Friday, May 11, 2018

One Pedal at a Time - Guest Author

~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~




Synopsis (from Amazon): Watching her husband, Joe, regress from crossing the country on a bike to cheering him on as he navigated his wheelchair around the kitchen, CJ Golden had much to learn about caregiving. And she did - through her characteristic determination, quest for knowledge, boundless love and relentless optimism. 

Within these pages the reader finds a balanced mix of somber reflections and light moments that highlight a very real passage in the lives of a husband and wife who love each other unequivocally. Golden shares the lessons she learned, the emotional and physical strain upon her heavily burdened shoulders, and the realization that, through it all, their connection and love have grown stronger. 

Joe’s motto for getting through life’s most trying times has always been, “one pedal at a time” - referring to his days traversing the country, for months at a time, on the two wheels of his road bike. Thus, the title of this book and, hopefully, a philosophy that will help carry others through their own caregiving struggles.

One Pedal at a Time speaks to caregivers who need a place to turn to for information, inspiration and hope. And who enjoy a good love story.




Guest Post by CJ Golden:  Boopah Had A Stroke, You Know

Their first ever hospital visit and the two little boys, ages five and eight, were ushered into Boopah’s room to view him lying in bed: barely able to walk or speak after suffering a series of strokes.

As I studied their faces, trying to discern just what might be going on in their heads, my mind went to bleak places.  Surely they could not apprehend this was the same grandfather who had recently crossed the country on his bicycle.  Most definitely this would be a giant turning point in their relationship with Boopah. “Now,” they must be thinking, “A disabled old man has replaced my Boopah.  And, “It is scary to see him like this.”

This was much like my own paranoia when the three older grandchildren had come to be with me two years earlier, after back surgery rendered me unable to move my left foot. I was thus required to sport a bulky brace around that leg and had to use a walker in order to ambulate.

Before they arrived, I’d made sure my makeup was on, my hair coiffed perfectly with a multi-colored ribbon hanging from the top to show them my body had changed, but my outrageous sense of humor was still strongly intact.  

I don’t know if it was the ribbon, or the fact that the inner me had not been altered by the physical alteration but I was, indeed, still Grams and was accepted as such.

And now my concern went to my husband, Joe, and his future relationship with the kids.  

What is it about me that stubbornly holds on to unnecessary angst?  Why could I not have retained the lesson I learned when I had been laid up? The kids knew who I was.  They didn’t flinch.  Of course, they cared and hoped I’d heal, but as far as they were concerned, I had not changed.  Grams was, well, Grams.

So, too, was Joe going to remain Boopah, for, while his body was temporarily out of service, his quick mind, easy laugh and abundant love for his family would never change.

Once home, we had installed a system of ramps which allowed Joe’s wheelchair to be navigated from level to level.  But before he was able to sit in that wheelchair, he’d needed a giant forklift-type of equipment to move him from his bed to the wheelchair.  And the help of two able-bodied adults.  
The kids loved to help lift Boopah from his bed and place him in the chair.  And they most certainly got a great kick out of having themselves moved by that lift into chair when it was unoccupied.  Once in the wheelchair, they equated the adventure to something akin to a Disney ride.  

For his part, Joe enjoyed having the kids push him around the house and participate in his physical improvement.   There were times, however, the house appeared to be too quiet to have the kids visiting.  Where was the tumult that was part of enjoying grandchildren?  

That’s when we knew to listen for suppressed giggles and find them hiding under the ramps.

Fast-forward a year and Boopah is now fully back; having regained his physical abilities.  The forklift is no longer needed, nor the wheelchair or the ramps.  There is, however, a large inflated cushion on his seat at the kitchen table.  And, of course, the kids get a great kick out of sitting upon it.

Recently Joe was in the kitchen while I was complaining about having to take out the garbage and recycling because he was not doing his part of the chores.  His immediate response was, “I had a stroke, you know” followed by a huge, knowing smile.  And then he grabbed the garbage bag from me and hauled it out into the garage.

The thing is, instead of having worried about the children not accepting Grams or Boopah after our illnesses, I should have been thinking about all the ways in which they could participate in our recoveries.

Last week I came to fully understand that relationships as strong as a grandparent and grandchild do not change merely because one of us is stricken with an illness.  We were on vacation together, Joe had taken his afternoon nap the day before, went to bed early that same evening and now, the next morning was still not up to join us for breakfast.  One of the boys remarked that he sleeps a lot.  Before I could respond and explain his need for much rest, the other grandson stated, with a knowing grin, “Well, Boopah’s had a stroke, you know.”

