Everyday Tidbits...

Be Kind. Do Good. Love is a Verb.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Weekend Reflections 10/29

Looking outside...it's cool, 45 degrees. But, the sun is shining and it hasn't done much of that this week. It's like Fall arrived all at once.

Listening...to the kitchen clock ticking. I can also faintly hear The Doctor who is in the office, dictating a patient report.

Loving...this fall weather.

Thinking...that I am relieved to have my vote cast. I love early voting. We have decided that we are going dark on social media the day of the election. I am so done with all the vitriol and hatred from all sides.

In my kitchen...a cup of hot chocolate right now. 

Wearing...blue BSU pajamas and gray turtleneck.

Hoping...that we can get lawns mowed since the sun is out. It's been wet and rainy all week, which is great, but not very conducive to lawn mowing!

Reading...I posted a review on Wednesday of Duty to the Crown by Aimie K. Runyan. So good.

Today...cleaning the garage.

Quoting..."“Friendship...is born at the moment when one man says to another, "What! You too? I thought that no one but myself...” ― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Feeling...I'm missing my boy. He's settled in well and the daily texts aren't daily anymore, which is good, but he took a piece of my heart with him.

Planning...we are making plans and talking to people about the professional changes happening. Scary and exciting.

Gratitude...for friends. We went to dinner last night with a group of good friends. So grateful for love and laughter and people who are just great to be with. Such a delightful evening.

From my world... 

Fall is definitely here. I love the colors on this tree in our backyard.

What about you? What are you reflecting on this week? How has your week gone?

Friday, October 28, 2016

5 Books I Want to Read...The Sea

I keep a wish list on Goodreads called "want to read". Currently, it's up to 2605 or something like that. Yeah. I also have several stacks of books tucked against walls throughout my house. Each is probably at least 3 feet high of books I haven't read yet. I periodically go through my list and purge it, but it still is not slowing down. Nor are the books that keep appearing on my Kindle. They're all still on my wish list, I just haven't gotten to them yet.

Each month I highlight 5 books I want to read. I don't set out to plan themes, but somehow patterns creep into my viewing.

This month I discovered several books on my list that were set either on or near the sea. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, I love the ocean. I love any beach, but I have a special place in my heart for the Pacific Coast. So, it wasn't a surprise to find books with an ocean setting on my reading list. I am landlocked in Idaho and you have no idea how desperately I miss the ocean.


The Whiskey Sea by Ann Howard Creel

Motherless and destitute, Frieda Hope grows up during Prohibition determined to make a better life for herself and her sister, Bea. The girls are taken in by a kindly fisherman named Silver, and Frieda begins to feel at home whenever she is on the water. When Silver sells his fishing boat to WWI veteran Sam Hicks, thinking Sam would be a fine husband for Frieda, she’s outraged. But Frieda manages to talk Sam into teaching her to repair boat engines instead, so she has a trade of her own and won’t have to marry.

Frieda quickly discovers that a mechanic’s wages won’t support Bea and Silver, so she joins a team of rumrunners, speeding into dangerous waters to transport illegal liquor. Frieda becomes swept up in the lucrative, risky work—and swept off her feet by a handsome Ivy Leaguer who’s in it just for fun.

As danger mounts and her own feelings threaten to drown her, can Frieda find her way back to solid ground—and to a love that will sustain her?

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.

Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies...and war.

As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.

Yet not all promises can be kept.

Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope.

Safe to the Sea by Peter Geye

Set against the powerful lakeshore landscape of northern Minnesota, Safe from the Sea is a heartfelt novel in which a son returns home to reconnect with his estranged and dying father thirty-five years after the tragic wreck of a Great Lakes ore boat that the father only partially survived and that has divided them emotionally ever since. When his father for the first time finally tells the story of the horrific disaster he has carried with him so long, it leads the two men to reconsider each other.

Meanwhile, Noah's own struggle to make a life with an absent father has found its real reward in his relationship with his sagacious wife, Natalie, whose complications with infertility issues have marked her husband's life in ways he only fully realizes as the reconciliation with his father takes shape.

