May 31, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: May 31, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

This Week's Topic:  Beach Reads!  Ten Great Beach Reads

Jaws by Peter Benchley.  No summer beach read is complete without the book that kicked off the summer blockbuster movie (which is phenomenal, by the way.)  I'll admit that I prefer the movie over the book but the book is still excellent reading and will make you debate whether or not you want to take your toes outside the sand.

Hollywood Car Wash by Lori Culwell.  This book is to die for - - gossipy snark at its finest.  It's a loosely based account of the infamous TomKat romance/fauxmance and Ms. Culwell delivers in the most delicious manner possible.  Should be required beach reading.

Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi.  No, this book isn't a light read by any stretch but imagine yourself in Los Angeles in the sweltering hot summer of 1969, when Charles Manson and his murderous followers wreaked havoc for two terrible nights.  There's a very good and deserved reason this is considered the granddaddy of true crime. 

Flowers in the Attic Series/Heaven Series by V. C. Andrews.  Yes, V. C. Andrews makes another list of mine.  She may not have been the most gifted writer but her stories were and are addicting.  More than thirty years on and these series still stick with me, especially Flowers.  They are a great way to get lost over the summer. 

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg.  Oh, how I loved this book (and movie.)  This is a case where despite the excellence of the movie, the book stands alongside and even surpasses.  Grab yourself a glass of sweet tea, some fried green tomatoes or grits and curl up with a group of characters you will never forget down home in Whistle Stop, Alabama.  More fun than a barrel of monkeys.

The Violets of March by Sarah Jio.  This was my first book by Sarah Jio and I looooooved it.  This book alternates between the past and present day and it's done so well, you won't want to put it down. I read this book when my own relationship fell apart and the book gave me comfort.  It will definitely help you while away the hours on the beach or indoors on a rainy afternoon. 

Mariana by Susanna Kearsley/ The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley.  Time travel fanatics rejoice!  These books cover it all - - seventeenth century England, eighteenth century Scotland, forbidden love, old cottages, ancestral lineages and history.  What more could you ask for?  

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie.  My favorite Christie book and Christie movie.  I love the 1930s backdrop, the view into high society of that time, the paddle boat on the Nile and Egyptian locale.  The mystery is pretty yummy too.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen/Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding.  Well, duh!  Of course I'm going to have the amazing Ms. Austen on my list.  Pride and Prejudice continues to be one of the wittiest and yet romantic tellings out there.  If classic doesn't ping your summer radar, pick up Ms. Fielding's more up to date, present version.  You cannot go wrong with either.

Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier.  Another classic that is always worth a read, Rebecca has one of the most infamous first lines in literary history and comes complete with a moody man, a moody housekeeper, a moody estate in England, a scared young girl and the fabulous, irrepressible Rebecca.

Bonus books:

Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe and Coreyography by Corey Feldman.   For celebrity tell-alls, Messrs. Lowe and Feldman's books tick different boxes.  For a more light hearted tell-all, without any backstabbing or grudging, Mr. Lowe's book is a hilarious recounting of his Hollywood years.  For a heavier read, complete with addictions, abuse and the dark truth of children being pandered to adults, Mr. Feldman's book is an honest look at the darker side of Hollywood.

I, Fatty by Jerry Stahl
 and The Biograph Girl by William J. Mann.  If you're obsessed with classic Hollywood like I am, both books are a delight.  In I, Fatty, Mr. Staub gives a fictionalized recounting of the tragedy that befell silent film star Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle.  In The Biograph Girl, Mr. Mann imagines the possibility of Florence Lawrence, the Biograph Girl and first movie star, faking her death in 1938 and living to be over 100.

What do you think?  What books are on your "beach reads" list? 

May 25, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: May 24, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

This Week's Topic:  Ten Books I Feel Differently About After Time Has Passed

Anything by Danielle Steel.  I loved Danielle Steel books back in the 80s (her heyday but also the heyday of the brick and mortar bookstore, I think.)  This was clearly before my brain was fully developed.  Steel books rotate around one of three plots, it seems.  Okay, maybe four.  In every one, the heroine is always staggeringly beautiful but doesn't know it and her entire world hinges on a man.  I can appreciate a good romance as well as the next reader but co-dependency and dysfunction, not so much.

