Thursday, July 9, 2015

Over The Moon (Mageverse series) by Angela Knight, MaryJanice Davidson, Virginia Kantra and Sunny

Overview:  Three bestselling superstars and one exciting new voice in paranormal romance in a hot new anthology. 

When it comes to sexy werewolves, fairies, and magic, there's only one place for readers to go this winter: Over the Moon. 

Angela Knight ventures to the borders of Mageverse, a land ruled by vampire knights. 

MaryJanice Davidson returns to the wicked lair of the Wyndham werewolves. 

Virginia Kantra finds magic and wonder in a strange fairy kingdom. 

And Sunny discovers a Mixed Blood Queen in command of a new realm.

My thoughts:
I picked this book up for the beach because I love the sarcasm used by MaryJanice Davidson.  I haven't read her in a while and I was intrigued to see what I had missed.  I almost just read her story, but decided to give the others a try.  Out of the four three I liked and one I did not care for at all, but none of them impressed me overly much.  It seemed like you needed to have the world these authors have created already known to you to get into them.  Short anthologies are not always my favorite because they don't have enough time to really get to know the characters, especially in ones like these that are adding in paranormal beings that have all sorts of powers and changes.  Getting their power from the moon, keeping royalty lines going in were populations, hunting down vampires that ruined your life and such.  It was fine for the beach, but not all that memorable.  It has been a couple weeks and I had to really think to recall one of the four stories.  

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Untied: A Memoir of Family, Fame, and Floundering by Meredith Baxter

Untied: A Memoir of Family, Fame, and Floundering


“I remember Sarah asking me, when I’d just begun therapy with her, what I looked for in a man.  After a few moments of silent, tense deliberation I had it.  ‘Hair,’ I blurted. ‘He has to have hair.’”
Meredith Baxter is a beloved and iconic television actress, most well-known for her enormously popular role as hippie mom, Elyse Keaton, on Family Ties. Her warmth, humor, and brilliant smile made her one of the most popular women on television, with millions of viewers following her on the small screen each week. Yet her success masked a tumultuous personal story and a harrowing private life. For the first time, Baxter is ready to share her incredible highs, (working with Robert Redford, Doris Day, Lana Turner, and the cast of Family Ties), and lows (a thorny relationship with her mother, a difficult marriage to David Birney, a bout with breast cancer), finally revealing the woman behind the image.
From her childhood in Hollywood, growing up the daughter of actress and co-creator of One Day at a Time Whitney Blake, Baxter became familiar with the ups and downs of show business from an early age. After wholeheartedly embracing the 60s counterculture lifestyle, she was forced to rely on her acting skills after her first divorce left her a 22-year-old single mother of two. Baxter began her professional career with supporting roles in the critically panned horror film Ben, and in the political thriller All the President's Men.

More lucrative work soon followed on the small screen. Baxter starred with actor David Birney as the title characters in controversial sitcom Bridget Loves Bernie. While the series only lasted a year, her high-profile romance with Birney lasted 15 volatile and unhappy years. Hiding the worst of her situation from even those closest to her, Baxter’s career flourished as her self-esteem and family crumbled. Her successful run as Nancy on Family was followed by her enormously popular role on Family Ties, and dozens of well-received television movies.

After a bitter divorce and custody battle with Birney, Baxter increasingly relied on alcohol as a refuge, and here speaks candidly of her decision to take her last drink in 1990.

And while another ruinous divorce to screenwriter Michael Blodgett taxed Baxter’s strength and confidence, she has emerged from her experiences with the renewed self-assurance, poise, and understanding that have enabled her to find a loving, respectful relationship with Nancy Locke, and to speak about it openly.

Told with insight, wit, and disarming frankness, Untied is the eye-opening and inspiring life of an actress, a woman, and a mother who has come into her own.
From the Hardcover edition.

My thoughts:
This was another one of my beach reads last month.  I remember starting it when I got it and then putting it down for some reason, so this time I started over at the beginning again.  While I am not familiar with Baxter's early television work, I recall seeing her every week on Family Ties.  I may or may not have seen some of her TV movies too.  I love reading about and peaking into other peoples lives.  From the outside they can seem perfect or to have it all together, but that is rarely the case and it is nice to know that everyone runs into bumps in the road and detours.

Baxter's mother was a very focused on having a career as an actress and divorced early, often leaving her children alone or with their step father and having her children call her Whitney instead of mom so she could appear younger.  This early rejection seems to have had some long lasting repercussions in her life.  From getting together with men because they thought it was a good idea, to living in some sketchy and unsafe homes and apartments, to taking to alcohol to escape the unhappiness at home to finding that she prefers to be in a relationship with women Meredith discusses it all.  

I've found that in books by celebrities, and maybe people in general, there tends to be a certain amount of repetition.  Chapters later they are going back to something that they already discussed and making it a focal point again.  That happened here, but it could be that it is hard to show things without their backdrop from the past.

