Books Read in 2017

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Here is a list of books I have read this year so far with a small synopsis of each book.

Five Stars *****

Pretty Girls– Karin Slaughter (Most graphic suspense novel with a wild ending that had me on edge through the last half of the book.  I couldn’t put it down.)

Summit Lake– Charlie Donlea (First novel by this author.  I loved it and it had an unexpected ending that left me unable to sleep.)

Bad Mommy– Tarryn Fisher  (Story about an unbalanced woman that has her sights set on another family that has what she can’t.)

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time -Mark Haddon (One of my all time favorites books.  This fictional novel gives the reader a look into the world of Autism that explains this disorder better than any non-fiction book could.)

Voices in the Summer– Rosamunde Pilcher (I love everything by this author.  This is a look at a woman that finally finds love and gets a family she has only dreamed of.)

Pretty Baby– Mary Kubica (A wonderfully suspenseful story about a girl who is abused and found on the streets of Chicago.  The woman that takes her in falls in love with the young girl’s infant child.  When the older woman and the young girls path collide, it takes the reader on a wild ride.)

Four Stars ****

Behind Closed Doors– B.A. Paris (A man that looks perfect and the a woman that feels the role of the dutifully wife, live a life that most would envy.  But she they envy the couple because on they know what happens behind closed doors.)

Singe– Aly Martinez (A wonderfully suspenseful romantic novel that follows a man and a woman that have a connection after surviving a horrible fire that causes more damage to them both than the visible burns they both have.)

Commonwealth– Ann Patchett (A literary novel that takes place over five decades and follows the children of a couple that start an affair on the day of the woman’s daughter’s christening party.  As the two families become one, the reader gets to see what happens due to the decisions of the parents over fifty years earlier.)

Queen Sugar– Natalie Braszile (When Charley comes back to Louisiana to take over her fathers sugar cane fields, she is met with hostility since she is an African-American woman both farming and managing the land.)

Retrieval– Aly Martinez (After the loss of Elisabeth and Roman’s son, they lose each other in their grief.  After they are given a second chance at their family, they find comfort in each other again.)

A Spool of Blue Thread– Anne Tyler (A story depicting a family through the onset of the matriarch’s dementia.)

The Secrets She Carried– Barbara Davis (Leslie is haunted by the past at her Grandmother’s tobacco farm.  After her grandmother dies, she leaves her only half the farm to Leslie’s disbelief to manage with her business partner.  As she tries to manage the farm with a man she butts heads with at every turn, she also discovers a secret that has haunted by her grandmother.  Leslie is given just enough information to start digging and has this need to find out the truth.)

Healing Jacob– Nicole Stewart (This is a very steamy novel about a young man that is left hurt by his family finds love in the most unexpected way.)

Worth The Risk– Jamie Beck (This is the third book in the St. James Series.  After Jackson has been left devastated by the choice of his ex-girlfriend when she aborts his child, he is left a mess.  His actions have caused problems to others in his wake and his drinking is out of hand.  As he tries to find a way to cope, he meets a single mom that changes his outlook on life.)

The Spiral Up– Aly Martinez (A country sing all star has it all but has not found love and is scared to.  This is a steamy romance about a man that is scared about letting his heart go.)

Three Stars ***

Forever in the Worst Ling Time– Camille Pagan (A man that is trying to find his way in the world, falls in love with his best friend’s finance.  Throughout the book that ranges twenty years, his life is chronicled as he tries to follow his dream.)

Taking Chances– Molly McAdams (A coming of age book about a girl that falls in love with two men.)


A Year Later

It is my hope that this re-post on the anniversary of a difficult day for my family will bring someone comfort.

The Club I Never Wanted to Join

Losing someone you love dearly is one of the greatest tragedies we all eventually face. In my case, this loss represents a gaping hole in my life that simply will never be filled again.

A couple months ago, I was unfortunate enough to lose my mother. This loss has put me through a gambit of emotions. I doubt there are even names for each of the emotions I have found myself wading through. Even though I was fortunate enough to have my mom for forty-one years of my life, I simply feel too young to be motherless.

This is the one true piece of reality I keep traveling back to. Being a mother myself, I feel robbed of my inability to share the magical moments with her that she shared with me. I find it a hard pill to swallow honestly. Existing in a world where the eternal and unconditional love of my mom is no longer a part of my daily life seems slightly hollower than it once did. I can recognize that I was able to have my mother be a part of my life far longer than other friends and I can look back now with gratitude at all the time I was able to share with her.

