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Friday, April 30, 2021

Friday 5ive- April 30, 2021

Welcome to the Friday 5ive, a weekly blog post featuring five things that caught my attention this week.
Can you believe it's the last day of April already?

1)  Walking home from midtown, we saw this lovely lighted floral display on the exterior of Van Cleef & Arpels on Fifth Avenue. It really brightens up the corner.

2) While running errands, I spotted this interesting (?) display in a store window of clowns in ferris wheel. I was just talking with a friend about her collection of clowns, but I don't think hers were like these Stephen King-type of clowns in the window. 

3)  Author Lauren Willig is hosting a monthly read along of her wonderful historical fiction/romance/spy Pink Carnation series, and this week it was a discussion of the third book, The Deception of the Emerald Ring. Author Eloisa James, whose six book historical romance series, The Wildes of Lindow Castle, is equally enjoyable, was the special guest host, and the conversation between the two was fascinating and educational. They also added to all of the attendees To-Be-Read pile with their callbacks of books that influenced their writing. The Deception of the Emerald Ring is my favorite of the series so far (perhaps the Irish setting had something to do with it), I so enjoyed the snappy dialogue between Letty and Geoff.  You can watch the discussion on Lauren Willig's Facebook page here.

4)  I really enjoyed watching the NBC comedy series, Kenan, starring SNL star Kenan Thompson. Kenan plays a widowed dad of two young daughters, and the host of a local Atlanta TV morning talk show. Don Johnson is so funny as his father-in-law who lives with Kenan and helps with the girls. Throw in SNL star Chris Redd as Kenan's live-in brother and manager, and you've got a fresh, funny take on Full House. Kenan has been in television since he was a teenager (remember Kenan & Kel on Nickolodeon in the late 90s?) and he is so completely charming and at ease on camera. The bro chemistry between Johnson and Redd is hilarious, and I hope we get to see more of Fortune Feimster as reporter on the talk show in season two, she always adds such fun to any show she is on. You can catch Kenan on Peacock TV, and it's a free app. You'll laugh at the snappy, witty dialogue. 

5)  I've done a lot of reading this week.  My favorite read of the week is Damhnait Monaghan's charming debut novel, New Girl in Little Cove, about a young woman who moves from Toronto to the tiny Newfoundland town of Little Cove to teach high school French. It's a mashup of the Broadway show Come From Away, TV's Schitt's Creek and Netflix's Derry Girls. I just adored this feel-good story, my full review will publish here on May 4th.  

I hope you all stay safe, socially distant when necessary, wash your hands, and follow all the health guidelines for your area, including wearing masks when required. More and more of us are getting vaccinated and we're moving towards a return to the life we all miss.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Le Deal by J. Byrne Murphy

Le Deal by J. Byrne Murphy
Published by Lyons Press ISBN 9781493060689
Trade paperback, $19.39, 304 pages

Business books aren't my usual cup of tea, but J. Byrne Murphy's Le Deal story of how his company brought the concept of high-end retail outlet shopping centers to Europe in the 1990s piqued my interest.

Murphy and his partners in McArthur Glen had some success opening retail shopping centers in the US, and saw their next move in taking the concept to Europe. The Savings & Loan financial crisis created havoc for many companies, including theirs, but Murphy and his partners believed this concept was a winner. They just had to find financial backing.

They believed their best move would be to start in England. The British were not keen on fashion outlet stores, afraid that they would hurt the big fashion shops in London. Why would people pay full price for clothes if they could get them cheaper in outlet shops? No, the big fashion houses would never go for that.

McArthur Glen explained that these outlet shops would be selling end of season clothes, directly owned and supplied by the big retail names themselves. Nonsense was the reply, the British do not want to shop at discount stores for fashion.

After convincing them of the concept, Murphy and his team discovered that they had competition in the form of a man they had come across before. Roger Morgan was a smart businessman, and they had had a good relationship- until now. It seemed that Morgan was always one step ahead of them, was he spying on them? Morgan "gazumped" them, a new term for me. In England, a real estate deal is not necessarily complete when the agreement is made. If another company offers more money even up to the moment before the closing, your deal can be "gazumped". That seems unfair.

Murphy moved with his wife to Paris, and he began to set the wheels in motion to open outlet centers in France. The steps that he had to take- from meeting with every politician in every small town they were looking at to site visits to winning approval to appeals to their win to eventually having their case before the French Supreme Court- are recounted in detail here.

