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Thursday, April 29, 2010


by Anna Quindlen - available in hardcover

This is a very difficult book to review because I don't want to give away the storyline for anyone who hasn't read it yet. I've always been a Quindlen fan, and this book is breathtaking, literally.

Mary Beth and Glen Lantham are living what could pass for an average suburban life with teenagers when one of their twin sons becomes noticeably depressed. Signs of impending disaster swirl around Mary Beth while she tries to help Max with his depression.

What the book jacket calls "an act of violence" is totally shocking and changes everything for the Lanthams and the reader in this heartbreaking and poignant story.

When I finished reading this book, I just wanted to hug my family and keep them close. EVERY LAST ONE is the rare novel that can engage the reader to the point that you experience the same raw emotions as the characters; Anna Quindlen has done just that in this unforgettable story.

This is fiction at its finest and I highly recommend this book.

Monday, April 26, 2010


by Katherine Center - available in bookstores now

Sarah Harper is sick of her job in advertising in New York even though she is a rising star. With no one special in her life, she sabotages her own employment and heads home for Houston for Thanksgiving. Once there, out of the blue she decides to become a surrogate for her childless sister, Mackie, and her husband, Clive.

Quickly bored with sitting around waiting for the twins to be born, she becomes involved in a local preservation group trying to save a beautiful old library building.

GET LUCKY is definitely not great literature. But throw into the mix Sarah's old high school boyfriend, her professor father's fiance, a sequin wearing Elvis fan appropriately named Dixie, and you have the perfect quick and easy chick lit for summer reading.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


We've all heard some form of the expression, "From a tiny acorn, a mighty oak will grow." This expression was first recorded in the 1700s and was attributed to Lewis Duncombe (1711 - 1730) De Minimus Maxima (translation). According to Bartlett's, this first recorded version was, "The lofty oak from a small acorn grows."

However you say it, my husband actually found this tiny acorn trying to become a mighty oak this morning sticking out of the mulch in front of our house in Mendham! After it's photo shoot I'm going to plant it in a pot on my porch and watch our acorn's progress.

It's so nice that Spring really is here!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Five Minute Conversations - BRETTON

Most people who know me know I’m not too interested in cooking. One day when our youngest son left for his freshman year at Washington University in St. Louis, I sat down and figured out that I had cooked or made approximately 22,000 meals since moving to my first apartment and this didn’t even include preparing school lunches, which I was pretty bad at. This is not to say I’ve lost interest in food; I’ve just lost interest in cooking it. I will occasionally make a special family meal and when we’re bored with eating out, I’ll grill a piece of chicken, add rice and broccoli and dinner is served. Pretty ironic that I wrote a small cookbook as a gift for our family and friends a few years ago! I’m lucky to have a husband who really does like to cook. But left to my own devices, I’d probably have Rice Krispies for dinner every night. This is just background so you understand why so many of my FIVE MINUTE CONVERSATIONS take place in restaurants.

My husband and I went to The Pub in Mendham for dinner one night this week. This particular restaurant has had an influx of new, younger wait staff and our waitress was one I hadn’t seen before. She seemed pleasant and friendly and midway through our dinner I asked for her name which started our five minute conversation. She told us her name and she even spelled it. Since it’s such an unusual name, I asked if it was a family name and she said, “No, it isn’t. I was adopted when I was ten days old and that was the name I came with.”

She volunteered that she loves her parents and that she recently started chatting with her birth mother on Facebook. She doesn’t feel the need for much more contact than that and apparently neither does her birth mother for now who has a family and children who don’t know about her. Her birth mother got pregnant when she was only 17 years old; in fact our waitress said she has a photo of her birth mother at her high school prom which shows her looking very pregnant in her prom dress. She did say that when she herself turned 17, she vowed that she was NOT going to get pregnant at such a young age so that she didn’t have to face the difficult decision her birth mother had faced.

Our waitress said she doesn’t know if she will ever have any actual contact other than internet chat with her birth mother, and she’s just fine with it the way it is. She talked about how much she loves her Mom. The wonderful part about her adoption is how confident and matter-of-fact she is about being adopted. Her adoptive parents must be very special people to have given her such a secure base and helped her to grow up to be such a happy, friendly 21 year old. The only sad part is that her birth mother doesn’t get to spend her life with such a charming young lady.