Coupled with this understanding is the fact that I still have my dad in my life. Many of my friends, both younger and older, have lost both set of parents by this stage in their life. To add to that blessing, that father of mine is as wonderful as they come and I adore him beyond measure. I know I must be grateful for what I have, but it doesn’t lessen my desire to have my mother’s love back in my life once more.

This is what I have learned so far on my short journey through grief. This road will continue to become a longer and longer one to navigate as the first year without my mom will soon turn into two, and then five and ten and so on.

  1. Regardless of the type of relationship, losing your mom is hard.

I had a great relationship with my mother. It was not always perfect because at times I could be a real pain the ass, but our bond transformed into one of friendship. As I got older and a little more mature, I realized the importance of being less self-absorbed. It was then that our relationship turned into a connection from which I have very few regrets. In talking to friends who have lost their parents, I have come to realize something very important. Regardless of the relationship you share with your mother and whether you spoke to her daily (like me) or once a year, the loss you feel over her death is not invalidated. It is a real entity and you are entitled to grieve.

  1. Milestones are hard, especially that first year.

The first milestones without her have felt as if I am missing a major part of my body. I have already been through the first Mother’s Day without her. I dreaded this day and was full of sadness as I watched it grow closer on the calendar, though I knew I couldn’t just wallow in my own feelings of loss and remorse. Just like her, I am a mother as well and I knew that I had children who were counting on their mother that day. So what did I do? I got my rear in gear and looked after their wellbeing. That is what being a mom is all about. You put your kids before yourself. Always.

What I didn’t expect to affect me so awful was the first of my children’s birthday without her. It was something I always shared with my mom. She was there with me for each one of them and without thinking, we would always drift back and reminisces about each of my children’s births. After all, my children along with my sister’s children were her pride and joy.

  1. Other people miss her too.

I am not the only one missing her. I have children that miss her immensely every day. Even though geography was against us, my kids saw their grandmother quite often considering the distance between us. My children also knew that whenever they wanted to talk to Grandma, she was just a phone call away. My sister misses her too. So do her kids. My dad misses her most of all. I can’t even begin to explain how he feels. The list doesn’t just stop there either. There are countless others whose lives she touched and who miss her as well. I mean, for crying out loud, it was standing room only at her funeral! Many people loved her! I need to remember that I am not the only one grieving.

  1. Grief is different for everyone.

The process of grief is as diverse as each individual who experiences it. I remember the day of the funeral and my sister and dad being so overcome with emotions of loss and sadness. I barely shed a tear, which is odd considering I am someone who is extremely emotional in my own right. But we all process grief differently. I thought something was wrong with me, as if I didn’t miss her as much as my sister did. I’ve learned as time has gone by that it has become far harder for me than it was when I was in the midst the funeral. Regardless of the how you grieve, grief is grief and it sucks rotten eggs.

  1. You will forget she is gone at times.

It doesn’t matter if your mom has been gone one day or ten years, you will inadvertently pick up the phone to call her or say something along the lines of, “Oh, mom would get a kick out of this.” I remember as we were preparing for her funeral, my sister was after a specific picture of the three of us together at the beach. It was my mom’s favorite place on this earth. My sister was down stairs looking for it, and in her mind she immediately thought, Oh, I will just go up and ask mom, she will know where it is. She shared that with me later on and I confessed that I too had similar moments that overwhelmed me without warning. I was always one to pick up the phone when my kids did something outlandish. My mom and I would laugh over even the littlest things concerning her grandkids. I miss that, more than I thought I would. There are going to be triggers and moments that bring back painful memories. I keep telling myself to be prepared for them, but unless you have gone through this yourself, you simply can’t fathom the emotional distress that will fill you when they occur.

  1. Watching interactions with mothers and their adult children will fill you with sadness.

You can’t help but feel a degree of despair when you see other adult children and mothers out spending time with one another. It fills me with both jealousy and thankfulness. Obviously, the jealousy part is self-explanatory. I want my mom here with me doing the things those other people are. The thankfulness part is two fold. First, it made thankful and blessed to have had my mom as long as I had. But on top of that, I am glad for those friends that still have their moms because I know how much I miss mine. For my friends that still have their moms on this earth, I am glad they haven’t had to feel the pain of loss I have.