The numerous political considerations in France were something Murphy and his team did not have to deal with in the United States. Every politician had an angle, and allegiances changed frequently. The disasterous EuroDisney experience hurt their credibility with the French as well. US businesses were not exactly welcomed with open arms.

I found the section where they were preparing for their grand opening in France most fascinating. As someone who worked in marketing in a mall, I could relate to all the preparations and excitement.  McArthur Glen had to deal with possible protests from downtown merchants blocking the road and construction that was still going in inside the stores right up until the evening before the grand opening.

Le Deal is a business book that reads like a novel. From the differences in business culture in Europe to the criteria for site selection to the machinations of the politicians, it was all so interesting, and at times it feels like a thriller- will they get it done? You have to read it to find out how, and I recommend you do.

Thanks to TLC Tours for putting me on J. Byrne Murphy's tour. The rest of his stops are here:

Monday, April 19th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Tuesday, April 20th: Instagram: @readingmama_reviews

Thursday, April 22nd: Musings of a Literary Wanderer

Monday, April 26th: bookchickdi

Tuesday, April 27th: Run Wright

Wednesday, April 28th: Instagram: @gracereads82

Wednesday, May 5th: Instagram: @megsbookclub

Thursday, May 6th: Jathan & Heather

Tuesday, May 11th: Man of La Book

Wednesday, May 12th: Instagram: @jenguerdy

Thursday, May 13th: Bibliotica

Friday, May 14th: What Is That Book About

Friday, April 23, 2021

All the Children Are Home by Patry Francis

All The Children Are Home by Patry Francis
Published by Harper Perennial ISBN 9780063045446
Trade paperback, $16.99, 384 pages

Sometimes you finish a book that touches your heart so that when you finish it, you want to immediately turn to the first page and begin reading it all over again; Patry Francis' novel, All The Children Are Home, is such a book.

Set in 1959 in a small town near Boston, Dahlia and her husband Louie Moscatelli have a home with three foster children- teenagers Jimmy and Zaidie, and Zaidie's younger brother Jon. They have a tightknit family. One day a social worker asks them to take in a eight year-old girl named Agnes on an temporary emergency placement.

Dahlia and Louie have agreed "no more emergencies", but Dahlia relents and accepts Agnes. Agnes is very small for her age, she suffered from a failure to thrive as an infant, and has come from a bad placement. One of the saddest things in her story is that she only learned her colors from the Jello she ate in the hospital.

Agnes is part Native American, and her previous foster father treated her cruelly because of that. When she arrived at Dahlia and Louie's, the other children were immediately protective of Agnes. Being allowed to eat at the table with the family was new to her, and the other children teach her everything she needs to know. Zaidie gives Agnes her shamrock barrettes, and Jimmy teaches her how to play baseball.

Dahlia is an agoraphobic, spending her days doing puzzles, watching soap operas, and reading Reader's Digest condensed books from the library. Louie works long hours as a mechanic, and although he is gruff, he is kind to the children, slipping them money to get candy at the store. Agnes says that Dahlia is "a shadow- always present, but less real than everything around her." We eventually discover the reason behind that.

The neighbors don't like the Moscatellis, frequently complaining about the children. Some of the kids at school are cruel to them as well, and Jimmy seems to suffer more than the others as he grows older. Zaidie is smart and organized, she has goals in life, even taping photos of her heroes- Eleanor Roosevelt among them- on her wall for inspiration.

All The Children Are Home is about what it means to be a family. This family is not perfect in the eyes of the world, but they are to each other. They face many challenges as the children grow older, and how this family loves and supports each other in the face of disdain from neighbors and harassment from schoolmates is heartwarming, heartbreaking and hopeful. I read this book in one day and I will be recommending it to everyone. With unforgettable characters, it is simply one of the best books I have read in a long time.

My review of Patry Francis' previous novel, The Orphans of Race Point,  is here.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

New in Paperback- Two Terrific Books Featuring Fascinating Women

Reprinted from auburnpub.com: 

Many of the main characters in novels tend to be young females (age 30 and under), and since I am a little bit older than that, I enjoy finding novels that feature main characters closer to my age. I like being able to relate to their stage of life. 