When George and I ordered a dessert to share, our young waitress said dessert would be her treat and sure enough, despite our protests, our check showed up without a charge for our chocolate cake. Of course, we left her a large enough tip to cover what she would have to pay, but it was so nice of her to even suggest that she’d cover our dessert.

As I always try to do before writing about people, I asked her if she minded if I wrote about her on my blog and that I wouldn’t use her real name. She was delighted that I asked her and said to go right ahead and to use her name. BRETTON, you have such a cool name and it was so nice to meet you!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


by John Verdon - to be released in July 2010

First time author, John Verdon, brings us a solid mystery. Retired NYPD homicide detective, Dave Gurney has moved to a small town in upstate New York with his wife. He spends his time retouching photos of serial killers to bring out their dark side which he sells through an art gallery.

From out of the blue, Gurney hears from an old college friend, Mark Mellery, who has been receiving odd and threatening mail. Never one to pass up the chance to solve a puzzle, Gurney begins to unravel the threats and winds up working with the local police to track down a serial killer.

THINK OF A NUMBER is a good story. The one jarring note in the novel is Gurney's wife, Madeleine. The more you begin to like Gurney's character, the less you like Madeleine. Madeleine is so cryptic and unhappy that she becomes annoying very quickly. She's always going off on her own to enjoy nature and there doesn't seem to be any real connection between the two of them except for past history.

Perhaps this is purposely set up to show the difficulties of having a career spouse retire into a life that is foreign to both of them. By the time the book progressed, I was almost hoping that Mrs. Gurney would become the next victim.

Friday, April 16, 2010


The TODAY SHOW just aired a segment called BAD HAIR, BAD MOOD. Apparently 44% of the women polled said that if they have a bad hair day, they're in a bad mood. I don't believe that for a minute! I think if I polled most of the women I know, the percentage would be much higher if not 100%.

The TODAY SHOW segment was very timely for me; I had a really really bad hair day last week. In fact, I had a really bad hair WEEK! I don't know if it's because Spring is here or because I just wanted to shake off the winter doldrums but I decided to change my hair a little.

I was in Connecticut for two weeks and there is a lovely young lady, Lisa, who just finished beauty school (do they still call it that?). I know her from her waitressing job at NOAH'S, my favorite restaurant in Stonington.
She started working in a salon in Mystic and I thought I'd make an appointment to have her cut my hair.

Off I went on Tuesday, April 6, 2010. Lisa gave me a beautiful haircut and I was really happy. So happy in fact, that I made an appointment to have her add highlights, or lowlights in my case, on Friday, April 9th. As you can see from my blog photo which was taken about three weeks before "frosting" my hair (as they used to say in the old days), my hair is naturally white....very VERY white and has been since my mid to late 30's. I prefer to think of it as platinum blond, but in any case, adding any color is going to be really noticeable.

Since this is the perfect segue, I have to do a sidebar here about noticing color in my hair. Back in 1999 my youngest son was in middle school in Mendham. The eighth grade class traditionally has a Shakespeare night. I don't know what it had been like before, but when Bill was in the eighth grade, it was quite a big deal, or as I felt, an ORdeal. Everyone dresses up in their interpretation of Shakespearean era costumes, even the parents, who spend quite a lot of money on very fancy rentals. All this to have dinner in the gym?!?! YIKES!! A lot of planning goes into this event and I found myself heading for a meeting to discuss who was bringing what to the gala.

I was only (ONLY?!) in my early 50s at the time and had this Spring urge to change my hair. At the time, a lot of young girls were walking around with blue or pink streaks in their hair and I just LOVED it! I'm a little cautious about going too crazy so I actually called L'Oreal customer service to ask if any of the temporary avant garde hair colors would still be considered temporary when they were added to my hair. Unfortunately for me they advised against it because with such a light base, there would be a color residue that would have to grow out.