  1. It is all right to ask for help from those who have traveled this same road previously

The last thing I can share concerns those that still have their moms with them in this world along with anyone who has recently lost their mother. I was thankful my friends reached out to me, cried with me, and sat vigil with me as I spent her final days on Earth by her bedside. As much as my friends who sill have their moms hurt for me, they don’t fully understand the extent of my mourning because they simply have not traveled this same road. I was fortunate enough to have some friends who were able to pick me up emotionally and helped carry me through the process of loss. They themselves had already experienced the heartache I was so new to. One day, I will be that steady hand for a friend who has recently lost their mom. I know it will be in this moment that I will understand that all this pain was not in vain and I can help comfort those that are totally lost in their grief.

Maybe not all these ideas pertain to you. If you indeed have joined the same club I never wanted to belong in, you will find a tall list of absolutes that come with a loss so deep. In closing, I will leave you with one memory I have of my mom pertaining to her death. As a child, we attended a funeral where a mom was saying good-bye to her child for the very last time. It is an image I will never forget and it made a lasting impact on my mother as well. Shortly after, she sat my sister and I down and told us that no mother should ever have to bury a child. Being a mother now, I agree whole-heartedly with that statement. She continued to explain to the two of us that there was a natural progression to life and, although I hate this natural progression, I know this is what she would have wanted. She would have wanted her children to out live her. She would want us to carry on and keep her memory alive. I know she would have been proud to know that we are still trying like hell to make that happen.




Pictured above is one of the last pictures I have with my mom.  Being from the Pacific Northwest, this sign amused her.

Below, in the first image, my father and I sprinkling her ashes in the ocean as was her desire. Although we are smiling, it was a hard day for us.  But this is what she wanted and in that way, it made us happy.  In the middle is the last family picture we have, just the four of us.  The last picture is my mom and dad with my kiddos.  Again, I am so thankful my mom insisted on this picture.  I miss you Mom!

The Fear of Pictures

For those who know me, understand I become a little unhinged at the idea of family pictures. This may be the reason we don’t have any family pictures (all six of us done) since 2013. However, I was raised with the mindset from my mother that family pictures are important. (I might as well give my own family notice that pictures are happening this year.)

The reason they are important is that they are a physical timeline of your life. It is just not family pictures but the process of creating the pictures that really construct the memories. If we are being real, or at least maybe I am the only one that will admit to the cacophony that takes place behind the scenes of all the smiling faces. It is normally a mad and crazed mom, an unhappy dad and screaming kids but we got one good picture so lets call that a win for the family.

If I am being honest and I can speak for a lot of women my age, I absolutely hate my picture taken. I still in my mind envision the woman twenty years ago before four pregnancies. Then I look at myself and dread invades me. (I know this is not limited to just women either.) However, having these pictures and memories might be what my children are left with one day as I am called home and earth is no longer my dwelling place. Having recently lost my mother, I was overjoyed at how she chronicled her life through pictures. It was a comfort in the midst of grief.

I have seen many different postings through social media concerning the fear women undertake at the idea of pictures. I may not be a model but I am a mother of four kids. I am also a daughter of a wonderful father who took care of me, the wife to a man that deals with the plethora of idiosyncrasies of mine, and friends who for one reason or another love me the way I am. We are never promised tomorrow but the keepsakes of photos with those we love, may just comfort someone, like it did for me, if for some reason, we wake up to find that tomorrow isn’t here for us.

Looking to the Future

Hey everyone!  I wanted to take a few minutes to give you all some information on the future of this blog and a few other things I’m working on behind the scenes.

First, let me say that writing this blog has been such a great experience and I’m really enjoying all that I am doing with it.  I love that I get to share my passion for writing with all those following me. Putting pen to paper and sharing my thoughts with you on the things that matter most to me continues to be a tremendous rush and I wouldn’t give it up for the world.  I am humbled that you have chosen to follow along with me as I continue my journey as a writer.    Thank you again for your time and for the feedback you are able to provide.

Looking to the future, I still plan to continue sharing my stories, book reviews, and reflections on the lessons life has taught me so far.  The only thing that is going to change a bit is that I am planning to pull back a little on the amount of content I post each week.  You can still expect to be entertained weekly, but for now it will be limited to just two to three postings a week.

