Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Minor Characters–Canine Edition

Top5Wed

Last year I did a Top Ten Tuesday post on this topic, so I decided to spin it a bit differently. Today’s list–favorite minor DOG characters!

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Norman the big, black, cow-sized, farting, loving, protector-dog. All kids who don’t mesh with the so-called popular kids deserve a real animal to love and to be loved and protected by.  Norman went above and beyond the call of duty for his girl. You can read my review here.

One Plus One by JoJo Moyes

 

 

 

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Barnabas–Father Tim’s, big dog who can only be calmed with Bible verses! Love the big lug.

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Anne Tyler is a favorite of mine and this is one of her best books.  I love Edward–the dog who is the catalyst for the story. It is Edward who brings Macon and Muriel together. He was even cooler in the movie since he was played by a tri-colored Corgi.

The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler

 

 

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Salty is pastry chef Livvy’s wonderful dog who goes to work with her.

City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller

 

 

 

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Arthur Guiness–named for the famed brewer of Guiness beer, is a black lab–a big lummox! He retrieves Wellington boots left out on neighbors’ back steps. But Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly and his housekeeper, Mrs. Kinky Kincaid, couldn’t get along without him

The Irish Country Doctor series

A Bonus dog

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Hound Penderwick, loyal companion of Batty–the youngest Penderwick sister. He is the dog every kid should get to grow up with.

The Penderwicks series

Top 5 Wednesday is a group you can join on Goodreads. Every Wednesday members post blog or video posts with the week’s list.

Top 10 Tuesday: Favorite Books I’ve Read in the Summer

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As I mentioned in Wednesday’s post, I remember so many of the books I read in the summer as a kid so much better than those assigned in school. As an adult I’ve kept a reading log for many years. As a librarian I am skilled in dredging up books whose title’s I’ve forgotten. It all combines to make book lists like Top Ten Tuesday a passion for me.–in case you didn’t notice already.

From My Teen Years

Note: Whenever possible I’ve used “my” covers for these books. If you purchase one thru the link in this post, (I do NOT make any money) the cover may be different.

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Eric–who didn’t fall in love with the sweet, kind, jock who died of leukemia back in the ’70s. Patricia Neal played his mother in a worked over tv movie version of this book later in the decade. I read and re-read this book!  And he played….soccer! So exotic in Indiana in the early 1970s when soccer was a sport played at schools with “Prep” or “Academy” in their names and most were in New England and charged ridiculous tuition to students with Kennedy, Buckley or even Roosevelt as last names. Eric by Doris Lund. [Note: Doris Lund’s picture book was featured in this summer fun post last year].

I love big, sprawly multi-generational family sagas or other big, sprawling books. The 1970s were a fabulous decade for such books. R. F. Delderfield and Herman Wouk were among the best-selling authors of this type book. Belva Plain hit the scene with her first, Evergreen, too. These books more than stand the test of time. I highly recommend these–an others by the same authors.

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Wednesday’s post told about this book–which I read in the summer of 1976, including while at band camp. In those days I could read with all kinds of chaos around me. Today, I can rarely do that. I usually need earbuds or white noise if there are people around. Show Boat by Edna Ferber and Giant by Edna Ferber–a later summer read.

Later Summers

I’ve chosen randomly from my reading logs to introduce books I enjoyed that I haven’t written as much, if anything, about before.

These are all such compelling stories! Two are historical, one very recent history. All three are so worth the time.

 

Looking forward to reading during this summer…

 

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I’m reading this with a not-really-a-book-club-book-club. Totally out of my comfort zone, but I’m going to try.

The Gray House by Mariam Petrosyan.

 

 

 

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I loved Julie Murphy’s Dumplin (read my post on it here) so I can’t wait to get my hands on this one! Ramona Blue

 

 

 

 

 

Why not go to the Broke and the Bookish and enjoy other great Top Ten Tuesday lists from this week? Or, read the rules and post your own!

 

Review: The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve

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I admire Anita Shreve as an author. She must work non-stop to produce all those best-selling books. She has legions of fans–including Oprah who is surely an author’s best advocate. This is my second time reading one of her books. The first, A Change in Altitude, was a huge disappointment. (You can read my review here.) Happily, her newest book, Stars are Fire, is much better, but still lacking… something….

