Book Review – And One Last Thing… by Molly Harper

A few years ago, I was looking for a book to read over a snowy weekend.  I was looking for an author I hadn’t read anything by.  I found And One Last Thing by Molly Harper. It was funny, light-hearted at times, and above all else entertaining. I love a book with a certain element of “fluff,” and this fit the bill perfectly!

From the first page, you’re thrust into the heart of the story when 30 year old Lacey Terwilliger mistakenly receives a bouquet of flowers from her husband that was intended for his mistress. Suddenly, the life she knew comes crashing down as she deals with the realization that her husband has been having an affair with his assistant. Lacey’s pain, rage, and embarrassment are characterized so well. In her fit of anger, she sends a mass email detailing her husband’s affair to his clients, friends, and family. As the email goes viral and becomes an Internet sensation, she escapes to her grandmother’s lakefront cabin to avoid the media frenzy and the craziness of the divorce.

While it’s a predictable theme in most chick lit books, she went to the cabin seeking solitude, but that’s when she meets Monroe, her sexy, new neighbor. However, it’s not as cut and dry as boy meets girl and they live happily ever after. Monroe has a rule to keep his distance from divorced women, and that suits Lacey just fine. However, in time they develop a friendship that eventually leads to intimacy, and in the end, Lacey ultimately has to decide if she can take a chance and love again.

As the reader, you’re in Lacey’s head for the entire book. You know what she’s thinking and why she’s doing what she’s doing, no matter how crazy it may be. (Skinning dipping in the middle of the night? You’ll know why! And you’ll laugh through the ordeal, which involves Monroe thinking she is committing suicide!) And that mass email is so carefully written as the typical wronged wife. However, as crazy as Lacey is at times, I found myself cheering and laughing as she said “one last thing.”

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The Meet Cute of Julia and Drew

About two years ago, I wrote a post about how the meet cute of Julia and Drew came to be. However, this past weekend, I went for a long run and went past the park and gazebo, which were the inspiration for the scene. (Check out the picture below!) So I thought I’d revisit it and give you a little sneak peak of the scene too!

“The late August humidity was oppressive. The air felt heavy. It was like a snowsuit clung to my legs with every stride. As I reached the bike path surrounding the park, the sun disappeared behind clouds rolling in from the west. The shade was a welcome change and helped take my mind off of the heat so I could enjoy the peacefulness of the park.  

I felt the built up tension from work gradually disappear as I hit my stride. I was about halfway around the loop when I felt a large drop of rain hit my forehead. I closed my eyes for a moment and hoped that I imagined it. As three more large drops hit my face and arms, I knew it wasn’t my imagination so I quickened my pace in an effort to beat the worst of the storm. I was over a mile away from my house so as the rumble of thunder got louder, I realized it would be a losing battle. Within seconds, I was in the middle of a complete downpour. Multiple lightning strikes illuminated the darkened sky so I sprinted towards the gazebo in the center of the park.  

When Luke and I were young, my dad would take us down to the park after dinner most summer nights. Bill Merina was, and still is, a kid at heart. The three of us created our own version of tag, and the gazebo was home base. I was so young when we played that I don’t remember all the rules, but we ran around and up and down the steps of that gazebo more times than anyone could count. Back then, it was new with fresh varnish to keep it safe from the elements. Now, it looked worn and weather beaten, but it was the perfect place to ride out the storm.  

When I reached the small wooden structure, I noticed another runner had taken shelter as well. His back was turned to the entrance as he looked out over the park to watch the storm. I took my cell phone out of my pocket to call my mom, but I had no service. “Damn it!” I cursed. With my outburst, I noticed the other runner turned. “Sorry.” I quickly apologized as I held my cell phone up in the air in every direction possible trying to find some sort of signal. “Of all times not to have a signal.” I mumbled under my breath. “Julia?” The man said. I froze for a second. I knew that voice. It had been a while; heck, it had been a decade, but I knew that voice.”

If I rewind 8 years, there was a hot and humid, August evening when I decided to squeeze in a quick run before thunderstorms swept through. I knew I’d be cutting it close with the dark storm clouds off to the West, but I was certain I had at least 25 minutes for a quick run. Unfortunately, luck wasn’t on my side that day. I was about a mile away from my house when the sky opened up and I had to make a very quick dash to find cover.

