Good morning!  Today’s tidbits include my quirky take of the photo (above); PicMonkey has a daguerreotype frame that turns an ordinary photo into this smoky rendition.

I also did this to the same photo:  an off-center heart-shaped version.



So…yesterday I had lunch with an old friend.  We were colleagues for three years when we both worked in a private foster family agency (after my retirement from the county career).  She lives in Northern California and works for State Rehab. now.

All of us were very close working together in an agency with a very authoritarian/mercurial CEO…it was us against her.  That kind of setting brings people together. We all had regular get-togethers while we were working there, and then after we each left…but now we are all scattered throughout the state.

So it was good to catch up.

Afterwards I saw The Glass Castle, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  The film flashed back and forth in time, bringing us moments in childhood interspersed with the adult scenes.  It was a riveting “true story” brought to film.  I also loved the book version, which I read before I started blogging.



Last night, I watched more of Season III of The Ranch, on Netflix, which I didn’t enjoy very much at first…but now I’m riveted.  I’m not sure why.  Probably because I finally allowed the scenes with Debra Winger and Sam Elliott (both of whom I enjoy) to overshadow the silliness of Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson.

I’ve been watching the TV season of the new show Doubt, with Katherine Heigl…and I see that nothing is scheduled for next week, so I am guessing it is going on hiatus.  I hate when that happens, especially with a cliff-hanger ending.


How is your weekend shaping up?  Plans?  Adventures?



Books & fairytales - TUESDAY EXCERPTS

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by Books & a Beat.

My featured book today is a recent download, from a new-to-me author:  The Sister, by Louise Jensen.





Intro:  (Now)

Stepping out of my car with heartbreak-heavy legs, I zip my jacket and pull on leather gloves before hefting my spade and bag from the boot:  it is time.  My wellingtons slip-slide across the squelching mud to the gap in the hedge.  It’s been there for as long as I can remember.  I shiver as I enter the forest; it’s darker than I’d thought and I take deep breaths of the pine-scented air to steady myself.  I fight the urge to go home and come back in the morning, remind myself why I’m here and drive myself forwards.


Teaser: (Now)

Lexie lights a cigarette with shaky hands.  She carries the ashtray over to the back door and aims the contents towards an already full bin bag.  Ash spills to the floor.   ‘I’m taking a lodger in.  Need the cash.  Haven’t worked since…You know.’ (p. 59).


Synopsis:  “I did something terrible Grace. I hope you can forgive me …”

Grace hasn’t been the same since the death of her best friend Charlie. She is haunted by Charlie’s last words, and in a bid for answers, opens an old memory box of Charlie’s. It soon becomes clear there was a lot she didn’t know about her best friend.

When Grace starts a campaign to find Charlie’s father, Anna, a girl claiming to be Charlie’s sister steps forward. For Grace, finding Anna is like finding a new family, and soon Anna has made herself very comfortable in Grace and boyfriend Dan’s home.

But something isn’t right. Things disappear, Dan’s acting strangely and Grace is sure that someone is following her. Is it all in Grace’s mind? Or as she gets closer to discovering the truth about both Charlie and Anna, is Grace in terrible danger?

There was nothing she could have done to save Charlie …or was there?


What do you think?  Do the excerpts pull you in?  Would you keep reading?



hummel bookish-LOGO

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by Jenn, at Books and a Beat.

My spotlight today is on a recent download I purchased from a favorite author:  Under the Influence, by Joyce Maynard.




Intro:  It was late November,  and for a week solid the rain hadn’t let up.  My son and I had moved out of our old apartment back before school started, but I had left it until now to clear the last of our belongings out of the storage area I’d been renting.  With two days left before the end of the month, I decided not to wait any longer for dry weather.  Worse things could happen to a person than getting a few boxes wet.  As I well knew.

The fact that we had finally left this town was good news.  Not long before, I’d finally paid off the last of my debt to the lawyer who’d represented me in my custody trial more than a dozen years earlier.  Now Oliver and I were living in a bigger apartment closer to my new job in Oakland—a place where my son could finally have a little space, with a little work studio for me, too.  After a long, hard stretch, the future looked hopeful.


Teaser:  “I have these friends,” I had told Elliott the first night we met.  “Wonderful people.  The best friends I ever had.  They sort of took me under their wing.  They’re like my family.” (43%).


Synopsis:  The New York Times bestselling author of Labor Day and After Her returns with a poignant story about the true meaning—and the true price—of friendship.

Drinking cost Helen her marriage and custody of her seven-year-old son, Ollie. Once an aspiring art photographer, she now makes ends meet taking portraits of school children and working for a caterer. Recovering from her addiction, she spends lonely evenings checking out profiles on an online dating site. Weekend visits with her son are awkward. He’s drifting away from her, fast.

