Some Luck by Jane Smiley

SOME LUCK, by Jane Smiley, is part one of a trilogy. It’s the hundred year trilogy. I am of the understanding that all three books will be published this year. I sure hope so.

Smiley got my attention years ago with A THOUSAND ACRES. Then I saw the movie adaptation; a real wow. Well, Smiley is back in her stomping grounds; out in Iowa. This time we are in the midst of the great depression. Beginning in the 1920’s and spanning thirty years, we follow Walter Langdon and his family as they struggle through the years.

My initial take on this story was to question the voices used in the beginning. I still am not sure how I feel about hearing a story told mostly through the voices of babies and small children. However, that is only initially. And, it actually works.

Walter Langdon is twenty-five when SOME LUCK begins. The year is 1920. He’s looking over the fields of his farm and contemplating. Little does he know how much the country will be changing. What he does know is that he is the only man his age who owns his own farm. He thinks of his wife, Rosanna, blonde and beautiful, with a German background. And then we meet Frank, aged five months, who is sitting up on a blanket on the porch. And we begin to hear all of Frank’s thoughts. It sets us up for the future.

Smiley sure does know farm life. She is able to show how harsh a life it is. Some years there is barely enough rain to bring water to the pump. Other years there is war that takes loved ones away. And all along the way there is angst of every sort. We discover that most of the offspring of farmers do not want to stay and work the land like their parents. Life is just too darn hard. They ache to fly the coop.

SOME LUCK, takes us all over the world. We travel with Frank as he joins the war effort and discovers other worlds.

Even though there are other children born to Walter and Rosanna, Frank becomes larger than life. Even when I did not want to like him, I found myself eager to follow him down the road. Henry is sensitive and spends every minute he can reading the classics.  Joe is steadfast and a homebody. And the girls are rebels.  One thing I loved about this novel is that all the characters become dear. Smiley has totally fleshed them all out. I can’t wait to follow them though the next two books.

My review copy arrived in the mail from Alfred A. Knopf publishers. Thanks so much!

Now that I am a BN affiliate you can click on the photo of the book or the text and go right to Barnes & Noble to order your book. Happy reading.

Giveaway: There Once Lived A Mother Who Loved Her Children, Until They Moved Back In by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya

A Penguin paperback Original from The New York Times Bestselling Author: Ludmilla Petrushevskaya.

Translated from the Russian, these three novellas tell disquieting and extreme stories of family what for almost two decades wee censored by the Russian government.  Petrushevskaya has often been likened to Edgar Allen Poe.

With an exceptional eye for detail, Petrushevskaya gives voice to those who wouldn’t normally be heard, demonstrating how much can be said about human connection with so few words.  Considered modern classics, especially in Russia, these novellas confirm the genius of an author with a gift for turning suffering and degradation into compassionate art.

The New York Times Book Review says, ” One of Russia’s best living writers…Her tales inhabit a borderline between this world and the next.”

Penguin Books has arranged for me to offer a copy for giveaway. You’re going to want to add this one to your library. So, please leave a comment below to enter my contest. Only U.S. addresses, please. And no P.O. boxes. I will choose one winner Monday, November 3. Good luck!


Thanks Penguin!

The Skinnytaste Cookbook by Gina Homolka

Boy oh boy did I strike it rich getting this amazing cookbook. THE SKINNYTASTE  COOKBOOK, by Gina Homolka, is stuffed with gorgeous photos of delicious looking food.  I actually found myself putting the book down and heading out to the kitchen, rummaging around, looking for something even halfway resembling the goodies on these pages. It made me so hungry.

My book is full of flags. I may have more flags in this book than any other. I just know I want to try most of these recipes. Not only do they look tasty, the recipes look easy and the number of ingredients will not send you running to find a calculator. My husband took a peek at it and didn’t want to give it up. He has marked the recipes he wants to make. He especially seemed infatuated with the stuffed meatballs.

Oven roasted sweet potato fries

Seasoned Sweet Potato Wedges

We did made the lamb chops using the method in the book. Adding the lemon and herbs was a real tangy addition that we ended up loving.

I visited Gina’s website and can not rave enough about it. Her photographs are pristine. Everything is so professional, and yet, it is all so doable.

I am so grateful to Random House and Blogging For Books for sending me this copy of SKINNYTASTE by Gina Homolka in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much! This one is a real winner.

The Killer Next Door by Alex Harwood

 THE KILLER NEXT DOOR, by Alex Marwood, is “scary as hell!” That coming from Stephen King. He loved Marwood’s first novel titled THE WICKED GIRLS. And he says this new one is even better. Coming from Stephen King, that is an amazing endorsement.

I have many readers who love a good mystery. With a starred review from Kirkus and a glowing blurb from the king of mystery himself, this one is sure to please even the most discerning mystery reader.

