Tuesday, March 16, 2021

How Hard Can It Be?

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




Synopsis (from Amazon):  Look, I was doing OK. I got through the oil spill on the road that is turning forty. Lost a little control, but I drove into the skid just like the driving instructors tell you to and afterwards things were fine again, no, really, they were better than fine.


Kate Reddy had it all: a nice home, two adorable kids, a good husband. Then her kids became teenagers (read: monsters). Richard, her husband, quit his job, taking up bicycling and therapeutic counseling: drinking green potions, dressing head to toe in Lycra, and spending his time—and their money—on his own therapy. Since Richard no longer sees a regular income as part of the path to enlightenment, it’s left to Kate to go back to work. 
Companies aren’t necessarily keen on hiring 49-year-old mothers, so Kate does what she must: knocks a few years off her age, hires a trainer, joins a Women Returners group, and prepares a new resume that has a shot at a literary prize for experimental fiction.
When Kate manages to secure a job at the very hedge fund she founded, she finds herself in an impossible juggling act: proving herself (again) at work, dealing with teen drama, and trying to look after increasingly frail parents as the clock keeps ticking toward her 50th birthday. Then, of course, an old flame shows up out of the blue, and Kate finds herself facing off with everyone from Russian mobsters to a literal stallion.
Surely it will all work out in the end. After all, how hard can it be?



One (or more) Sentence Summary:  I read I Don't Know How She Does It years ago.  I felt like my best friend moved away after reading it (loved it and so related to Kate).  I was so happy when How Hard Can It Be? came out I bought it right away.  Why it sat on my to read shelf for so long is besides me.  

Another great book and I was so happy to reconnect with Kate.  Funny, laugh out loud, chic lit at its best!  For all working women looking for an escape - get in touch with Kate after all, How Hard Can It Be?





ALLISON PEARSON is the author of the hugely bestselling I Don't Know How She Does It, which became a major motion picture starring Sarah Jessica Parker, and I Think I Love You. Pearson was named Newcomer of the Year at the British Book Awards for her first book. She has written for The Daily Telegraph, The Times (UK), The Daily Mail, Time, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Observer and countless other publications. Pearson has won many awards including Columnist of the Year, Critic of the Year and Interviewer of the Year. She lives in Cambridge, England, with the New Yorker film critic Anthony Lane, and their two children.



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Thursday, March 11, 2021

It's Never Too Late

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



Synopsis (from Amazon):  Former Today show host Kathie Lee Gifford draws on stories from her remarkable life to weave together a beautiful reminder that whatever circumstances we face, God is still dreaming big for our years ahead. 

When Kathie Lee Gifford stepped down as cohost of the fourth hour of the Today show with Hoda Kotb, you might have thought her best days were behind her. It turns out, she was just getting started. As Kathie Lee says, “I’m not retiring; I’m refiring!” 

Taking us from her Chesapeake Bay childhood when she first heard God’s calling, to her skyrocketing fame with Regis, to her decision to leave television for Nashville, Kathie Lee inspires us to pursue what really matters. Because it’s never too late to forgive, to dance the cha-cha, or to make a difference in the world.   

God placed His dreams in your heart for a reason. And like Kathie Lee, you might just discover that the best is yet to come. Whether you’re an empty nester, newly single, navigating a career change, or just eager for any change, Kathie Lee helps you hear God’s loving calling because It’s Never Too Late to . . .

  • Begin Again
  • Make Sparks Fly
  • Leave a Good Thing
  • Have a Party
  • Change the Ending, Then Change It Again

Is it time for you to rewrite your story, unearth your hidden passions, and live with a renewed purpose? It’s never too late.






One (or more) Sentence Summary: I used to love watching Kathie Lee on Live with Regis and Kathie Lee.  I wish I had watched her Today show, but I was smart enough to DVR it. This is the first of her books that I have read and enjoyed it.

The book is broken out into chapters that don't even need to be read in order.  You can open the book to a topic and just jump in.  She has a lot of wisdom to share and left me some provoking questions for myself.  Kathie Lee also shares her belief in God, good in people, and heart-aches and celebrations during her journey. 

