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.

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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

The Summer Chronicles

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

It’s been a long time, ladies! 

After a summer hiatus, the blog group is back in full swing, with a minor adjustment. Due to the busy lives we all contend with, we’ve decided to start blogging bi-monthly. It gives us all a much-needed break between posts, allowing us time to reflect on the topics we’re given.

To kick us back into the routine, it was Tracey’s choice, and she chose: My summer. 

Summer floated by, a two-month break that never feels long enough. When I was kid, we were given a solid three months, with school ending early June, picking back up the day after Labor Day. That’s not the way it works in Arizona. We’ve got a modified school year schedule. That means, more vacation time during the year, less vacation time during summer break.

The day after my eldest had chanted his “no more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks”, we were off on a camping adventure to San Diego, CA at the end of May.  Or, should I say, a misadventure? Either way, there were a lot more pros than cons, and there’s been enough time that’s passed by now to look back on the trip with more fondness, less annoyance. I’m so glad we spent a week with close friends. Well, more like close family. I’d be willing to endure any number of camper water leaks for their company, again!

Camping at Santee Lakes, San Diego CA
Camping at Santee Lakes, San Diego CA

I’d heard through the grapevine (Facebook) that there was a special activities card called the “Pogo Pass“. In a nutshell, it’s a pass that allows the user to attend various venues, like water parks, mini-golf/bowling, zoos, etc. for free. Why is it free? Because the Pogo people have entered into contracts with said venues, to offer discounted rates for those carrying the Pass. For $40 (a special rate offered through our elementary school), I received a year-long ticket into places my boys enjoy, like glow mini-golf, or a place called Makutu’s Island.  We spent a lot of time with the Pass during the summer.

Oh! And, the library. We can never forget about the library, but that’s a give in. We always go to the library.

My husband celebrated a birthday in June. Mine in July. We also celebrated our seven year wedding anniversary. I often joke and mention how my cat, Tank (God rest his soul), is the longest relationship I’ve ever entered into.  Thirteen years. Ninety-one in cat years. Give it another seven, and my husband will surpass that.

The boys started a new year of school in July. Suddenly, I found myself with a sixth grader, and a kindergartner. I used to imagine what it would be like, feeling like that day was a distant experience, yet there it was. BAM. I always figured I’d have a lot more time on my hands, but I’m still not feeling it. Maybe I’m putting too much emphasis on filling my days up with projects and stuff to do. I could be going about it the wrong way.

There are plenty of days where I miss them while they’re gone.

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I went to my twenty-year high school reunion last month. I still can’t believe it’s been that long. I remember a time where I thought that anyone in their thirties had to be OLD, but now I live by the motto of, “thirties are the new twenties”. I really believe that. I think I’m healthier, and happier, the older I get. I guess that comes with time, and wisdom.

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Overall, it was a fun, worthwhile summer. But, I’m looking forward to the cooler temps and the fall/winter holidays that beckon this time every year. As with most things, it feels like it will take forever, but it never does. It will be here before we know, and go just as fast, just like summer breaks do!

 

Sunset in Central Park, by Sarah Morgan: Enter To Win a $25 Gift Card!

**WARNING: May contain spoilers for Sleepless in Manhattan.**

I’m a big fan of the “From Manhattan With Love” book series. After readingSleepless in Manhattan (reviewedhere), I couldn’t wait for Sunset in Central Park. I was eager to learn more about Frankie and her personal story.

For Frankie, love has never been a priority. In fact, it has no place in her life. It’s best to focus on her gardening, the plants that never give her any trouble, that never argue back. The mystery/horror novels she spends hours reading, that she can escape into. Lost within a reality that isn’t hers. Keeping a wall built up by wearing the baggiest clothing, lacking femininity. Anything to keep men away.

Well, most men. Her best friend’s brother, Matt, is someone she’s known for most of her life, a dear friend. If only she could squash the more than friendly feelings she’s developed for him over the years. Anytime she looks at him, her heart races. The yearning she’s kept buried seems to find the surface, complicating everything she’s worked so hard to build. It’s safer to hide away, to steer clear of burning desires. Most people, men, can’t connect with her, because they don’t understand the things she finds enjoyable, but Matt does. Or more importantly, he understands her.

Matt has feelings for Frankie, too. He knows she tries to hide from everyone, including herself, but he sees through it. He sees right down to the center of her, and it’s scary and enlightening, for the both of them. He wants so badly to be let in, to help her break those barriers that she tries so desperately to hold onto, but he’s not sure how to do it. Frankie has been through so much in her life, more than he knows. If he discovers her secrets, will he run away?

