I’ll Have Who She’s Having by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Title:  I’ll Have Who She’s Having

Authors:  Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Genre:  Chick Lit

My thoughts:  I’ll Have Who She’s Having is a fast-paced and entertaining tale of two sisters who are not happy with the way things are. The story is told alternately by the sisters with the occasional added perspective of a few others – this worked to flesh out more than the two main characters.

About to turn thirty-three, Kate is single and tired of listening to her friends talk about their perfect lives with their husbands and babies. Kelly, two years younger than Kate, is married with one toddler and hasn’t felt remotely attractive for a long time. She loves her husband and little girl but misses her job and interaction with adults. In other words, Kate wants what Kelly has and Kelly would love a little bit of Kate’s life.
Kelly gets Kate to take a volleyball class and then a singing class with her. That’s where the novel takes off. Without giving spoilers I’ll just say sibling rivalry, moral conflicts, and issues of insecurity are major themes that Fenton and Steinke explore as Kate and Kelly struggle to move forward in their lives.
There were times when I laughed out loud but also times when I thought “oh for pete’s sake” in disbelief of the sisters’ actions. That said, the authors did a great job giving each sister her distinct voice. I think fans of Chick Lit will enjoy I’ll Have Who She’s Having.
Source:  BookSparksPR
♦  ♦  ♦

Stop back next week for my review of The D Word by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

At Witt’s End (Sadie Witt Mystery, #1) by Beth Solheim

Title:  At Witt’s End (Sadie Witt Mystery, #1)

Author:  Beth Solheim

Genre:  Cozy Mystery

About:  (Goodreads synopsis) Things are really bustling at the Witt’s End resort in Northern Minnesota. Clients are vying for one of the few remaining rentals, except Cabin 14 – thing is no one gets out of Cabin 14 alive.

Sadie isn’t your typical sixty-four year old senior citizen. She has things she wants to do and shouldn’t be expected to solve a murder while trying to prevent an unscrupulous sheriff’s deputy from shutting down the lakeside resort she owns with her straight arrow sister. But that’s exactly what Sadie Witt must do.

When five guests with hidden agendas arrive at Cabin 14, they’re stunned to learn that the flamboyant Sadie is their conduit to the hereafter. Clad in the latest fashion trends – fads typically reserved for those without sagging body parts – and sporting hairdos that make bystanders want to look away but can’t, Sadie realizes one of the guests has been murdered and must work against the clock to untangle the web and prevent further mayhem

My thoughts:  I don’t read many cozy mysteries or novels with paranormal themes but At Witt’s End was the June selection for one of my book groups so I gave it a try. It sounded like it could be a light,fun read and it was!

Sadie quickly reminded me of a slightly younger version of Janet Evanovich’s Grandma Mazur (Stephanie Plum series) – except in At Witt’s End Sadie is a principal character, not a minor one used simply for comic relief.

The characters are quirky, the pace is good, and I enjoyed the setting. If you’re a fan of cozies I think you might like the Sadie Witt Mystery Series. I look forward to reading more about the happenings at Witt’s End. The next book in the series is Outwitted.

Source:  I bought it.

Best Staged Plans by Claire Cook

Title:  Best Staged Plans

Author:  Claire Cook

Genre:  Women’s Fiction

My take:   Home stager Sandy Sullivan is ready for the next chapter in her life. Her daughter is married, her son is out of college (but still lives at home), and her husband took early retirement. Sandy wants to sell their big Victorian and downsize – maybe move to a 55+ community. Hubby and son say they’re going to help get the house ready to sell but one seems more interested in his tennis games with his buddies and the other would rather hide out in the basement and play video games. Sandy’s tired of nagging so when her best friend’s boyfriend calls with a job offer to stage his next venture she decides to take it. She’ll move to Atlanta, live at her daughter’s home, and get the boutique hotel ready for business. She tells her husband not to call her until their house is sold.

In Atlanta Sandy works on her relationship with her son-in-law, works on the hotel staging, and finds the ultimate staging opportunity in a complete stranger. With a little guidance from her GPS and some personal reflection Sandy begins to appreciate a few important aspects of her life she may have previously taken for granted.

Claire Cook is in top form as she uses her typical humor and spot on truth of the human condition to tell the story of one woman that will have many readers saying “Has she been recording my life?”  I loved it!

Source:  I bought the book.

How To Bake A Perfect Life: A Novel by Barbara O’Neal

Title:  How To Bake A Perfect Life: A Novel

Author:  Barbara O’Neal

Genre:  Women’s Fiction/Contemporary Romance

About:  (from Goodreads) Professional baker Ramona Gallagher is a master of an art that has sustained her through the most turbulent times, including a baby at fifteen and an endless family feud. But now Ramona’s bakery threatens to crumble around her. Literally. She’s one water-heater disaster away from losing her grandmother’s rambling Victorian and everything she’s worked so hard to build.