When she meets Ava and Swift Havilland, the vulnerable Helen is instantly enchanted. Wealthy, connected philanthropists, they have their own charity devoted to rescuing dogs. Their home is filled with fabulous friends, edgy art, and dazzling parties.

Then Helen meets Elliott, a kind, quiet accountant who offers loyalty and love with none of her newfound friends’ fireworks. To Swift and Ava, he’s boring. But even worse than that, he’s unimpressed by them.

As Helen increasingly falls under the Havillands’ influence—running errands, doing random chores, questioning her relationship with Elliott—Ava and Swift hold out the most seductive gift: their influence and help to regain custody of her son. But the debt Helen owes them is about to come due.

Ollie witnesses an accident involving Swift, his grown son, and the daughter of the Havillands’ housekeeper. With her young son’s future in the balance, Helen must choose between the truth and the friends who have given her everything.


Would you keep reading?  I love this author, so I’m biased.  What do you think?



Jess and Andi had met years before when their daughters were taking ballet classes. Something clicked between them, and their friendship had continued, even as now their children are entering adulthood. The teenage years have presented challenges for them, and the empty nest is looming.

Andi has always exercised, while Jess avoids it, but counts calories and watches carbs. But neither woman feels good about her physical condition. Each would love to lose weight and tone up her body.

So when Andi finds out about a hike up the Appalachian Trail, from Georgia to Maine, she is determined to do it. But first she has to persuade Jess.

Not at all interested, Jess finally wavers and agrees. She wants to leave her troublesome daughter Meaghan for a while, and her younger daughter Sydney is going to France on a trip.

Andi is proud of her son Liam, but reluctant to discuss Taylor, who is behaving like a spoiled brat. Getting away now seems like perfect timing.

Leaving behind their children and husbands, they begin a journey that will change their lives in unimaginable ways. Jess’s husband Mike is opposed and not at all supportive; Andi’s husband Rex is more amenable. None of the children seem at all interested, being typically self-absorbed.

What will Jess and Andi learn about themselves as they challenge their bodies? Will they discover that their friendship is tested by their very different goals? How will they overcome the conflicts between them? And how will their journey end?

At times, I really could not stand Andi, often sprinting ahead and leaving Jess behind to struggle. Sometimes it seemed as though Andi only cared about her own needs. Her competitive nature seemed to dictate her choices.

However, as some issues were resolved between them and as they realized what the other could contribute, they learned a lot about how to overcome challenges. A delightful read that was so much more than a story about hiking, Trail Mix was a book I could not put down. 5.0 stars.



In a story that spans decades, from 1979-2008, Tumbleweeds: A Novel chronicles the journey of three best friends who met during 1979, in Kersey, Texas, a small town in the Panhandle.

They dubbed themselves the “orphans” because of the death or abandonment of each of their parents, and their connection would last for a very long time. But something would happen as they approached young adulthood–in fact, two events–that would change their lives forever.

Cathy Benson, Trey Don Hall, and John Caldwell had a special connection, some devastating secrets, and would finally come together again in 2008. Would the three of them find resolution? Would their secrets come to light? Or would the wrongs, betrayals, and unforgiven moments mark them indefinitely? And what unexpected act would change the course they had charted for themselves?

This is a coming-of-age tale: a story that examines how secrets can change lives, and a mysterious unfolding of consequences that have built up over the years, coming together in a slow reveal.

Some of the secrets are known to the reader early on, while others come out of left field near the end.

There were parts of the story that had me rapidly turning pages, while other parts–the first sections of the book that constituted half of it–were so slow it was like watching paint dry. For those who enjoy big sagas, with secrets, betrayals, and mysteries, this would be one I’d recommend. But if you prefer a seamless unveiling of the plot and themes, you might want to pass. 3.5 stars.


the lion is in resizedIt is a warm summer night on a rural road in North Carolina when two women are stranded on the side of a road with a flat tire. While bravely trying to change it, another woman comes along and offers to help. Once the car is repaired, the three of them take off. Even though two of them are running from something unspoken, while the third one also seems secretive and frightened. But what better bond can there be? The quirky trio continue on their journey–oh, and one of them is wearing a wedding dress.

This set up immediately grabbed my attention. We learn through dialogue that the first two, Lana and Tracee, have been best friends for a long time. The third woman, slightly older, is less forthcoming, except with the occasional pearls of wisdom that lend a certain aura to her.

Suddenly the car veers off and hits something. Unable to move it or restart it, they walk toward a building they see in the distance. An apparently abandoned building, where they seek shelter. But on the first morning, they discover that another resident looms nearby, albeit in a cage. A lion. Hence the name of the strange club: The Lion.

Meanwhile, their car has been towed to nearby Fairville, and a deal is struck up with the owner for auto repairs.