Lesson learned.



CJ Golden is a writer and motivational speaker from Newtown, Connecticut. Through her first two books, "Tao of the Defiant Woman" and "Tao-Girls Rule!", she has been able to indulge in her passion for helping people, sharing her wisdom with women and girls.

Golden’s latest writing remains focused on her new life as caregiver to her husband, Joe. Paramount are the lessons she has learned, the emotional and physical strain upon her heavily-burdened shoulders, and the realization that, while their roles as husband and wife have been altered, their connection and love have grown stronger.
She has been fortunate to have to reached thousands of followers while blogging about her experiences as Joe’s caregiver. When numerous readers requested Golden turn her writings into a book. Those blogs gave birth to One Pedal at a Time: A Novice Caregiver and Her Cyclist Husband Face Their New Normal With Courage, Tenacity and Abundant Love.

Visit CJ Golden online at cjgolden.com, or contact her directly at author@cjgolden.com

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Monday, April 30, 2018

Notes From a Public Typewriter

~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~



Synopsis (from Amazon):  A collection of confessional, hilarious, heartbreaking notes written anonymously on a public typewriter for fans of PostSecret and Other People's Love Letters.When Michael Gustafson and his wife Hilary opened Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan, they put out a typewriter for anyone to use. They had no idea what to expect. Would people ask metaphysical questions? Write mean things? Pour their souls onto the page? Yes, no, and did they ever.

Every day, people of all ages sit down at the public typewriter. Children perch atop grandparents' knees, both sets of hands hovering above the metal keys: I LOVE YOU.Others walk in alone on Friday nights and confess their hopes: I will find someone someday. And some leave funny asides for the next person who sits down: I dislike people, misanthropes, irony, and ellipses ... and lists too. 

In NOTES FROM A PUBLIC TYPEWRITER Michael and designer Oliver Uberti have combined their favorite notes with essays and photos to create an ode to community and the written word that will surprise, delight, and inspire.




One (or more) Sentence Summary: This is the coolest book.  The owners of an awesome bookstore, Literati Bookstore (in Ann Arbor) published Notes From a Public Typewriter.  I go to Michigan often since I am from there, my family all still lives there.  I also go up a lot for hockey and once I learned about the bookstore, it was a must stop during the next hockey trip.  I fell in love with it and even sat down at the typewrite and typed!  The main floor even has a table - labeled Jill's table (I felt right at home). The second floor has a coffee shop and children's books. The basement houses more books and "the typewriter."  The owner talks about the bookstore's ghost and I think it lives in the basement.  There was a just a feeling! Maybe it is the lighting?


Notes From a Public Typewriter has different chapters that take us on a journey. We get to experience the meaning of the typewriter, seasons, new love, self discovery, new friends, advice, poems, jokes and sad events.  Each chapter starts out with stories about the bookstore, customers, and the typewriter.  There are some really neat photos in throughout the book too; the street corner, the violin monster, the typewriter, customers, the street from 1955 and much more.  

I have read Notes From a Public Typewriter twice, flipped through it many, many times and have shared some of the typewritten quotes.  I love this book and I hope there are more to follow as people continue to type.

If you are in or near Ann Arbor (Go Big Blue), add Literati Bookstore to your places to stop.  You will not be disappointed and I am sure you will fall in love with it just like did.  In the meantime, grab the book, Notes From a Public Typewriter to see what you are missing.  My family is going up to Michigan in three weeks and I can't wait to stop by this gem of a bookstore.  My son was with me on my first trip and I can't wait to take my twins there too.  


I would love share my "types" from the book, but I would have to include everything!  So I will just select a few:

Funny:  Where is the power button?
Advice: Be kind to everyone ...for we're all walking around with unknown issues.
From an OSU fan: Go Bucks 
From a Literati Bookstore fan!: This is my favorite corner in Ann Arbor.


Michael Gustafson is the co-owner of Literati Bookstore, an independent bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He lives in Ann Arbor with his wife and Literati Bookstore co-owner, Hilary.

Oliver Uberti is an award-winning graphic designer and was Senior Design Editor at National Geographic before turning to books. He is the co-author and designer of two books published by Penguin in the UK, London: The Information Capital (2014) and Where the Animals Go (2016). He lives in Los Angeles.


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Friday, April 6, 2018

The Wife Between Us



Synopsis (from Amazon): When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.