Enjoyable and quick read that you can pick up and re-read certain chapters as you need depending on where you are in your own life. 

Kathie Lee Gifford, four-time Emmy Award winner, is best known for her eleven years cohosting the popular fourth hour of the Today show alongside Hoda Kotb. Gifford continues to pursue her dreams as an actress, singer, songwriter, playwright, producer, and most recently, director. She has authored numerous books, including her most recent children’s book, The Gift That I Can Give, and four New York Times bestselling books, including The Rock, the Road, and the Rabbi.


Purchase Links

 Thomas Nelson | Amazon |Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Connect with Kathie Lee

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram



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Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Meant to Be

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




Synopsis:  

An inspiring new family saga by New York Times bestselling author Jude Deveraux

Two headstrong sisters are bound by tradition but long to forge their own path.

It’s 1972 and times are changing. In the small farming community of Mason, Kansas, Vera and Kelly Exton are known for their ambitions. Vera is an activist who wants to join her boyfriend in the Peace Corps. But she is doing her duty caring for her widowed mother and younger sister until Kelly is firmly established. Kelly is studying to become a veterinarian. She plans to marry her childhood sweetheart and eventually take over his father’s veterinary practice.

But it’s a tumultuous time and neither sister is entirely happy with the path that’s been laid out for her. As each evaluates her options, everything shifts. Do you do what’s right for yourself or what others want? By having the courage to follow their hearts these women will change lives for the better and the effects will be felt by the generations that follow. Meant to Be delivers an emotional, smart, funny and wise lesson about the importance of being true to yourself.


BUY LINKS:

Harlequin 

Indiebound

Amazon

Barnes & Noble 

Books-A-Million

Walmart 

Google

iBooks


Excerpt: 

CHAPTER ONE

Mason, Kansas May 1972

Adam is back.

 Vera Exton couldn’t get that thought out of her head. The man she had always loved, the man who held the keys to her future, was finally home. 

She was on the front porch of her family home. As always, she was surrounded by newspapers and magazines. She paid to have the New York Times sent to her. That it arrived three days late didn’t matter. At least she got to see what was going on in the world. The world. Not just Kansas, not just the US, but everywhere. 

In college, she’d majored in political science, with a minor in geography. She knew where the Republic of Vanuatu was, where Rajasthan, India, was. She could tell Bhutan from Nepal by a single photo. She’d studied languages on her own and knew a smattering of several. Rhodesia, she thought. Madagascar. She’d send her sister photos of herself with a lemur when she got there. Kelly would like that. 

Vera closed her eyes, leaning back in the old chair that her mother had bought at a craft fair. It had been made by someone local, using local materials. That was the difference between them. Her mother and her sister prided themselves on “local,” while Vera could only see the world.

 “And now it’s all going to begin,” she whispered, and opened her eyes.

 Bending, she began stacking the newspapers and magazines. Her mother complained about the mess that always surrounded Vera. “We can hardly walk through a room,” her mother often said, frowning. Since her husband died two years ago, Nella Exton did little but frown. 

If Kelly was around, she helped Vera clean up. Or helped Vera do anything, for Kelly was deeply glad her big sister was there and doing what everyone expected her to do.

 When Kelly mentioned her gratitude, their mother just sniffed. “She’s the eldest child, so of course she takes care of things.” Even though the sisters were only ten months apart, to their mother Vera was to take on the family’s responsibilities, so she was doing what she was supposed to do. There was no other choice. 

But Kelly didn’t feel that way. In what people tended to call “the drug culture,” many kids ran away, never to be seen again. The idea of “family obligations” was becoming obsolete. But not to Vera. 

She had postponed the future she’d dreamed of, had studied for, to give her sister what she wanted and Kelly was ever thankful, grateful and appreciative.

 For all her sister’s appreciation, right now all Vera could think of was that Adam’s return meant the ordeal of staying at home was over. 

