Lovers and Newcomers, by Rosie Thomas

Miranda Meadowe has spent most of her late adult life living alone. After her husband passed away, she had a hard time imagining herself with any other man, content to spend her hours within the walls of the home passed down through family lines. While she feels herself rooted to the present, she also finds herself remembering the past, the special relationships she’d formed with college friends decades earlier. Back when she saw the future looming ahead for miles and miles. How did life get away from her?

Bringing to fruition a special plan put into place so many years ago, by the very circle she trusts her life to, she invites her cronies to live with her, on the mass amount of land that surrounds her beloved home. There’s Sel and Polly, intent on sprucing up the barn house, living out the rest of their lives within walls they remodel with their own bare hands. Amos and Katherine want to start from the ground up, creating a custom design fit for a king, and queen. And then there’s Colin, content to stay with Miranda when the mood suits him. When the six of them are together, there’s nothing they can’t achieve.

And nothing that remains unchanged.

With close friends often comes closely-guarded secrets, a lifetime of skeletons better left buried in a closet. First loves, lost loves, infidelities and lies, bubbling to the surface, threatening to damage the very foundation this special friendship was built on. Self-discovery and the constant reminder that time can only move forward, never backwards, only adds to the pressure and pain brought to light. Throw in an Iron Age princess burial ground spanning thousands of years, an unforeseen diversion from what’s really going on within this dynamic group, and you’ve got yourself a beautifully-written phenomena.

I could really feel the struggle within every character, even the ones I knew were meant to be the antagonists. You don’t want to root for them, but given the backstory, the reasons why they are the way they are, you can’t help but want to see them rise up. On the flip side, protagonists were very flawed and very real. I could see the connection between each and every friend, every dynamic working wonderfully to create a story about friendship and love, the foundation to Lovers and Newcomers. I got the feeling that in the end, Miranda wouldn’t be who she is, or where she is, without the support of those who know her, inside and out.

While the friend dynamic is less than perfect, just like what most of us would encounter in real life, I couldn’t help but want a close tie like that with my own friends when I’m nearing my golden years. Most of us could only be so lucky to have relationships span as many decades as this group has, and whether or not those relationships are meant to continue on past the drama and chaos remains to be seen. It won’t hurt to try. Or maybe it will.

Original review can be found at Chick Lit Central

Reunion, by Beth Brophy

Reunion is a reminder of something I recently discovered during a trip back to my home town, for my twenty-year high school reunion. In essence, they say you can never go “home” again, but really, you can. The question is, do you really want to?

Three women, who have been friends since high school, arrange to meet up and have an impromptu reunion. Faith, married to her high school sweetheart, is the more practical one, steering clear of frivolity and anything even remotely related to indulgence. She simply can’t afford it, anyway. Holly is married to a man who pampers her monetarily, yet hasn’t given her the love or attention she craves in many years. Charlotte is the direct one, brooding and serious. That explains her penchant for the arts. Even though the three of them live such different lives, they’re still the best of friends, making time for one another when they’re able. Their relationship spans decades.

New to the mix is a mutual friend of theirs from those turbulent high school days; Sebastian. One woman had an insane crush on him. Another knows what’s it’s like to engage in an affair with him, and the other has no clue what she’s in for when he’s invited along on their reunion. Not to mention the layers of drama and secrets that everyone has managed to keep from seeing the light of day. That is, until they get together.

I appreciated the simplistic approach that Beth Brophy took with this novel, how each character flowed beautifully into the next. It was easy to understand the relationships between everyone, and the various motives that make each person who they are. It’s also easy to see how these friendships have lasted as long as they have, which makes it harder for the reader to deal with the fact that it may very well unravel, given how delicate the line is between serenity and disaster.

As with the people I reunited with at my own reunion, at the core of the characters is who they’ve always been, from adolescence and beyond. People may change, but not always. Or, you discover how much people can evolve, even when you least expect them to. It’s that up in the air scenario that keeps life interesting, and I found that in spades with Reunion.

Review can originally be found on Chick Lit Central

Witness. My First Poem in Nearly Twenty Years.

Hello Thursday! Meet my blog group, comprised of a fantastic group of ladies  who will dazzle you with insight on various topics.  After reading my post, check out their blogs as well. Just 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

I’ve been participating in my writing class for nearly two months, now. I feel as though I’ve learned so much in such a short amount of time, sliding outside the comfort zones I’ve placed around myself for so long.