This month’s Book Report has two novels who have main characters who have lived a little, have more experiences in their lives to draw upon.

Jane L. Rosen’s novel, Eliza Starts A Rumor is set in a beautiful bucolic town in the Hudson Valley, a bedroom community a few hours from New York City. Eliza is awaiting a visit home from her twins, a son and daughter, who are in their first semester at college.

What her children and husband don’t know is that Eliza is suffering from agoraphobia. The thought of leaving the house to go anywhere, even to the grocery store, sends her into a severe panic. 

This happened once before, when Eliza was in high school. For a number of months she refused to get out of bed, something that puzzled her mother and her best friend Amanda. This time around, she has a relapse after her children’s high school graduation. 

Eliza has run the Hudson Valley Ladies’ Bulletin Board for fifteen years on social media. Mothers use it as a resource to discuss issues, like where are the best story times for children, and laundry tips. 

A new mother’s group has popped up, one where women graphically discuss their sex lives and their husbands’ shortcomings. When Eliza finds out that this group has more followers than her group, she decides to fight fire with fire.

She notices that a man is always stopping by her neighbor’s house during his morning run, and she makes up a story about two people who are having an affair. Her post gets a lot of attention and more followers, but it also causes big problems.

When Olivia, a young mom, reads this, she thinks it is her husband who is having an affair. She meets Allison, a lawyer who is a single mom to her child. Allison starts a friendship with a woman on the social media board who is not what she seems, and she meets a single dad of a tweenage girl, whom she begins to date.

Allison offers to help Olivia find out if it is her husband who is the cheater, and they end up beginning a friendship with Eliza and her childhood friend Amanda, whose Hollywood producer husband is caught up in the #MeToo movement.

The four women join together to help Olivia discover the truth. The story of their unlikely friendship drives this lovely story, and I related to Eliza having to deal with empty nest syndrome with her children away at school. I highly recommend Eliza Starts A Rumor for anyone who enjoys a story about women of every age coming into their own.

Amy Poeppel’s new novel, Musical Chairs also deals with a mom who has adult twins. Bridget is excited to be spending her summer at her rather rundown vacation home in Connecticut with her boyfriend. 

When he breaks up with her in an email after his ex-wife tells him he should, Bridget’s daughter quits her finance job in Hong Kong, and her newly married son shows up without his husband, her summer plans have drastically changed, and her house fills up.

Bridget’s best friend and musical partner Will will be spending the summer as well, as they must rehearse with the new member of their classical musical trio, hoping to revive their career. 

Oh and Bridget’s elderly father Edward, a highly respected composer, has announced that he will be marrying his deceased wife’s friend, which throws everyone into a frenzy.

Musical Chairs is a hilarious, sweet story filled with characters that you will want to hang out with. Reading this delightful novel makes you feel like you are a part of the story, as each of the characters is so interesting, especially Edward’s young assistant Jackie, a young city woman who is perplexed by these rich people. The scene where she gets drunk at Bridget’s house is howlingly funny. I adored everything about this book, and if you are looking for something light, an escape from the reality of our lives today, Musical Chairs is the cure.

Eliza Starts A Rumor by Jane L. Rosen- A

Published by Berkley

Trade paperback, $17, 336 pages

Musical Chairs by Amy Poeppel- A+

Published by Atria/Emily Bestler Books

Trade paperback, $17, 416 pages

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman by Julietta Henderson

The Funny Thing About Norman Forman
Published by MIRA ISBN 9780778331957
Trade paperback, $16.99, 296 pages

Sometimes you want to read a book that reaffirms your faith in human kindness; Julietta Henderson's novel The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman is that book.

Told from the alternating perspectives of 12 year-old Norman and his exhausted single mom Sadie, we meet them in their home in the small town of Penzance in Cornwall, England. Norman is a kind young man who suffers badly from psoriasis, causing him severe pain. 

His only friend is Jax, a bad boy who gets into trouble at school, but is true-blue to his pal Norman. They watch endless hours of comedy on TV, and have worked up their own comedy routine, with Jax as the funny one and Norman as the straight man. They have a Five Year Plan to end up at the world-famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. They call themselves "the Rolls Royce of friends".

When Jax dies of an asthma attack, Norman and Sadie are both devastated. Norman decides that to honor his friend, he will go to Edinburgh and perform alone. The only problem is that Norman is the straight man, not the funny one.