He’d arrived just in time for his father’s funeral, as there’d been delays on the long flight from Africa. Vera had searched the newspapers to find out what was going on in Kenya. During the years he’d been away, Adam’s letters were full of stories of floods and bridges collapsing, infestations and diseases with exotic names. His letters had made her heart pound with excitement. She’d read them to her mother and sister, then was shocked by the horror on their faces. “But doesn’t it sound wonderful?” Vera would ask. 

Nella said a flat no, and Kelly would say, “If you like that sort of thing.” Then she’d pick up a few of her animals and feed them or groom them or whatever she did with them. 

Vera had seen Adam after the service, but she’d not spoken to him. He was surrounded by people offering condolences. His father, Burke Hatten, had been a big shot in the county. “Ask Burke” was a common catchphrase.

 In Vera’s opinion, the man thought he knew much more than he did, which is why he and his eldest son had always butted heads. Burke’s temper and his son’s matching one was why Adam had run off to join the Peace Corps. 

Well, that and Vera’s endless talk of how she was joining the second she finished college. She’d begged Adam to go with her, but he’d always said no. He said he’d be waiting for her in Kansas when she grew tired of moving about the world and came home.

 Funny how things work out, she thought as she stacked the papers. Adam had the big fight with his dad and had run off to the Peace Corps. Vera had planned to join him, but her father had died suddenly, leaving no one to care for the farm. To Vera, the solution was to sell the farm, but Nella had refused to leave the place. In just a few weeks, everything changed. Vera had agreed to stay behind until Kelly finished veterinary school. The new plan was that as soon as Kelly graduated, Vera would join Adam wherever the Peace Corps had sent him. 

Now everything was going to change again. Burke Hatten’s horse threw him and he’d died instantly, so Adam had returned. But this time when he left the country to go back to his job in Africa, Vera wouldn’t be kissing him goodbye. They’d leave together. The goodbyes would be to her mother and sister, to the farm, to her job at the travel agency. Goodbye to the town of Mason. The world she’d been reading about was out there and calling to her. 

At last, she was going to answer its call. 

Excerpted from Meant to Be by Jude Deveraux Copyright © Jude Deveraux. Published by HQN Books.



Jude Deveraux is the author of forty-three New York Times bestsellers, including For All TimeMoonlight in the Morning, and A Knight in Shining Armor. She was honored with a Romantic Times Pioneer Award in 2013 for her distinguished career. To date, there are more than sixty million copies of her books in print worldwide.



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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

To Catch A Dream

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





Synopsis: The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the worldwide phenomenon Calendar Girl series brings readers a poignant and honest look at life’s most complicated relationships.


When their mother passed away, Evie Ross and her sister were each given a stack of letters, one to be opened every year on their birthday; letters their free-spirited mother hoped would inspire and guide them through adulthood. But although Evie has made a successful career, her desire for the stability and security she never had from her parents has meant she’s never experienced the best life has to offer. But the discovery of more letters hidden in a safe-deposit box points to secrets her mother held close, and possibly a new way for Evie to think about her family, her heart and her dreams.


Buy Links:

Harlequin 

Indiebound

Amazon

Barnes & Noble 

Books-A-Million

Walmart 

Google

iBooks

Kobo


Excerpt: 

PROLOGUE

Ten years ago…


Tears track down my face as Tahsuda, my Toko, which is the Comanche word for “grandfather,” hands me a large stack of pink envelopes tied with a ribbon. My mother’s beautiful handwriting is visible on the top. He hands another stack to my eighteen-year-old sister, Suda Kaye. 

“From my Catori, for her Taabe and Huutsuu,” he begins, using the Comanche nicknames my mother gave us. “To have a piece of her on their birthdays. One for today, and one for each birthday and important moment in your life to come. I shall leave you to your peace but know I am here for you, forevermore.” Tahsuda puts his hands together under his worn red-and-black poncho and nods his head forward. His long, silky black hair gleams a dark midnight blue in the rays of the sunlight that streak through our bedroom window. His hair is so much like my mother’s I have to swallow down the sob that aches to come out in a flood of misery and grief. 