Peter Geye has delivered an archetypal story of a father and son, of the tug and pull of family bonds, of Norwegian immigrant culture, of dramatic shipwrecks and the business and adventure of Great Lakes shipping in a setting that simply casts a spell over the characters as well as the reader.

Two if by Sea by Jacquelyn Mitchard

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Deep End of the Ocean, an epic story of courage and devotion that spans three continents and the entire map of the human heart.

Just hours after his wife and her entire family perish in the Christmas Eve tsunami in Brisbane, American expat and former police officer Frank Mercy goes out to join his volunteer rescue unit and pulls a little boy from a submerged car, saving the child’s life with only seconds to spare. In that moment, Frank’s own life is transformed.

Not quite knowing why, Frank sidesteps the law, when, instead of turning Ian over to the Red Cross, he takes the boy home to the Midwestern farm where he grew up. Not long into their journey, Frank begins to believe that Ian has an extraordinary, impossible telepathic gift; but his only wish is to protect the deeply frightened child. As Frank struggles to start over, training horses as his father and grandfather did before him, he meets Claudia, a champion equestrian and someone with whom he can share his life—and his fears for Ian.

Both of them know that it will be impossible to keep Ian’s gift a secret forever. Already, ominous coincidences have put Frank’s police instincts on high alert, as strangers trespass the quiet life at the family farm.

The fight to keep Ian safe from a sinister group who want him back takes readers from the ravaged shores of Brisbane to the middle of America to a quaint English village.

Even as Frank and Claudia dare to hope for new love, it becomes clear that they can never let Ian go, no matter what the cost. A suspenseful novel on a grand scale, Two If by Sea is about the best and worst in people, and the possibility of heroism and even magic in ordinary life.

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

History has all but forgotten...

In the spring of 1708, an invading Jacobite fleet of French and Scottish soldiers nearly succeeded in landing the exiled James Stewart in Scotland to reclaim his crown.

Now, Carrie McClelland hopes to turn that story into her next bestselling novel. Settling herself in the shadow of Slains Castle, she creates a heroine named for one of her own ancestors and starts to write.

But when she discovers her novel is more fact than fiction, Carrie wonders if she might be dealing with ancestral memory, making her the only living person who knows the truth-the ultimate betrayal-that happened all those years ago, and that knowledge comes very close to destroying her...


What about you? What books are on your "want to read/wish" list?

5 Books I want to Read is a monthly meme started by Stephanie at Layered Pages. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their wish lists look like, you can do that here: Layered PagesA Bookaholic SwedeThe Maiden's CourtA Literary Vacation, Flashlight Commentary.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

#CoverCrush: A Bridge Across the Ocean

I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.

I have loved every Susan Meissner book I've read. Seriously. This one is in my TBR and it's just gorgeous. The colors are muted, but rich. The setting appears to be New York and a sea voyage and our heroine a lady of means. Lovely.

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's Court, Flashlight CommentaryA Bookaholic SwedeLayered Pages, indieBRAG.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Duty to the Crown...Review

About the book:
Set amid the promise and challenge of the first Canadian colonies, Aimie K. Runyan’s vividly rendered novel provides a fascinating portrait of the women who would become the founding mothers of New France.

In 1667, an invisible wall separates settlers in New France from their Huron neighbors. Yet whether in the fledgling city of Quebec or within one of the native tribes, every woman’s fate depends on the man she chooses—or is obligated—to marry.

Although Claudine Deschamps and Gabrielle Giroux both live within the settlement, their prospects are very different. French-born Claudine has followed her older sister across the Atlantic hoping to attract a wealthy husband through her beauty and connections. Gabrielle, orphan daughter of the town drunkard, is forced into a loveless union by a cruel law that requires her to marry by her sixteenth birthday. And Manon Lefebvre, born in the Huron village and later adopted by settlers, has faced the prejudices of both societies and is convinced she can no longer be accepted in either. Drawn into unexpected friendship through their loves, losses, and dreams of home and family, all three women will have to call on their bravery and resilience to succeed in this new world…

Having enjoyed Promised to the Crown, I anxiously awaited the release of Duty to the Crown and it did not disappoint. Historically rich, it covers a locale and period of history that I am unfamiliar with. The Canadian frontier is a complete unknown to me, but Aimie Runyan brings it to life vividly.