I will continue to post as frequently as I can in the continuation of my Julia story.  This piece has a special place in my heart as it deals with some of the hardships many of us are forced endure. I drew deeply from my own struggles watching my husband fight cancer. My muse was one born from suffering and one that brought healing to me when I was in need of it most.

I am also getting ready to self-publish my very first book very soon!  It was an extremely fun story to write, but be warned that it is not the same as what I normally write.  The title of the book is No Apologies from the Front Porch.  You should know in advance that this piece is a little closer to a PG-13 type movie.

The lead character is a feisty late thirties divorcee having to relearn how to live her life following a hurtful divorce.  She has no qualms acknowledging the difficult person she knows she can be and makes no apologies for telling it like it is.  I’ll keep you up to date with more information as the time for publication approaches.

I’ve also recently gotten an offer from a publication house that I am currently milling over.  It has always been a goal of mine to become a traditionally published author working with a large publishing house with an agent to handle all the details.  The trouble is that life doesn’t always work like you’d want and I’m just not at that spot yet.  I am very happy with the offer and will continue all I can to fulfill my dream.

I am also pursuing publications of several of my short stories, though this style of writing is really not in my wheelhouse.  Those that truly know me know that I am just too wordy to put everything I need in only a few pages.

Apart from all of this, the past six weeks have seen me traveling to Atlanta for a writer’s conference and to Mississippi for a visit with my best friend.  It is nice to have breaks like these every once in a while.  This mama needed a vacation in a bad way!

With that, I am going to continue doing what I know and love most including being a mom to these crazy kids.  Be on the lookout for some truly frightening and hilarious stories, as I will soon be teaching my sixteen year old how to drive.

Again, a huge thank-you to everyone who follows my blog!  I appreciate your support and love the feedback I am getting from all of you.  Take care! Talk to you soon!

Book Review # 8

The Things We Wished Were True


Marybeth Whalen

Author Marybeth Whalen holds nothing back as she masterfully weaves concepts such as a scorned lover, an accidental drowning, intense moments of stalking, a torrid love triangle, and a kidnapping in wonderful story that truly has everything. The Things We Wished Were True is a melting pot that reveals a story that is a suspenseful page-turner. The cover of this book barely contains the plot twists as readers are immediately thrown into the many story lines that balance out so well within this book. Normally, I would say that this large amount of layers within one story would be too much for a writer to fully explore, but Whalen makes it all work out.

The novel presents a number of colorful characters with personalities so precise and well defined that you’d swear the author was describing someone you know. First, there is Zel. Zel’s an empty nester who loves to be in the midst of everyone’s business. She means no harm and she isn’t wanting to be as intrusive as she lets on. In Zel’s mind, she’s being useful. But is she really?

Next is Bryte. Bryte is guilty of having stolen her best friend’s boyfriend year’s prior. Drama unfolds as she does all she can to avoid the subject resurfacings of infertility within their marriage. With Bryte becoming pregnant once already, her husband feels they need to try again yet Bryte knows it was not that easy, as she had let on.

Jency is just returning to town after years away. Her homecoming is saddened by her feelings of being broken and alone in the world with the betrayal of her husband. Now, with him in prison and the prestigious life she once lived over, she has to put her two young girls first as she moves home for the support from her parents.

Luke, a single father whose wife has walked out on him, struggles to care for his two children. Even though she left him, he is trying to make it work and not sure if he willing to give up on his marriage, quite yet.

Caylee, an eleven-year-old girl, is tasked with watching her little brother for the summer. However Caylee is only a kid herself and is forced with the consequences that her mother places on her to act more like a parent than a kid.

These neighbors all find themselves spending a hot summer day together at the neighborhood pool. When a little boy nearly drowns, the neighbors soon discover that their lives are far more intertwined than they had ever believed before. As the summer marches on, each person ultimately comes to recognize that the smallest circumstances can in fact matter the most in life.

This book had me guessing from start to finish. The author did a complete job in including each character in the book’s many twists and turns, while also keeping a few surprises just for select characters. In the end, I loved how Marybeth Whalen took a cast of seemingly unconnected people who happened to live in the same neighborhood and weaved them into a tapestry of interdependence and showcased just how connected everyone truly is.   The author’s added descriptions of summer smells and sounds helped me feel at home in the neighborhood she created before me. In the end, I would give this five stars and highly recommend it.

