one.  Second thoughts?  No, she says she’s day dreaming.

With kids coming and going all week, you can imagine that the reading and writing fell by the wayside.

I did a little blogging:

July Reading Wrap-Up

Creating New Interiors…and New Exteriors

Snippets from Interior Designs

My reading was tepid-click titles for reviews:

1.  Summer Rental (e-book), by Mary Kay Andrews

2.  The Astral, by Kate Christensen

And that’s it….Today, I plan to keep reading this book:

Two Harbors, by Kate Benson

***

I received a HUGE stack of books in the mail this past week.  They’re sitting on my desk awaiting Mailbox Monday, which will be up later today.

Did you notice that I haven’t mentioned my writing?  Well, except for the posted snippets above, I haven’t touched my WIPs.  One of the WIPs (Defining Moments) is sitting on the kitchen table.  I need to make some changes to the beginning pages.  Rewrites.  GRRR.  Am I dreading it?  What do you think?

Interior Designs is out to two additional Beta readers.

Now I have to go post my updates on ROW 80…and admit that I’m a slacker…..

In adding up the activities of the week, though, I must say that I had fun.  I even managed to get to the gym three times!  And the two books I finished were great!  What about the rest of you? 

THE SUNDAY SALON — ANOTHER MONTH GONE! — JULY 31

Good morning and welcome to the final Sunday Salon of the month!

After a flurry of activity throughout the week, I am still reeling a bit.  Between my ROW 80 writing challenge, which has grabbed a lot of my attention this week and last, I’ve also been excerpting chapters from my five published novels on my group blog, Dames of Dialogue.  This week’s chapter is from An Accidental Life.

Check out some writing thoughts on Snow Chronicles.

Yesterday, I had a great whirlwind day with my granddaughter Fiona.  We went to the gym, we did a shopping spree for school clothes (she starts high school in a week), and we went to the movies.  Here she is posing in one of her new outfits.

After a week of so much activity, it was fun just to hang out.  Here’s the movie we saw!  A perfect mix of fun, humor, and serious stuff.


As you have probably gathered by this discussion, my reading has suffered a bit this week.  I have two titles completed, but plan to read another one today.

Books Read & Reviewed-Click Titles for Reviews:

1.  The Beach Trees, by Karen White

2.  Then Came You, by Jennifer Weiner

Today I hope to finish reading Treasure Me, by Christine Nolfi.

Today will be all about reading…and maybe watching some stuff stored on my DVR.  What does your Sunday look like?