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THE RESTAURANT CRITIC’S WIFE: Good Storytelling ~Elizabeth LaBan

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

“Compulsively readable and richly detailed, a guilt-free treat that will have you devouring every word.” (Cover) JENNIFER WEINER – #1 New York Times bestselling author.

As I started to read THE RESTAURANT CRITIC’S WIFE I thought several times that I was reading a Jennifer Weiner story and truly enjoying this cozy read of an e-book.  When I got to the final scene and moved to acknowledgements I was pleased to discover that Elizabeth LaBan knows Weiner and that they had discussed this book in progress and ideas were shared.  Then I saw the front cover of the book and there was Weiner’s quote, which I agree wholehearted with its assessment.  A delicious read with no weight gain.

Lila is a regular kind of gal, who got pregnant and decided to get married to her fellow – a journalist who loves to cook and enjoy food.  They start out life together in New Orleans and Lila is a travelling staff member of a large hotel chain who does crisis intervention.  Sam, the journalist gets a new job as the food critic for the newspaper in Philadelphia and because Lila is expecting child #2 they decide she will not work as they transition into a new community, job, and arrival of a new baby.  Lila loves her children but is feeling troubled being out of the workforce and by needing to stay invisible to keep her spouse’s identify a secret from restaurants he will be reviewing.  This is very hard because Lila’s friend from school lives nearby and has small children and her husband owns a new restaurant in town.  The neighbors cannot be befriended if they own a restaurant either.  Lila endures loneliness and restlessness until she starts doing some “on the phone” crisis intervention work for her old work situation.  The local gossip columnist gets ahold of her picture and reports on her activities and now the tension begins with full force as the couple works on their relationship, happiness seems elusive and Lila keeps being exposed and Sam’s work is jeopardized.   What is a young mother to do?  How does she find her place in a new city and with a new baby and nurture her children?

The food reviews are a fabulous part of the storytelling and oh my the descriptions of the restaurants and the food they are eating – well yummy, enticing and so funny without all the calories.  It was simply a wonderful read and I curled up with a cuppa and enjoyed page after page.  I was happy she found a babysitter who could help her and she found a true friend along the way.   Cozy enjoyable read.

TLC Book Tours sent me a copy of this book and they have a whole list of folks reviewing this book and sharing it with readers.  No spit up on my shoulder any more, been there – done that, and still a good read and remembering making those career choices; I did not have that much humor in those days!

“Elizabeth LaBan lives in Philadelphia with her restaurant critic husband and two children.  She is also the author of The Tragedy Paper, which has been translated into eleven languages, and The Grandparents Handbook, which has been translated into seven languages.”  (Cover)

Elizabeth-LaBanElizabeth LaBan Facebook

Language Arts
Water On The Moon
Dog Crazy

THE LANGUAGE OF HOOFBEATS: a Novel ~Catherine Ryan Hyde

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

“And that, I realized, is the worst price we pay for living in a dearth of true communication.  We go through our whole lives thinking it’s only us.  And that has to be the deepest, most bone-chilling definition of the word ‘alone’.  You can have a crowd around you, a circus, but they can’t spare you from that brand of loneliness.” (from location 92%)

From Amazon the story description:

“From the bestselling author of Pay It Forward comes a story of the heartbreak and healing power of family. New to a small town, Jackie and Paula envision a quiet life for their kids: a young adopted son and two teenage foster children, including the troubled Star. However, they quickly butt heads with their neighbor, Clementine, who disapproves of their lifestyle and is incensed when Star befriends her spirited horse, Comet. Haunted by past tragedy and unable to properly care for Comet, Clem nevertheless resents the bond Star soon shares with the horse. When Star disappears with Comet, the neighbors are thrown together—far too close together. But as the search for the pair wears on, both families must learn to put aside their animosity and confront the choices they’ve made and the scars they carry. Plumbing the depths of regret and forgiveness, The Language of Hoofbeats explores the strange alchemy that transforms a group of people into a family.“

This is one of the nicest stories of family bonding I think I have ever read.  I believe readers from middle school to 100 would enjoy this story.  For me it has a special appeal of an adoptive/fostering family finding their connections and working through the hard stuff – finally together.  The ending was not as comfortable as one would imagine in a traditional story, and yet it was finding a happiness which shined forth. I liked how the difficult neighbor assisted everyone in finding their own voice and not being afraid to say, “I don’t like this.”  Lots of learning to problem solve and communication happening in the LANGUAGE OF HOOFBEATS.