Book Review 7

Summit Lake

By Charlie Donlea


If you have a need for a murder mystery that will get your heart racing and your blood pumping, then I’ve got the right book for you! Charlie Donlea’s debut novel, Summit Lake, checks every box in what a great suspenseful book needs. I would highly recommend Summit Lake for anyone who loves an exciting murder mystery.

The book opens with the brutal murder of Becca Eckersley, a young woman in the prime of her life. To say this is an intense scene would be an understatement. The detail Donlea uses to paint this setting goes far beyond simple words on a page. This particular backdrop, like many others in the book, becomes an experience that does nothing less than draws readers in further.
It is easy to become invested in this story. Through the use of creative flashbacks, Becca Eckersley’s life is weaved seamlessly within the life of an investigative reporter, Kelsey Castle. The story itself takes place in a little mountain town nestled deeply within North Carolina.

As the story of Becca’s romantic life unfolds, Castle is able to learn that Becca’s perpetual need for male attention is a potential driving force in her investigation. As Kelsey continues to review the case, a connection between herself and the late Becca makes it urgent that Kelsey do all she can to bring justice to the young woman killed in the prime of her life. As if this story needed any further intrigue, it isn’t long before we learn that Kelsey too is running from a troubled past and her involvement in the Eckersley case has become more than just a story to her.

What I loved about Summit Lake was the detailed imagery Donlea used to paint the scenery of North Carolina. Those near and dear to this area (as I am) are always overly critical of its description, and Donlea’s effort really does the state justice. I sometimes find that the overuse of flashbacks and the use of multiple timelines can get repetitive and confusing. That certainly wasn’t the case here! Most of all, this story was not predictable by any means. If I say anymore, I know I’ll start giving away too many important details, so take my word for it and grab this book today.

The next book by Mr. Donlea is set to be released in late April, and I for one am excited about what sort of anxiety he has in store for readers next. As mark of a true mystery writer, Donlea delivers readers countless hours of restless sleep as we come down from the ending of a masterful thriller.

If it was anything but a Country Song

I grew up an hour north of Seattle during the heyday of the infamous grunge scene. Years later when I joined the service and would identify being from Seattle, I often was asked if I had ever seen any of the more renowned bands such as Pearl Jam or Nirvana before they made it big.

That answer would be a big NO! While I identified as being from Seattle, in actuality I grew up in a little hick town that no one had ever heard of. It was just easier to say Seattle and move on with my day.

The music that most impacted my life at that time comes from a band with roots located far from the small town in Washington where I once called home. The first time I was introduced to the band Alabama I knew I had finally found the music I had been searching for my entire life. “Mountain Music” by this iconic country group was my jam and took hold of me like no song before it ever had.


Now the hubs still likes to tease me about my indifference to growing up in such close proximity to one of the greatest musical revolutions of all time. I was so close to the groundbreaking history of alternative music giants such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains. The trouble was their songs never seemed to speak to me even the slightest. Don’t get me wrong. I love grunge music along with classic rock and other genres, but I will always return to my favorite country music classics without fail.

One day while driving around, Blue Eyes, at the age of eleven sang the last lyrics of song that ended, “You only kiss me when you’re drunk.” I had to laugh because those are lyrics that I can clearly identify as classic country. There aren’t too many songs that get away with lyrics like this, but many in the country world get a pass simply because they are country! Being an avid fan, here is my list of some of these songs lyrics that can only be true country:

  • Alan Jackson: “Chattahoochee”


The song begins, “Way down yonder on the Chattahoochee, it gets hotter than a hoochie coochie.” That phrase in itself is classic country. I love Alan Jackson and know all his songs by heart. He is as country as country can be, but can you imagine Snoop Dog singing those lyrics? Me neither.


  • Billy Currington: “God is Great, Beer is Good and People are Crazy”


This song cracked up the hubs, a die-hard grunge fan, so much that he actually went out of his way and learned it. He even mentioned that no other genre could get away with this song and lyrics. By the end of the song, the main character, which only meets this mysterious man once in a bar as they bond over the phrase coined in the song’s title, ends being replaced in this man’s will instead over his own kids. The man is now rich, drinking a beer in honor of his gracious benefactor.  Now, if that is not country, I don’t know what is!