The story follows the second generation of young women in frontier Quebec; girls we met in the first book. Nicole's sisters Claudine and Emmanuelle, who followed her across the Atlantic, hoping for husbands of their own. Gabrielle, a talented young seamstress, forced to marry an abusive man because although adopted by Elisabeth and Gilbert, she is considered an orphan. And Manon, a young Huron girl who, despite being adopted by Nicole and Alexandre, feels unaccepted by either society.

Perhaps my favorite part of this story is the relationships: mother/daughter, adopted father/daughter, sisters, husband/wife, and more. Relationships of any kind are rarely drama-free. They are emotional and chaotic, they are fraught with misunderstanding and miscommunication. Marriage especially, can be a maelstrom of messy emotions. But, strong relationships grow from that. The exploration of these relationships and the growth and maturity that comes from that is what makes this story remarkable.

Claudine's maturity from flightly silly girl to devoted wife and mother; Manon's discovery of who she is and where she fits; and Gabrielle's journey through a cycle of abuse to self-sufficiency breathe life and beauty into this story.

Like Promised to the Crown, this novel features strong women. Their stories are full of trial and difficulty and tragedy, but their strength is resilient and their love and faith in each other steadfast and resolute.

Second in the Daughters of New France series, this novel could stand alone, but your enjoyment of the story is far richer if you have read the first book.

Thanks to the author and Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Aimie K. Runyan on her website and find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Read 10/16

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Monday, October 24, 2016

Finding Father Christmas and Engaging Father Christmas...Review

About the book: 
By beloved author Robin Jones Gunn, two timeless, heartwarming Christmas novellas bound together for the first time in an omnibus edition. 

In Finding Father Christmas, Miranda Carson's search for her father leads her unexpectedly to London with only a few feeble clues as to who he might be. Immediately welcomed into a family that doesn't recognize her, and whom she's quickly coming to love, she faces a terrible decision. Should she reveal her true identity and destroy their idyllic image of her father? Or should she carry the truth home with her to San Francisco and remain alone in this world? Whatever choice she makes during this London Christmas will forever change the future for both herself and the family she can't bear to leave.

In Engaging Father Christmas, Miranda Carson can't wait to return to England for Christmas and to be with her boyfriend, Ian. She has spent a lifetime yearning for a place to call home, and she's sure Carlton Heath will be it, especially when a hinted-at engagement ring slips into the conversation. But Miranda's high hopes for a jolly Christmas with the small circle of people she has come to love are toppled when Ian's father is hospitalized and the matriarch of the Whitcombe family withholds her blessing from Miranda. Questions run rampant in Miranda's mind about whether she really belongs in this cheery corner of the world. Then, when her true identity threatens all her relationships in unanticipated ways, Miranda is certain all is lost. And yet . . . maybe Father Christmas has special gifts in store for her after all.


Miranda Carson grew up with her nomadic actress mother and only one clue to her father's identity: a photograph with the name and location of the photography studio on the back of it.

As an adult, she takes a spontaneous trip to England to try and locate any information she can about her father. She ends up in a picturesque English village, complete with Charles Dickens and Father Christmas, on Christmas Eve. The photography studio is long gone, but in it's stead she finds herself welcomed into the home and lives of some delightful people. As Miranda opens her heart to the love shown her, she finds the answers she was seeking and these change her life forever.

Predictable and light, it's nevertheless a charming little story. Perfect for a cozy afternoon in front of the fire.


A charming sequel to Finding Father Christmas.

Miranda Carson returns to England and her newly found family and boyfriend. However, the happy Christmas reunion she expected does not unfold as she anticipated. Illness and family secrets threaten Miranda's new life. As she hopes for her dreams to come true, Miranda and others learn about love and acceptance and what it means to be a family. The Whitcombe and MacGregor families are just as charming here. We also get better acquainted, especially with Ian, Julia and Mark.

Both stories, are light and somewhat predictable. They're also delightful. Perfect for curling up by a fire with a cup of cocoa.

I loved these sweet stories just as much the second time reading them as I did the first time years ago. They're being released in one book in preparation for the third story Kissing Father Christmas. It was great to revisit Miranda and Ian and their story. Finding Father Christmas has also been made into a Hallmark movie and will be shown on November 13 on the Hallmark Channel. Makes me wish I had cable or satellite access!

