A Reading Journey

Welcome to our July 4th edition of Monday Memes.  Mailbox Monday is hosted for the month of July by A Sea of Books.  What Are You Reading? is hosted by Book Journey.

I hope everyone is having a great holiday.  Meanwhile, let’s talk books.


This week, I received one review book, purchased another one, and then downloaded an e-book for Sparky, my Kindle.

Here’s my loot….


1.  She Makes It Look Easy, by Marybeth Whalen (Amazon Vine)


Ariel Baxter has just moved into the neighborhood of her dreams. The chaos of domestic life and the loneliness of motherhood, however, moved with her. Then she meets her neighbor, Justine Miller. Justine ushers Ariel into a world of clutter-free houses, fresh-baked bread, homemade crafts, neighborhood playdates, and organization techniques designed to make marriage better and parenting manageable.
Soon Ariel realizes there is hope for peace, friendship, and clean kitchen counters. But when rumors start to circulate about Justine’s real home life, Ariel must choose whether to believe the best about the friend she admires or consider the possibility that “perfection” isn’t always what it seems to be.
A novel for every woman who has looked at another woman’s life and said, “I want what she has,” She Makes It Look Easy reminds us of the danger of pedestals and the beauty of authentic friendship….
2.  Best Staged Plans, by Claire Cook


As a professional home stager, Sandy Sullivan is an expert at transforming cluttered rooms into attractive houses ready for sale. If only reinventing her life were as easy as choosing the perfect paint color. She’s eager to put her family’s suburban Boston home on the market, to downsize, and to simplify her own life. But she must first deal with her foot-dragging husband and her grown son, who has moved back home after college to inhabit the basement “bat cave.”

After reading them the riot act, Sandy takes a job staging a boutique hotel in Atlanta recently acquired by her best friend’s boyfriend. The good news is that she can spend time with her recently married daughter, Shannon, in Atlanta. The bad news is that Shannon finds herself heading to Boston for job training, leaving Sandy and her southern son-in-law, Chance, as reluctant roommates. If that’s not complicated enough, Sandy begins to suspect that her best friend’s boyfriend may be seeing another woman on the side.

Filled with characters who are fresh and original, yet recognizable enough to live in your neighborhood–plus plenty of great tips and tricks for fixing up houses, and lives–this is a wise and witty story of letting go and moving on. Best Staged Plans is Claire Cook at her most humorous and heartfelt….


3.  Afternoon Delight (e-book), by Carolyn Opinion Hinsey

Forget everything you’ve heard about the daytime soap opera going the way of the old Betamax tapes that were used to record them. The style and influence of the afternoon serial resonate in every existing dramatic entertainment and reality show, as the soaps continue to engross and entertain millions of viewers around the world every single day. In Afternoon Delight: Why Soaps Still Matter, author and veteran soap expert Carolyn Hinsey brings a unique passion and perspective to the genre, having covered daytime television for more than twenty years. In this enthralling new work, she shares all the dirt, dish, and drama that make soaps great from what happens on-set to what makes it on-air, from backstage drama to back room dealings, and all the sensational soapy scandal from the daytime bedroom to the network boardroom….
Here’s what’s going on in my reading/blogging world for the past week.
On the Blogs:
Books Read & Reviewed (Click Titles for Reviews):
1.  The Magnolia League, by Katie Crouch
2.  Seducing the Demon, by Erica Jong
3.  Black Girl White Girl, by Joyce Carol Oates
4.  Repairing Rainbows (e-book), by Lynda Fishman
What’s Up Next?
This week, I’ve chosen a couple books from my TBR stacks, a new book, and an e-book that’s been on Sparky for awhile.
1.  Shades of Grace, by Barbara Delinsky (TBR)
Grace Dorian, grand doyenne of advice columnists, is exhibiting the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease. She lives on a Connecticut estate with her daughter, Francine, and her granddaughter, Sophie. Delinsky (For My Daughters, LJ 6/1/94) beautifully describes the denial mechanisms employed by Grace’s friends and family as they try to ignore the obvious. Research into Grace’s past for a biography uncovers some strange information and a mystery regarding Francine’s father. Grace is gracefully allowed to fade out, and Francine discovers her real father and finds love with her charming daughter. The agony of Alzheimer’s could have been portrayed more realistically. For example: unlike many Alzheimer’s patients, Grace is surrounded by many caring hands and lacks nothing….
2.  Blood Brothers, by Nora Roberts
In the town of Hawkins Hollow, it’s called The Seven. Every seven years, on the seventh day of the seventh month, strange things happen. It began when three young boys-Caleb, Fox, and Gage-went on a camping trip to The Pagan Stone. And twenty-one years later, it will end in a showdown between evil and the boys who have become men-and the women who love them….
3.  The Little Women Letters, by Gabrielle Donnelly
“Marvelously entertaining, Gabrielle Donnelly’s THE LITTLE WOMEN LETTERS evokes the spirit of Louisa May Alcott’s LITTLE WOMEN with warmth and affection. I thoroughly enjoyed every word of this wonderful book.” —Jennifer Chiaverini, author of the New York Timesbestselling Elm Creek Quilts novels

