The Big Interview, by Libby Kirsch

*SPOILER WARNING: May contain information about The Big Lead (reviewed here). Read that one first…it’s FREE on Kindle for a limited time.”

TV reporter Stella Reynolds signs with a new station, excited to move to a bigger city for a better job. When she arrives in Bristol, Virginia, though, she finds a sexist, mean boss, unfriendly coworkers, and a town in love with a sport she’s never even watched—NASCAR!

Before she can unpack her bags, Stella is drawn into an investigation when a driver is killed in a fiery wreck on the track.

Experts call his death a tragedy, but Stella has insider information that the accident is anything but.

With a slippery ex-fiancee, an angry father, and a nosy neighbor, you’ll be laughing on one page and gasping on the next. If all goes according to plan, the facts will be revealed during an epic live Big Interview. But when does anything ever go according to plan? (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

The Stella Reynolds series just keeps getting better and better!

As much as I enjoyed The Big Lead, the first in this series, The Big Interview was a smidge faster where the pace is concerned, and I loved how there were quite a few suspects on the line, this time, which made me question who the culprit was at every turn, keeping me on the edge of my seat for most of the book!

Stella is still a strong and vocal female lead, not putting up with any malarkey from anyone, especially not the new co-workers she finds herself having to contend with on a near daily basis. It almost makes her miss the Bozeman, Montana crew, the people she’d befriended and worked with before moving to Virginia. Working in Bozeman had proved difficult, because the technology and electronics were way behind the times, making her job difficult. But she’d take that any day over her arrogant boss!

She also finds herself at the center of the most unusual situations, where her love life is concerned. Somehow, it becomes interlaced with all the drama that crops up from the driver’s death, but when it comes to Stella, we wouldn’t have it any other way!

Libby Kirsch is a phenomenal writer, creating the best scenes and characters, the kind you can’t help but feel invested in and continually want to know more about. I’m really hoping for a third installment to the Stella Reynolds series, and I can’t wait to see what life has in store for her next!

Reviewed for Chick Lit Central

Schools Out For Summer!

If you’ve been with me for a few years, you know I’m in good company on Thursdays. We’re a fantastic group of ladies,  giving insight on various topics.  Click on:

Froggie (Tracey): One frog’s distinct voice on the world around her.

Merry Land Girl (Melissa): Tales of a suburban mom who likes to talk about pop culture, books, Judaism, family, friendship and anything else that comes to mind.

Darwin Shrugged (Denise): Civilized Observations in an Uncivilized World

This week we’re writing about whatever’s on our mind, and for me, I’ve been reflecting a lot on this past school year, and all the changes that went with it.

My fifth grader started a new school in a new state, after moving from the school he’d attended from kindergarten-fourth grade. Today is his last day. In the beginning, he wasn’t sure how he felt about the changes. His new school is twice the size, houses a lot more students. It was a little overwhelming, especially when you’re the new kid.

First day of school
First day of fifth grade

I know initially it was an adjustment for him. He’s my cautious son, the one who takes his time and is careful with his approach with anything new, one of the many things I love about him. As the days turned into weeks, into months, though, I could see just how much he loved his new school, and the new people in it.

He’s also maturing, much faster than I’d imagine he would. He’s becoming more independent, more self-assured and confident. He recently interviewed for a peer mediation slot at school, where he’ll get to help other students who need guidance or assistance, and he was accepted. He also wants to join the sixth grade band, playing the french horn. We’ve talked about football, soccer, various games he engages in with his friends at recess. He wants to get involved in fall sports.

I feel like he’s grown so much this year.

His first day of kindergarten
His first day of kindergarten

I’ve blogged about my experience with homeschooling the little guy this year, for Pre-K. Yesterday was his last day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s been challenging and rewarding, tough and fun, a myriad of experiences and feelings. I am incredibly proud of how much he’s learned over the last ten months, proud of how far he’s come. He could barely write his name when we started this journey together, now he can write, read, knows his colors, shapes, everything he’ll need to know for kindergarten.

I’m proud of myself, too, for sticking with it and not giving up when I’d feel frustrated or my heart wasn’t in it on a particular day. This was a big commitment, and I commend all teachers, the ones who work inside a classroom, or the ones who work inside their homes.