I received an advanced unproofed, uncorrected copy of this book from TLC Booktours  for review and I feel it was a privilege to be able to share this story with you.  I am grateful for the opportunity and think this would make a lovely gift.  I curled right up on a 19’F sunny morning and read it beginning to end and I will add it to my Holiday reading shelf.  THE LANGUAGE OF HOOFBEATS is a gem.

Know any teenagers who are moody?   Know someone who needs a happy ending? Concerned about children and their welfare?  Have a troublesome neighbor? Need a sense of belonging?   I do recommend THE LANGUAGE OF HOOFBEATS

Here’s what it says about the author at the end of my e-read:

“Catherine Ryan Hyde is the bestselling author of twenty-four novels, including the 1999 smash hit PAY IT FORWARD, which has been translated into more than two dozen languages, and was made into a major motion picture starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, and Haley Joel Osment.  In addition to her novels, Hyde is the author of more than fifty short stories and is founder and former president (2000-2009) of the Pay It Forward Foundation.  During her years as a professional public speaker, she addressed the National Conference on Education, met with AmeriCorps members at the White House, and shared a dais with President Bill Clinton.”

Catherine Ryan Hyde Website
Catherine Ryan Hyde Blog
Catherine Ryan Hyde Twitter
Catherine Ryan Hyde Facebook

I just wanted to tell you every detail of the story – but I hate reading reviews that spoil or tell too much.

The Pact
The Dragon’s Pawn
The Sowing
ANTS or Automatic Negative Thinking


Monday, June 18th, 2012

closet_clutter_monsterDe-cluttering needs to be an ongoing task.  It is part of living well and is as important as brushing your teeth and having a colonoscopy.  I am not kidding here at all.  It is life giving work that needs to be done.

My neighbor’s house just had a for sale sign put up front.  The occupants and lovely friends just moved at the beginning of the year to an assisted living apartment and they were ready to be done with houses and yard work and the black hole of repairs.

The neighbor’s two hours away daughter has been coming here nearly every weekend to divide up the leftovers, moving van the chosen “stuff” to her sister clear across the country and give to charity. Two large dumpsters have been filled with paperwork and those things that are just “stuff” and not good enough for an estate sale. The past several weeks have found the house full of carpenters, landscapers, painters, and home decorators to prepare for the photographs and staging for the online tour.

More furniture was put into the garage and new furniture, flowers, pillows and art were brought into the house.   We loved watching the owner’s upstairs couch being lifted out of the windows and down the roof by professionals and then a bedroom set moved into the room.

The duct work has been cleaned and the gutters and corners have been power washed to perfection. Garden plants were trimmed, pots removed and strange flower arrangements were rearranged.  The raccoon family under the deck was evicted and the deer fencing taken down; so that buyers might not see that the critters of the woods live here too.  De-clutter going on like crazy and then order and visual perfection interloping.

Now they just need a buyer and already the folks are coming.  Yes! Already!  This particular house will be purchased by someone in the 1% as the view of the water, Puget Sound, Mt. Rainier, the Capital Building and the entire city on the eastside hill is a magnificent one.

I watched all the work being done by the daughter and her family – some by the long distance daughter- and all the things that were thrown away and I was so thankful that my parents did not leave it to the children.  My parents moved 22 times during their marriage.  Each move they de-cluttered and let go.

When my mom was alone we assisted her in letting go of my Father’s things and stuff.  When we moved her into our house for her last years, we packed up a small box of treasures to be mailed to each grandchild and each child upon her death.  There was a plan for each item she brought here and it took us only one weekend to take care of the letting go.  All her files were in order and for the details I could put my hand on every essential item after her death.

We de-cluttered my in laws house a number of years before she moved into assisted living although there were 3 rooms full of things upon death that were a significant amount of work to let go.

We are not our stuff.  It is our responsibility to take care of our stuff and not just leave it for the kids.  Have a plan.  Let go of something every time you bring something new into your life.  Let go of some things often to open up space for new things and experiences.  It is extremely expensive and time consuming to pay to have these services done for you.

Or in the words of my neighbor, “Do not wait forty years to de-clutter and let go. We never thought about it and it was a monumental task.”   You will also be healthier if you regularly de-clutter.

Do you have plans for de-cluttering at your house?  Do you have tricks for letting go?  Will your family fight over the stuff and have hurt feelings?

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket. Thank you.

Related Reading:
The Courage to Be Free
Transitions II
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
So Far Away