The Story

Gene and Grace Holland area  young couple with a dubious marital dynamic. We are, of course, treated to a thorough discussion of their sex life and Gene’s puzzling preference for a non-missionary position. Why in God’s name we needed to know this is never made clear. The story though gets a lot more umph when one of the state of Maine’s greatest natural tragedy’s occurs–the 1947 wild fire that wiped out a number of towns along it’s coast. Now it gets pretty interesting.

The Good

Grace shows amazing knowledge of how to survive a wildfire raging thru a town. Girl Scouts? Bluebirds? Red Cross training? Anyway, as you likely guessed, she and her children and her best buddy, Rosie and her kids, survive. That was a relief.

I loved that she did NOT have ultra-modern views on everything. She accepted that she was married, that her husband was head of the family, that her role was to raise the children, keep the house and give her husband his interesting sexual release just like all good wives in 1947.  But then came the fire….

The Bad

Trying to say this without spoilers…. She wasn’t much of a detective after the fire. She needs to read the great Clovis Anderson’s Principles of Private Detection (see the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith) or read a few mysteries while the kids nap.  That she jumps to a huge and obviously erroneous conclusion after the fire….oh geesh… as one reviewer said–inspires a Lifetime movie.

I really did not like Grace or her husband. I DID like Rosie. I wish there was a book on Rosie–she was full of life.  And I loved John. John should have been the story in my humble opinion. I think he had backstory to carry a great book. Grace and Gene and lovely Aiden were…well, pretty generic in spite of Gene’s “odd” preference in the bedroom. (The Kinsey Report came out in this era. I doubt Gene’s preference was very shocking.) Grace was generic in spite of being a heroic mother. In spite of showing the girt to survive that would make Scarlett O’Hara happy. In spite of being an amazingly modern mother who reasons with her children and apparently has the touch of Princess Di with her kids–always hunkering down to look them in the eye and all that. In spite of taking her homeless mother in to be the drudge. In spite of being nice to people. Generic.

The ending? Ugh. Cue song “The Times of Your Life” or “The Way We Were” or…. you get the idea. It was like Bobby Ewing’s dream. I had to wonder if she was finishing on the last final day and just said “Oh, to hell with it….”  And we never found out why it was so necessary to discuss their sex life, either. “Enquiring,” prurient, annoyed minds want to know now that it’s stuck in our brains. Otherwise, please pass the brain bleach.

Then there is the name thing. Claire! Ugh! Claire! I have a spreadsheet of all the Claires in novels I’ve read. Editors? Take not, please. No More Claires. (Or Tess or Grace or Kate). Ok??  That, obviously is  a pet peeve, but truly so many different authors landing on the same over-used name gets old.

Rating

3.5

In spite of my bad comments, I do love Anita Shreve’s writing style. Her descriptions are so vivid and, even when I don’t like the story, her writing is compelling and keeps me going, wanting to finish the story. Sorry, though. I doubt this one is depressing enough for Oprah’s Book Club (O Magazine’s I suppose it is now).

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Review: The Last Girls by Lee Smith

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When I find an author I like, I tend to go on and read all (or at least most) of what they’ve published. I started this in high school with Herman Wouk, then in college with Chaim Potok and have kept up the habit with several others over the years. In this era of Reading Challenges there are some aimed at doing this and others at clearing your To Be Read list/pile. Lee Smith’s The Last Girls is one of those books. I read her novel Oral History when it came out then lost track of her. Recently I read (and reviewed here) her memoir, Dimestore: A Writer’s Life and decided she’d be one of the author’s whose backlist (prior books) I’d tackle gradually. (I posted about the other author’s I’d read in this Top 5 Wednesday post).

Best Quote

”…she has given her body nearly away already, to her children and her husbands, and now she wants to hold on to what she can.”

The Story

In 1965 a group of girls (including the author in her real life) went down the Mississippi by raft. All were students at a Southern women’s college. In the book they all reunite after one dies and go on a riverboat cruise down the Mississippi to remember their lost friend.