From here the story gets even more intriguing, and we meet a few more characters. Like the owner of the bar and a young man who works there. And somehow the women have convinced the man to let them work there, too, and the younger man finds them a room nearby.

As we watch the three of them bond through their need and their secrets, we also slowly view some of those dark corners of their minds. Lana is volatile with addiction issues; Tracee has been abandoned one too many times and is a kleptomaniac; and Rita is running from a tyrannical husband who has persuaded her of her worthlessness for too many years.

How do the three of them begin to connect to this time and place? How does the lion, Marcel, play a huge role in what happens to them in the upcoming weeks? And how will everything seemingly come crashing down around them, forcing them to make untenable choices?

I have been a big fan of the author and her sisters over the years, and this quirky tale was no exception. At times I really did not like Lana or Tracee. Their immaturity and melodramatic acting out were annoying. But beneath this behavior lurked those secrets from the past. My favorite character, of course, was Rita, along with Marcel. They were a duo to be reckoned with. Themes of friendship, betrayal, and secrets loomed in The Lion is In, along with the unexpected and whimsical aspects. Four stars.


4-30-curlupandread-001-framed-book-beginnings2friday 56

Welcome to some bookish fun today as we share Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and as we showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

If you have been wanting to participate, but haven’t yet tried, now is the time!

What better way to spend a Friday?

Today I’m excerpting from The Lion is In, by Delia Ephron.  I’ve always enjoyed books by the Ephron sisters, so I’m looking forward to this one.

the lion is in resized


Beginning:  Three hours south of Baltimore.  Six p.m. or so.  June third.  Two young women stand by the side of a rural two-lane highway.  They are not sure what the road is or where it goes.


56:  He never saw the women because he never went into the men’s room.  He never noticed the open window, either, probably because he was preoccupied.  He was homesick.


Amazon Description:  “‘There are no miracles,” says Rita …. ‘Miracles are simply misunderstandings. Or worse, cons.’” –The Lion Is In

Tracee is a runaway bride and kleptomaniac. Lana’s an audacious beauty, a recovering alcoholic. Rita is a holy-roller minister’s wife, desperate to escape her marriage. One warm summer’s night, these three women go on the lam together. Their car breaks down on a rural highway in North Carolina and they’re forced to seek shelter in a seemingly abandoned nightclub. Which is where they meet Marcel. And soon everything changes. Marcel, you see, is a lion.

Written with the deftness, humor, and sparkling wit that mark her books, plays, and movies, Delia Ephron’s The Lion Is In is an unforgettable story of friendship, courage, love—and learning to salsa with the king of the jungle.


Sounds like a book I’m going to enjoy.  What are you sharing today?



I finished Big Cherry Holler earlier today….click title for review.   Needless to say, I LOVED it!  I wouldn’t categorize it as a romance novel, but there were beautiful moments and there was love.  There was also a lot of angst.  But most of all, I enjoyed seeing the “Holler” through the characters’ eyes, especially Ave Maria’s.  And when she went to Italy, I felt as though I were there, too.

In honor of “love month,” I’ve changed my blog header again to celebrate it.


And I’m reading stories that make me feel good.  I’m also watching more old movies that do the same.  Like one from the mid-nineties with Whoopi Goldberg, Drew Barrymore, and Mary-Louise Parker:  Boys on the Side.


A movie about friendships…albeit accidental ones.  A story about a road trip that leads the characters into moments that will only strengthen the bonds between them.

Next I’m going to plunge into another Stephanie Plum book:  Sizzling Sixteen.  I mentioned it the other day, but now I’m reading it.


What do you do on a weekend to remember friendship, love, or even road trips? 


Welcome to another Hump Day Potpourri, celebrating Waiting on Wednesday.  To join in and find out what exciting upcoming books are out there, click on the link for Breaking the Spine.

Today I’m excited about a book that’s not coming out until 2/5/13, but I’ve been seeing this one around the blogosphere.  Tumbleweeds, by Leila Meacham, follows three friends through their growing up years until their high school graduations when several tragic events uproot and break them apart;  the novel expands to follow their careers and futures until they reunite in Kersey at forty years of age. Told with all of Meacham’s signature drama, unforgettable characters, and plot twists, readers will be turning the pages, desperate to learn how it all plays out.

Recently orphaned, eleven-year-old Cathy Benson feels she has been dropped into a cultural and intellectual wasteland when she is forced to move from her academically privileged life in California to the small town of Kersey in the Texas Panhandle where the sport of football reigns supreme. She is quickly taken under the unlikely wings of up-and-coming gridiron stars and classmates John Caldwell and Trey Don Hall, orphans like herself, with whom she forms a friendship and eventual love triangle that will determine the course of the rest of their lives.


What are you excited about today?  Come on by and share some comments and links.