  • Dixie Chicks- “Good-Bye Earl”


Although this song has a serious message speaking out against domestic violence, it shows that country music is anything but transparent. No other genre could boast, “Mary Anne and Wanda were the best of friends, all through their high school days, both member’s of the 4-H club, both active in the FFA.”   Later on, especially if you are able to watch the video, you will see that they poison the man who was about to kill Wanda with black-eyed peas. Unless you are Fergie and have a band named that, only country music can get away with using this southern delicacy as the perfect murder weapon.


  • Garth Brooks – “Papa Loved Mama”


This list could not be complete without a Garth Brooks song. He is indicative of Country Music and the vibe that follows it. This was my sixteen year olds pick for this category. She felt that only in an upbeat country song could the retelling Mama’s untimely death at Papa’s hands be so accepted. Throw in the fact that Papa carried out the deed via his truck and this song fits just perfectly with good country standing.


  • Reba McEntyre- “The Night that the lights went out in Georgia”


Just like “Papa Loved Mama”, the upbeat music that accompanies the serious topic at the heart of this song makes its inclusion on my list of song with lyrics that could only be country. All the lyrics are great, but the best part is the line, “A big bellied sheriff grabbed his gun and said why’d you do it?” If that doesn’t give you a clear visual of a fat country boy, I don’t know what would. The next part continues, “A judge said guilty on a make believe trial, slapped the sheriff on the back with a smile and said supper is waiting at home and I gotta get to it.” Now, Country draws us back to the basics of good living and remembering what is important to life in general. The fact that food takes precedence to justice is just so fitting.


  • Brooks and Dunn- “Boot Scootin Boogie”

Of course we have to include a song with its own dance. “I fire up my pick-up truck and watch the horses run.” I would like to see Eddie Vedder sing those lyrics and get away with it.


  • Morgan Wallen- “The Way I Talk”


A newer song for the list, I feel this one just screams out to the Deep South and the home of many country music lovers. “I sound a little like my daddy, I don’t cuss around my mama, got some words you never heard unless you down yonder, the man up stairs get’s it, so I ain’t trying to fix it.” Now, here in the first part of the chorus of this song, Morgan Wallen has included everything country in here, Mama and Daddy and God. The only thing missing is his truck and an old hound dog!


  • Charlie Daniels Band- “The Devil Went down to Georgia”


Just the title of the song, “The Devil Went down to Georgia” tells you what you need to know about the song.


  • George Straight- “All My Exes live in Texas”

The merits of country music reign heavily in love and the lack of love at times. In this fun song, George Straight sings that’s why he lays his head in Tennessee. Only country music could get by with that sort of verse. I don’t see Bon Jovi fitting Tennessee into one of his songs and if for some reason he did, it could never be like King George!


  • Dolly Parton- “Jolene”


This is the ultimate cheating song. Before Carrie Underwood’s and Taylor Swift’s ballads that crooned heartbreak, is this classic. Dolly Parton’s hit was based on a red haired bank teller that flirted with her husband early on in their marriage. Cheating is indicative of so many country songs and this song has remained popular for over forty years for that very reason.


There are many more songs that could be added to this list. If you are an avid country listener and any of these rang true with you, please leave a comment on my page. If you have your own to add, I would love to hear from you.

Book Review # 6

Bad Mommy

Tarryn Fisher


If you ever want to take a ride on the crazy train then be prepared as Tarryn Fisher’s Bad Mommy has everything you’ll ever need. With a dynamic central character whose mental health is forever in question and a setting so real it feels like it could be happening down your block, Bad Mommy is a psychological thrill ride sure to grab you right from the start.

Fig Coxbury, the central character of the work, is an egomaniacal fiend who is only out to get what she feels is rightfully hers. Trouble arises when what she feels she is due is only a thought born from her twisted view of the world around her.

Ms. Fisher gives depth to the thoughts and actions of Fig by providing the alternate voices of Jolene and Darius Avery, the unfortunate family whose lives are the focus of Fig’s devilish desires.

Everything starts out innocently enough when Fig first notices a young girl playing in a park. This seemingly normal scene quickly spirals into one of insanity as Fig becomes fully convinced that this is the same child she unfortunately lost to a miscarriage a couple years earlier.