The Good

I’m one of those readers who loves the backstories of the characters. I like to know all about them.  I loved learning about each of their childhoods, what they were like in college, where they were today. The title comes from the old news story about the trip–they were referred to as “girls” and not women. One of them remarks that that could not happen today.  Hence they are the “last” girls to do such a trip.

The plot may have been a standard reunion story (a plot I usually really enjoy, by the way), but the characters each had unexpected, if not really “secret-secret” aspects of their life and of their inner “person.” I found myself really looking forward to the drive to and from work (an hour and 15 minutes each way) so I could listen to more of their stories.

I related best to Anna who, in college, planned to write serious fiction but settled for making great money writing formula romances. And I loved Pete–the “River Lore-ian” [I listened to the audio. I don’t think it was laureate. I think he was about River Lore, hence Lore-ian.] I enjoyed that entire story line. And, ugh! Bridgette and Leonard–who hasn’t been trapped with people like them?

An aside: I loved learning that “Mary Scott College” was, in real life, Virginia’s Hollis College where a friend’s mother, who became a poet, went. That was a fun “extra” connection.

The Bad

In spite of all the great backstory, I didn’t come away feeling I knew the characters.

I couldn’t stand Baby. There, I’ve said it! She was…well…a baby! I realize she was mentally ill and in 1962–1965 there were no medications that helped. That part was very sad–and I completely sympathized with even a fictional person suffering in that era. But I still couldn’t stand her little, whiney, manipulative, entitled self!  I could see dear Jeff adoring her–the “Soldier boy” protecting a “baby” and all. But, for the life of me, I couldn’t see why Harriet stayed friends with her! I’d have been at the college housing office in a week begging to move ANYWHERE to avoid her! Even marrying an older man didn’t make her more endearing–and I usually love any story of that sort.

I also kind of hoped Courtney would follow dear Baby’s ashes off the side of the ole Showboat Paddle Wheeler. Another lady who lunches who wasn’t satisfied with all she had. Catherine wasn’t annoying but her husband sure was. Nice, but annoying.

Picky, picky stuff: While panty hose had technically come out in 1962 they were far from common yet and, there was no diet Coke in ’65. Minor stuff–very, very minor stuff.

Rating

3.5 Star

That I didn’t like the main character was personal preference. The writing is wonderful! If you like reunion stories as much as I do, you will still enjoy this one, in spite of my dislikes.

I look forward to another Lee Smith novel before too long. I am going to read them all still., in my own sweet time. As an author, Lee Smith inspires me.

Here’s a link to the author’s story of her own raft trip.

The Last Girls by Lee Smith

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Is it me, or are those bathing suits more suited to the 1940’s than to the Annettte and Frankie years?

Top 5 Wednesday: Summer Books for all ages

Top5Wed

This week’s topic is what books remind you of summer and are your quintessential summer reads?

The Mom’s Choice

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A reading/writing friend cites this as one of her life-long favorite books. I owned a copy that looked like this and probably DID read it in 1973 or ’74. I liked the movie when I saw it in junior high school, so I got the book. Hence, the tie-in cover. Very much a “summer” book and movie–only because of the title.

The Summer of ’42  by Herman Ruacher.

The Family Choice

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The introduction to the Penderwick family series begins with the family going off for summer vacation and meeting Jeffrey. This is a delightful book (and series) that fans of Elizabeth Enright will love–well, that anyone who likes a true “family” book will love. I have loved listening to each of the books in this series–each as wonderful as the other. I love the way they are growing up. I feel like a proud Mom listening to them.

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall

The Little Ones’ Choice

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My favorite childhood summer book–Harry by the Sea. Love Harry the Dirty Dog and No Roses for Harry, too. I have the one volume treasury of Harry in fact.

Harry By The Sea by Gene Zion

The Book Club’s Controversial Choice

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I remember the books I read in the summer so much better than many of the books and short stories that were assigned reading in school or college. In the summer of 1976 I took a break from re-reading and re-reading GWTW to read Edna Ferber’s classic Showboat. I’ve chosen it as a summer book because its a great read. Sadly, how we classify people is still an issue. Who is African American, who is mixed race, who is white is still a question that divides our society.