You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife.
You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love.
You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle.
Assume nothing. 
Twisted and deliciously chilling, Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen's The Wife Between Us exposes the secret complexities of an enviable marriage - and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.
Read between the lies.



One (or more) Sentence Summary: Holy cow....what a great suspenseful book that kept me on the edge of my seat.  The Wife Between Us has so many twists, you will not be able to figure it out on your own.  I thought I knew what was going on, nope.  I thought I had it figured out by the end, wrong again.  This would make a great movie! The Wife Between Us is a MUST read!

Would I Read Other Books by the Author:  I would love to read another book written by Greer and Sarah!






Greer Hendricks spent over two decades as an editor at Simon & Schuster. Prior to her tenure in publishing, she worked at Allure magazine and obtained her masters in journalism from Columbia University. Her writing has been published in The New York Times and Publishers Weekly. Greer lives in Manhattan with her husband and two children. The Wife Between Us is her first novel.
Sarah Pekkanen is the internationally and USA Today bestselling author of seven previous novels. A former investigative journalist and feature writer, her work has been published in The Washington PostUSA Today, and many others. She is the mother of three sons and lives just outside Washington, D.C.


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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The Mistletoe Inn



Synopsis (from Amazon):  The second holiday love story in New York Times bestselling author Richard Paul Evans’s Mistletoe Collection.

At thirty-two Kimberly Rossi, a finance officer at a Lexus car dealership, has had her heart broken more times than she wants to remember. With two failed engagements, a divorce and again alone with no prospects, she hardly seems the type to dream of being a published romance author. Dreading another holiday alone, she signs up for The Mistletoe Retreat, a nine-day writing retreat in Burlington, VT. Deep inside Kimberly knows she’s at a junction in her life and it’s time to either fulfill her dream or let it go. The other reason she decides to attend the conference is because famed romance writer, H.T. Cowell, once the best selling romance writer in America, and the author whose books instilled in her the desire to be a writer, will be speaking in public for the first time in more than a decade.

In one of her breakout sessions Kimberly meets another aspiring writer, and one of the few men at the conference, Zeke, an intelligent man with a wry wit who seems as interested in Kimberly as he is in the retreat. As Kimberly begins to open up to him about her stories and dreams, she inadvertently reveals her own troubled past. As Zeke helps her to discover why her books fail to live up to their potential she begins to wonder if he’s really talking more about her life than her literature. But as she grows closer to him, she realizes that Zeke has his own darkness, a past he’s unwilling to talk about.

The theme of The Mistletoe Inn is that like literature, relationships must be lived with passion and vulnerability to succeed.



One (or more) Sentence Summary: Mistletoe Inn was an easy and enjoyable read.  I didn't realize until now that it was book two of a series.  Given that, it didn't take anything away from the story and it stands on its own.  I liked the characters, especially Kimberly and her dad.  The story was pretty predictable once it got to the writers conference.  I also just found out Mistletoe Inn was made into a TV movie and I believe it is available on Netflix. I will be checking it out!

Would I Read Other Books by the Author: I have read many of Richard Paul Evans books and find them all enjoyable.  I will read other books by him, including book 1 and book 3 of the Mistletoe series.




Richard Paul Evans is the #1 bestselling author of The Christmas Box. Each of his more than thirty novels has been a New York Times bestseller. There are more than thirty million copies of his books in print worldwide, translated into more than twenty-four languages. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the American Mothers Book Award, the Romantic Times Best Women’s Novel of the Year Award, the German Audience Gold Award for Romance, two Religion Communicators Council Wilbur Awards, the Washington Times Humanitarian of the Century Award and the Volunteers of America National Empathy Award. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife, Keri, and their five children. You can learn more about Richard on Facebook at Facebook.com/RPEFans, or visit his website, RichardPaulEvans.com.



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Monday, April 2, 2018

Speak No Evil




Synopsis (from Amazon): In the long-anticipated novel from the author of the critically acclaimed Beasts of No Nation, a revelation shared between two privileged teenagers from very different backgrounds sets off a chain of events with devastating consequences.