The Flowers in the Attic series by V.C. Andrews.  Speaking of co-dependency and dysfunction, Flowers in the Attic was one of my very favorite books as a teen.  I read it and reread it multiple times.  I loved Cathy and I loved the story of her and Chris.  As an adult, I realize their relationship is warped and twisted, nothing else.  Cathy may have been gorgeous and an incredible ballerina but girlfriend had terrible taste in men - - did any of them not commit rape in Petals on the Wind?  And If There Be Thorns was truly awful, mainly because it was from the point of view of Bart and Jory, not Cathy.  No thank you.  (That said, V. C. Andrews was an addictive storyteller and I still love the series although I realize its limitations and non-stellar writing.)

The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer.  Speaking of non-stellar writing and limitations, let's go right into the Twilight series.  I was most definitely not the target audience as I read the series in my thirties.  I wanted to see what all the fuss was about and I devoured all the books in less than a week.  Addictive storytelling but not the greatest books.  And I hated Jacob in the books.

Go Ask Alice.  I think I read Go Ask Alice yearly as a teen.  At that time, we teens didn't pick up on the fact that the book resided on the "fiction" shelf and it was presented to us as the actual diary of a teenage girl who died of a drug overdose.  The good news is that the book kept me from ever wanting to experiment with drugs.  The bad news is that it was eventually revealed that the book was a complete work of fiction written by an adult (although in an attempt to scare kids away from drugs.)

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.  I didn't read Austen while I was in high school or college.  A shame really although perhaps I wouldn't love her as much as I do now.  I became hooked with the Colin Firth P&P version and set off to read the book, which I adored as much immediately.  Over time I have only appreciate the book more, as Jane Austen's wit and writing ability continues to amaze.  Obsession complete.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.  This one is a bit of a cheat because I've never read the book.  But . . . I am thoroughly hooked on the show.  I've tried to listen to the audio version of the book.  Twice.  And gotten bored both times.  Why?  I also have the first book in the series on my bookcase.  Haven't opened it yet.  Everyone seems to love it so maybe it's me.

And there it is.  My list of six because that's all I could come up with.

How about you?

May 22, 2016


Description:  With about 2 million tortoiseshell cats in the United States, these special felines tend to be strong-willed, a bit hot-tempered, and often very possessive of their humans. Other words used to describe torties are fiercely independent, feisty and unpredictable. In Tortitude: The BIG Book About Cats With a BIG Attitude, cat expert Ingrid King (The Conscious Cat) brings her professional and personal experience to explore why these cats are so special. With expert insights combined with stunning photography and passages dedicated to the cats and their passionate guardians, King offers a new perspective on these exceptional cats. 

My Thoughts on Tortitude by Ingrid King

Again, I am starting a review by first noting the cover.  I am a big book cover person, as well as being a massive animal lover, and this cover just makes me feel warm and happy inside.  (I believe this is author Ingrid King's own tortie Allegra gracing the cover.)  If you are a cat lover yourself, seeing the book alone will make you want to reach out and grab it.  So do it!

Tortitude is the perfect gift for the cat lover in yourself or in your life.  The photos throughout the book are stunning; they are from cat guardians all over the world who answered Ms. King's call for help in submitting pictures of their beloved felines.  Pretty awesome, I would say.  But this is more than just a coffee table book of lovely photos.  It is chock full of information on tortoiseshell cats.

Some interesting facts about torties that you will learn from Tortitude:

*  Tortoiseshell cats are not a breed but rather are named for their distinctive coloring.  This coloring consists of a combination of patches of black, brown, amber, red, cinnamon and chocolate. 

*  Male torties are very rare due to the fact that two X chromosomes are required to produce the black, gold and orange coloring.  Since male cats must have one X and one Y chromosome, it's almost genetically impossible for a male to inherit the tortoiseshell coloring as a male tortie must have an extra X chromosome.