I’ll be honest. That night I didn’t think too fondly of the run. My sneakers were completely water logged, and I had had to peel off my soaking wet clothes as soon as I came in the front door as my husband tossed me a towel from upstairs. However, the next day, as I thought about how convenient it would have been to have been near a structure of any kind along the bike path, the premise of Julia and Drew’s meet cute came to me. What if two runners – more specifically, two former classmates – found the same place to take cover during a storm?

From there, the idea for The Other Side of Later took off in my head. I thought about the gazebo by the park I spent many summer nights as a kid. I felt like I caught lightning in a bottle. My mind was in overdrive. I couldn’t type fast enough. Idea after idea flowed onto the screen. That being said, there were rewrites on top of rewrites. Some ideas from the early drafts never panned out. But the circumstances of how Julia and Drew reconnect? That never changed. I knew a summer thunderstorm was the perfect way to start their story.

Check out The Other Side of Later on Amazon

Book Reviews – Author Spotlight… Jenny Hale

I’m so excited to share not one, not two, not three, but FOUR books with you that are perfect for long, summer days at the beach…or pool or wherever you like to relax!  One of my favorite, but somewhat unexpected parts of becoming an author is the connections I’ve made with other authors.  The wonders of social networking!

Not only did I discover another author, whose books I thoroughly enjoy, but we’ve also chatted here and there via Twitter over the past year.  Jenny Hale is such a talented writer, and today, I’m happy to share her four summer themed books with all of you!

Image credit: @jhaleauthor

A Barefoot Summer

The small town of White Stone, Virginia situated on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay is the perfect setting for a sweet story about first love with a second chance.  The people of White Stone welcome Libby home with open arms, but Pete, the man whose heart she broke when she escaped the small town for New York, keeps her at arms length.  As Libby spends the summer in her home town, she begins to question whether she made the right decision by leaving all those years ago.

I was dreaming about the summer breeze off the bay, sand beneath my feet, and delicious seafood for days after reading this book.  I’m always a fan of rekindled romance, and A Barefoot Summer is the perfect light-hearted summer love story. Plus, Pete is seriously swoon-worthy!

A Barefoot Summer on Amazon

Summer by the Sea

Summer by the Sea provides another terrific summer setting in the Outer Banks.  I felt like I was on a two week vacation as the story follows Faith and her sister with a sweet, heartwarming story about family and relationships. There’s forgiveness between sisters and blossoming love.  Such a great light and easy read!

Summer by the Sea on Amazon

Summer at Oyster Bay

Sometimes, leaving home is just what you need because when you return, you realize what matters most.  For Emily returning home to Oyster Bay is exactly what she needs after living a fast-paced city life for several years.  She develops an easy rapport with Charles Peterson, the new owner of the Water Edge’s Inn.  Just like A Barefoot Summer, the Chesapeake Bay area makes for the perfect setting as Emily shows Charles everything Oyster Bay has to offer.  However, when she learns Charles’s plans involve destroying the area she loves so much, Emily questions whether she’ll lose her home and Charles all at once.

Summer at Oyster Bay was the third book I read by Jenny Hale, and needless to say, I’m a big fan of her books. She has such a way of creating dynamic relationships between characters. But the best part is that the focus isn’t solely on romantic relationships, but also on ones between family members and friends, which makes all of her characters so relatable.

Summer at Oyster Bay on Amazon

The Summer House

The Summer House is Jenny Hale’s most recent book.  It’s literally hot off the press as it was released just last Friday.  Despite a busy weekend, I made sure I got a chance to read it so that I could share her newest novel with you today too.

The Summer House follows Callie and Olivia, two lifelong best friends, as they renovate and reopen a beautiful beach bed and breakfast called The Beachcomber in the Outer Banks.  Through an interesting course of events, Callie meets Luke Sullivan, a famous heartthrob and heir to his family’s real estate empire.  Just as Callie begins to see Luke isn’t the playboy the media makes him out to be, she and Olivia discover an old journal in The Beachcomber with secrets that could cause heartache for many.  As a hurricane approaches, emotions run high like the tide and relationships are put to the test.