I won’t kid you–racism is alive and well in this book, written in 1926 during the great Klan era of the 20th Century. There are words and sentiments that we make us cringe and rightfully feel ashamed today. But the story is still relevant today. Discrimination is still alive and thriving. My hope is that if more people read this for the story the racism will be seen as the vile shame it has always been. I do not post this to glorify racism–never. The story is well worth it. If your only knowledge of this book is Paul Robeson singing “Ol’ Man River” in old-time “slave” dialect, then you haven’t dug into the book and should.

This book also ties in with tomorrow’s great summer book review [tune in tomorrow–same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!]. Magnolia (Nola/Noly) and Gaylord are a classic couple, too. Who doesn’t enjoy a great summer romance?Especially with a roguish, rapscallion of a bad-boy too handsome to resist? And, with the 50th Anniversary this year of Loving v Virginia making inter-racial marriage legal, Steve and Julie’s story is especially poignant.

Show Boat by Edna Ferber

Note: Ferber’s other fabulous book, Giant, made famous by Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift, Rock Hudson and James Dean in the movie version, is equally relevant for the same reasons. It explores the issue of fair treatment for Mexicans. It’s size makes it an entire summer’s worth of reading.

One More Note: Teachers & Professors who assign students the task of writing a book review on Amazon should definitely fail anyone who posts his review on the wrong book. Lots of reviews on the Show Boat by Edna Ferber page are for a book on Kobe Bryant.

The Aesthetic Choice

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This series of incredible, mostly wordless picture books are a treasure. I have many of them. I love anything Edwardian so these are a joy to me. Although they are out-of-print they can be purchased used for reasonable prices and a few libraries have them, too.

An Edwardian Summer by John S. Goodall

But wait! There’s more!

The Beach or Pool Book

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A few weeks ago, I reviewed this book about summer of 1914 in an English village. As you know, World War I began for those in Europe on August 4, 1914. The U.S.A. joined the fighting three years later.   My review is here, but you’ll need to scroll way down to read it.

The Summer Before the War: A Novel by Helen Simonson

Top 5 Wednesday is a group at Goodreads. Why not join the group and post your own list (or video) next week?

Top 10 Tuesdays: Favorite Fictional Mothers

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Little Women has saintly Marmee, and Gone With the Wind has selfless grande dame Ellen O’Hara and self-sacrificing Melanie Wilkes as model mothers of the Civil War era.  Laura Ingalls had her devoted “Ma” and the Von Trapp family had a step-mother sent from God in Maria (well, at least in the movie version) who helped save the family from the Nazis. Hard to top those, but….I did find fictional mothers I admire more.

The Winner! The #1 Fictional Mom…….Mrs. Weasley!

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Photo: Harry Potter the Chamber of Secrets

Probably everyone’s favorite fictional mom these days is Mrs. Molly Weasley from Harry Potter! I agree! I love her! I love the wonderful chaos of her home, the way she ignores her husband when he’s being stupid, the way she feels for poor Harry. My vote is a double because Julie Walters, who plays Molly, is one of my all-time favorite actresses, too. From Educating Rita to Billy Elliott to the Mama Mia  to Calendar Girls to HP–I’ve loved her roles!

2. Mrs. Eve Casson

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Photo shows the series with the old covers

I’ve written several posts on this blog praising this very fun, middle grades chapter book series by Hilary McKay! I adore Eve! Other than Molly Weasley Eve is my mothering soul mate! Sequestered in the garden shed painting pet portraits for ready cash, she is the ever-patient wife of Darling Bill–her big time, society artist husband who lives in London and leads an independent life. She still adores him. She adores her children, too. This is a happy, modern family and Eve is its heart and soul.

Saffy’s Angel (first book in the series) by Hilary McKay

 

3. Jess Thomas

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Scrappy can-do single mother Jess Thomas is doing her best to support her kids and earning money is the least of it. I love her “Right, let’s get on” attitude. Poverty? Life goes on. Husband leaves you? Good things happen!

One Plus One by JoJo Moyes

My review.