Misery because I am so angry at her for all the time we could have had together. Grief because she left this world six months ago, and today, on my twentieth birthday and Suda Kaye’s eighteenth, we are facing our entire lives without her. This wasn’t another one of her many adventures. We’d grown used to the routine. She’d skip around the house, packing her battered suitcase while she told us all about what she hoped to see and do on her travels. While she fluttered around the globe, we stayed behind and went to school, dropped off for an undetermined amount of time at the reservation where our grandfather lived. Months later, with a smile on her face and a song in her heart, she’d reenter our lives as though she’d never even left. 

At least she’d come back. 

As much as I hated our mother’s wanderlust, I always knew eventually she’d find her way home. Her weary feet would be tired, and she’d come dancing into Toko’s home with grand tales about a world I didn’t ever care to see. I didn’t want to go anywhere that made me up and leave my family for months on end. Them always wondering where I was, who I was with and whether or not I was okay. 

No way. That was not me. And it never would be. 

I finger the ribbon on the stack of envelopes and take mine to the papasan chair in the corner of our shared room. Suda Kaye stretches out on her twin bed. We live in a two-bedroom apartment in Pueblo. Suda Kaye has just graduated high school. I attend the local community college. 

The one thing Catori Ross never imagined could happen to her was illness. In all her plans to travel the globe, to experience absolutely everything she could, she didn’t factor in time to get regular checkups. Since she didn’t tend to get sick, Mom hadn’t been to a doctor in a solid decade before she started to feel unwell. After three solid months of lethargy and depression—two things our mother never was— the first round of tests gave us the first blow. 

Cancer. 

Stage four. 

She believed with her whole heart that she could beat it, but as Toko says, cancer took both his wife and his daughter. He says it was written in the stars. That was the reason he never gave Mom hell about her traveling and leaving us with him. He always said a person must do what their heart wants. Dreams are not only for the sleeping. They are meant to be chased and caught.

 Our mother lived. Chased every dream with a hunger that could never be quenched. I fear my sister will do the same. 

Suda Kaye sits against her headboard as I cuddle into the chair. I untie the ribbon and then set all but the top letter to the side. The first envelope has today’s date on it and her nickname for me. Taabe, which means “sun” in Comanche. Mom called me her sun because I am light everywhere, while she and my sister were dark. Mom was full-blooded Native American like Toko. Suda Kaye and I are half, and we each have different fathers. I got a lot of my coloring from my father, Adam Ross. Like Dad, my hair is golden blond and I have his ice-blue eyes. Though my high cheekbones, the shape of my eyes and my full lips are my mother’s. Suda Kaye has dark, espresso-colored hair, amber eyes and will one day have a knockout figure. She already is growing into her womanly hourglass shape—full bosom, long legs and rounded hips. Me, I have the tall, lanky, athletic build. Still, there is no denying our heritage even with the play on light and dark in our coloring. 

We are Catori’s daughters, a vibrant mix of her and our biological fathers. Though Suda Kaye and I don’t know much about her real dad. We just know what Mom told us much later in life—that she had made a mistake. She and her husband—my father, Adam—had been going through a rough time and separated for a year. In that year she’d gone on an adventure and come back pregnant with my sister. I was only two when she was born so none of that had ever mattered to me one way or the other. My father treated Suda Kaye mostly the same, which also didn’t matter because he wasn’t around much, either, always deployed someplace far away. 

I thumb the envelope and run my fingers across her pretty handwriting. 

I miss you, Mom. 

Taking a full deep breath, I ease back against my chair and open the first letter. 

Evie, my golden Taabe,

Never in a million years did I think I’d be in this situation. Gone from you and your sister in a way that I cannot come back from. I know you’ve always hated my need to wander, as it took me away from you and Suda Kaye, but you were never far from my mind or my heart. Never unloved. 

I had to chase my dreams, Taabe. One day, you’ll understand.

 My greatest hope is that you know my love for you transcends any reality, location or final destination. It is as the sun, shining brightly each day. Never ending, always warm, forever shedding light onto you and your sister. 

With me gone, without the burden of having to take care of me and Suda Kaye, I want you to think long and hard about what it is you want in life. Just you. Think big. Live out loud. 

What is still out there to explore? 