I loved The Summer House!  While I was reading, I kept wishing I could take a trip down to North Carolina, enjoy some of the delicious seafood the characters kept eating, and stay at The Beachcomber!  Plus, I didn’t think it was possible, but Luke is even more swoon-worthy than Pete from A Barefoot Summer! 

The Summer House on Amazon

So whether you’re getting ready for vacation or planning your days at the beach, load up your Kindle with these four fabulous summer reads!  You won’t be disappointed!

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Summertime at the Jersey Shore

Some of my favorite childhood memories are from summer days at the beach. Squawking seagulls, rolling waves, ice cream men ringing their bells from the bulkhead, and lifeguard whistles comprised the soundtrack of my summers growing up. It may sound rather cliché, but through the craziness of my early 20s, I always found comfort in living – and raising my son – in the same place that held so many good memories for me. Each time I wiggled my toes in the sand, it took me back to a simpler time.


Whenever I read the opening paragraph of Chapter 1 from The Other Side of Later, I get a little pang of nostalgia. The first two sentences aren’t just true for Julia; they’re a direct reflection of my childhood as well. What’s funny is that I wrote The Other Side of Later before I had Baby D so I had no clue I would have a son someday as this opening paragraph came to life on my laptop screen. Now, the last part of the paragraph also rings true for me. I’m so happy I get to raise my son in the same place that holds so many great memories from my childhood.


As the summer goes on, I plan to share other little tidbits about The Other Side of Later and the places that provided me inspiration. I hope you enjoy reading about them, and I hope you’ll check out The Other Side of Later on Amazon.

Book Review – Looking for Peyton Place by Barbara Delinsky

I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since I first read Looking for Peyton Place. It was the summer of 2007. I had just finished reading my latest book on the beach, and my mom had what was Barbara Delinsky’s latest novel in her bag. I had never read (or heard of) Ms. Delinsky before, but it was the middle of a summer afternoon on the beach and I was looking for something to read so I started it.
It turned out to be one of my favorite books, and I’ve actually read it more than once. I was instantly drawn into the story by Ms. Delinsky’s incredible storytelling through excellent character development, attention to detail, and intertwining subplots.


Grace Metalious claimed her controversial novel, Peyton Place, was fiction, but the residents of Middle River, New Hampshire knew differently. It was about them; it was about their town. Over a half century later, the residents were still on edge.

Annie Barnes always related to Grace Metalious. Now a well-known author herself, Annie returns to her hometown of Middle River. Her mother has recently passed away and her sister is suffering from symptoms similar to what her mother had. Annie is looking for answers, but the townspeople are reluctant to talk as they are convinced she’s back to write an exposé about them just like Grace did over 50 years ago. To further complicate the situation, initial hints are pointing towards possible mercury poisoning from the local paper mill, owned by the Meades, one of the wealthiest and therefore, most powerful families in town. However, as Annie continues on her quest for answers she finds an unlikely ally in James Meade, who happens to be looking for answers himself.

As I said before, I loved this book. Ms. Delinsky’s attention to detail and character development is in a class by itself. As Annie drives into Middle River around midnight one summer night, you’re right there in the passenger seat with her, and as she investigates for her cause, you not only meet the townspeople but you actually feel like you know them. The residents’ lives are intertwined through history, and the subplots surrounding the story are so carefully written it’s difficult to put the book down. But what’s most impressive is that the main plot line is not lost in the midst of the characters and details; it’s enhanced. Barbara Delinsky is a storyteller in every sense of the word as she takes you on the tale of looking for Peyton Place.

Looking for Peyton Place on Amazon

 As you head to pool or beach or lake this weekend and you’re looking for a book to read as you relax over the weekend, download Looking for Peyton Place. I think you’ll enjoy it!

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Write it and they will read?

I apologize for the silly pun on a line from the great American classic, Field of Dreams.  However, as I pondered my lackluster, two year plus self-publishing venture on my way to work yesterday morning, the twist of words came to me and I couldn’t resist using the phrase as my post title today.