*  Tortoiseshell  marking can appear in some 25 cat breeds.

*  Torties are thought to bring good luck in many cultures (known as the "money cat.")

*  It was believed that torties were able to see into the future and those who dream of a tortie will be lucky in love.

One of my favorite bits of information in the book was a quote from Dr. Fern Crist, a veterinarian.  Dr. Crist stated that torties "are the redheads of the cat world. . . beautiful but short-tempered and quick to wrath."  That quote makes this redhead chuckle and feel even more akin to the lovely tortie.

On each page of the book, the tortie is identified (I love reading their names) and a feline quote is placed below the photo.  It really brings the book together nicely.

Ingrid King has been a friend of this site since I first read Buckley's Story and I find her to be a warm, delightful person who relates to cats in a way very few people do.  She brings her personal and professional experience to every project she works on and, most especially, her love and understanding.  Tortitude is no exception.

Lastly, Ms. King and this book have been endorsed by Jackson Galaxy.  I am a huge fan of Mr. Galaxy (I'm geeking out over his endorsement!) and if the "Cat Daddy" himself sings your praises, that is something pretty special. 

Tortitude: The BIG Book of Cats with a BIG Attitude is available at major booksellers.

Visit Author Ingrid King

Find Tortitude: The BIG Book of Cats with a BIG Attitude on Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: The review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  The provision of this book did not affect the outcome of my review.  I was neither paid nor compensated for this review.

May 19, 2016

Audiobook Review: SPELLING IT LIKE IT IS by Tori Spelling

Description:  The reality behind reality TV! Hollywood's favorite mom-star tells it like it is.
Tori Spelling is the first to admit that the "reality" behind her popular television show, Tori & Dean, isn't always real. Not even Star magazine could invent the true chaos that happens behind the scenes. Luckily, Tori is famously honest and self-deprecatingly funny when it comes to her personal life - she's always "Spelling it like it is". Life is never boring at Tori's house, but since the release of her New York Times best-selling memoirs sTORI Telling, Mommywood, and Uncharted terriTORI, things have been especially unpredictable:

  • Finding out she was pregnant with her third baby after nearly vomiting live on the Home Shopping Network
  • Trying to hide her fourth pregnancy so soon after giving birth (as her stylist said, "Who would be that crazy?")
  • Being rescued from a paparazzo by a mom lynch mob
  • Stalking her celebrity neighbor

And then there was allowing cameras to film every personal detail of her life - from the most challenging time in her marriage to the only time in six years when she really felt as though those cameras invaded her privacy. Tori shares these stories and many more with the usual humor, candor, and down-to-earth charm that her fans love. She also writes openly about her biggest challenges: terrifying health problems; her guilt over missing baby Hattie's early months because she was in the hospital on bed rest; her struggles (and failures) to live within her means after growing up in opulence; the discovery that she has a lot in common with her late mega-producer father, Aaron Spelling; and how she fell in love with Dean all over again. (Hint: it didn't happen at their vow-renewal ceremony.)
After years of revealing her everyday antics on-screen, Tori's life is still full of surprises. Slowing down long enough to enjoy them? Now that's another sTORI.

My Thoughts on Spelling It Like It Is by Tori Spelling

I'm just going to throw this out there and you can then decide whether to proceed.  I'm a fan of Tori Spelling's (there, I said it.)  I watched the entire run of Beverly Hills 90210 (don't judge) even though I was not their target audience (being several years out of high school when it started) and I've watched every one of her reality series.  If you haven't had the pleasure of watching her first, So NoTORIous, you really should find it pronto because it's hilarious.  Anyone who can poke fun at themselves and poke fun at Scientology is a friend of mine.  And yes, that was me last year at Book Soup in Hollywood at her brother Randy's book signing (where Tori made an appearance.)  So you've been warned.

That said, I picked up this audiobook for two reasons - - because I felt I needed something light to laugh at or with and it was on sale.  Say what you will about Tori Spelling but she is always good to laugh with.