The first part of the class focused on poetry, something I did a lot of in my teen years, yet haven’t touched in a long, long time. I’ve placed most of my focus on writing short stories or novels. Trying to put all my thoughts into stanzas proved to be a very difficult task.

Not to mention all the extremely talented students in my class. Most are at least a decade younger than I am, if not more. They seem to have this natural ability to let loose and share their innermost secrets, while I cling tightly to my privacy.

But in writing poetry, my mind is opening up to new ideas, new prospects. I’m learning how to describe something with more detail, giving it life. It hasn’t been easy, but I think I’m getting there. Which is why I wanted my fellow bloggers to step outside their comfort zones, too. For my topic this week, I chose: Write a poem. Sounds so simple in theory, doesn’t it?

The poem I’m sharing today is one I wrote for the class. It’s the poem I chose to have read aloud, what my instructor calls a “workshop”. Everyone offered suggestions and gave great feedback on Witness, even helping me out with a title, since I had such a hard time coming up with one on my own.

The students also helped me to discover hidden messages about my own poem, that I hadn’t even seen for myself. Like, how the general voice is one of a child. Only, the events in this poem happened when I was a late teen. I pointed out that I’ve always been a late bloomer, so a child’s voice makes perfect sense. I still had a very naive sense of the world and how I viewed it, back then.

Anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the poem, and what you think it means. What I love the most is how a poem can reach people differently,  viewed differently. I can’t wait to read the poems my fellow bloggers have written.


I remember the day I knew I was an ant
inching in solidarity
With the other unsuspecting ants.
A passenger along for the ride
Bumpers barely kissing
in the Arizona desert.

Tires glued to black tar
Heat driving us mad
While the air conditioning stilled
our tempered sanity.

No ambulance.
No stretcher to mark the miles.
Just a few squad cars,
Carpenter ants in charge
Directing us from the inevitable
I saw.

The body called out for grievance
Eyes like headlights, bearing witness
to its passing.
A cavernous pelt of corn yellow.
I wanted to sink my hands beneath the purity of it
Radiating life into stilled breath.

Wind steady
Enveloping sprawled legs,
Pink button nose
dried out by a hot, leathery sun
Innards black and slippery, like moldy cream.

I could see clear through, sawed halves to make a whole
One side baking dejectedly
A near perfect incision
The other a blanket of flies
Nature’s grotesque science experiment
gone awry.

I passed beyond the epicenter
My unlined hand touching torrid glass

that there would be moments of grandeur
Of getting too comfortable
My mind will never let me forget
The innards
A stark reminder
Of how much of an ant I really am
amidst a sea of bumpers.

We’ll Always have Paris, by Sue Watson

There are so many chapters to our lives, changes that may happen when we least expect it. No one would know that better than Rosie. While she’s used to the status quo of her life, existing primarily for her family and for their needs, she suddenly finds herself amidst a huge shift in her world. The rug has been pulled from under her, and Rosie has to find a new way of living, of being.

It isn’t easy when you’re looked upon a certain way. Rosie feels as though her family attempts to coddle her with kid gloves. Sure, she’s entering a new chapter in her life. She’s not getting any younger, at sixty-five. Yet, they want to keep tabs on her at every moment, as if she’s no longer an adult. As though she’s unable to care for herself or provide for herself anymore. Those who love her mean well, but Rosie can’t help but feel stifled.


Decades earlier, when Rosie was on the cusp of eighteen, she met a lovely young man who she fell head over heels in love with. Someone who seemed to know her, inside and out, encouraging her to take the world by storm. After a falling out, he left her feeling unwanted and very much alone. Her life took a completely different turn then she’d planned on. Gone were the dreams of reaching Paris and living off of her artwork, her paintings. The more she aged, the more she knew she had to be realistic, closing herself off to the possibility of fulfilling her deepest aspirations. This also meant closing the door on that lovely young man who stole her heart.

What are the chances that she’d run into him again, forty-seven years later?

I loved Sue Watson’s latest masterpiece, We’ll Always Have Paris. I felt the pangs of anxiety and excitement when Rosie laid eyes on her lost love again, after all the decades between them. I also felt the sharp pain and resentment she had towards him, especially when she lets out secrets that she’s tried hard to suppress for all that time. Secrets only he would understand.