Where in the world do you see yourself visiting? What new journey have you wished to undertake? 

Think of all the beauty I’ve shared through my stories and photos over the years. Those experiences are a huge part of me. And I’m so grateful I had them. It gave me the ability to open your eyes to the fact that anything in life is possible. 

My only regret was having to leave you and your sister behind. Though I hope now, you will take time out for yourself.

 Evie, you are so grounded. Your feet firmly rooted to God’s green earth. Pull those roots, my lovely girl. Break away from all that keeps you still and give yourself an experience unlike any other. Perhaps then you will understand my need to go, to feel the wind in my hair, the sand between my toes, the gravel under my boots. I lived every moment to the fullest and I want that for you so deeply.

 Please take the inheritance I left you and use it to live. 

See the world, my precious girl. 

With all my love, 

Mom 

I grind down on my teeth and wipe my nose with the back of my hand. I fold my letter into thirds and stuff it back into the envelope. Clearing my throat, I flatten my hand along the front before lifting it to my nose and inhaling the familiar scent of citrus with a hint of patchouli.

 “Smells like her.” I clear my throat as a traitorous tear slides down my cheek. 

Suda Kaye sniffs her letter and smiles sadly. “Mom always said if you’re going to smell like anything, let it be natural. Fruit and spice.” 

“And everything nice!” I chuckle, then sigh as the weight of everything in my letter festers in my heart and soul, mixing with the intense sorrow I haven’t shaken off in the six months since she passed. 

“I miss her. Sometimes I pretend she’s just gone off on another one of her adventures, you know? Then I can be pissed off and plan out all the catty things I’m going to say to her when she finally returns with a suitcase full of dirty clothes and presents to smooth over the hurt.” 

My sister gasps and her stunning amber eyes fill with more tears. “Evie, she didn’t want to leave…” 

I fist my hands, rekindling the anger that never seems to disappear when I think of all the years we might have had with her. “Not this time, Kaye, but what about all the other times? Years and years of time lost. And for what?” I huff and stand, pacing our small room with Mom’s letters plastered to my chest like a well-loved teddy bear. “Fun. Wild experiences. Adventures! It killed her. This need to see the greener grass on the other side.” Scowling, I point at myself. “Well, that won’t be me. No way. No how. I’ve got my feet firmly planted on terra firma. I’m going to finish school, get my bachelor’s in finance, then my master’s, and make something of myself. And I’m going to be happy!” 

How I’m going to be happy without my mother in my life, I don’t know. I never knew how to fill the hole she left with each adventure she took. It just seemed that the void got bigger and bigger. But my mother…she was such a glorious woman, an incredible presence when she was there. She could easily fill up that gaping wound that I call my heart each and every time she came back. 

Finding that the pacing isn’t doing much, I toss my stack of letters onto the chair and drop onto the bed next to Kaye, face planted dramatically in the crook of my arms, my nose touching the mattress as I breathe deeply and try my best not to break down in front of my baby sister. 

Slowly, she strokes my hair in long, soothing sweeps of her hand. Once I’ve gotten myself under control emotionally—for now, that is—I turn over. 

“What did your letter say?” I ask. Kaye licks her lips and glances away. We don’t have any secrets from one another, but I can tell this is one she’d rather keep from me. Eventually she caves and hands me her letter. Pulling myself up, I sit cross-legged and read out loud. 

“‘Suda Kaye, my little huutsuu.’” I cover my mouth and close my eyes. The last word comes out as a croak. Mom’s nickname for Suda Kaye meant “little bird” in Comanche. Huutsuu to my Taabe. My sister has always been the one up for a grand adventure. She could make going grocery shopping the highlight of anyone’s week with her dramatic flair and interest in all things. Same goes for a laundromat, the car wash, a walk around the neighborhood. Always something to experience, to see, hear, sense. My sister soaks up life like a sponge until she’s wrung out, and then starts all over again. That apple did not fall far from the tree, much to my dismay. 