My goal was to prepare him for kindergarten, to make sure he’s ready for the new school year. I feel as though we both made that happen, all with his charming personality and fun approach to life. I know he’s going to be a welcome addition to any classroom.

13015690_10153726655638681_3988541706369522849_nI’m going to miss him, but he wants so desperately to go to the “big kid” school, with his big brother, and I can’t blame him. I know he’s going to love it!

We’ve got a lot planned for the summer, and I’m looking forward to spending as much time with my boys as I can, before they’re both back in school, ready for new adventures, new experiences. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us, for next year.


After the Final Dandelion, by Brooke Williams

Every time I read one of the books from the “Dandelion” series, I always feel as though I’m reconnecting with old friends. It’s the friend who you can go months, or even years, without, yet when you get together, you pick up right where you left off.

Renee Lockhart and Eva Merida are like that, for me. This go around, we find Renee busily preparing for her nuptials, to Ben. In true Dandelion fashion, and true to Renee’s character, there’s no easy way to the alter, especially when the wedding is one that will be televised in front of thousands of people. While she has her own ideas for how she’d like the big day to go, it seems the people involved in making the day come to fruition aren’t on the same page.

For Eva, she’s been given the chance of a lifetime with a job opportunity in Hollywood. Only, it’s away from Brian, the man who she feels is the love of her life. It would be nice if he’d express any interest in her future, give his input on how he feels about the potential job offer, but he’s not, and when a former flame turns up in Hollywood, it has Eva questioning her relationship with Brian.

I very much enjoyed After the Final Dandelion. Everything has come full circle for this group of characters, even amidst the chaos and turbulence. I also appreciate the binding friendship between Renee and Eva, who have their own past and against all odds, have made their friendship work. It truly feels like a family, which is why it’s so easy to pick right back up, even given the distance.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a true “Dandelion” story, without a little hilarity from its resident goofball, Renee. Mishaps follow this girl around nearly everywhere she goes, but we wouldn’t have it any other way, and neither would she. I appreciate how in touch she is with herself, accepting the fact that she’s not an overly girly-girl, she appreciates the simple things in life, and she doesn’t want to conform. A girl after my own heart.

There’s a possibility that there will be one more installment to this series, Dandelion Sprouts. I really hope that book will come to fruition. It would be nice to reconnect with my old friends, again.

Reviewed for Chick Lit Central 

Humor Is Reason Gone Mad. – Groucho Marx

If you’ve been with me for a few years, you know I’m in good company on Thursdays. Check out this fantastic group of ladies,  giving insight on various topics.  Click on:

Froggie (Tracey): One frog’s distinct voice on the world around her.

Merry Land Girl (Melissa): Tales of a suburban mom who likes to talk about pop culture, books, Judaism, family, friendship and anything else that comes to mind.

Darwin Shrugged (Denise): Civilized Observations in an Uncivilized World

This week, Denise requested that we write about a trait we find attractive in others. It can be a physical trait or a personality trait.


Just a week or so after the little guy had been born, I took this photo:


It was taken during those painful early morning hours, the ones where your brain isn’t functioning properly, due to lack of sleep. I think I may have just finished a feeding, or maybe I’d been trying to soothe a newborn back to sleep. Those first months are still fuzzy.

My eyes are watery, because we just had a laugh over something. I can’t remember what we were laughing at. Seriously, your brain does strange and unusual things after you’ve had a baby. However, I remember feeling as though the two of us could get through anything, as long as we had our humor to keep us going.

I love humor, all kinds of humor. I gravitate towards people who don’t mind sharing a laugh with me, or don’t mind my loud, obnoxious laugh while we’re doing so. I appreciate dry wit. Suggestive wit. Corny jokes. (My husband is the king of corny jokes). Silly banter. Slapstick comedy. Even when I’m the butt of the joke,  it’s all good. It really is.

I honed my humor skills from family. They tend to run more on the dry side, taking the realism of life and turning it on its heel. Like the time I tried hard to redeem myself after I’d biffed it during a roller blading run. I’d borrowed my aunt’s skates and ran over a patch of dirt.  But, she wasn’t buying it. When she point-blank called me out on my lack of skating skills in front of the family, I told her what had happened.

She looked at me like I’d lost my mind. Leaning back, she said, “Dirt. Dirt got in her way.” After looking around at everyone else at the kitchen table, she looked back at me. “Uh-huh. Right.”