When Ramona’s soldier son-in-law is wounded in Afghanistan, her daughter, Sophia, races overseas to be at his side, leaving Ramona as the only suitable guardian for Sophia’s thirteen-year-old stepdaughter, Katie. Heartbroken, Katie feels that she’s being dumped again—this time on the doorstep of a woman out of practice with mothering.

My thoughts:  This is a touching story by a wonderful author about people who are either physically or emotionally wounded and the people who take care of them. O’Neal’s characters are realistic and so is the story. I enjoyed it all. Bonus points for an extraordinary dog.

Recommend?  Yes. I love Barbara O’Neal’s novels. She writes the kind I want to read straight through to the end and then smile and give it a hug. Fans of novels with recipes included will not be disappointed 🙂

Source:  I bought it.

Mailbox Monday – June 20



Mailbox Monday is a gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week and explore great book blogs. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

Hosted in June at The Bluestocking Guide

♦  ♦  ♦


I bought:

Life’s A Beach: A Novella by Malena Lott

Free Kindle books:

Cotillion by Georgette Heyer

The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer

For review/blog tour:

I’ll Have Who She’s Having by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

The D Word by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

What was in your mailbox?

Rescue by Anita Shreve

Title:  Rescue

Author: Anita Shreve

Narrator:  Dennis Holland

Genre:  Fiction

Peter Webster rescues people for a living. One night he helps to save a woman involved in a car crash. Later he can’t stop thinking about her so,despite all obvious signs that she is trouble, he pursues a relationship with her. When Sheila tells him she’s pregnant with his baby he marries her. For a while it seems he really has saved her but then Sheila starts to fall back to old habits and becomes a danger to herself and their child. Flash forward several years: Rowan is seventeen and acting out. History seems to be repeating itself. Webster is afraid his daughter is becoming just like her mother. Will he be able to rescue Rowan?

Rescue would make a good book club selection because of  the discussion possibilities: Can people who don’t ask for help be saved when it seems they desperately need it? What might the ramifications be? Shreve works through those questions with her characters. While it’s not my favorite by the author I found it thought-provoking. I listened to the audiobook ably narrated by Dennis Holland.

Source:  My local library

Pitch Uncertain: A Mid-Century Middle Daughter Finds Her Voice by Maisie Houghton

Title:  Pitch Uncertain: A Mid-Century Middle Daughter Finds Her Voice

Author:  Maisie Houghton

Genre:  Memoir

About:  (from the book flap) Touching and incisive, Pitch Uncertain is a beautifully drawn account of Maisie Houghton’s struggle to find her own voice as the middle child of two parents whose marriage and lives she slowly decoded as she came of age in the 1950s. Growing up in the gentle ambience of Cambridge, Massachusetts, spending full summers in Dark Harbor, Maine, and regularly visiting her relatives in the socially polished reaches of greater New York, Maisie and her two sisters had the makings of an ideal childhood. But their parents were an enigma.

Pitch Uncertain portrays an era and a genteel culture as much as it deciphers a marriage.

My thoughts:  This is an intriguing memoir of a woman who grew up with parents who, although they lived in the same house, were emotionally estranged. Maisie, the middle daughter, felt responsible for her  mother’s happiness since her father seemed unable or unwilling to care. Both parents were from old money and while they weren’t poor there wasn’t the wealth that had provided for previous generations.

The story of the Kinnicutt family goes from New York to Florida to Cambridge to Maine. Maisie’s memories are of summers in Maine, school years in Massachusetts, and travels abroad. There’s an underlying feeling of discontent among all the family members and that seems to stem from the unhappy parents.

I found this memoir interesting and ultimately enjoyable – Maisie Houghton tells a good story! I also appreciated the numerous photos scattered throughout the book. I’d love to read about Maisie Houghton’s life after the Pitch Uncertain years.

Recommend?  Yes.

Source:  FSB Associates

Spotlight on Pitch Uncertain by Maisie Houghton

Pitch Uncertain
By Maisie Houghton,
Author of Pitch Uncertain: A Mid-Century Middle Daughter Finds Her Voice

I was born in 1940, a bad time for the world, but I never did anything bad until the day I cut off my hair and left it on the floor for my mother to find, a bright, hot pool of yellow curls.

I was four. It was wartime and we were living in a rented house in Winter Park, Florida. My father, an officer in the navy, had recently been stationed there. My mother and I, along with Sybil, my older sister by two years, and Elizabeth, “Tizzy,” a new baby of two months, had moved from New York City to be near him.