She smiles wide. “Always and forever, Taabe,” she responds. Not wanting to make Suda Kaye more emotional, I quickly read her letter. With every sentence my heart sinks. Basically, Mom has told my sister to leave home. To get in her car and travel the world, starting with the States. To leave me in order to allow me to find my own calling, without the worry of my baby sister there to hold me back. My stomach churns and acid creeps up my throat as I read the last couple sentences that tell her that if Camden, Suda Kaye’s longtime boyfriend, truly loves her, he will set her free.

 My hands shake as I pass it back to her, my entire body stiff as a board. I feel as though I’ve been staked through the heart and left for dead. 

My mother wants my sister—my best friend—to leave me. 

To go away for as long as it took for Mom to find herself. 

“You’re not going to do it, are you?” I ask, the fear clear in my tone. 

She bites down on the side of her cheek and nods. 

“Kaye…you can’t do that. What about Camden? He won’t understand. A guy like that…the life he wants to give you. No way. You just…” I let out a breath, grab my sister’s hands and squeeze, trying to transfer all the worry and fear I’ll experience with her leaving me behind. And yet I don’t say a word. In this moment, she has to make the choice that’s right for her.

 I swallow down the lump of emotion swelling in my throat and whisper, “What are you going to do?” She stares into my eyes, right through to my soul, and says the five words I never wanted to hear from her. 

“I’m going to fly free.”

 I close my eyes, lean forward to kiss her forehead. “I love you, Suda Kaye.” It’s the only thing I can say. It’s raw, honest and life-changing. 

“You know you could come with me?” Her voice fills with hope, but the last thing she needs is me tying her down, trying to run her life for her. Mom made that very clear in her letter. Heck, she made it clear in mine. 

Shaking my head, I cup her soft cheek. “You have to make your own choices.” 

She nods, folds up her letter, puts it back in the envelope and then ties up the stack in a bundle once more. 

My sister, not one to let grass grow under her feet, pulls the big suitcase from under her bed that Mom gave her for graduation and sets it on the comforter. Methodically, without saying a word, I help my sister pack her things. The last item she puts on top of her clothes is a picture of me, Mom and her, taken last year before Mom became too sick. It had been a good day; we’d had a picnic in the park. Laughing, snacking and listening to our mother share one story after another.

 I knew then that those good days would be few and far between, so I encouraged her storytelling, while Suda Kaye ate up every ounce as though it were her very favorite dish. 

Holding hands, I walk my sister to her car and put her suitcase in the trunk.

 “Do you know where you’ll go after you see Camden?” I ask, knowing she wouldn’t leave without seeing him first. 

She smiles and shrugs. “We’re in the middle of the country. I’m going to pick a direction and just keep driving until I get too tired. Then I’ll stop and decide where I’m meant to be next.”

 “You call me. I’ll come get you anywhere, any place. No matter w-what.” My voice shakes as I pull her into my arms and inhale her fragrance—cherry-scented shampoo and lotion. I allow the scent to imprint on my memory bank for I know I’ll need it in the lonely months, maybe even years, to come. 

Suda Kaye walks around her car and opens the driver’s side door. “Miss me,” she says, and the deluge of tears falls from my eyes like a waterfall. 

“Miss me more,” I whisper, and hold up my hand. 

She mimics the gesture, placing her palm against mine. “Always.”

 Then I watch for a long time as my sister’s taillights eventually fade and disappear into the black night. Before long, I look up into the open sky and the wealth of sparkling stars blanketing the sky like diamonds over black velvet. 

I pick a star and make the same wish I’ve been making since I was a child. “One of these days, I wish someone I love would stay.”

Excerpted from To Catch a Dream by Audrey Carlan Copyright © Audrey Carlan. Published by HQN Books.






Audrey Carlan is a #1 New York TimesUSA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of over 40 novels, including the worldwide phenomenon Calendar Girl serial, and her books have been translated into more than 30 languages across the globe. Audrey lives in the California Valley with her two children and the love of her life.


Author Website: https://audreycarlan.com/ 

TWITTER: @AudreyCarlan  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AudreyCarlan/

Insta: https://www.instagram.com/audreycarlan/?hl=en 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7831156.Audrey_Carlan 




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