Sadie has a connection to the Fringe Festival. Thirteen years ago that is the place where she had a series of one night stands with four men, resulting in the birth of Norman nine months later. Along with the help of Leonard, retired IT expert and part-time janitor at Sadie's job, they track down the four men and plan a road trip to Edinburgh.

Leonard has arranged for stops along the way for Norman to work out his comedy routine at open mic nights, while Sadie contacts the four possible fathers. Hijinx ensue.

The writing is crisp, with plenty of humor and a little sadness. Sadie has some really funny one-liners, and it seems that everytime they need a skill- setting up a spreadsheet, Photoshopping- Leonard had taken a helpful adult education class at the community center. (He can also ice a wedding cake, weld, and cook a proper Spanish paella.)

When Norman and Sadie needs some kindness, there are people there to help: Big Al, the 6'2 beer-swilling Keats-loving poet who gives Norman pointers on his performance, Tom (a possible father) and his girlfriend Kathy who attend Norman's disasterous talent show where two Frank Sinatra inpersonators end up fighting onstage, and a young Goth woman Sadie meets on a bus who helps Sadie find a missing Leonard.

The spirit of young Jax hangs over all of this lovely story, a mashup of Ricky Gervais' Nextflix show After Life, the Broadway show/movie Mamma Mia, and a buddy road trip movie. (Now you know you can't resist.)

If you're looking for a delightful story that will renew your faith in the goodness of humans (couldn't we all use that right now), pick up The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman. I'm still smiling thinking about Norman, Sadie & company. It's a love letter to single moms and their sons, and this would make a fantastic movie, I certainly hope someone options it right away. 

Thanks to Harlequin Books for putting me on Julietta Henderson's tour.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

The Last Bookshop In London by Madeline Martin

The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin
Published by Hanover Square Press ISBN 9781335284808
Trade paperback, $16.99, 251 pages

While there seems to be so many novels set in WWII, Madeleine Martin's The Last Bookshop in London feels like a fresh take on the genre.

Grace and her best friend Viv have left behind their lives in the country for what they hope will be the excitement of living in the big city of London. They move into the home of Grace's late mother's friend, Mrs. Weatherford, and her kindhearted son Colin.

Viv is able to get a job at Harrod's glamorous department store, but the only job Grace can get is at Primrose Hill, a local bookstore. Grace is not a reader, and she is taken aback at the disarray and disorganization of the store.

Mr. Evans, the owner of the bookshop, reluctantly takes Grace on as an employee on a temporary basis as a favor to Mrs. Weatherford. Grace gets to work cleaning and organizing the shop, and when handsome George comes in and suggests she read The Count of Monte Crisco to begin her education, Grace is smitten.

When England declares war on Germany after the invasion of Poland, things in London change. Colin and George are off to war, Viv leaves to join the war effort, but Grace stays behind with Mrs. Weatherford. Grace becomes a warden at night, walking the neighborhood to ensure that everyone follows the blackout envelop you as you read.

Soon the Germans begin nightly bombing runs over England, known as the Blitz. Each night the residents  of London would take cover in the underground subway tunnels while German planes bombed civilian targets in the city, destroying it piece by piece. Martin immerses the reader in this terrorizing nightly ritual alongside the London residents.

One night, Grace begins to read aloud to her neighbors in the Underground, which becomes a balm to them. She takes to afternoon readings in the bookshop, and people pack the store to hear her.

As someone who works at a bookstore, I truly enjoyed Grace's evolution of the shop. She creates marketing ideas, including participating in the National Book Token system. People were encouraged to buy book tokens that people could take into bookstores to exchange for books, like a gift cards. I had not heard of this, and I loved it.

Madeline Martin does such a brilliant job putting the reader into this neighborhood in London, which was a character in the book, as was the bookshop. We understand the importance of the bookshop as a refuge from war to the community, and how the community comes together when the bookshop needs them. 

I highly recommend The Last Bookshop in London for anyone who loves bookstores and a good WWII story told from a fresh perspective. 

Thanks to Harlequin Books for putting me on Madeline Martin's tour.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Friday 5ive- April 9, 2021

Welcome to the Friday 5ive, a weekly blog post about five things that caught my attention this week.