While I’m not Rosie’s age, I can identify with feeling as though I’m still a young woman wrapped inside an older woman’s shell. I think many of us can recall that eighteen year old self, the prospect of an endless future ahead of us. What I love most about Sue’s novels, though, is this: she reminds us that, no matter how old we are, we can still keep living, and dreaming. That we should never totally close the book on our passions in life, no matter how many chapters we live to tell about, and that ultimately, it’s really about the people you surround yourself with, the people who love you, who matter most.

Reviewed for Chick Lit Central

Murray for President… and a Lunch Date?

Hello Thursday! Meet my blog group, comprised of a fantastic group of ladies  who will dazzle you with insight on various topics.  After reading my post, check out their blogs as well. Just 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’s topic, Denise asked that we write about two people with whom we’d love to sit down and have a meal. One must be living, and one must not. To make it easier, do not write about any family members.

Bill Murray appears to be the type of guy I could spend an afternoon with, breaking bread, having a few drinks. Shooting the shit. Maybe it’s just some celebrity-inspired persona set forth by the media or by Murray himself, but I don’t think so. He seems as though he has an awesome energy surrounding him.

I’ve read the stories. Like the time he was invited to someone’s birthday party and he showed up, bringing along a friend of his who just so happened to be a chef, happy to cater the affair. Or the occasional karaoke hang out, singing with complete strangers, Or crashing a bachelor party. I could go on, but you can read more about it here.

He seems really down to earth, as though being a celebrity hasn’t completely affected his humanity. As though he doesn’t see a divide between the world he lives in, and the one we’re in. Because really, there isn’t one. We’re all human beings who pretty much live life in similar fashions. Yet some of us live under the microscope, and what I appreciate most about Murray is his need to remove it.

I’ve also heard the rumors on how horrifically difficult it is for anyone to reach him. He has no manager. You want to talk with him, you call a 1-800 number. You leave a message? You might hear from him. You might not. This applies to everyone, celebrity or not. I don’t think he has twitter accounts or a Facebook, either. No Instagram. No voice mail. Just an old fashioned answering machine, at his service.

He’s quirky and unique, and I think it would be a real treat to have a conversation with the guy. And sing a little karaoke. I’d totally be down for that.

I might be skewing the lines a little, where our topic is concerned, since I consider my friend Jill to be part of my family in a sense. But since we aren’t genetically tied to one another, I figure my fellow bloggers will allow me this one.

I really, really, REALLY miss my friend Jill. She was the sort of person you could never forget, once you got to know her. She presented herself as this super tough bad ass, and not that she wasn’t. I mean, I would never want to get into a fight with her. I’m sure she would have won, by a lot.

Even though she had a super teflon exterior, Jill was all sorts of mushy on the inside. She got teary-eyed when I’d asked for her to be my pseudo-mom at my wedding. Or, when she saw me in my wedding dress for the very first time. She was choosy with her affections, careful to pick only the best people to surround herself with, and those who were in her circle knew just how much they were loved by her.

I’d love to have a meal with her again. If this were her choice, I imagine we’d go and eat something totally not good for us, because she believed in enjoying yourself from time to time. Not to sweat the petty, because it’s no fun if you can’t have a milkshake every once in a while, as she so eloquently told me once, when I was questioning a strawberry shake from the drive-thru. “Sara Lea. It’s no big deal. You don’t have a milkshake every day. Every once in a while is fine!”

Or maybe we’d have her favorite pizza from Pizza King, in Council Bluffs, IA. I have to admit, it’s pretty good pizza. She’d most likely invite me over, since she felt most comfortable in her own surroundings, and enjoyed having people over for good food and card games.

I miss talking about the mundane with her. She always had this uncanny ability to help me really see a situation, versus working myself up over it, like I’m prone to do. And she never minded when I’d bring my boys along. In fact, she loved seeing them. The one year I forgot to make a pit stop to see her on Halloween with my boys, dressed up in their cute costumes, I heard about it for months.

I can honestly say that I think about her at least once a day.  I can still hear her voice, remembering the inflections. She’s been gone almost four years this December, but time hasn’t erased her. I don’t think it ever could.