I’ve finally learned that just writing a book and even getting a good number of positive reviews doesn’t equate to sales.  I need to figure out how to reach readers.  I need to figure out how to get my book into the hands (or onto the eReaders) of my target audience.  But who is my audience?  Well, I hope if you’re reading this post, you’re my target audience!  However, to narrow it down, I think my writing is best geared towards women ages 25 – 45.  (Considering I’m right smack dab in the middle at age 35, I think that makes sense.)  More specifically, I think my books will appeal to women in that age bracket, who are busy, love a little romance, and relish in the moments they have a few free minutes to lounge with a nice, light-hearted book.

So where to start?  Well, several years ago, I had a personal blog.  That’s when I really started to write.  I blogged about a bunch of things – books, music, weekend adventures.  Some posts flopped; some posts received wonderful feedback.  Basically, I wrote about the things I enjoyed. Over the course of a year and a half, I connected with some pretty great people that I never would have met otherwise.

It was a fun and enriching experience.  If you met me in person, you’d find I’m reserved and very private.  I’m sure my friends and family would be a little surprised to learn I share bits of my life through blogging.  However, blogging taught me that it’s not that I’m unwilling to share; it’s that I’m simply more of a writer than a talker.

I plan to start blogging again.  I want to share a little about the places I go and the things that I do.  So much about the places in my books come from the area I’ve called home for my entire life.  I hope as time goes on, I connect with fellow bloggers again and eventually find my target audience.

Then one day when I write, they will read.

Book Reviews – Summer Rental & Spring Fever by Mary Kay Andrews

A couple of years ago, I was browsing through Goodreads as I prepared for vacation looking for a few books to put on my Kindle.  I stumbled upon an author I had never read before, Mary Kay Andrews.  Two of her books, Summer Rental and Spring Fever, had good reviews so I downloaded them for the flights.  I’m so happy I did because I thoroughly enjoyed both of them and I’d recommend them to anyone looking for a good dose of romance and chick lit!

Summer Rental

Ellis, Julia, and Dorie are three women in their mid-30s who have been best friends since grade school. They decide to rent a house on the Outer Banks for the month of August as a girls getaway. Throw in Ty, the good looking landlord, and Maryn, a woman on the run from her troubles, and there are twists and turns along the way.

Summer Rental on Amazon

Spring Fever

Small southern town, old love resurfacing, long standing family business at risk of a corporate takeover – it may sound cliché for chick lit, but Spring Fever is anything but.  There are twists that keep you guessing and romance that makes your heart flutter.  It’s the perfect book for a couple relaxing afternoons by the pool or on the beach. I definitely enjoyed Spring Fever more than Summer Rental.  I love storylines with past relationships coming back around.  Maybe it’s the hopeless romantic in me, but I feel the pang of nostalgia as I read and to me, there’s nothing better!

Spring Fever on Amazon

I hope you check out both Summer Rental and Spring Fever!  Mary Kay Andrews has most definitely become one of my favorite authors.  In fact, one of her newer novels, The Weekenders, is on my list for the summer.  I hope to share my review of that book soon!  I hope you enjoy Spring Fever and Summer Rental as much as I did!

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Book Review – Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

Despite a lot of positive reviews, I was slightly hesitant to read Emily Giffin’s first novel, Something Borrowed. The whole premise of the book, the main character sleeps with her best friend’s fiancé, isn’t exactly the storyline I usually go for. However, back in the spring of 2011, the movie version was set to be released and I had heard a lot of positive feedback from friends so I decided to take the plunge and read it. I’m so glad I did. Unlike other novels with an affair at its core, Ms. Giffin did a stellar job of turning the tables and made the reader sympathetic to the cheater or at the very least open to her situation.

Meet Rachel and Darcy. They’ve been best friends for years. Rachel is the perpetual good girl, who’s worked hard for everything she has in life, and Darcy, well, she’s that girl you know and sometimes scratch your head in wonder about how everything in her life has always fallen into place. However, on the eve of her 30th birthday, Rachel finds herself in bed with Darcy’s fiancé. While Rachel resigns herself to thinking it was a one-time, drunken mistake, the fling soon becomes a full blown affair. To make matters worse (as if it could), Rachel is not only Darcy’s best friend she is her maid of honor.