Read 10/16

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to reread these stories. You can learn more about Robin Jones Gunn on her website and find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Childhood Favorites...Little Mommy

Childhood favorites. Everyone has a favorite book or author from childhood. A book that touched them or changed them. A book that perhaps initiated their love of reading and put them on the path of libraries and learning.

Childhood Favorites is a monthly series focusing on beloved books from the past. 

Donald Zolan, Quiet Time.

My all-time favorite book as a small girl was Little Mommy. First published by Golden Books in 1967, I literally wore out my copy. I had the entire story memorized. I was captivated by the illustrations.

Many Little Golden Books have stayed in print for decades, but not Little Mommy. For years, any time I would be in a bookstore, whether new or used, and they had Little Golden Books, I always searched for a copy of Little Mommy. I never found one.

Then Amazon showed up in the publishing world. Amazon is where I found reprints of my childhood treasure. I immediately ordered one and when it arrived, I delighted in reading it again.

It's interesting the little changes that have been made though. The cover is different. And on the page where Danny is the doctor, there used to be a little bottle of pink pills, spilling onto the page. Probably just baby aspirin, but that little picture is gone. No matter though, the book is just as sweet as it was when I first looked at it as a toddler.

The tea party is just as lovely, with chocolate cookies and cherries on the table. I had always remembered the chocolate cookies!

What about you? What is one of your childhood favorites?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

#CoverCrush: The Red Scarf

I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.

Gosh, I love this cover. The red and white contrast is quite striking. Upon further observation, a woman is walking towards the woods. The ground is snow-covered. It's cold. Why is she walking away or what is she walking towards? The cover just draws you in.

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's Court, Flashlight Commentary, A Bookaholic Swede, Layered Pages, indieBRAG.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Weekend Reflections 10/15

Looking outside...it's cool and rainy. Very much fall weather. 

Listening...to silence. The Doctor took The Artist to see Shin Godzilla. The three of us went on Tuesday. It has a limited US release. This week only.

Loving...this fall weather.

Thinking...that I am so done with this election. Here's the deal. Vote for your conscience. Don't vote for one candidate simply because you hate the other one more. 

Vote for the person you believe will actually do the right thing for our country. And if you tend to be more conservative than liberal, here's a heads-up, you don't have to vote Republican. In fact, you don't have to be registered as a Republican or Democrat. There are so many other options for you. People whose politics and values more accurately mirror your own.

The most important thing is that you vote. Exercise that right. Because if EVERYONE who could vote, did vote, we would have better leaders in office.

My political views are conservative and lean more towards the center than the extreme right. You want to know who I'm voting for? I wish I knew. I have considered Evan McMullin. And if you want to know why, read this article. Now. Go on, I'll wait. I liked what it said, but I haven't completely decided yet. I likely won't know until I stand in the voting booth.

Make an informed choice. Be courteous to those whose political beliefs differ from your own. There is no need to be mean-spirited and cruel. Differences in beliefs and ideals, whether political or religious should not equal hate. We are better than this.

In my kitchen...a cup of hot chocolate right now. We had chili last night. That apparently is the same as last week. Oh well, my chili is amazing.

Wearing...blue BSU pajamas, white t-shirt and gray cardigan.

Hoping...that we can get an affordable estimate for our roof. It won't last another winter. Sigh...

Reading...nothing of note and nothing new. A bit of fanfiction. Some old favorite books. Nothing that requires much thought and effort.

Today...canning the last of the tomatoes. Doing laundry and missing my Boy.

Quoting..."Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. 'Pooh!' he whispered. 'Yes, Piglet?' 'Nothing,' said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. 'I just wanted to be sure of you.'" -- A.A. Milne

Feeling...So tired. So very, very weary.

Planning...we have some decisions to make. This is a time of change for us professionally.

Gratitude...for my husband. We celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary this week. I am so blessed to be married to this wonderful man. 

From my world... 