 

 

 

4. Mrs. Frank B (Lillian) Gilbreth

Ok, ok! She’s NOT fictional. She’s real. But the stories of her family were helped with a little poetic license!Lilly Gilbreth has been a favorite of mine since I first read Cheaper by the Dozen in about the 6th grade. A graduate of Cal Berkeley in Psychology, she became a pioneer in the field of motion study–workplace efficiency, with her husband Frank. She bears 12 children (burries one) and then, after her husband’s sudden death, keeps the family and the family business going. My grandfather met her when she lectured at Purdue. She even was honored with a postage stamp.

 

5. Grandma Mazur

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Bail Bonds-Person Stephanie Plum has the wackiest Grandma ever. Stephanie’s Mom quietly makes meatloaf and irons, but Grandma is in on the action–especially at Steva’s Funeral Home.  She loves a good open casket viewing like nothing else! Except maybe for her love of men.

 

 

 

Why not go to the Broke and the Bookish and enjoy other great Top Ten Tuesday lists from this week? Or, read the rules and post your own!

Review: One Plus One = Wonderful

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JoJo Moyes won my heart easily with Ship of Brides, then made me a life-long fan with Me Before You (Heck, I loved the movie of that one!). I even liked (but didn’t love) the sequel,  After You, which many fans didn’t. Now with One Plus One she’s entered my league of Favorite. Authors. Ever. I love the tone of her books. Her characters are believable and the stories are realistic enough that I fall right into them. Right now I’m really missing Jess, Tanz. Norman, Nicky, and Ed. That kind of real.

 

The Story

Can truly good people do the wrong thing?

Does it matter WHY they did the wrong thing?

Jess Thomas is a single Mom raising her daughter and step-son alone, her husband having fled to his mother’s due to depression. It’s a hard luck life for Jess and the kids,  Nicky and Tanzy, but she keeps seeing the glass as half-full. Her positive attitude is contagious, without being cloying or precious. She’s not Pollyanna and her life is no picnic. Both kids are bullied for being odd. Nicky is a young teenage “Goth boy” who likes make-up and video games. Tanzie is a mathematics whiz years above her grade level who really only enjoys spending time with their huge dog, Norman.

Ed Nichols is a computer-geek who accidentally creates a successful software company that’s gone public and is about to release another new phenomenal product. To get rid of a girl he thought he wanted he gives her insider stock trading knowledge. His life as he knew it, is over.

The couple meet when Jess is cleaning his vacation home for the cleaning service and he is shouting on the phone after learning he is accused of insider trading.

Then there’s a road trip to Scotland.

What I Loved

Everything. Not a word put wrong. Ok, I could quibble about the likelihood of it all, but why? I’ve seen stranger things happen in real life. People meet thru all sorts of circumstances. But, I’ve been in love. You just KNOW, don’t you? The emotion, the twists and turns of this novel are simply RIGHT. Utterly right. It all just …works. Splendidly.

What I Disliked

Nothing. Really. Nothing.

Rating

4.5 stars–I just loved it. I loved it so much I just bought a copy! I read fiction from the library. Not good for an aspiring author to admit, but I do. I buy them AFTERWARDS if I truly love them. I haven’t do that in a long, long time!

And, Jojo? There’d better’d be a sequel!!!

And, this one could do with Eddie Redmayne in the movie–he’s geeky enough.

One Plus One by Jojo Moyoes

You can read my review of other JoJo Moyes’ books here:

Paris For One & Other Stories

After You

Me Before You

Ship of Brides

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Review: What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

 

In a recent Top 5 Wednesday post  I named Liane Moriarty as one of the author’s I wanted to read more from. The easiest way to accomplish that is to read her backlist–her older books.

The Story

Suburban mother Alice Love falls at the gym and hits her head suffering short-term memory loss of the last ten years of her life. She awakes thinking she is 29, expecting her first child and it is 1998. Only it’s ten years later. As she pieces things together, gradually getting her full memory back, she wonders at who she became in those missing ten years. Can real life earn a do-over?