After thoroughly stalking the little girl and her mother, Jolene Avery, Fig acts on her urges and impulsively purchases a neighboring home to the Avery family. Before long, Fig intertwines herself deeply into the lives of this unsuspecting family with the intention of getting back the life she feels she’s owed.

Jolene, dubbed Bab Mommy by Fig, has no clue that this newfound friend who always seems to be there for her is in reality working against her at every turn. Darius, Jolene’s husband, is not safe from the actions of Fig either as he too soon becomes a target of Fig’s every growing desires.  Darius, is center stage to this story as the reader soon finds out not everything is as wonderful in his life as the fairytale Fig constructs for herself of the handsome Mr. Avery.

Readers are treated to the varying voices of all three characters as the story unfolds. This refreshing approach helps to fully understand just how crafty and unhinged Fig truly is in her quest for return of the life she never rightly had in the first place.

Tarryn Fisher’s creation of Fig Coxbury is a masterpiece of psychological torment and jealousy. She is the perfect character for anyone who guiltily enjoys watching as another’s life self-destructs before their eyes. From beginning to end, readers are taken on a journey of fascination as Fig’s seemingly innocent story unfolds to one of selfish madness with the ultimate goal of replacing the life of another with her own.

I love a great story that showcases the troubling psychological wellbeing of others.   This is a definite issue around all of us in today’s society.  Mental health is looked upon as a mere afterthought.  Fig is a great example of this.

Fig is a train wreck of a character that I loved to hate. The first portion of the book provide Fig’s point of view regarding her inability to have children making her desires and wants totally understandable.  This is something so many of us can relate to. However, when the author starts bringing in the perspective of the other characters, you can finally begin to comprehend just how insane Fig really is.

The ending of this book left me speechless. To say I didn’t expect what I found on the last page would be an understatement to say the very least. Tarryn Fisher’s Bad Mommy is a psychological study and glimpse into the world of an absolute psychopath who has no qualms about ruining the lives of everyone around her so long as she has her own needs met. This is a true page-turner worth your time!

A Funny Story from the Writer’s Conference

This past weekend, I was lucky enough to attend a writers’ conference in Atlanta. I filled my brain with a wealth of information that was particularly useful concerning my future as a writer. See, I have graduated from considering myself an aspiring writer to a full-fledged author even though I haven’t been officially published yet because I am constantly working on my craft. Though, let me assure you, it would be amazing to finally get published. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and so I trudge on, slowly erecting my legacy. Before I continue, I want to express a truly special thank you to Chuck Sambuchino and all of the agents, speakers, and editors in attendance at the Atlanta Writers Conference this weekend who have been expert architects in helping me build my Rome. These conferences are invaluable to all of us whose goal is to be published one day.

I promised everyone a funny story from my trip to Atlanta – and boy, can I deliver. I had my eye on a particular shirt, one absolutely perfect for the occasion, and picked it up on my way out of town Friday. I finally arrived in Atlanta, feeling a surge of confidence as I switched roles from “mom” to “author.” I grabbed my chic new shirt to lay it out for the next day, but staring back at me was the glaring, hideous plastic security tag. I was disappointed but determined to strut my stuff in that shirt the next day. Fortunately, any problem can be solved by a good old YouTube video. That magical website once again pulled through, so off I went to my host for the weekend, a good friend in Atlanta. When I off-handedly asked her for a knife and lighter, her eyebrows just about raised enough to touch her hairline as she confoundedly replied, “Well, I guess it depends what you need it for.” Maybe I should have phrased that a bit more eloquently, but hey, hindsight is 20/20.

As I reflected on that question, I had to laugh. I explained my plight and she graciously went to retrieve my contraband items. Now I am equipped with the indispensable knowledge of how to remove a security tag. Disclaimer: I will only be using this for items I purchase – I am not a criminal. If you too find yourself in this predicament, I have graciously included the YouTube video that helped me out of this weekend’s predicament.

A New Name-Same Site

Due to technical issues, I have changed the name of my blog to Writing With A Side Of Life and you can find me at however you can still reach me at too.

My Facebook page has been changed but if you are already following it, no changes need to be made for Facebook or blog followers!  Thanks everyone!