Florida, despite all its palm trees and relentless sunlight, seemed dark to me — the people and the houses. Unaccustomed to southern heat, my mother kept the old, verandaed house heavily shaded. The blinds were always down, the curtains drawn. Someone was always taking a nap, my mother, my father (but not together), the amorphous baby. Sybil and I tiptoed around the closed doors, but when we went outside the glittering light hurt our eyes.

In the kitchen was Lily Mae, the black maid. Marion Skillon, a trained nurse from Naples, Maine, was also there. Uncertain in a new land, my mother had persuaded Marion to make the long journey south. Marion, all starched whiteness and squeaking rubber-soled shoes, stuck to the new baby upstairs. Lily Mae ironed endless rivers of laundry and passed dead-looking platters of food in the shadowy dining room.

My father was almost never there. When he did appear, it was often with a swirl of laughing young pilots in uniform. They brought us shells from the beach that we never visited. They set us on their knees, putting down their drinks to balance us on their laps.

The afternoon I rebelled, my mother was a long while on the telephone. She wasn’t the type to chatter on. She served as a sounding board to solve other people’s problems. My mother had been called to the telephone during a rare treat: We had been having lunch alone together. Her low voice burred on as she twisted the cord in her hand. What was she saying? To whom was she speaking?

I slipped away from the dining room table, wandering sulkily through the muted rooms. On my mother’s desk a pair of scissors gleamed. Long and sleek, they were grown ups’ scissors, not the stubby, disappointingly blunt ones we used for paper dolls. I ran my hand over my head. My hair was the one thing about me that was different. In everything else I matched my sister — our seersucker dresses, our red sandals, our black eyes. But Sybil had two brown pigtails while I still had a baby’s fuzz of buttery curls. I thought about Marion Skillon in the mornings, twisting my hair into ringlets, wrestling the ribbon to the top of my head. “There now, aren’t you sweet? Now go and be good.”

Suddenly it was easy to pick up the slender weapon and start to cut. One tentative snip and then I was possessed with the necessity to act and be done with my boldness. My curls fell away like skin being shed by a snake. It went so fast I hardly knew what I was doing. I crept back to the kitchen to face Lily Mae. She stared silently. “Your mama be upset,” she said, shaking her head as she moved through the swinging door with a stack of freshly ironed shirts. A little panic seized me, but, almost gleefully, I hurried to stand defiantly before my mother. She was still sitting, unspeaking, by the telephone. She seemed unmoved. “Heavens, what did you do that for? It will take forever to grow out.” Marion peered at me over the banister railing. “You’ve lost your looks,” she sniffed.

My mother guided me toward the dining room. “We must finish lunch,” she murmured, rousing herself. The table looked half-ravaged, like my hair, with crumpled napkins and tired lettuce on the plates. I started to weep at the enormity of what I had done. Fat tears fell on my grilled cheese sandwich. “Don’t fuss, darling,” consoled my mother distractedly. She wasn’t even looking at me.

There was an unspoken lesson in that afternoon. My mother should have been angry but instead she held her tongue. Was it at that point that I learned to guard the peace, to mind my manners, to keep my mouth shut?


The above is an excerpt from the book Pitch Uncertain: A Mid-Century Middle Daughter Finds Her Voice by Maisie Houghton. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

Copyright © 2011 Maisie Houghton, author of Pitch Uncertain: A Mid-Century Middle Daughter Finds Her Voice

Author Bio
Maisie Houghton
, author of Pitch Uncertain: A Mid-Century Middle Daughter Finds Her Voice, was born in New York City, grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the fifties and graduated from Radcliffe College in 1962. With her husband, she has lived in Corning, New York, for over forty years. Pitch Uncertain is her first book.

For more information please visit TidePool Press

Mailbox Monday – June 13



Mailbox Monday is a gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week and explore great book blogs. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

Hosted in June at The Bluestocking Guide

♦  ♦  ♦


The Silver Boat (win from the publisher via SITFOB)

Secrets for a Healthy Diet (win from the publisher via Bermudaonion)

Best Staged Plans (I bought)

What was in your mailbox?

The Greatest Music Stories Never Told by Rick Beyer

 Title:  The Greatest Music Stories Never Told: 100 tales from Music History to Astonish, Bewilder, and Stupefy

Author:  Rick Beyer

Genre:  Nonfiction/Music

About:  (From the uncorrected proof) What does Marie Antoinette have to do with “He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”? Which hugely popular song was written in a fit of anger at actor Robert DeNiro? How was a musical genius of the 1600s literally killed by his own conducting? Why has one country run through eight versions of its national anthem in the last hundred years – three of them written by the same person? How did an idea for a sitcom inspire the Woodstock music festival? And why is a virtual unknown named Ivan Vaughan arguably the most important person in the history of rock ‘n’ roll?