Who would have thought that Elise Keaton, who seemed like a mom who had it all together, was driving home drunk from rehearsals and shows because of issues at home?  I think it is telling that she was so nervous about coming out to the public, but at the same time wanted to do it to help other people who are in the same position.  Will this affect her ability to find employment or embarrass family members?  

Nothing is ever perfect and it is important to realize that much of what happens in life is governed by how we react to it and what we do with it.  I am glad that Baxter has found the life she is happy with and no longer feels the need to hide it.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Such a Pretty Fat: One Narcissist's Quest to Discover If Her Life Makes Her Ass Look Big, or Why Pie Is Not the Answer by Jen Lancaster


"To whom the fat rolls…I'm tired of books where a self-loathing heroine is teased to the point where she starves herself skinny in hopes of a fabulous new life. And I hate the message that women can't possibly be happy until we all fit into our skinny jeans. I don't find these stories uplifting; they make me want to hug these women and take them out for fizzy champagne drinks and cheesecake and explain to them that until they figure out their insides, their outsides don't matter. Unfortunately, being overweight isn't simply a societal issue that can be fixed with a dose healthy of positive self-esteem. It’s a health matter, and here on the eve of my fortieth year, I've learned I have to make changes so I don't, you know, die. Because what good is finally being able to afford a pedicure if I lose a foot to adult onset diabetes?"

My thoughts:
I am reading my shelf this summer.  There are so many books that I have picked up and ordered and then simply not gotten around to reading in my house.  Sometimes I think I am in need of serious book intervention, but I am always distracted by another book so the issue remains.

I took this one along on a recent trip to the beach and I found myself laughing out loud like a crazy person at times.  I was self conscious at first and then I decided that I really didn't care.  I was enjoying the book and I didn't know anyone around me.  If I had I would have shared all the funny little tidbits of the book.  Weight struggles are familiar to many of us and seeing how Lancaster deals with it in a humorous way while coming to accept herself was enjoyable and real.  Being called a "fat bitch" on the bus or at the pool, finding out that she weighs fifty pounds more than she thought and deciding that she is ready to focus on her health are all along the ride of personal growth that she manages to make funny.  Searching for the outfit and undergarments to make her feel confident on a book promotion segment on TV and also finding out that she has become fit enough to work out hard, run and swim make her real.

I loved how she shows that she is happy with herself even if she hasn't met her goal weight, she found the strength to commit to getting healthy for herself which is the most important reason to make these changes.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

One Plus One: A Novel by Jojo Moyes

One Plus One: A Novel

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

One single mom. One chaotic family. One quirky stranger. One irresistible love story from the New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You

American audiences have fallen in love with Jojo Moyes. Ever since she debuted Stateside she has captivated readers and reviewers alike, and hit the New York Times bestseller list with the word-of-mouth sensation Me Before You. Now, with One Plus One, she’s written another contemporary opposites-attract love story.

Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied, and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight in shining armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages . . . maybe ever.

One Plus One is Jojo Moyes at her astounding best. You’ll laugh, you’ll weep, and when you flip the last page, you’ll want to start all over again.
My thoughts:
I requested this book at the library ages ago and last week my turn came up.  I started reading it with no memory of why I requested it in the first place.  I read a lot, I love to read book reviews and I come across a lot of books I think I can't wait read, but then I forget why.  I think this must happen to book lovers a lot, but I could be wrong.  This week I caught the stomach bug and spent a whole day in bed,  First time since before kids that I have spent a day that way.  It would have been better had I not been sick and dizzy, but it gave me a day to read and this is the book  I read.
Ed has made some questionable choices in his desire to get away from a clingy girlfriend and Jess has been afraid to put pressure on her husband who left the family while suffering from depression two years ago to live with his mother.  Even though she can barely make ends meets and often has to skip paying one bill to pay another, Jess is afraid that to ask him for money to support their two children will set him off again so she does it all alone.  But her daughter Tanzie is a math genius and a private school will give her a 90% scholarship if she can come up with the other fees and her math teacher has found an Olympiad that she could win to pay, but it is in Scotland.  With no money to pay for the trip and only an unlicensed and unregistered car in which to do it Jess is stuck, until Ed steps up and offers to help.  But would he have helped had he known that going over 40 mph would make Tanzie vomit?  Or that their dog farts like crazy or that Jess has no money for hotels or restaurants and wants to make sandwiches at every stop?
Spending hours in the car creates a closeness that these four are unable to get away from.  Each of their stories starts to spill out from the bullies in their poor neighborhood, to the math Tanzie loves, to the dad who left and hasn't looked back and the many jobs Jess takes on to make things work for her family.  Often times people wonder how someone ended up where they are in life, was it one choice or many choices that led to this spot, and you get to see how each of these people got to where they are through memories and stories and how they act now.  Do pat acts define you?  Can you be forgiven for one mistake?  Can you be a good person at heart but still make mistakes?