The Good

Alice was apparently that mother–the one who does everything at school, is active in the community, works out like an Olympic athlete and micromanages workaholic schedules for her three elementary school aged kids. Moriarty paints the picture of Alice so vividly I could see the exact tassel earrings, fine boots, and perfectly on-trend jeans she’d just “throw on” for the morning school run. I could see her conducting meetings and hear her clipped “Right…” when someone said the wrong thing.

Husband Nick is a successful businessman who orbits the family with 80 hour weeks at the office and on business travel. I can tell you what he smells like. He’s so many of the men I worked for when I was younger. Decent men, but utterly married to their work.

Then there’s her childless sister, Elizabeth, driven to have a child one way or the other. She’s in therapy and writes to her therapist.

Moriarty’s plots are good, but her characters are even better. Even the children were believable.

 

The Bad

Honestly? Not much of anything was “bad,” but a few things were merely not as good as the others. Dominick? He seemed like a cardboard character. No life in him. I also really wasn’t sure someone could get out of the hospital that fast (even here in the USA with draconian insurance companies) after a head injury with extreme memory loss. But, if I debated that there’d be no story, right?

 

The Rating

A full 4 out of 5 stars.

I HAD to finish it! It was that compelling. I love a good read like that. Is this literature? Who cares! I read to relax and enjoy as well as to learn. I’m pretty good at tossing back things that aren’t believable. This was believable–if only because I know nothing about head injuries with memory loss!

 

I understand there’s a movie coming out–I look forward to seeing it.

Top 5 Wednesday: Books As Event Themes–not the usual ones, either!

Top5Wed

This week’s topic is books as themes for events. I love this! I tried to go beyond the one’s that will be over-used like Harry Potter, Gone With the Wind, Hunger Games, Anne of Green Gables,  Jane Austen etc.

Here are my Top 5

Biglaw

To celebrate leaving big law firm hell whether by choice or by “chance” (firing). Who cares if you can’t bill 2,000 hours! You CAN wait tables, right? Per hour its about the same money on Friday and Saturday! And think of the fun when you can spill a tray of drinks on your former “Mentoring Partner”  Biglaw by Lindsay Cameron.

Decor should be ugly, neutral, corporate art and those ubiquitous carpet squares. Or, if the firm had artsy inspirations, tacky art work like bad modern statutes.

Food should be picked over sandwich trays (i.e. left over catered lunches).

Gifts should be tacky logo-ed items [any logo] like Christmas ornaments. And, of course, a donation to the United Way.

Fun stuff:  Law Firm Partner Charades in which the partner gives a fraction of the information to a team of 3 to 5 people and they must all research and brief it. The one who actually gets ALL the information makes “partner” and has to pay the bar tab–you’re an “owner” now, hahahahahah!

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To celebrate a woman’s 60th birthday or her retirement or both us No! I Don’t Want to Join a Book Club-a fun look at getting older, but still being fully alive.

Decor should be displays of the most overly-read book club books. You know, the ones no one actually has read?

Gifts should be Victoria Secret gift cards.

Food should be wine and more wine.

Fun stuff: Grace & Frankie marathon!

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When your BFF’s scumbag husband leaves her for her younger work protege (double back-stab) [or simply a younger woman] then this is your theme-book! Revenge of the Middle Aged Woman by Elizabeth Buchan.

Decor should be the items scumbag loved that your BFF got in the divorce for spite. A bass boat, the BMW, his fly fishing crap, his firearms, his baseball card collection, his NFL memorabilia or whatever it is.

Gifts should be the stuff the Scumbag vetoed over the years that she really liked or wanted.

Food should be the stuff  SHE loves that she never got to serve or eat while married.

Fun stuff would include Pin the Tail on the Jack A**, A strip-o-gram from [Pick her fave] a kilted Highland Warrior, a Smokin’ Hot Firefighter, etc…

Note: Great for a gal’s only getaway.

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When a gal-pal of beyond normal college age goes back to school, use She Got Up Off The Couch as your theme.

Decor should be a well-used, preferably an ugly 60’s/70’s sofa and a pile of laundry or two–clean or dirty, either is fine. VW Bug toys cars or other VW Bug items and Herbal Essence Shampoo bottles. [Read the book and it’ll make sense]. CLEP test study guides are good, too.