My grandmother introduced me to Saturday Night Live during my teen years, starting me on the path to humor righteousness. While some seasons were better than others, I found something funny in nearly every show. I started impersonating Dana Carvey, who would impersonate George Bush and Ross Perot. Dana was my hero, and still is.

My grandfather would often lament about the wayward youth of my time. Like the boys who would wear baggy pants with the boxers peeking out over the top, at the waistband. I don’t think he realized how funny he was when he’d tell me how ridiculous they looked.

Told in a deep, Southern drawl: “I don’t understand. It looks like they pooped their pants and their pants are dragging on the ground!”

Having a sense of humor has gotten me through a lot of stressful situations. Like the time I wore clip on earrings to an interview. I was nervous, just like I imagine most of us get during an interview. I’m still not sure what came over me, but I decided to tug hard on one of the earrings and I started screaming, as though in immense pain.

You should have seen the way the two women looked at me. Then I pulled the earring off, effortlessly. “They’re clip ons,” I said, simply.

I got the job, believe it or not. Luckily, they had a sense of humor.

I think I’ll always gravitate towards those with a sense of humor. It’s an attractive quality in someone, because it means they don’t take life so seriously all the time. And, let’s face it. Laughter feels good.

Just now: My husband is taking a bag of garbage out to the large can outside. The box of garbage bags we purchased recently is a bum box. All of the ties at the top, used to close the bags, have all been defective and don’t allow for us to close the bag. The ties completely break off, become useless.

“I got one!” He proclaims, victorious.

“You got what?”

“A good bag!”

I watch as he’s so close… so very close to closing the bag, and then, BAM. The ties break apart and crumble in his hands.


We both laugh.

See? You can find humor in nearly everything.

The Flood, by Steven Scaffardi

The Flood takes us on a journey inside the mind of a man, a man who is tired of being labeled as the “nice guy” within his group of friends. In Dan’s world, being the nice guy hasn’t gotten him very far where the ladies are concerned. He can’t help feeling as though everyone else is moving forward, while he’s still stuck lamenting over a certain someone, the one who got away. The way that relationship (if it can even be called that) ended is something he can’t get out of his mind, but maybe making a bet with his cronies can save him from his doldrums. Maybe it’s time for Dan to see what it’s like, when you’re everything but the nice guy.

I had an enjoyable time living vicariously through Dan. Sure, I’m a woman, but how often are we privy to a man’s thoughts? That’s how I felt every step of the way. Some of it was cringe-worthy, some of it made me ponder the inner workings of the male species, but it was all written from an honest perspective. In the end, Dan is just a person, like you or I, looking for acceptance, and dare I say it, love, during a time in his life where it’s nearly unacceptable to admit to wanting to find that special someone. It’s more acceptable to have flings and never get too attached.

Will nice guys finish first? Or, will it be the old adage of, “nice guys finish last?” Steven Scaffardi tells this story perfectly and candidly, making me appreciate the Lad Lit genre all the more! I haven’t read the first book in this series, The Drought, as of yet, but I’m going to make it a must-read on my list.

Reviewed for Chick Lit Central

My Life, Sans Kids

If you’ve been with me for a few years, you know I’m in good company on Thursdays. Check out this fantastic group of ladies,  giving insight on various topics.  Click on:

Froggie (Tracey): One frog’s distinct voice on the world around her.

Merry Land Girl (Melissa): Tales of a suburban mom who likes to talk about pop culture, books, Judaism, family, friendship and anything else that comes to mind.

Darwin Shrugged (Denise): Civilized Observations in an Uncivilized World

For this week, Tracey’s topic choice is: “The grass is always greener on the other side…”

Today is my eldest son’s birthday. He’s eleven.


Eleven years of my life (or more, if you count the months I carried him), spent mothering my boy. It hasn’t always been easy. The older he gets, the more the rules have changed. We used to talk about our next play date. He’d hold my hand, all the time, and he always wanted hugs. Now, we’re having conversations about college, already.  There are moments where he’ll reach for my hand, but those moments are few. Hugs aren’t consistent, either. Usually he’ll relent at bedtime, when he’ll still let me tuck him in. I know that won’t last.