“Dingy, dirty, and in a perpetual state of unsafe disrepair, 23 Beulah Grove in South London is a last resort for its residents. But with no lease, no credit check, and rent paid in cash, the boarding house is attractive in its own way to the six occupants who all prefer to live under the radar. There is Cher, a young runaway who is evading social services, and Gerald, a recently divorced father who keeps to himself. Vesta, the oldest and longest-standing tenant, resides in the basement apartment, while quiet Thomas inhabits the top floor. Striking Hossein, a political refugee from Iran, tries to forget the horrors of his former life; and Collette, the newest resident, runs from a dangerous past that seems to inch increasingly closer. Presiding over them all is th obese, lecherous landlord who has no qualms about taking advantage of their vulnerability with frequent rent hikes and unsafe living conditions.”

Secrets are the norm at 23 Beulah Grove. Then something shocking and deadly happens one summer night that changes everything.  These people who do not want to know each other for various reasons are forced into an unwilling alliance.  It’s unnerving to say the least. And out comes the old adage: How well do you know your neighbors?

THE KILLER NEXT DOOR, by Alex Marwood, is published in trade paperwork, and is available to purchase today, October 28, 2014. My review copy arrived from Penguin Random House in exchange for a spotlight or review or both.


Now that I am affiliated with Barnes & Noble Booksellers, I’m able to offer you a link to the BN site so you can purchase this book from my blog. Yes, I receive a tiny % of anything purchased through my site. How cool is that!

Stunning Asheville Color

Asheville October 25

Blue Ridge Parkway


I visited Asheville, North Carolina this weekend. My daughter and her family live  in this amazing part of the world.  On Saturday we drove along the Blue Ridge Parkway and this is what we saw, over and over again. Magnificent offerings of color punctuating the mountains in all their glory. Everyone said they have not seen the likes of this in years. So glad I chose this weekend to visit.

The weather in Asheville can be puzzling; tricky. Saturday morning temperatures hovered around the freezing mark. But by later in the day it warmed up significantly.



Deck With A View!

This is the majestic view from Alicia’s home on the side of the mountain in Asheville. I love enjoying a cup of steaming hot coffee while viewing the mountains that are seemingly an arm’s reach away. And I love enjoying a full-bodied glass of red wine in the evening as the stars appear in the night sky. There is nothing quite as satisfying as spending time with a loved one in this venue. I feel so blessed.


My visit to Asheville was not just a family visit. There was some business to attend to. Alicia helped me completely revamp my website. I hope you enjoy the new header and format. I would welcome your comments. So far, I love it!

Announcing Winner of More Awesome Than Money Giveaway

Jim Dwyer

More Awesome Than Money

My winner for MORE AWESOME THAN MONEY by Jim Dwyer, is…Kathleen Mottice. Congratulations Kathleen! I will send you an email asking for your mailing address. Enjoy your book! And once again, thanks go out Viking Publishers for supplying this great book for my giveaway. Just a quick note. I will be in Asheville visiting family over the weekend. Hoping to see some amazing color. Am taking warm clothes. Will be working on revamping my blog. It’s time. Going to shake it a bit.   See you all next week.

Giveaway: More Awesome Than Money by Jim Dwyer. And Announcing Winner of An Unseemly Wife by E.B. Moore

Jim Dwyer

More Awesome Than Money

If you’re reading this blog post, you’re online. That means your privacy is vulnerable. MORE AWESOME THAN MONEY, by Jim Dwyer, is full of sometimes scary information about social media, in particular, Facebook.

The subtitle of this expose is “Four Boys and Their Heroic Quest to Save Your Privacy from Facebook.” I have become more and more cautious what I put on social media. After all, there it is, out there for most anyone with access to a computer to see.  Even then, I got the strangest message from a total stranger on Facebook a few weeks ago. This from a guy from England who wanted to meet me because he liked the way I look. I was shocked. Then I received a second message asking me to please respond saying he was a widower with children looking for a relationship. REALLY! So I know that privacy is fleeting no matter how much caution is taken.

Jim Dwyer has written a careful and informative book about four young idealists who actually failed at their attempt to create a more noble social network. Dwyer is the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist who wrote 102 MINUTES. He resides in NYC. He also writes a column called “About New York” for the Times.

I have one copy of MORE AWESOME THAN MONEY, by Jim Dwyer, for giveaway. Please leave a comment below. Only U.S. addresses, and no P.O. boxes, please. I will choose a winner Friday, October 24. Good luck. And thanks go out to Viking publishing, a partner of penguin/random house.


The winner of AN  UNSEEMLY WIFE by E.B. Moore is….Karen Turono! Congrats Karen. I will contact you by email to get your mailing address. Book will come straight from publisher.