On the surface, Niru leads a charmed life. Raised by two attentive parents in Washington, D.C., he’s a top student and a track star at his prestigious private high school. Bound for Harvard in the fall, his prospects are bright. But Niru has a painful secret: he is queer—an abominable sin to his conservative Nigerian parents. No one knows except Meredith, his best friend, the daughter of prominent Washington insiders—and the one person who seems not to judge him.
When his father accidentally discovers Niru is gay, the fallout is brutal and swift. Coping with troubles of her own, however, Meredith finds that she has little left emotionally to offer him. As the two friends struggle to reconcile their desires against the expectations and institutions that seek to define them, they find themselves speeding toward a future more violent and senseless than they can imagine. Neither will escape unscathed.
In the tradition of Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah, Speak No Evil explores what it means to be different in a fundamentally conformist society and how that difference plays out in our inner and outer struggles. It is a novel about the power of words and self-identification, about who gets to speak and who has the power to speak for other people. As heart-wrenching and timely as his breakout debut, Beasts of No Nation, Uzodinma Iweala’s second novel cuts to the core of our humanity and leaves us reeling in its wake.

One (or more) Sentence Summary: When I first heard about Speak No Evil, I was told it was a coming of age book with a collision of culture, race and sexuality.  I couldn't agree more.  Speak No Evil is all that and much more.  It is a very relevant book of our world today and is so well written.  I would love to see this on schools reading lists.  I immediately was pulled into Niru world and felt his struggles.  Next, I was pulled into Meredith's world and the connection she had with Niru.  I was stunned by what we find out from Meredith that I never saw coming.  I won't spoil it for you.  Speak No Evil is a must read book.



Would I Read Other Books by the Author: Yes I would and I hope there are many more to come.


Uzodinma Iweala is also the author of Our Kind of People, a work of nonfiction. He lives in New York City and Lagos, Nigeria.


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Friday, March 30, 2018

Not Working





Synopsis (from Amazon): Claire Flannery has just quit her office job, hoping to take some time to discover her real passion. The problem is, she’s not exactly sure how to go about finding it. Without the distractions of a regular routine, Claire confronts the best and worst parts of herself: the generous, attentive part that visits her grandmother for tea and cooks special meals for her boyfriend, Luke, and the part that she feels will never measure up and makes regrettable comments after too many glasses of wine. What emerges is a candid, moving portrait of a clear-eyed heroine trying to forge her own way, a wholly relatable character whose imperfections and uncanny observations highlight what makes us all different and yet inescapably linked.



One (or more) Sentence Summary: Not Working is a quick and easy read.  Don't we all wish we could up and quit our jobs!  I enjoyed the journey that Claire took us on while discovering herself.  



Lisa Owens was born in 1985, and is a graduate of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. She worked in publishing for six years, and holds an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. NOT WORKING is her first novel. She lives in London.

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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Other People's Houses - Excerpt



On Sale April 3rd Buy it Here!



Synopsis: For Frances Bloom, driver-in-residence of her local carpool crew, school dropoff is a chaotic if not predictable affair. Until one of Frances’s steely-eyed kindergarten charges sends her to retrieve forgotten school supplies. That’s when Frances stumbles on her friend Anne Porter— perfect, impeccable Anne—having a 9:00 am quickie with a younger man who is definitely not her husband.

The affair exposes, to comedic effect, dormant insecurities, neuroses, and strife in the neighborhood. As the carpool line-up unravels one gossip session at a time, the novel alternates between the perspectives of the four families involved: the down-to-earth, level-headed Blooms; the seemingly perfect Porters; the eccentric lesbian couple Sara and Iris; and the mysterious Hortons, hiding a sad secret.

Waxman, a former ad copywriter, wields pitch-perfect dialogue, capturing how the chaotic aftermath of the affair plays out across the block behind closed doors, in scenarios alternately tender and preposterous. It will all lead up to the portentous return of Anne’s boyfriend, in a final plot turn that tests the carpool crew indelibly and forces their reliance on each other into alarming perspective.

Waxman’s bubbly skewering of her characters’ idiosyncrasies coupled with her irrepressible humor sets OTHER PEOPLE’S HOUSES apart from typical suburban satire.

Life in the carpool lane will never be the same. 