20 years ago this week, The Doctor and I were married. October 12, 1996 was a beautiful fall day in the Bay Area. We had a lovely open-house-style reception in my parents back yard. Open-House usually means people come, stay for a bit and leave. People didn't leave that night. It was so nice to see so many people who wanted to see and congratulate us.

We've changed a lot in 20 years. 2 children, chiropractic school, 5 homes, 2 states. The last 20 years have been full of joy and sadness, ups and downs, health and sickness, trials and frustrations, and love and laughter.  Through it all, we are together. United. If I had it to do again. I would choose him, every time. 

Post has been edited.

What about you? What are you reflecting on this week? How has your week gone?

Thursday, October 13, 2016

#CoverCrush: The Spice Box Letters

I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.

The title is awesome. Letters. Books about letters. How can you not want to read it?

The colors are lovely. The setting is serene: a box of letters left on a chair. Was someone called away mid-read? Were they simply left there, abandoned? Who wrote them? Who received them? I'm dying to know!

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's CourtFlashlight CommentaryA Bookaholic SwedeLayered Pages, indieBRAG.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Weekend Reflections 10/8

Looking outside...it's sunny and cool at 59, but only supposed to be in the mid 70s. It looks like a quintessential fall day. This week we hit the stage of fireplace in the morning and doors open in the afternoon. But the leaves are changing and fall is definitely arriving.

Listening...to silence. The Doctor is at work. The Artist is sleeping.

Loving...having The Boy home last weekend. It had only been 3 weeks, but what a long three weeks. I am so grateful for texting!

Thinking...that we are facing some professional changes in our lives that are overdue and it is at once fearful and exciting.

In my kitchen...a cup of hot chocolate right now. We had chili last night.

Wearing...red penguin pajamas, white t-shirt and gray cardigan.

Hoping...that I can find some motivation for reading.

Reading...posted a review for Triple Love Score by Brandi Megan Granett this week. First actual book I've read in a month.

Today...my nieces and nephew have been here this week, visiting from California while their parents are on a cruise. We went to the zoo this week and the rec center for swimming. Not sure what today brings.


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be 
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance 
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance 
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears 
Looms but the Horror of the shade, 
And yet the menace of the years 
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate, 
How charged with punishments the scroll, 
I am the master of my fate, 
I am the captain of my soul.
― William Ernest Henley

Feeling...So proud of The Boy. These last few weeks have stretched him and seen him do things that are outside his comfort zone. It is such a beautiful thing to watch your children grow up and become genuinely good people.

Planning...we have some decisions to make.

Gratitude...for my boys. It was a joy to see them reunited last weekend and to observe how much they love each other.

From my world... 

The Artist wears a gray beanie and gray hoodie all the time. Literally. He started wearing them last winter and didn't stop. I think it's a sensory thing for him. The only time he takes it off is at church, when we pray, at the dinner table and in the water. I think he sleeps in it. It didn't matter that we hit triple digits this summer. He wore the beanie anyway. He did ditch the hoodie when it got really hot, but not the beanie.

We only had two gray beanies. I would make him switch them out almost daily so I could wash them. Now it is fall and winter wear has returned to the store. Volde-mart had beanies back in stock. Gray ones. We bought 4. Best $8.00 I've spent in a while and The Artist is happy.

What about you? What are you reflecting on this week? How has your week gone?

Thursday, October 6, 2016

#CoverCrush: where we fall

I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.

It's fall, so naturally I was drawn to this cover. I have no idea if the book is even set during the autumn or if the word "fall" is more for a person or a relationship failing or whatever. I just loved this cover. The colors are vibrant and it evokes my favorite season!

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's Court, Flashlight CommentaryA Bookaholic SwedeLayered Pages, indieBRAG.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Books I Have Forgotten

Each month I want to revisit some of my past reviews. One of the reasons I started this book blog was to remember what books I have read. My memory isn't the greatest anymore and I would read a book and then not remember if I liked it or what it was even about.

Maybe one of these will prompt you to seek out an older, but amazing book. Or, if you've read one of these and your review was different, please share!