1)  Sunday was Easter and this year for dessert I ordered a cake from Carousel Cakes in Nanuet, NY. One of my sons is not a fan of chocolate (I have no idea where he got that from), so this pretty vanilla cake with strawberry custard filling fit the bill. Not only was it pretty to look at it, it was tasty too. We ordered it from Goldbelly, and we have had such good luck ordering from there. If you're looking for a tasty treat to send to someone special, head to Goldbelly.com, they have all kinds of foods from all over the country, many from famous chefs and restaurants.

2)  Continuing with the cake theme, my birthday was this past week, and we had a special dinner with our sons at Ocean Prime in midtown. I knew our older son would be there (he lives in NYC), but I was happily surprised to see our younger son from Boston sitting there with him when we arrived. It was such an enjoyable evening, and the guys even had these beautiful flowers waiting for me on the table. For dessert, they brought out two lovely little cakes- one chocolate and one carrot cake. It was a memorable birthday.

3)  Another reason to love Dolly Parton is that she worked with Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams in Columbus, Ohio to create a new ice cream flavor- Strawberry Pretzel Pie. The cream cheese ice cream has strawberry sauce and pretzel streusel swirled through it. It sold out immediately, crashing Jeni's website. The best part (besides the heavenly sounding taste) is that proceeds from the sale go to Dolly's Imagination Library, a program that sends books each month to children from birth to age five. The program has gifted over 155 million books to children. I'm not sure any one person has done more for the cause of childhood literacy than Dolly Parton. Follow Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams social media for more information on the next release. I know I will.

4)  We watched The United States Vs. Billie Holiday, starring singer Andra Day in her Golden Globe winning and Academy Award-nominated performance as Holiday. The movie tells the story of how in the 1940s, the FBI went after Holiday over her singing her powerful song, Strange Fruit, about the lynching of Black people. Day is astonishing in the role, and it reminded me of Bette Midler's amazing performance of a rock'n'roll singer (based on the life of Janis Joplin) in her Oscar nominated performance in The Rose. Holiday battled racism, drug and alcohol abuse, abusive relationships with men, and the FBI's constant harrassment. It is a performance not to be missed, the music is fantastic, and it's streaming on Hulu now.  

5)  I read two books this week. Wendy Francis' Summertime Guests is for those of us who love to people-watch. Set at an historic Boston waterfront hotel, when a woman falls (or did she jump or was she pushed?), the story of how that came to be is told by four different people- a young engaged couple, the hotel's general manager, a couple celebrating a birthday, and a middle-aged journalist whose last article has caused the mob to sue her newspaper. Who is the woman who fell? It's a mystery, and a good book to tuck in your bag when you head on vacation. My full review is here.

Patry Francis wrote a book years ago that has a place on my Favorites Shelf- The Orphans of Race Point. Her new novel, All the Children Are Home, tells the story of a couple who take in four foster children in the 1950s. The characters are unforgettable, including mom Dahlia, who is afraid to leave their home, hard-working husband Louie, older brother Jimmy who is protective of the younger children, Zaidie and her younger brother Jon who came to live with them when their mother died, and the youngest girl, Agnes, who suffered terrible abuse as a baby. How this family loves and supports each other in the face of disdain from neighbors and harassment from schoolmates is heartwarming, heartbreaking and hopeful. I read this book in one day and I will be recommending it to everyone. My review will follow soon.

Stay safe, socially distant, wash your hands, wear a mask and get a vaccine when it's your turn. (I did!) We'll soon be able to get back to some sense of normal if we all do our part.

This post was shared with Marg at The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Summertime Guests by Wendy Francis

Summertime Guests by Wendy Francis
Published by Graydon House Books ISBN 9781525895982
Trade paperback, $16.99, 320 pages

If you're the type of person who, when you are staying at a hotel, likes to people-watch and wonder about the lives of the people visiting there, Wendy Francis' novel  Summertime Guests is the perfect read for you.

Riley, her husband-to-be Tom, and Tom's mother Marilyn are at the Seafarer for a tasting for their wedding. Marilyn would love for her son to be married at the Seafarer, whose guests have included everyone from Winston Churchill to Jennifer Lopez. Riley would prefer a small, intimate wedding in a meadow, and Tom is just trying to keeping both women happy.

While they are discussing ideas with the Seafarer wedding coordinator, they hear a horrifying crash and discover that a woman has fallen to her death from a balcony right in front of them. Did she fall, jump, or was she pushed?