On the day of the meeting I went to Bloomingdale's with my good friend, Candace, who also had an eighth grader. AND THERE IT WAS! The Chanel makeup counter had color hair wands similar to mascara brushes that came in every enchanting color and I wanted them all! I picked a nice shocking pink and we were both laughing as we left the store. When I got home, I added the streaks to my hair and set off for the meeting. Pink hair on an adult is not a Mendham look. No one at the meeting said anything negative. Actually no one said anything about it at all as if I wasn't standing there with pink streaks in my hair. I had Bill when I was 37 years old and was considerably older than the other mothers of eighth graders so they probably just thought I was getting a head start on becoming a Red Hat Lady. Guess it wasn't a surprise I was assigned to bring paper products. They probablly didn't trust me with a recipe.

Back to my recent hair debacle, my husband recently quoted from an article he was reading that stated a woman will change her hair when she wants to make a major change in her life. After reassuring him, I drove over to visit Lisa again.

Lisa and I discussed at great length the look I was trying to achieve; brightening and adding depth to my own hair but not making it dark and not having to deal with roots. She picked out a great color and we were all set. At least we were all set until two more experienced stylists decided that the right color to add would be something called NA-8 or NA-9 (love when people talk in code). Having a beautician for a mother, I should have known what NA meant. I'm blind as a bat without my glasses and at this point my glasses were off and I didn't take the time to look at the color they recommended. I sure should have.

Women know the drill; highlighting requires about three hours and lots of aluminum foil. Finally, I was done and Lisa washed the dye out of my hair and walked me back to the styling chair.! It was horrible. My wet hair looked like the color of a very dull nickel., what was I going to do? I was trying really hard not to cry while the two stylists who advised Lisa to use NA stood around saying how wonderful it looked. Yeah, if I wanted to look like I had salt and pepper hair.

Lisa felt terrible and I felt worse; not just for myself but for her to have such a terrible customer experience when it wasn't her fault. I went up to the front to pay and the owner asked what they could do. I told her, "Nothing. I just want to sit in my car and cry for a while." I did let her know that it wasn't Lisa's fault, her instincts for color had been right and she knew what I wanted. It was the two extra voices of experience that had made it a disaster, plus my not checking or knowing that NA is shorthand for NATURAL ASH. Ash as in dark gray fireplace ashes....UGH! They didn't charge me, but I gave Lisa a very large tip and left. I called my husband and warned him not to say anything negative when he saw me. He was a good sport, he didn't and actually told me it looked nice. But he's not a good liar.

My youngest son showed up on Saturday and the first thing he asked me was, "Why did you make your hair gray?" That was it for me. I called Cecil at the Mendham Spa in New Jersey and made an appointment for Tuesday, April 13th for a "fix" and spent the rest of the weekend feeling like I had just driven over my own foot.

Thank you, Cecil. On Tuesday he painstakingly went through my hair and bleached out most of the UNnatural ash tone and added a light beige blond and VOILA, a color that looks terrific. He conditioned my hair to death and I left the salon FEELING GREAT, with shiny, bouncy hair that reminded me of the old Breck shampoo commercials. Ooh La La!

So, Hoda and Kathy Lee, tell me again how 56% of women AREN'T in a bad mood when they have a bad hair day? Guess they haven't seen the Chris Rock documentary, GOOD HAIR.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


by Harlan Coben - available in hardcover

I'm a big fan of Harlan Coben's books, in part because he's a really good writer and in part because they're all set locally in NJ. I've read everything he's written and looked forward to this latest one.

I wish I could say CAUGHT was wonderful, but it wasn't.

His characterizations are still terrific, but there were so many twists and turns in this novel that it just seemed muddy. While Win (from Coben's Myron Bolitar series) plays a minor role, Coben introduces us to Wendy Tynes, a reporter for a tabloid news program, similar to the television show DATELINE. Based on an anonymous tip, Wendy has set up a fake persona in an online teen chat room to attract Dan Mercer, a suspected pedophile. But that's just the tip of the iceberg in this novel.

CAUGHT has an interesting theme that points out how easy it is to destroy someones reputation in the computer age. Unfortunately it was diluted by the inclusion of too many characters and too many plot lines, all leading up to an unsatisfying and unrealistic conclusion.