“Gabrielle Donnelly’s THE LITTLE WOMEN LETTERS radiates a rare warmth and charm that had me smiling from beginning to end. The characters absolutely live, and the story is utterly compelling. I quite simply love Donnelly’s voice!” —Santa Montefiore, author of The French Gardener and The Mermaid Garden

4.  The Uncoupling (e-book), by Meg Wolitzer
“While zestfully exploring the nexus between complacency and desire, Wolitzer’s hip, glib, impish scenario shrewdly examines the intricate connections between war and sex and perceptively illuminates the power of timeless literature.”
Booklist (starred) “Wolitzer’s new novel, after The Ten-Year Nap and The Position, is another well-written and engrossing tale. And this one is definitely more of a tale than a story. In the town of Stellar Plains, NJ, a new, bohemian drama teacher arrives at the local high school. She selects as the school play Lysistrata, Aristophanes’ comedy in which the women decide to stop having sex with their men to convince them to stop fighting in a war. As the actors rehearse, a cool wind of a spell passes through the women of Stellar Plains. It touches other teachers and students alike. The chill makes the women want to abstain from sex. So what happens when an entire town of women start to push away their men for no apparent reason? Otherwise happy couples break up. The novel flits from English teacher to gym teacher to the lead actress in the play and on and on. It reads and infects like a dreamy fairy tale with beautifully expressive and strangely enticing writing. VERDICT Wolitzer again tackles a complicated and provocative subject, female sexuality, with creativity and insight. Her fans and readers of women’s fiction that’s smart and snappy will want this.”
Another exciting week lies ahead!  I have already plunged into the first one….What about the rest of you?  Are you still reading this week, or has the holiday interrupted your reading? 


  1. Great Mailbox and reading week! I enjoyed the Blood Brothers trilogy, though they’re not my favorite Nora Roberts. And I would love to read Afternoon Delight! I used to be a diehard General Hospital fan! Thanks for stopping bu! Happy reading 🙂


    1. I’m curious about this trilogy…thanks for stopping by, Jenny Q. I am a fan of the author of Carolyn Opinion Hinsey’s Facebook page, and enjoy her column in Soap Opera Digest. I think Afternoon Delight will be a fun read. She has a good sense of humor and an ironic twist (in her columns).


  2. She Makes it Look Easy has a beautiful cover. I like the blurb too and Best Staged Plans sounds like one I would really like.
    You have some good basics to read this week. Enjoy!


  3. I really want to read The Little Women Letters, especially since I loved the classic so much. Joyce Carol Oates is one of my favorite authors – Black Girl, White Girl is on my to-read list.
    Happy Reading!


    1. I am amazed at all the books that expand on the “Little Women” theme and author. I’m excited about this one. I like JCO, too, but have to space the books out…intensity and all. I have a few more on my stacks. Thanks for stopping by, Misha.


  4. I really enjoy Nora Roberts but havent read the Sign of Seven trilogy. Shades of Grace sounds interesting and I know I’d enjoy Best Staged Plans. Have a great week and happy reading 🙂


    1. I hope I enjoy it, Teddyree…if I do, the other books in the trilogy will soon follow.

      I’m enjoying Shades of Grace and can’t wait to read Best Staged Plans. Thanks for stopping by.


  5. Oh, how fun to see “Luke and Laura” on the cover 🙂 They were my escape when my kids were tiny. I absolutely loved Best Staged Plans. Looking forward to all your reviews.


    1. I thought so, too, Mary….I have started watching (and recording) GH again!

      That’s how I started, too; when the kids were little. Thanks for stopping by, and I am excited about Best Staged Plans.


  6. Such a good list of books for this week. I watched General Hospital every day through high school and college so it’s funny to see a book about the soaps. The first two books you mentioned sound so similar, but dealing with an interesting concept: the public life versus the private!


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