Recently, when I dropped him off at school, he didn’t want me to walk him all the way to the entrance. A gaggle of his friends were there. It would have been totally uncool for Mom (me) to escort him, apparently. He didn’t say it aloud, but it’s what he was thinking while he tried to shoo me away.

Yeah. We’re already there.

I can remember a time before him, that precious time I had to myself, sans kids. I didn’t have anyone else to answer to. The only person I was responsible for, was me.  I never had to rely on sitters or relatives or anyone else. I could use the bathroom in private, or have conversations with other adults on the phone without interruptions. I could sleep in, if I wanted to, or stay up late, if I wanted to, knowing full well I had nothing (or nobody) to tend to the next day.

There are moments where I’ve wondered what my life would have been like without my boys. Nearly every time I’d drive by the old apartment community I lived at/worked at, in Nebraska, I’d reminisce. In those days, I could sit around in my underwear with a pint of ice cream, watching bad t.v. and no one was the wiser.

Swim class, circa 2006
Swim class, circa 2006

I have friends who don’t have children. They either choose not to, or, it just hasn’t happened for them yet. Maybe they don’t feel ready, they don’t feel those maternal or paternal instincts, or maybe they feel that opportunity is no longer available to them, for whatever reason. I understand all of it. I respect those decisions. I understand not wanting kids.

Last night, my little family headed out after dinner for an evening stroll through the neighborhood. Along the way, there were plenty of arguments, raised voices, and utter chaos. This behavior wasn’t coming from the adults in the group. It was coming from our two lovely children. Our destination was the park, just five blocks down the street. I always envision this beautiful scenario, where my boys smile and laugh, have a conversation, play, while the husband and I hold hands,  lovingly watching the exchange unfold in front of us.

In reality, the boys immediately take their shoes and socks off at the park, run around like banshees, screaming their heads off, alerting the neighbors who surround the park and most likely aren’t enjoying the noise and high octave levels. At some point, the eldest boy decides to pour sand onto the top of his head, showing us the granules while he shakes his hair mere inches from our faces.

The younger one cries because he may have injured himself, only, when we tell him we should head home because he’s hurt, he immediately stops the waterworks and continues forth with his naughtiness. When it’s time to go (and you know leaving a park is never easy), more screaming and fighting ensues. I had to tell them both that NO ONE would be allowed to speak a word on the walk home, because, as my eldest boy recently has taken to saying, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

It’s not always like this. There are many times my boys are well-behaved, yet there are many times they’re not.

I understand not wanting kids.

There’s this scene from Friends With Kids (an awesome movie, I highly recommend watching it), where, Jason (played perfectly by Adam Scott) is hanging out in a bar with Ben (also perfect, Jon Hamm). Jason is in love with his best friend, but doesn’t want to admit it. Ben asks Jason: “Why didn’t you guys ever try to get together?”

Jason: “It’s too much familiarity. She’s like one of my limbs.”

I may be reaching a bit, here, considering the line pertains to a potential love interest, yet, I can’t help but feel that it’s the perfect analogy in my own life. My children, they’re like limbs. Extension of me.  Sure, I look back on the good old days, the days before my children, fondly. Some moments, in yearning. But, my reality now involves my children, one hundred percent. I’m not the same person I was eleven+ years ago. I’d have no clue what to do, or how to be without my preteen, or his younger brother. I can imagine a life without them, because I’ve lived it, but I wouldn’t want to go back and change a thing. I’m who I am, now, because of them. Even with the screaming, the fighting, and the chaos.

My eldest boy is eleven today. I still can’t wrap my head around that. The time has literally flown by so quickly, it’s taking me a moment or two, to catch my breath and really reflect on so many wonderful memories I’ve shared with him. Memories I would have never had, had the path in my life not included my children.

Happy Birthday, Bug. I hope you’ll always let me call you that.




Another Downside of Pre-Pubescence!

I’m honored to have a guest blogger on Momarock, today, sharing her honest and candid thoughts on what happens the day after Mother’s Day.

“No It Isn’t!! YOUR. Day. Is. Over!” she replied as I excitedly wished her a Happy Mother’s Day Week. For YEARS, I’ve greeted my Irish twins the Monday after Mother’s Day in the same way, but the eldest didn’t buy it this morning! I’m not entirely sure she bought it last year, either, but at eleven, at least she made an effort to smile and humor me for a few days! ‘Darn, I knew this day would come!’

