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SECRETS OF THE TULIP SISTERS: A Captivating Story about Sisters, Secrets, and Second Chances ~Susan Mallery

Monday, July 31st, 2017

SECRETS OF THE TULIP SISTERS turned out to be one terrific read and I learned lots about how to grow tulips and had no idea it was so difficult and so important for Christmas time.  I just thought tulips were wonderfully beautiful field trip destination in the northern climes of my state.  The stunning beauty of the tulip fields was a delightful location for a story about secrets and romance.  Actually, it is three romances all wrapped up into one family and one good and interesting read.

About Susan Mallery

Susan Mallery is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of books about the relationships that define women’s lives—romance, friendship, family. With compassion and humor, Susan keenly observes how people think and feel, in stories that take readers on an emotional journey. Sometimes heartbreaking, often funny, and always uplifting, Susan’s books have spent more than 200 weeks on the USA Today bestsellers list, thanks to her ever growing legions of fans.

Critics, too, have heaped praise on “the new queen of romantic fiction.” (Walmart) Booklist says, “Romance novels don’t get much better than Mallery’s expert blend of emotional nuance, humor, and superb storytelling,” and RT Book Reviews puts her “in a class by herself!”

Although Susan majored in Accounting, she never worked as an accountant because she was published straight out of college with two books the same month, January of 1992. Sixteen prolific years and seventy-four books later, she hit the New York Times bestsellers list for the first time with Accidentally Yours in 2008. She made many appearances in the Top 10 before (finally) hitting #1 in 2015 with Thrill Me, the twentieth book in her most popular series, the Fool’s Gold romances, and the fourth of five books released that year.

Susan lives in Seattle with her husband, two ragdoll cats, and a tattletale toy poodle. Her heart for animals has led Susan to become an active supporter of the Seattle Humane Society. Animals play a big role in her books, as well, as she believes they’re an integral component to a happy life. (From TLC Website)

I believe that SECRETS OF THE TULIP SISTERS might be based on a friend’s life story.  The mother in this story truly is just as awful and manipulative as my childhood friend’s mother although that woman kept her family on the move constantly. This mother left her family and stayed on the move herself.

Kelly has stayed at home working with her father on their tulip farm.  She works with fancy blooms and hybrids and she works long and hard.  Her love life is not very exciting and a small, rural town is not very good at supplying partners.  Her father kept the 15 and 12- year – old daughters after their mother left and Kelly just worked her best to keep everything on track.

Olivia went to boarding school and then on to college and followed an old high school boyfriend around for a while and then was invited to join her mother in her real estate business in Arizona.   That idea was not working out so well and Olivia felt a need to keep trying to find what she was good at and what she could do for a career.  She travels north to spend time with her father and sister.  This causes the sisters to rediscover each other and the secrets to fester.

The love of a couple of really good fellows allows the girls to face up to their situations and to free up the secrets; revealing good ol’ dad’s love interest and his desire to move forward with his life too.

My book groups do not read romance books, but I think each one of them would enjoy this story as they travel for the summer and as they relax on the beach.  I enjoyed this story at the ocean and that the story was interesting had substance and was not a huge bodice ripper with no real plot. One very well written sex scene was a good distraction.  A fun read for sure.  I would recommend THE SECRETS OF THE TULIP SISTERS

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HOW TO BUILD A PIANO BENCH: Lessons for Success from a Red-Dirt Road in Alabama: A MEMOIR ~Ruthi Postow Birch

Monday, July 24th, 2017

HOW TO BUILD A PIANO BENCH is a delightful memoir written by a woman who is a self made success.  She always wanted to do something special and she wanted to be wealthy – and Ruthi Postow Birch did just that.

This book is just full to the brim with wonderful anecdotes and pieces of advise about how to build success. Start with being born right at the poverty line and using every piece of wisdom you are surrounded by to achieve your goals in life.  I will say for the author who enjoys poetry very much the words and tales found here are straight up for real, the extra adjective is not available nor is the metaphor a tool of play.  There is lots of humor and compassion and discovery in the telling of a life and it was a pleasure to read.

“Get an education, get off Petain Street, and amount to something.” (Daddy Postow)

The author takes all the small things she learned as a little girl and points to how they helped her achieve a full and successful life.  She loved to listen to the stories the people told on her street and she ascribes much of her future to those listening skills and compassion that developed her skill set for starting her own business.  She never abandoned her parent’s lessons and used them as her strength and courage to keep moving forward.  As a matter of fact she left the dorms in college to move back into her parent’s home in Georgia and this provided a foundation for her to discover her own learning style and succeed in college with honors.   She did not come back to her parent’s wisdom; she never gave it up and learned the lessons forward.   Her father was a tugboat captain and her mother was a grocery store clerk and a union representative (fierce southern woman)

One of her father’s first and most lasting lessons was that there is always a right first step and if you can find that first step you are on your way to succeed.   It was the right lesson the building  of a piano bench for a young daughter, who was not going to be a successful pianist or musician, but was going to be a successful builder.  Her parents were open to people and experiences and worked to give their youngest child a broad view of the place where she was located.

Ruthi Postow Birch was not a mistake free person, and it took her several tries to find the right first step to a family and a career.  She stumbled into her first job and shouted out that she loved “cold calling” and then became the queen of cold calling! It was from all those years of listening and hearing the stories of the folks on her street in Alabama that made her unafraid when the other’s hated this task.  She was successful because she truly heard what the person on the phone was saying to her and she was able to make a connection.