 Jean-Paul, the general manager of the hotel, has recently relocated to Boston from Paris with his wife Marie, who recently gave birth to their daughter. Jean-Paul's job has been all-consuming preparing the hotel for its remodel and reopening, and Marie is having difficulty adjusting to motherhood.

Jean-Paul now has to deal with the police, TV news crews, staff, hotel guests, and a huge wedding party set to arrive, as well as alerting the wealthy hotel owner of the situation.

Gwen has arranged for a special birthday weekend for her boyfriend Jason at the Seafarer. They both teach at a college, but what Gwen doesn't know is that Jason has given up on both teaching his classes and working on his dissertation.

Jason has an explosive temper which has resulted in him attacking people unprovoked. He is jealous of anyone who disrespects or flirts with Gwen. He has even hurt Gwen, something that upsets him because his father used to beat him and his mother when he was a young boy.

Claire is a 61 year-old recent widow who has come to Boston to look up her old boyfriend, hoping that he may still have feelings for her. She is on a leave from her job as a journalist at a Providence newspaper, where a story she wrote about a mobster has had repercussions for both her and the paper.

Wendy Francis successfully combines a summer romance novel with a mystery- we know a woman died, is it someone we have met in the story? The book goes back and forth in time over the week of the death, so it could be.

It can be difficult for an author to keep separate storylines equally interesting, but Francis does a terrific job of investing the reader in each of the four stories, and intersecting them at the right time. 

I enjoyed the Boston setting, I felt like we were right there on the water in a beautiful hotel, and found the glimpses of the inner workings of the hotel enlightening.

Now that many of us will be returning to traveling soon, Summertime Guests would be a great book to pack in your suitcase, and pull out on the beach or by the hotel pool while you sip a cocktail and people watch. Wendy Francis pulled me into her story so enticingly that I read it in one day. I highly recommend it.

Thanks to Harlequin for putting me on Wendy Francis book tour.

Monday, April 5, 2021

No Pain, No Gaines by Chip Gaines

No Pain, No Gaines by Chip Gaines
Published by Thomas Nelson ISBN 9780785237914
Hardcover, $26.99, 190 pages

One the shows that put HGTV on the map is Fixer Upper starring the husband and wife team of Chip and Joanna Gaines, owners of Magnolia in Waco, Texas.  Chip handles the demolition and remodeling of a house and Joanna does the creative and design of the home. 

Chip is known as a goofy, funny, hardworking guy and he shares his philosophy of life and the things he has learned along the way in No Pain, No Gaines. Not the best student growing up, Chip found more value on hands-on, physical work. 

He was a hard worker, a go-getter, even as a child, when he sold snacks at the local public tennis courts. In college, while others were having a good time, Chip had a lawn mowing business and earning nearly $30,000 annually. Sales always interested him, and he even had a stint selling books door to door.

When it became apparent that his career as a baseball player wasn't going to happen, Chip had to pivot.  He was devastated at getting cut from the Baylor University baseball team, but meeting a guy who lost an eye in high school, and then had an aneurysm that led to brain surgery in college, woke Chip up.

Chip learned to "see the life in front of" him. He began to pay attention to life as it was happening around him, "ready to shift gears whenever necessary." 

He also discovered the importance of having a network of people around him, people who will support and cheer you on. He gives his family- parents and sister, his in-laws- an opportunity to share their insights into and anecdotes about Chip that are so enlightening.

According to Chip, one of the most important things in understanding who you are involves making a list of Nonnegotiables, "a list of qualities that are an unwavering part of who you are", your core values. When your actions don't line up with your nonnegotionables, you become unmoored.

Gaines believes in taking chances, and listening to your gut. He says you also have to be willing to fail; as successful as he and Joanna are with their media empire (a TV network, retail store, restaurant, magazine, decor line at Target, etc.), they came close to declaring bankruptcy at one point.

I'm not someone who watched Fixer Upper, but I have to say that I found much to like in No Pain, No Gaines. I'm also not someone who reads a lot of self-help or business advice books, but much of Gaines' advice and experiences he shares are interesting, useful, and thought-provoking. It's written in an easy, conversational voice, and if you are a Chip and Joanna Gaines fan, you'll get even more out of this book.