Catch a Falling Star, by Geralyn Corcillo

When TV star Wendy Hunter is about to have her most closely guarded secret viciously exposed by the paparazzi, she desperately tosses out a juicy bone to distract them: she announces her engagement to southern high school football coach Colin Scott. One problem. She’s not really engaged to him. In fact, she barely knows him. Um … barely. But will one unforgettable night last year be enough to get him to go along with her charade?

Wendy goes to Louisiana to see him and discovers that Colin is not so thrilled to be suddenly “engaged” to her. He’s got some secrets of his own that his famous “fiancée” is putting in serious jeopardy. Still, he agrees to her fake engagement … as long as she agrees to play by his rules: Wendy has to stay in town for three weeks to play the part of Colin’s one true love, all without wrecking his life.

Let the games begin. But when their time together is up, will either of them be able to–or want to–go back to the way things were?(synopsis courtesy of Amazon)

I’m such a huge fan of the “Love in the Limelight” series. I was very excited when given the opportunity to read about Wendy’s adventures, especially after reading about her through the eyes of the other characters in other books. This time, though, it’s told through Wendy’s own perspective, completely contradicting how so many others have seen her, for so long. It’s nice to hear her side of the story.

And then there’s Colin. A man who is so far removed from the life that Wendy chooses to live, that it’s hard to believe these two can have any sort of attraction for one another. After their one night together, he figured that was it. There’s so much about her he can’t stand. And, when Wendy makes it a point to tell the whole world she’s engaged to him, it could threaten to destroy everything he’s worked so hard for. Which is so totally like her. It’s all about the Wendy show, and everyone else is just a secondary character. Or, are they?

I loved the constant magnetic pull (and repulsion) Wendy and Colin have. It’s nearly combustible! Just when I thought they may have a chance at having a go at a real relationship, it’s two steps forward, three steps back. Which completely had me on the hook. I never wanted to put the book down! What I also appreciated were the scenarios involving other characters from the rest of the Limelight series. No one was forgotten. I got to catch up on Lola and Arlen, from Queen of the Universe, as well as a surprise cameo from Miss Adventure herself, Lisa Flyte. Geralyn handled this effortlessly, inserting the beloved characters into Wendy’s world, as though they’d always belonged there. Which, come to think of it, they really always have.

While Catch a Falling Star stands alone quite well on its own, and can be read independently from the rest of the books in the series, I highly suggest engaging in all three! Geralyn has created incredible characters who stick with you, making it near impossible to read just one.

Reviewed for Chick Lit Central

Those Crazy Notions of Otherwise Intelligent People

I can’t say enough about “Crazy Notions.” Seriously. It was that good. Percy Powers is the character that we all want to read about, even when we know he’s no good for us. He has that certain something that makes you instantly drawn to his acerbic personality. Deep down, he’s got a good heart. There’s so much of him that wants to do the right thing, even when he places himself in the wrong place, at the wrong time nearly every time.

Ilena is trying hard to move on with her life. The dedication she puts forth to women in need stems from her own past, skeletons in the closet she’d rather keep buried for eternity. It’s easier to shut herself off from the chaos in the world, focusing primarily on her son. He’s seen his own share of tragedy, and she feels partly responsible. It was interesting to see the gentle give and take between mother and son, and the dynamic element that Percy brings to the table when he interacts with those two. In some moments, there are two steps forward, three larger steps back. Moving in such a way that would totally be relatable to anyone who has been in the position of trying to mend a rough patch. It’s slow going, at times cathartic.

What I enjoyed the most is the comedic timing and humor in this novel. It was funny and very charming, a lot like Percy, I imagine, with a steely wit submerged into various elements of emotion and drama. My hope is that sometime in the distant (or not so distant) future, that there will be a sequel for Percy, Ilena, and Sammy, not to mention the other remarkable characters who made “Crazy Notions” the awesome read it is. I’d love to see where their journey takes them, for better, or for worse.

Reviewed for Chick Lit Central

A Mom On The Run

Africanist, artist & woman

Let's talk about it.

Happy, Healthy & Fit

The real key to happiness is a lifestyle which encompasses good health, being active, and a positive outlook on life

Melissa Num Num

A cautionary tale about grown up mean girls or adventures in the world of free market education