Gifts should be B/N Gift Cards, Laptop or Tablet sleeve, backpack and some early 70’s college girl thing like a crocheted poncho for fun.  Homemade frozen meals are good, too as are TRULY redeemable homemade gift certificates for child care.

Food should be the popular thing food at that college and beer. Lots of beer. Or, if it’s a Christian college the beer “substitute.” [One college has Ginger Ale parties–that kind of thing is a beer substitute.]  Or, if it’s graduate school, Big cans of Red Bull.

Fun Stuff: Drinking games (regardless of whether drinks have alcohol). Or if graduate school, then a dissertation guessing game. Read off dissertation titles and guess the student’s subject (major).

Extra: Be sure to write her name in her coat and in her back pack. Offer to go to the campus with her and take a picture for her first day holding a sign with what she wants to be when she “grows up.” Walk her to her first class! Be there when she gets home so someone will listen to her tell excitedly about her first day (or express her horror at how much work there is!)

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When the kids have fled the nest and your buddy and her hubby are ALONE at last then Fun Without Dick and Jane will help launch their delightfully empty nest.

Decor should a totally unadorned refrigerator, a soccer ball (substitute any sports crap)-free entry way, a full cabinet of BOTH matching dishes AND glasses, only one load of laundry left undone and no socks, dirty glasses, half-eaten sandwiches left in the living room.

Gifts should be classy nightwear but nothing TOO racy or the kids will come back and spoil it. [Raunchier gifts if appropriate to the friendship–it’s YOUR party].

Food should not include pizza (unless Artisan made, wood-fired and costing over $50 each) no mac ‘n anything, no hotdogs, no Bagel Bites no Hot Pockets etc.

Fun Stuff: Family Feud-style game of stuff we won’t miss our kids doing/bringinghome/eating/etc.

Top 5 Wednesday is a group at Goodreads. Why not join the group and post your own list (or video) next week?

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Things I’d Like to See More of in Books

toptentuesday

This week’s topic is the top 10 thinks on my reading wish list. I’ve chosen the things I want to see more of in books.

 

  1. More faithful marriages. Lots of folks never stray and wouldn’t think of it. Only 50% of marriages end in divorce–not 100%.
  2. More romantic stuff and less 50 Shades Stuff.
  3. More use of the word “stuff” instead of the hipster Sh*t More use of polite euphemisms for F&ck.
  4. More happy and less Oprah’s Book Club depressing, terrifying book of the week stuff.
  5. More normal looking people–not just drop-dead gorgeous ones And not just 20-somethings–all ages want romance. Gay, straight we all want to find love.
  6. More people with ordinary jobs–not just billionaire CEOS, cops, Highland warriors, lawyers,  etc. How about insurance adjusters, CPAs, nurses, box salespeople, day care workers, Grocery store managers, mini-mart clerks. We normal people want hope of romance.
  7. More settings where the rest of us live–not just NY, LA, London, Rome, Paris. How about Dayton? Omaha? Waukesha? Peoria? REAL people live here and we don’t all pine to live in NY or LA. We don’t “fly over” people’s lives, we live our own.
  8. More normal churches and normal church goers–and not just in Christian publishing. Shocking to New Yorkers but many folks go to church and never abuse anyone’s children, never vote GOP, never march against ANYTHING or hate anything except maybe spiders or heavy periods or cheap flip-flops.
  9. More ordinary names and nicknames for characters. I’ve never in my life met someone nicknamed “Spit” or “Hub” or [just about any stupid character nickname ever]. Normal names. Normal for that character’s generation. Check the Social Security Agency’s name search. It helps. And, please there’s a limit on how many characters can be named “Tess” or “Clair,” ok? I’ve lost track of all the Claires in books. Tess is coming a very close second. Kate isn’t far off.
  10. More normal “courtships” (i.e. dating). No one meets someone and loathes them at first sight then falls into bed with them the next day. People generally meet someone and either like them and continue knowing them or they don’t like each other. Period. Full Stop. Yes, OCCASIONALLY, you realize a first impression was wrong and try again. But not in every book. I get it–it’s a formula. But it’s a dead- tired-worn-out-and-left-for-broke-beaten-horse of a formula.

 

 

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