Thanks to TLC Tours for putting me on Chip Gaines' tour. The rest of his stops are here:

Print review tour:

Monday, April 5th: Bookchickdi

Wednesday, April 7th: Mammanatty’s Raves and Reviews

Thursday, April 8th: Literary Quicksand

Friday, April 9th: Running Through the Storms

Monday, April 12th: @workreadsleeprepeat

Monday, April 12th: Palmer’s Page Turners

Wednesday, April 14th: Leighellen Landskov and @mommaleighellensbooknook

Thursday, April 15th: Living My Best Book Life and @livingmybestbooklife

Friday, April 16th: @books_faith_love

Monday, April 19th: Nurse Bookie and @nurse_bookie

Tuesday, April 20th: What is That Book About

Wednesday, April 21st: @stumblingintobooks

Thursday, April 22nd: A Bookish Way of Life

Friday, April 23rd: Pacific Northwest Bookworm and @pnwbookworm

Friday, April 2, 2021

Friday 5ive- April 2, 2021

Welcome to the Friday 5ive,  a weekly blog featuring five things that caught my attention this week, and welcome to April where one day it can be 60 degrees and the next day it's 36.

1)  While exiting the TJ Maxx store in my neighborhood, I noticed a small garden area behind the store with this beautiful mosiac. I've been to that store many times, and this is the first time I've noticed it.

2)  I have this app called Citizen that notifies me when there is police or fire activity nearby. This notification popped up on Saturday. You'll be happy to know they caught the offender.

3)  My mom sent me a set of postcards from my hometown of Auburn, NY for my birthday. Each postcard has a photo of some iconic sight, and they brought back so many memories. There are historical sights, like the statue of Harriet Tubman, and things that have personal memories- Falcon Park, where we watched many a baseball game, Springside Inn, where we had our son's wedding reception, and Angelo's Pizza, the place where everyone ended up after an evening dancing the night away. What a fun gift! You can find them at auburnpcproject.com

4) As a huge fan of Tina Turner's (her Private Dancer album is one of my all-time favorites)I was so pleased with the new HBO documentary on her life. The archival footage they had of her early performances with Ike Turner was truly incredible, and the documentary was broken into five parts, covering her entire life. How she reinvented herself in the 1980s as a rock'n'roll queen through sheer will, hard work, talent, and finding the right manager was so impressive. I found it very telling that she does not want to be known for surviving the abuse she took at the hands of her husband Ike. She was done with that part of her life, and constantly speaking about it brings up painful memories, I wish people would let her move on from that. I'm really glad I got to see the Broadway show Tina Turner the Musical before everything shut down last year. I'm happy she finally found love with her husband of thirty years, Erwin Bach. This is must-see TV for music fans.

5) Two books were on my reading list this week. I read the second book in Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation spy series, titled The Masque of the Black Tulip. The books are set in the early 1800's, with England worrying that Napoleon will try to invade. There are a series of spies, including the Pink Carnation, embedded in Paris society, sending information back to England. Young Henrietta Selwick is taking after her brother Richard, known as the Purple Gentian, acting as a courier for the Pink Carnation's information. She has a crush on her brother's best friend Miles, who will not act on his growing feelings for Henrietta out of respect for his friend. Henrietta and Miles end up working together to discover the identity of the dastardly French spy, the Black Tulip, and mayhem ensues. It's a fun, action-filled romantic romp that is a perfect read for those who enjoyed Bridgerton on Netflix. Lauren Willig is hosting a year-long readalong of the Pink Carnation books, and each month she and a different romance author host a Zoom chat about one of the books. This month, Tasha Alexander, author of the historical fiction Lady Emily series, led the discussion. It was a fun and informative evening, check out Lauren Willig's Facebook page for more information.

 I'm in the middle of Chip Gaines new book, No Pain, No Gaines. He talks about the importance of networks, the people in your life who can help you achieve your goals. He's a real people person, very curious about what makes people tick, and if you are a fan of he and his wife, Joanna Gaines, HGTV show, Fixer Upper, this is a book you will enjoy. I like it so far, and I'm not particularly a fan of their show. He has an easy conversational style, and I particularly liked that he allowed his family and Joanna's family each to share their thoughts. My full review publishes here on Monday. 

Stay safe, socially distant, wear a mask, wash your hands, and get the vaccine when it's your turn. Good times are ahead!