I read her first book sTORI Telling and enjoyed it.  Was she 100% honest?  No idea but I'd be willing to bet there was more truth and bang for your buck than anything with "Kardashian" attached to it.  I expected to enjoy Spelling It Like It Is and I was not let down.

Don't go into this book (or any other by Ms. Spelling) expecting to have your world blown.  A literary classic it is not.  But if you're looking for a beach read, and if you're in the market for an audiobook read by the author and read reasonably well, you can't go wrong here.

Tori shares why her family has moved so much in the last few years and how much they have lost financially in their real estate dealings (ouch.)  She writes about her back-to-back pregnancies and the medical problems she faced with Finn, her youngest child (sometimes to oversharing detail.)  I did sympathize with her for missing so much of her daughter Hattie's first year, being on bed rest and then hospitalized.  She speaks of her illnesses, her issues with migraines and her multitude of hospital visits.  (She really should have some level of ownership or stock at Cedars Sinai.)

For you gossip mongers and tabloid readers, she talks of her marriage although if you are looking for serious "they are divorcing any moment!" dirt, you're out of luck. She does mention her run-ins with the paps and it's clear that there are certain paps that Tori has good enough relationships with that they give her children space.  The one that did not - - well, that guy deserved the Mom Mafia that got on his ass.  You may think that Tori Spelling has it on easy street (and maybe she does at times) but I would hate to have cameras following me around everywhere I go, even to the point of where she has to send in a decoy (okay, a friend) to buy a pregnancy test for her so it doesn't end up on the cover of a tabloid.  I mean, just UGH.

Tori doesn't sugar coat things and it's a welcome change from the "pretty pretty princess" drivel we get from other arenas.  Be warned too though Tori enjoys talking about her family's apparent obsession with poop.  Yes, that's right - - poop.  If you ever find Tori's phone anywhere, I beg of you not to look through her photos because you are certain to be assaulted with various images of her children's poop.  (There is definitely a joke waiting to be made here but I'm just going to leave it alone.)

One thing I have always admired about Tori and will reiterate here is that girlfriend hustles.  She's not content to sit on the sidelines and always seems to have many, many pokers in the fire.  She has written in the past of getting this drive from her father and I think he would be proud to know that she is a mover and a shaker.

If you're not a fan of Tori Spelling you're not going to be a fan of this book (and I have to assume that you're reading this review because you're a fan of mine or my mom.)  If you find Tori humorous and entertaining, chances are you'll have the same opinion of this book.

Spelling It Like It Is is available at major booksellers, as well as through Audible.

Connect with Tori Spelling

Grab this book on Audible

Meeting Randy Spelling
*  On a side note and totally unrelated to this book, let me give props to Randy Spelling, who has truly moved away from the Hollywood scene/entertainment biz smoothly.  He now works as a life coach in Portland and hearing him speak and meeting him in person, I can understand how he succeeds on that path.  He's a gifted speaker, very down to earth and easy to relate to as well as being extremely friendly.  He chatted very easily with those of us that showed up for the talk/signing and cheerfully signed books and posed for pictures. And yes, he is very attractive in person.

Connect with Randy Spelling

FTC Disclosure:  This audiobook is from my own personal collection and was purchased by me.  I was neither paid nor compensated for this review.  I am not too proud to take a donation though.  (Just a little touch of humor.)

May 16, 2016


Description:  Claire Prescott is a sensible woman who believes in facts and figures, not fairy tales. But when she agrees to present a paper to a summer symposium at Oxford on her ailing sister's behalf, Claire finds herself thrown into an adventure with a gaggle of Jane Austen-loving women all on the lookout for their Mr. Darcy. Claire isn't looking for Mr. Anyone. She's been dating Neil -- a nice if a bit negligent -- sports fanatic. But when a tall, dark and dashing stranger crosses her path, will the staid Claire suddenly discover her inner romantic heroine? Her chance meeting with a mysterious woman who claims to have an early version of Austen's Pride and Prejudice -- in which Lizzie ends up with someone other than Fitzwilliam Darcy -- leads to an astounding discovery about the venerated author's own struggle to find the right hero for Lizzie Bennett. Neil's unexpected arrival in Oxford complicates Claire's journey to finding her own romantic lead.

Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart is the story of a woman who finds that love isn't logical and that a true hero can appear in the most unexpected of places.

My Thoughts on Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart by Beth Pattillo

First off, is this not a gorgeous cover?  I am very much into book covers and can be easily swayed by a beautiful (or a not so pleasing) cover.  In the bookstore, a cover can make me pick up a book or keep right on browsing.  So Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart's cover immediately calls out to me, between the stunning red dress, the model's timeless updo and the gentle motion of her walking away.  That alone makes me want to pick up this book.  Being the second book in Beth Pattillo's series (Adventures with Jane Austen and Her Legacy) combined with"Mr. Darcy" in the title seals it.  (For my review of the first book in the series, Jane Austen Ruined My Life, go here.)

In Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart, we again return to jolly old England, this time with Claire Prescott, a heroine I both liked and felt sympathy for.  Claire is a stand-in for her sister at a Pride and Prejudice symposium and she goes slightly under duress because, unlike ninety-nine percent of the female population, she doesn't get the appeal of Mr. Darcy.  Quite naturally, she quickly begins understanding when a Mr. Darcy type ends up in the class.  Sounds good, right?  It gets better.  Ms. Pattillo also throws in a mystery manuscript which may be Jane Austen's original version of Pride and Prejudice, known as First Impressions.

Let's start with Claire.  I'll quickly admit that I am one of the many, many women who swoon over Mr. Darcy (and most particularly Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy) but I did like having a P&P variation with a heroine who wasn't on board the Darcy train.  Despite this most unusual characteristic (insert a Lady Catherine type sniff here), Claire was a likable heroine with relatable family and relationship issues.  She has been a substitute mother for younger sister Missy, resulting in actions that have been detrimental to both of them and leading to resentments that will boil over during Claire's week at Oxford.    Claire has also been in a relationship with Neil, who is steady and dependable but who hasn't set her on fire and given her that zing

Enter James, the fellow symposium attendee who awakens that zing in Claire and creates a multitude of issues for her, not the least of which is her belief that Mr. Darcy is nothing but a fantasy.  James shares Claire's belief that Jane Austen . . . eh, just a writer and Pride and Prejudice is an overblown Regency version of a Harlequin romance.  (Blasphemy!)   These two bond and lead Claire to question Neil and their relationship.

This may be my only real gripe with Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart.  I know it's a book and there is a certain suspension of belief but it felt as though feelings were developed in super record time.  I get there Claire's time in England was only a week so there is that and, granted, there are explanations (without giving too much of the book away.) 

Perhaps my favorite part of the book was the mystery manuscript, complete with text of the supposed First Impressions.  I loved it.  It was an interesting and creative look at what may have been, had it not been Elizabeth and Darcy.   Along with Martin, a symposium attendee very knowledgeable about Jane Austen, the owner of the manuscript, Harriet, was my favorite character.  Even now, closing my eyes, I can vividly picture her cozy little English cottage, complete with an overstuffed sofa, many books, teapot and the ever-smiling Harriet.  While Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice were the basis of this story, Harriet and her cottage were the heart. 

I have read many Austen variations and I was pleased that I didn't see where Ms. Pattillo was going with this one.  The resolutions for Claire and Missy, for Claire and Neil, for Claire and James and with the mystery manuscript felt natural, were cohesive and extremely satisfying.  I enjoyed this book as much as I enjoyed Jane Austen Ruined My Life and will be heading off to purchase the third book in Ms. Pattillo's series. 

Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart is available at major booksellers.

Visit Author Beth Pattillo.

Find Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart on Goodreads.

FTC Disclosure: The review copy of this book is owned by me and was won in a giveaway.  The giveaway did not affect the outcome of my review.  I was neither paid nor compensated for this review.