Every holiday of every year, my husband and I have the same response to the question of what we want for Christmas, birthdays, and everything in-between—“Well-behaved children!” And we mean it! We’ve been pretty consistent parents for twelve years. At least, on these days, we just want them to do what they KNOW is expected—leave their shoes in the closet instead of in front of the door or the middle of the walkways, put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher, wear shoes instead of their white socks while running around in the yard, ETCETERA!

We don’t REALLY expect them to rise early and make us breakfast before 9AM church (although bringing a cup of coffee WOULD be nice! We have a Keurig, For Heaven’s Sake)! We don’t expect them to UNLOAD the dishwasher (although they didn’t complain about putting away the silverware when they were toddlers and got to sit on the tall stool for the job)! We just want a few days of parenting PEACE at this point! Isn’t THAT what holidays are for? Don’t we get to have a few FUN days of parenting per year?

We don’t expect perfection! We don’t even expect things to go smoothly at this point! We just want a day when we don’t have to wonder if it’s too late to consider adoption, or if we’d get arrested for posting a funny Facebook status, asking if anyone wants to buy our kids! But that blog has already been written.

‘I got NO LIP for a whole day on Mother’s Day and now she’s sitting in front of the TV on a school morning,’ I grumbled to myself. She knows that’s not allowed, I explained, for the four zillionth time, taking the NICE approach instead of snapping it off, simply because it’s the day after Mother’s Day and I didn’t want to fight! Every time she does this, she is PICKING a fight! Even if I DID allow it, she knows it would be after an exceptional day where the kids got their homework and chores done (without nagging) and had already exhausted themselves by playing outside. –Or at least a rainy day! We’re not TOTAL control freaks, after all! We allow for some grey area.

“Look, it’s another beautiful day! Go outside in your downtime, instead of plunking on the couch,” I said.

I never used to have to tell my kids to go outside! Before they were pre-teens, they did it automatically! They LIKED jumping on the trampoline! They dug worms and went fishing! They also ate breakfast, got dressed and brushed their teeth automatically, every single morning. THAT is because we were consistent parents! WHEN will it all pay off!? WHEN do we get to stop nagging?! WHEN will it all become automatic!?

The other Irish twin, who is almost 11, had run upstairs to give me a hug as soon as he heard me flush the toilet. That’s his way of saying; “I’ve been up to something downstairs that you wouldn’t approve of (SCREEN TIME!!!!!). Don’t go down there!” He smiled as I wished him a Happy Mother’s Day Week and asked me where the treadmill is. Of course I KNOW where the treadmill is, so I assumed he had moved it or sold it on eBay, responding with the question, “Where is the treadmill?”

“EXACTLY! You don’t even know where it is! THAT is because you haven’t been on it in two years! Which is why I want it GONE so I can turn that room into my office!”

“He’s tricking you,” said the evil twin (I mean Irish twin!) “He wants to turn it into a video game room and play Terraria all day!”

So then the arguing began! And I hadn’t even had my Monday morning coffee yet!

All you parents of cute little kids, posting your family bliss on Face Book– -KNOW THIS!!! I did that, too! We were happy, too! It used to be GREAT! But those little angels develop their own attitudes about life around fifth grade and you have weeks, even MONTHS at a time, of wondering why you even had children! Getting ONE peaceful day without them barking at you for no apparent reason will become your GOOD DAY!

Your friends with teenagers didn’t post on Mother’s Day for a very good reason! They knew TODAY would arrive and all those smart remarks they held back yesterday would come spilling out of their kids’ mouths! We don’t know why they WANT to start a fight, but they do! And then they’re happy five minutes later! These years are like a rollercoaster! These years are DIFFICULT! I don’t even CARE about their hormones at this point! I just want the respect I deserve!

So don’t get too braggy, because the parents with older kids aren’t lying when they assure you, “OH, it gets a LOT worse!”

Now that I’ve busted your bubble, I’ll get back to work. Mother’s Day is over and the laundry baskets are full again! Plus, I need to figure out how to sell this treadmill on eBay!

Our guest blogger is a stay-at- home mom and military wife. She enjoys fitness, freelance writing, reading, editing and reviewing books. She may be reached through the Momarock website.


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