After she graduated from college a Psychologist friend helped her discover that Ruthi had A.D.D. and with that knowledge and study Ruthi was able to design her new business finding a partner who did the tasks that were difficult for her and polishing and shining up the parts where she excelled.  She found a way to take risks and use them to her advantage when she looked for the first right step.

One very good book sent to me for review by Larissa Ackerman

More about the author:

“ Ruthi Postow Birch is a successful business woman, author, and speaker who has made people her life’s work.  In 2001, she founded Ruthi Postow Staffing, recruiting temporary and permanent employees for businesses in the DC area.  She is the mother of three boys and currently lives in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, with her husband, Ron, their Wheaten terrier, Mr. Magoo, and a family of chimney swifts that return every spring to nest in their 18th –century chimney.”

www.RUTHIPOSTOWBIRCH.com

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LIFT AND SEPARATE: A Novel ~Marilyn Simon Rothstein

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

LIFT AND SEPARATE just fills the cup and spills over revealing a full life, which raises and supports an older woman’s journey through a rough cleavage of problems (could not resist!). The humor and one liners were worth the entire cost of the book and let us face it, when one is an older woman there will accumulate lots of problems and we all need a laugh to find uplifting results.

Marcy Hammer has been married 33 years and she enjoys being married.  She loves her children, Elizabeth a doctor, Ben a -junior in college, and Amanda a business and marketing person now working on the west coast.  Harvey Marcy’s husband, own a huge business – Bountiful Bosoms – and his major competitor is Victoria’s Secret.  Harvey knows lingerie and he wants the best in life, such as he wants a Leonardo Di Vinci motif on the master bathroom floor.  Marcy is very satisfied with her life and her workaholic husband, who secretly moves out and then tells her that he has been having an affair with a bra model.   Marcy loves being married – Did I already say that?

Dana, her good friend has many problems popping up in her life also.  Her twins are attempting to pick a college and her oldest son is getting married to a girl she does not like.   They share a nice banter and Marcy’s quick comebacks and quips make me envious of her ability to produce funny one-liners.

The house is too big.

Marcy’s mother falls from a stool and breaks her ankles and is hospitalized.  During hospital visits, Marcy discovers a new/old friend and they very much connect over parental illness. Candy has two parents dying and a philandering husband.  Marcy’s oldest daughter, the doctor, is trying to assist her in making decisions and is dating a married man.   Harvey and Marcy are on the same page with this relationship – no way.

There were some universal elements to the story and all the problems and it is important for mature women to find their own niche and maybe even their own house.  The managing of the stress makes for some very funny encounters and some very healthy solutions; great trial and error solutions.

TLC Book Tours and the Marilyn Rothstein sent me an e-copy of this book for review, it was a perfect read to start the year, I truly enjoyed the clear storytelling, the character’s dilemmas and Marcy’s sense of humor.  How much better life is when we help each other and provide the laughter.  Clever and delightful!  – LIFT AND SEPARATE.

“For more than twenty-five years, Marilyn Simon Rothstein owned an advertising agency in Connecticut. She grew up in New York City, earned a degree in journalism from New York University, began her writing career at Seventeen magazines, and married a man she met in an elevator. Lift And Separate is her debut novel.” (Back of Book)

Marilyn Simon Rothstein Facebook
Marilyn Simon Rothstein Amazon

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I HATE EVERYONE EXCEPT YOU: A Humorous Memoir With Fiction ~Clinton Kelly

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

Best known for his work on WHAT NOT TO WEAR and as the moderator on THE CHEW, Clinton Kelly is well regarded for his humor and style.  NET GALLEY sent me an e-copy of his new book I HATE EVERYONE EXCEPT YOU for review and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it – laughing all the way!

I have only had television in my life for the past year, and so I must say that this is my first contact with Mr. Kelly and it was wonderful.  All the New Yorker glam and then the early years of growing up on Long Island where he threw his “baby” sister up in the air to encourage her cheer-leading career, just started me laughing until I lost my cool sophistication and my tea leaked out my nose.   No eating while reading this one.

His essay about going to Sweden when he was worried about Ted Cruz winning the election made me want to join him. Clinton Kelly truly enjoys food and that was a very interesting part of each of the essays.  The language is often “off colored” and “sexy” and very east coast confident.  Throughout the book, the sex scenes are not detailed they are just suggested – No kiss and tell.  Mary his terrier pup must be having a spectacular life; they couldn’t choose Australia because there is a 6-month quarantine to bring a dog with you.  I learned a number of new things and what! A Mud Bath (Amazon called it ‘death by mud bath’) – well I never knew any of that!

In the essay about 1980s pornography and high school experiences, I was relieved to see that homosexuality was not as closeted as it was for my location and generation.  I have to believe that my days of high school had to be so much more horrid for the “gay” community than Kelly’s time even though it sounded fairly miserable also.

At a time where “hate” is truly surfacing in pure ugliness, I am hoping Clinton Kelly can keep folks laughing and sharing the more important moments of life. I believe when one can laugh and teach about life, one brings hope and joy to our flawed spaces.  I can highly recommend this book, be prepared for the language and lifestyle issues and I am sure you will laugh too when you read I HATE EVERYONE EXCEPT YOU.

“Kelly was born in Panama City, Panama, of Irish and Italian ancestry, and raised in Port Jefferson Station, Long Island, New York. He graduated from Comsewogue High School in 1987. He attended Boston College and graduated with a degree in communications in 1991; he was president of Boston College’s University Chorale. After college, he attained his master’s degree in journalism, specializing in magazine publishing, from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 1993” ( Wikipedia)

Clinton Kelly Facebook
Clinton Kelly Web

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