Many of us can identify with Frankie, with the reasons why she’s chosen to protect herself from relationships, from falling in love. I felt like I was right there with her, terrified at the thought of being with someone, yet terrified at possibly ending up alone. There’s an endless struggle, with the highs and lows that lends a complimentary take on what a relationship is really like. It’s those qualities and so much more that makes Sunset impossible to put down, and I’m looking forward to reading Miracle on 5th Avenue, #3 in the series.

Go to Chick Lit Central; enter to win a $25 gift card !

My Kind of Perfect, by Hannah Ellis

The gang is back!

The same lovable, misfit characters I discovered while reading Friends Like These (reviewed here), are once again front and center, lending us a glimpse into their somewhat unconventional, slightly chaotic lives. Marie and Brian are engaged, ready to take the plunge into happily ever after. Marie’s best friend, Grace, is also gearing up for her own nuptials, but nothing has been smooth sailing for her. She’s trying desperately to have the perfect wedding, which is no surprise, since Grace is the epitome of perfection. This can definitely cause friction with Marie, considering Marie is more of a go with the flow kind of gal.

It doesn’t help that Brian isn’t around. He’s had a lot going on behind the scenes, trying to stay afloat with his career. It seems the more Marie tries to spend quality time with him, the more distant he becomes. Sure, she has her Fat Club crew, friends she can rely on and depend on to keep her in check, yet with Brian missing, it never feels as though the picture is complete. It doesn’t bode well when the one who’s usually sane (Brian) isn’t. And, the one who isn’t organized (Marie) is the one taking the reigns and keeping everyone in line. Will Marie and Brian find their way to the alter? Will Grace? And, will Marie and Grace get over the bumps in their friendship, or is it best to part ways?

Like it’s predecessor, My Kind of Perfect feels like a sit-down with a group of friends, much like Fat Club, I’d imagine. Hannah Ellis tells the story of Marie and her friends in a way that feels comfortable. I had a great time reacquainting myself with every single character. While I would have appreciated more backstory, so the two novels tied together a little more flawlessly, I still enjoyed my seat on the Fat Club couch, listening in on everyone’s lives and experiences. I know there’s another installment in this series, Christmas With Friends (which is actually the second book) and I’m definitely going to check it out. Keep a seat open for me, Marie!

Reviewed for Chick Lit Central

For Rent, by Erin Huss

What’s another word for concierge/shrink/garbage collector/warden/adult daycare director? Apartment manager, of course!

When Cambria Clyne—a single mom down on her luck—gets the job as apartment manager at an L.A. apartment complex, she believes her life is turning around. But between having to talk to the retired couple in Apartment 22 about their loud bedroom “activities” and babysitting the owner’s man-child who lives in Apartment 40, Cambria realizes the job is nothing like she’d imagined.

When crime takes over the community, Cambria adds “detective” to her list of duties, determined to find the criminals terrorizing the residents and threatening her job. Joining her efforts are rival Chase, the gorgeous not-so-handy maintenance man, and Tom, her one-time-love baby daddy. As the case unravels and tensions increase, Cambria finds that perhaps she’s been a naïve accomplice all along…

If you like the lovable in-over-their-heads heroines of Sophie Kinsella’s stories, with a little Janet Evanovich cozy mystery thrown in, you’ll love this hilarious look at the adventures of a feisty gal trying to keep her crazy job and find love. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon)

Having worked in property management for over a decade, I was very excited to read about Cambria’s experiences. I haven’t been part of that world in a few years, and I was looking for nostalgia, a way to relive my own zany and bizarre experiences. Erin Huss didn’t disappoint. ReadingFor Rent was like time warping back into my own days of dealing with residents, the highs and lows that come from trying to perfect your customer service skills, but never feeling as though you can make everyone happy, because there is no such thing.

Cambria discovers all this, and more, while trying to learn the ropes on a property that the former manager couldn’t wait to retire from. Soon, she finds herself smack dab in the middle of a crime scene, and while she knows it’s best to let the authorities handle it, she can’t help but try to solve the crime on her own. It’s that, or find herself on the unemployment line, something she can’t bear to deal with. She’s got more than herself to think about. She needs to provide for her young daughter.

What I loved most about For Rent, was the realism behind the story. To those outside the biz, some of the antics of the residents might seem far-fetched, yet those of us in the know have quite a few stories of our own we could share. I’ve dealt with residents and their bedroom “activities”, or the neighbors who have been grandfathered in because their relatives manage or own the property, so they feel the rules don’t apply to them. I’ve also had to work through various crimes at even the best of properties, so it was easy for me to relate with Cambria, but even those who have never stepped foot in an apartment community’s office can identify with Cambria’s struggle to survive in a world she’s been thrown into. It truly is a crazy, fun adventure, and well worth the ride!

Reviewed for Chick Lit Central

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