As the story follows Rachel, Darcy, and Dex, that’s Darcy’s fiancé, and their friends through the summer, the lines of right and wrong get blurred. As easy as it is to say cheating is wrong, Ms. Giffin makes a subtle but strong case that there are “no moral absolutes.”

When I first read Something Borrowed, I was 29, which was essentially the same age as Rachel and Darcy so I found myself relating to them and laughing alongside of them throughout the entire book. One of my favorite scenes was the night of Darcy’s bachelorette party. Darcy spent the night at Rachel’s apartment because she wanted to relive the days of childhood sleepovers. If you ever had a best friend that was like a sister to you, you’ll relate and feel the bond between Rachel and Darcy. They truly have a history filled with good memories, and that’s what makes Rachel’s situation all the more difficult and intriguing.

The focal point of the novel is a heavy one, but the story itself is another segment of growing up. We grow up learning right from wrong, but the truth of the matter is life isn’t black and white. Sometimes it takes us until we’re 29 going on 30 to fully learn the lesson and realize that there are always tough decisions to make. And of course when it comes to matters of the heart, sometimes, we learn that a man should never be something borrowed.

Something Borrowed on Amazon

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Life’s a balancing act!

Time for a reality check.  Recently, I’ve felt like I’ve been struggling to keep my head above water.  Without fail, the end of April and beginning of May are always busy…sometimes relentlessly so.  Work, family parties, just everyday day-to-day stuff.  For some reason, it just seems to balloon when the weather gets nice.  There are nights I sit lounge on my couch after giving Baby D a bath while my husband puts him to bed and I feel as though I’m a hamster in its wheel.  I’m working so hard but achieving nothing.  Is Baby D growing and thriving?  Yes.  Are we incredibly happy as a family of three?  Most definitely.  And they are the most important things.  But as I lay there, all I think about are the things I could or should be doing.  It’s still daylight; I should go for a quick run.  (That half marathon will be here before I know it.)  It’s only 7:30; I should write.  (That second book isn’t going to write itself.)

On a long run this past Saturday, I had a realization.  Life is a balancing act.  Yes, I did know that before now, but I realized that while I have goals for this year, and I have this grand plan about how I should go about achieving them, sometimes, life gets busy.  That’s just a fact of life – especially with a little one.  So if I don’t have a chance to go for that run or if I don’t open my laptop up for a couple nights in a row, it’s okay.  Part of balancing is compensating and readjusting; it’s not just being able to tackle everything all at once.

When Baby D gives me his big smile, I know I must be doing something right!

I know life will continue to get busier as the onset of summer is quickly arriving.  (Who else is excited for Memorial Day Weekend?!)  I hope to work on my outlook and share my journey about life – work – writing balance with you along the way!

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Summer Reading Time!

At the end of the month, it will be Memorial Day weekend and I don’t know about you, but this warm weather we’ve been having has me thinking about the beach!  As I’ve been posting for the past few weeks, starting Thursday, May 25th I’ll be emailing a weekly newsletter with book review of some great summer reading books!  If you haven’t signed up yet, make sure you do by clicking here.

In the meantime, I thought I’d tell you about one of my favorite book series, The Callaways by Barbara Freethy.  The series revolves around a large, firefighting Irish Catholic family in San Francisco.  Jack and Lynda Callaway have the stereotypical his, hers, and ours family – his four boys, her two girls, and their set of fraternal boy girl twins.  Each book follows one of their now adult children.  While the ending of each book may be a bit predictable, there are twists and turns, mystery and suspense, and romance and passion thrown into each story.

On A Night Like This

So This is Love

Falling for a Stranger

Between Now and Forever*

All a Heart Needs

That Summer Night

When Shadows Fall*

Somewhere Only We Know

Each book is a standalone story, but one of my favorite parts about the series is that each subsequent book gives you little updates on how characters from previous books are doing.  I grew so fond of the series that I was a little upset when I finished book #8, but there’s good news!  Ms. Freethy has continued the series with the Callaway cousins.  I’ve read the first few and they’re just as good!  If you’re looking for books to put on your summer reading list, The Callaways series by Barbara Freethy is a must!

P.S. – Asterisks represent my favorites.  If you read the series, I’d love to know if you liked it and which books were your favorites!