My thoughts:   You’ll have to read the book to find the answers! This book is the latest in The Greatest Stories Never Told book series. It is filled with surprising stories about music and familiar (and not so familiar) historical figures.

Each story is told on two pages and includes pertinent sketches and photos. I learned a lot from The Greatest Music Stories Never Told and think it would be the perfect gift for any music and trivia fan.

Source:  Harper

Tolstoy And The Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch

Title:  Tolstoy And The Purple Chair: My Year Of Magical Reading

Author:  Nina Sankovitch

Genre:  Memoir

About:  When Nina’s beloved older sister died Nina threw herself into living life to the fullest – almost as if living for herself and her sister. She chaired committees, coached her sons’ sports and academic teams, and underwent medical tests so she could reassure her family that she was not going to die. Three years later she realized she couldn’t keep up the frantic pace. Her grief was just as strong as it had been following Anne-Marie’s death.  Nina had to find answers to looming questions of why her sister had died and not her; what was she supposed to do with her life. She wasn’t finding the answers through constant activity so she looked for something that could link her to Anne-Marie. That something was reading. Nina decided to read a book each day for a year.  A mother to four school-age boys, Nina would get them off to school each day and try to read a book by the time they returned home or after they went to bed each day.  Quite a challenge indeed!  Nina’s sons and husband supported her and pitched in around the house as she accomplished her goal.

After three years of carrying the truth of my sister’s death around with me, I knew I would never be relieved of my sorrow. I was not hoping for relief. I was hoping for answers. I was trusting in books to answer the relentless questions of why I deserved to live. And of how I should live. My year of reading would be my escape back into life.  (p.31 uncorrected proof)

My thoughts:  I have six sisters and can only imagine the grief I’d experience if one died before her time. I’ve also loved to read since I was a young girl so it should come as no surprise that I liked this book.

Although I’ve read only a small percentage of the books mentioned in Tolstoy And The Purple Chair I appreciated the wisdom that Ms. Sankovitch took from all. She read popular novels, literature, mysteries, and at least one recommended by her son. Each served to guide her through the year-long journey in search of answers. It’s a very personal book and one I’ll recommend to any booklover.

Source:   Harper

Mailbox Monday – June 6



Mailbox Monday is a gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week and explore great book blogs. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

Hosted in June at The Bluestocking Guide

♦  ♦  ♦


For review/blog tour:

Wanna Get Lucky? by Deborah Coonts

Lucky Stiff by Deborah Coonts

I bought:

Over The Falls by Jenny Gardiner

Slim To None by Jenny Gardiner

What was in your mailbox?

Arranged by Catherine McKenzie

Title:  Arranged

Author:  Catherine McKenzie

Genre:  Fiction

About:  (Book flap synopsis) Anne Blythe has a great life: a good job, good friends, and a potential book deal for her first novel. When it comes to finding someone to share it with, however, she just can’t seem to get it right.

After yet another relationship ends, Anne comes across a business card for what she thinks is a dating service, and she pockets it just in case. When her best friend, Sarah, announces she’s engaged, Anne can’t help feeling envious. On an impulse, she decides to give the service a try because maybe she could use a little assistance in finding the right man. But Anne soon discovers the company isn’t a dating service; it’s an exclusive, and pricey, arranged marriage service. She initially rejects the idea, but the more she thinks about it-and the company’s success rate-the more it appeals to her. After all, arranged marriages are the norm for millions of women around the world, so why wouldn’t it work for her?

A few months later, Anne is travelling to a Mexican resort, where in one short weekend she will meet and marry Jack. And against all odds, it seems to be working out-until Anne learns that Jack, and the company that arranged their marriage, are not what they seem at all.

My thoughts:  If the synopsis appeals to you at all, find the book and read it! At first, although it sounded entertaining, I thought it also sounded too far-fetched but once I got into the story I loved every minute I spent with Anne, Jack and the rest of the characters.

What I liked most is the point that relationships based on friendship and compatibility have a better chance of working out than lust first, maybe love later or (as statistics show) probably divorce.

The author wrote in the first person which took me a few pages to get used to and then it was like listening to my best friend tell me this extraordinary story. I had a hard time putting it down each night.

Recommend?  Yes, I enjoyed Arranged very much and look forward to reading more from Catherine McKenzie.

Source:  PK from aisle b  sent it to me. Thank you, PK!!