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143127505
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/31/2015
  • Pages: 416
Jojo Moyes

Jojo Moyes is the internationally bestselling author of Me Before YouThe Girl You Left BehindThe Last Letter from Your LoverSilver Bay, and The Ship of Brides. She is married to Charles Arthur, technology editor of The Guardian, and lives with their three children on a farm in Essex, England.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Stories from Candyland: Confections from One of Hollywood's Most Famous Wives and Mothers by Candy Spelling

Stories from Candyland: Confections from One of Hollywood's Most Famous Wives and Mothers

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Carole Gene Marer spent her girlhood dreaming of meeting Rock Hudson, but when she finally had the chance—on her second date with her future husband, television mogul Aaron Spelling—she was so shy she hid all night in the powder room.  How Candy morphed from that quiet girl into a seemingly-confident, stylish trophy wife, mistress of the largest house in Los Angeles (70,000 square feet when you count the attic) is at the heart of Stories from Candyland
The life Candy created for her family—her husband and children Tori and Randy—was fabulous, over-the-top, and often magical.  So what if California Christmases don’t come with snow? Let’s make some on the tennis court!  How do we take a cross-country family vacation with a dad who doesn’t fly? By private train car, of course (with an extra for the fifty-two pieces of luggage).  The kids want to dress up for Halloween? No problem, why not call in Nolan Miller to design their costumes?
My thoughts:
This book has been on my shelf for a few years.  As part of spring cleaning I am working through my shelves, reading and removing books.  This book was a quick read and had some interesting parts, but I have to say it could have used some organization and a bit more editing.  Candy  had funny stories to share, but it felt like she circled back to the same ones and repeated herself quite a bit.  I also think she has a different sense of reality than most of us.  Her 17,000 square foot attic with everything neatly ordered and boxed and a hair salon is larger than most people's homes.  Does she know many people live in a home that is ten percent of that size?  Do you really need to save every Halloween costume your children ever wore?  
I can't tell you why I decided I wanted this book to begin with.  I have really enjoyed Tori Spelling's books and maybe I was curious about how her mother would recall events, but I requested it on Paperbackswap years ago and then just put it on the shelf.  In the book she talks about how she is selling or planning to sell the family home, the Manor, but I didn't recall it ever being sold.  I looked it up though and it was.  I wonder what she did get rid of in her move.
I think it must be really hard to write about your own like and keep it in order and organized, because everything that has happened to you has made you who you are today.  I hope that if she writes any more she has someone else go through and edit it for her more to keep it flowing.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429921183
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 3/31/2009
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272

CANDY SPELLING, whose husband Aaron produced America’s favorite entertainment (“Dynasty”, “Charlie’s Angels”, “The Love Boat”, “Beverly Hills 90210”), is one of Hollywood’s most famous wives and mothers.  Her marriage was one of Tinseltown’s happiest and most enduring, ending only with Aaron’s death in 2006.  Since then, Candy has begun writing, for and The Huffington Post, as well as becoming a contributing editor for Los Angeles Confidential Magazine.  She is involved with a number of charitable and public service organizations, and is in the process of “downsizing” from Spelling Manor to a 17,000 square foot condominium in Century City.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Wild Ride by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer

Wild Ride

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Mary Alice Brannigan doesn't believe in the supernatural. Nor does she expect to find that Dreamland, the decaying amusement park she's been hired to restore, is a prison for the five Untouchables, the most powerful demons in the history of the world. Plus, there's a guy she's falling hard for--and there's something about him that's not quite right.
But rocky romances and demented demons aren't the only problems in Dreamland: Mab's also coping with a crooked politician, a supernatural raven, a secret government agency, an inexperienced sorceress, an unsettling inheritance, and some mind-boggling revelations from her past. As her personal demons wreck her newfound relationship and real demons wreck the park, Mab faces down immortal evil and discovers what everybody who's ever been to an amusement park knows: The end of the ride is always the wildest.
My thoughts:
This was a fun, fast moving book.  I picked it up last week while I was sick and read it over the course of a day spent mostly resting.  I haven't read a Jennifer Crusie book in some time.  I enjoy her humor and the way she uses sarcasm and unusual situations.  The demons were a new thing for me in her books, but it worked.  I was worried it wouldn't, but the supernatural elements fit without feeling forced.
Growing up Mab was not allowed to go to Dreamland park because her mother said there were demons there.  Her crusade against the park earned Mab a solitary existence growing up and she couldn't wait to move away.  Added to her burdens were how upset her mother got if she go angry or emotional, so she repressed her feelings and channeled herself into her work restoring artifacts from amusement parks.
When she returns to restore the park and is run down by a metal clown she restored just weeks earlier, things start to go a little funny.  When Ethan returns to the park to live what is left of his life with a bullet lodged near his heart he isn't ready to hear what his mother tells him until she has repeated it multiple times.  After a few too many odd events everyone is on board, but will they be able to thwart the Untouchables.
It has almost every aspect I expect from Crusie except for a dog, but this time there is a raven. Not as cute and cuddly, but Frankie has his own ways.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312533823
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 4/26/2011
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 416