Other Books by the Author: I enjoyed The Garden of Small Beginnings, Abbi's first novel.  You can check out my review here

Must Read Excerpt (leaves you wanting more!):  Frances pulled into the elementary school lot and Ava got out, sighing as if she were a fourteen-year-old Victorian child disembarking for her day down the mine. She pulled open the door and swung her arm wide.
“Medium-size children may now escape. Mind the gap, and watch out for speeding moms on cell phones.”
The children had already unbuckled and piled out, high-fiving Ava as they passed her. Kate stopped, and Frances turned to see what was up. The little girl’s face was a study in conflict.
“What’s wrong, honey?”
Kate looked at Frances, and her chin wobbled.
“I left my toilet roll tubes at home.”
“Oh.” Frances looked at her eldest child. Ava shrugged, looking back inside the open minivan.
“They aren’t in the car.”
“Oh, OK.” Frances smiled at Kate. “I’m sure the teacher will have lots of extras.” She herself had, over time, sent in three thousand toilet roll tubes. For all she knew they were building a particle collider out of them, or an accurate re-creation of the New York subway system. Let’s hope they didn’t use the obvious choice for subway trains.
“No, I have to have my own ones.” Kate’s eyes were filling with tears, her shit-fit indicator was dropping to DEFCON 3. “It’s for the class project. Everyone else will have them.”
Frances weighed her options. On the one hand Kate was only six, and would not only survive but would forget the trauma of not having had toilet roll tubes. But on the other hand, she was a member of the Yakuza-esque organization known as Miss Lollio’s First Grade Class, whose members fell on the weakest like wolves on a lamb. Forgetting to bring toilet roll tubes and having to borrow some was a Noticeable Event to be avoided at all costs. It wasn’t on the level of peeing oneself, of course, it wasn’t going to give rise to a nickname you couldn’t shake until college, but it wasn’t great.
“My mommy put them in a bag, but she forgot to give them to me.” A note of accusatory steel had entered her voice. Frances gazed at the little angel, whose mother had been heard calling her Butterblossom. Kate’s eyes had gone flat like a shark’s. She knew she would get what she wanted, the only question was when. I am younger than you, old lady, her eyes said, and I will stand here until age makes you infirm, at which time I will push you down, crunch over your brittle bones, and get the toilet roll tubes I need.
“Alright, Kate. I’ll go back and get them after I drop Ava, OK, and bring them back to school for you.” Frances knew she was being played, but it was OK. She was softhearted, and she could live with that.
“Suckah . . .” Ava headed back to her seat, shaking her head over her mother’s weakness, a weakness she loved to take advantage of herself.
“Thanks, Frances!” Kate beamed an enormous smile, turned, and ran off—the transformation from tremulous waif to bouncy cherub instantaneous. Behind her in the line of cars, someone tapped their horn. OK, the brief honk said, we waited while you dealt with whatever mini crisis was caused by your piss-poor parenting, because we’re nice like that, but now you can get a move on because we, like everyone else in this line, have Shit to Do. Amazing how much a second of blaring horn can communicate.
Frances waved an apologetic hand out of the car window, and pulled out of the gate.
She dropped the other kids and was back at Anne’s house in a half hour. Having carpool duty wasn’t the onerous task the other parents thought it was: All three schools were close to home, and all four families lived on the same block. As Frances ran up to Anne’s door she looked over and saw her own cat, Carlton, watching her. She waved. He blinked and looked away, embarrassed for both of them.
She knocked softly on the door, but no one answered. Maybe Anne had gone back to sleep. She turned the handle and pushed open the door, peering around. Yup, there was the bag of toilet roll tubes. She grabbed it and was about to shut the door again when she saw Anne lying on the floor, her face turned away, her long hair spilling across the rug.
“Anne! Holy crap, are you OK?” But as she said it her brain started processing what she was really seeing. Anne, on the floor, check. But now she’d turned her head and Frances realized she was fine. In fact, she was better than fine. Frances had instinctively stepped over the sill and now she saw that Anne was naked, her face flushed, a man between her legs, his head below her waist.
“Shit . . .” Frances dropped her eyes, began to back out, “Sorry, Anne, Kate forgot her toilet roll tubes . . .” Stupidly she raised her hand with the Whole Foods bag in it because, of course, that would make it better, that she’d interrupted Anne and Charlie having a quickie on the living room floor. It was OK, because she was just here for the toilet roll tubes. Nothing to see here, move along.
The man realized something was wrong, finally, and raised his head, looking first at Anne and then turning to see what she was looking at, why her face was so pale when seconds before it had been so warmly flushed.
Frances was nearly through the door, it was closing fast, but not before she saw that it wasn’t Charlie at all. It was someone else entirely.
Frances closed the door and heard it click shut.




Abbi Waxman is a chocolate-loving, dog-loving woman who lives in Los Angeles and lies down as much as possible. She worked in advertising for many years, which is how she learned to write fiction. She has three daughters, three dogs, three cats, and one very patient husband.

She is the recipient of most helpful parent award from her daughters preschool. That was many years ago. But still. 


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