A Cup of Tea: A Novel of 1917 by Amy Ephron
2/5 Stars

"The writing is beautiful. The author conveys depth and feeling with a modicum of words, yet I found myself wishing for more information about each character. Truly, it reads like one of those difficult short stories we all read in high school or college. You remember them, I'm sure. Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" or Updike's "A&P" where the reason for reading it is completely lost on you. The ones where no matter how hard you tried to interpret them, according to your teacher, your interpretation was wrong! I think this would have been better as a longer, more developed novel."

I don't remember it, but I want to reread it to see if I feel the same way about it today.

Chasing Diana by Jack and Robin Firestone

1/5 Stars

"If the story is so important and is meant to be told, then do that: tell the story. Actually write a book that describes your experience, your frustrations and your thoughts. Don't trivialize it by writing it as a screenplay. Flesh it out and give us some depth. Give us a reason to care about you and your experience. I would have enjoyed this much more if it was actually a memoir."

I remember reading this one and I remember not liking it. I also remember it because the authors did not appreciate my review and commented to that effect.

White Christmas Pie by Wanda Brunstetter
2/5 Stars

"I'd call this Amish-light. It's a sweet novel with a great deal of unrealized potential. The characters are one-dimensional and the misunderstandings and lack of communication are far-fetched and unrealistic. The ending is convenient and contrived. Will and Karen and the rest of the cast don't inspire any compassion whatsoever. The recipe for the White Christmas Pie mentioned in the story is included in the book. My impression is that the author thought it would be a cute gimmick, but instead of a rich story with depth, we are left with the sugary fluff."

I haven't read Brunstetter since.


What about you? What are some of the books you've read in previous years?

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Triple Love Score...Review

About the book:

What Happens When You Stop Playing Games?

When playing-by-the-rules poet, Miranda Shane throws out convention and begins to use a Scrabble board instead of paper to write, she sets off a chain of events that rattles her carefully planned world. Her awakening propels her to take risks and seize chances she previously let slip by, including a game-changing offer from the man she let slip away. When the revelation of an affair with a graduate student threatens the new life Miranda created, she is forced to decide between love or poetry.

I love words and reading and writing. And I adore Scrabble. It's my favorite game. No one in my family will play with me anymore. After nearly 20 years of marriage, my husband can still count on one hand, the number of times he's beaten me. But it will always be my favorite game to play. So when I saw a book that used Scrabble as a plot point, I had to read it.

The premise is fantastic: a poetry professor begins using a Scrabble board to write 4-5 word poems or "word sculptures" that echo her thoughts or life events. Miranda photographs the board and then posts the pictures on Instagram. She soon finds anonymous fame that boosts her confidence.

Always a proper rule follower, Miranda's newfound confidence moves her to indulge in an affair with Ronan, an Irish grad student auditing one of her classes. She breaks off with him when she is reunited with Scott, the man she has long loved and who reappears in her life.

The road to true love is often paved with heartbreak, but true communication can ease the journey. One of the biggest pet peeves I have in written relationships is how easily people jump to conclusions and get angry without taking time to talk things out. This happened too easily here.

As Miranda's story weaves its way through dramatic ups and downs, she finally discovers what it is she wants from life.

The Scrabble parts of the story were my favorite. There were even photographs of the game boards with the word sculptures. They were clever and inventive and Miranda just shone as the Blocked Poet.

Unfortunately, the rest of the story lacked the same luster. Multiple subplots were juggled throughout the novel and I found the characterizations shallow. There was more sex than I had anticipated and the affair scenes with Ronan are moderately graphic, where the scenes with Scott are merely mentioned.

The word sculptures were brilliant as was Miranda's use of social media to share them. I may start using the same technique at times in the future to express myself! I certainly did this past week.

I have a magnetic Scrabble Board that hangs in my kitchen and my kids love to make words and phrases. We are entering a new phase in our life with some professional changes and I was moved to create my own word sculpture that reflects our life at the moment.

Overall, I think this is a novel that those who love words and romance should enjoy, even if I didn't. I really wanted to love and adore this story. As it was, there were parts I liked more than others. Giving it a star rating was difficult. I don't know that I would reread it, but I loved the premise.

For a 4 Star review and terrific author interview, check out Meg's review at A Bookish Affair.

Thanks to Suzy Misserlian and the author for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Brandi Megan Granett on her website and follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Read 10/16

* *
2/5 Stars