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Case of the Jewel Covered Cat Statues by Cindy Vincent Litfuse Blog Tour

About the book:
Buckley and Bogey, Cat Detectives, find their next big case with the Buckley and Bogey Cat Detective Agency to be their most complicated ever! It all starts when someone hides a mysterious package in their Mom's antique store --- in the middle of the night! Of course, the boys find it, and put it in a nice, safe place, until they can open it . . . and, find the rightful owner. But that's when a whole bunch of suspicious people show up in St. Gertrude, and every single one of them seems to be after that package! Holy Catnip! Plus, everything happens just when a priceless, jeweled statue collection goes on display at the St. Gertrude Museum. Missing from that collection are two jewel covered cat statues that disappeared almost a hundred and fifty years ago.

But soon Buckley and Bogey wonder how long those statues will stay missing. Because this is one case that really keeps them on their paws! From a trip to the Museum, and to an old church for the Blessing of the Animals; and from dinosaurs to diamonds, they end up dodging shady suspects the whole time. It sure helps to have their friends with them, especially when the bad guys make a beeline for boys. That's because it becomes very clear, very quick --- the priceless cat statues aren't the only cats those crooks are after! Holy Mackerel!

Purchase a copy: 

About the author: Cindy Vincent was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and has lived all around the US and Canada. She holds an M.A.Ed, and is the creator of the Mysteries by Vincent murder mystery party games and the Daisy Diamond Detective Series games for girls. She is also the award-winning author of the Buckley and Bogey Cat Detective Caper books, the Daisy Diamond Detective book series, and the Cats are Part of His Kingdom, Too: 33 Daily Devotions to Understanding God's Love. She lives with her husband and the real, live Buckley and Bogey, who run surveillance on her house each and every night.

Find Cindy, Buckley, and Bogey online: website

My thoughts:
Some of the first books I recall reading independently and enjoying were mysteries.  There was something about looking for the clues with the characters and seeing if you could figure it out before the end of the book.  This is a fun mystery with the added element that it is from the point of view of the family cats.  What kid hasn't felt awkward and clumsy like Buckley or wanted to be just like their older sibling?

It was a fun ride tagging along with there two cat detectives as they worked through another mystery while keeping up with their nighttime watch duties at home, see there really is a reason why cats get so active at night, they are doing a job!  I plan to pass this along to my kids.  I can't wait to see what they think of it.

I loved how the cats worked behind the scenes.  They had to come up with ways to let people know what they were thinking and doing without being able to speak.  Typing things up on the computer and leaving mysterious notes.  I also appreciated how Vincent worked in animal adoptions as well.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last by Deb Dearmond Litfuse Blog Tour

About the book: 

I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last (Abingdon Press, January 2015)

Married for nearly 38 years, author Deborah DeArmond and her husband have made the spoken declaration, "I choose you today" a regular part of their communication. It's when we least feel like saying it that we need to remind ourselves that love is a choice, not a feeling. I Choose You Today features 31 scriptural principles that support marriage and help couples develop healthy biblically based behavior.

Built on an introductory anecdotal story, each chapter has an inspirational takeaway of not only what to do, but how to begin applying the principles immediately. Thought provoking questions create talking points for couples to explore their own choices and experiences in each area serve to generate open dialogue of discovery. I Choose You Today is not a book of "shoulds," but one of clearly identified choices that each individual can make to grow their marriage and align it with the word of God. Every saying ends with a conventional wisdom quote.

Purchase a copy:  

Landing page:

My thoughts:  
I love how this book was broken down into 31 separate chapters with ways to connect and questions to ask yourself and your spouse.  Even  more, I appreciated how the author encouraged the reader to go to the chapters that felt right to them instead of following the order given.  It makes so much more sense for people to address the issues that are important to them and their relationships instead of following a set in stone plan.  Each chapter starts with an example of a couple showing the issue and then how things can be different.  I loved that the author's husband proposed to her again years later, letting her know that he continued to choose her even after decades of marriage.

About the author:

Deb DeArmond
 is an author, a speaker, and relationship coach-helping her clients improve theiinteractions at work and at home. Her first book, Related by Chance, Family by Choice: Transforming Mother-in-Law and Daughter-in-Law Relationships, was released iNovember 2013 by Kregel Publications.

Find Deb online: websiteFacebookTwitter