Monday, April 12, 2010

61 HOURS - Jack Reacher Series No. 14

by Lee Child - to be released in hardcover in May 2010

I've read every one of the novels in the Jack Reacher series and have never been disappointed. Surprising because Reacher's character is a total anomaly. He travels with no baggage, has no home or family, no friends and winds up wherever he winds up. He doesn't talk much and doesn't try to have relationships, but women always seem to fall right into his lap. He has his own code of honor and decency which makes him so likable.

In this latest Lee Child novel, Reacher is on a tour bus full of senior citizens in South Dakota in the middle of a raging winter snowstorm. The bus crashes and he finds himself totally immersed in trying to protect a local woman, Jane Salter, so that she can testify against the town's biker gang. The bikers are living just outside of town in a forgotten military installation and have ties to a Mexican drug cartel which ramps up the action. As the title states, the storyline takes 61 hours to reach its explosive conclusion. Don't want to give anything away, but the ending is a real cliffhanger!

I recently read that all of the Reacher novels have been optioned for movies. I can't read a Lincoln Ryhme novel (Jeffery Deaver) without hearing Denzel Washington's voice in my head so I hope they never bring these books to the big screen. It's wonderful to read them without having to put a face to the name.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


by Kathryn Stockett - available in harcover

I loved this book by first time author, Kathryn Stockett. Her characterizations of wealthy white families and their black nannies and house cleaners are wonderful.

Having just graduated from college, Skeeter returns home to Mississippi and finds herself awakening to the disparity between the races. Her growing discomfort with the status quo and her tentative friendships with some of the black homeworkers, specifically Minnie, lead her down a very unexpected path.

Stockett brings us a splendid story of the struggles of the women of both races as they begin to deal with the moral issues of the era as well as wealth versus poverty.

The beauty of this novel is the strength these women find in themselves and each other.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


by Scott Turow - to be released in hardcover in May 2010

INNOCENT is the sequel to Scott Turow’s 1989 blockbuster, PRESUMED INNOCENT. In INNOCENT, we revisit the two protagonists who have remained cordial enemies and moved on with their lives since we met them twenty years ago. Rusty Sabich is now the Chief Judge of the Appellate Court, unhappily married with one son, Nat, who is also a lawyer but is still trying to find himself.

Tommy Molto is now the Acting Deputy Prosecutor and has changed dramatically since we met him twenty years ago. He has long tried to live down the specter of wrongdoing from his prosecution of Rusty for murder even though he has never quite believed in Rusty’s innocence. He is newly married to a much younger woman, is a first time father and thrilled to find himself in such wonderful circumstances as he nears 60 years of age.

Once again Rusty is accused of murder but this time it’s for the murder of Barbara, his very troubled wife of many years. Similar to PRESUMED INNOCENT, Rusty’s extramarital affair seems to be tied to this newest accusation.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel; however Turow’s heavy emphasis on a long, drawn out courtroom drama had me wanting to skip over pages. Still, a great read!

Monday, April 5, 2010


Welcome to everyone who found this blog through the RECORDER NEWSPAPERS link Observer-Tribune.

I'm delighted to be linked to them and hope you enjoy reading the book reviews, my FIVE MINUTE CONVERSATIONS, as well as LYNN'S CHATTER.

I'd love to receive your ideas or comments.

I hope April is filled with wonderful books!

(Cory, thanks for the photo and
Robert, thanks for your help with the hyperlinks)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

CUT, PASTE, KILL - A Lomax and Biggs Mystery

by Marshall Karp - to be released in June 2010

Having read one of Marshall Karp's previous books, THE RABBIT FACTORY, I was quite excited to get this new Lomax and Biggs mystery. In Karp's latest, homicide detectives Mike Lomax and Terry Biggs are back again solving murders in Hollywood; this time with the help of FBI Agent Simone Trotter.

CUT, PASTE, KILL has the team searching for a scrapbooking serial killer who closely resembles actress Betty White from The Golden Girls.

As the story unfolds, Mike's home life is expanding with the addition of a very smart and sassy seven year old.

I'm not a fan of scrapbooking and I'm definitely not a fan of craft-themed murder books so I almost gave this book a pass thinking it would be a little too hokey. I'm glad I didn't since it turned out to be so much fun! Mr. Karp once again delivers a solid mystery story along with sharp and hilarious dialog that will have you laughing out loud.

A rare find.....a good mystery that doesn't take itself too seriously.