Book Review # 5

The Woman in Cabin Ten

By Ruth Ware


The name of this book detoured me from picking it up for months. I’d continually see it displayed at Costco, but I simply didn’t want to read about a woman in a cabin in the woods.  The only reason I ever actually looked into this book was when, a few months later, this book was selected as the next read for my book club. I grew more excited about the book after I actually read the synopsis. I could get behind a book that took place on the water. Somehow I got the vibe of Girl on a Train meets the water. Before I’d finished the first chapter, I was hooked and the author did her job of reeling me in like a fish on her line.

Right away Lo, the heroine, is thrown into a dangerous world when her flat becomes a target of a burglary. She is locked in her bedroom and hurt but is eventually able to pick the lock and get to her neighbor’s flat downstairs and call the police.

Needless to say, the attack leaves Lo petrified of the world around her. She decides to leave her flat for the seeming safety and anonymity of her boyfriend’s place. Awoken in the middle of the night by Judah, her boyfriend, she lashes out in a bid to defend her and winds up breaking his nose. The burglary and assault she suffered has truly rattled her more than she could ever expect or articulate and acts as the driving force for the premise of the book.

Fast forward a couple days and Lo, a journalist by trade, finds herself on a ship headed in search of her next story. An unintended result of the burglary is that with the loss of her purse, Lo has also lost a number of items that she has trouble piecing together.   Needing mascara, Lo goes to the cabin next to her own and asks the young woman there if she can borrow her mascara. (That in itself seemed weird. There are just some things you don’t borrow. Borrowing mascara is worse than borrowing someone’s underwear!). This woman resides in the Cabin Ten from the title. After their brief encounter, Lo leaves and doesn’t see the woman again for the rest of the night.

Later, after Lo recounts that she has had too much to drink, (something she often says she won’t do the again) she hears a splash from the side of the boat. Looking over the rail, Lo sees the woman from Cabin Ten sinking to her death. Lo notifies the security team on the lavish boat of what she saw, but they are quick to inform her that no one is registered to Cabin Ten. As a result of this revelation, Lo conducts her own investigation leading to questions no one wants to answer.

Lo, as a main character, is a relatable person that feels real at many points. Her personality has its blemishes, but Lo is able to work beyond her limitations to make her a life successful. Openly suffering from depression and anxiety is just one of the many marks of Lo’s character that many readers may find relatable.  I would say depending on the reader, she is either likable or not likable.

This book rivals others such as Gone Girl and Girl on the Train. I liked this book so much more than I initially expected I would. I did feel it missed a couple marks and didn’t really touch on or take advantage of the suspense that was built during the opening burglary scene. This detail was somehow never tied in with the rest of the book. I really enjoyed this book and it kept me guessing until the end, however, I’m starting to feel that this genre of “girls meets disaster” is becoming a bit over played. As far as The Woman in Cabin Ten goes, I would give it 4 out of 5 stars. It was not the most obvious of choice for my next book, but certainly turned out to be a great “who done it?” read.

Proud to be called a Veteran



If you have ever read my blog or know me personally, you know one of my proudest accomplishments is that I get to share every day of my life with my amazing children and the man of my dreams. Seconded only to this, my most rewarding achievement is having served in the military.

Although I only served for a touch less than five years, this is one triumph that really helped to shape my life. You see, the service taught me to grow up. Sure, at eighteen I thought I was an adult and was ready to conquer the world. Oh, how wrong I was! Life really changed for me the day I landed in Florida and had my first real encounter with humidity. This West Coast gal had no idea what humidity was and it only took two days of choking on the air before I was sick and on bed rest.

After I got “classed up” with a company, I realized my company commander (they are called DI’s now) was the hardest of hard Asses in all of boot camp. She wasn’t known for her subtlety and pointed out every misstep we made along with way.

However, I made it through boot camp with just a few bumps and bruises. When I finished the final run, I ran with the men in our brother company and her exact words were, “Snook, you actually can do something right!” I can look back at those nine weeks as a defining factor in how I lead my life today.

I then made my way to Charleston, South Carolina, and loved it. (Funny how eighteen years later my family happened to move to the same city and spent an additional five years there.) I had thought I would finish my remaining time in Charleston, however the naval base in Charleston was shut down during the Clinton Administration. Next thing I knew I was given orders to ship out to La Maddalena, Italy.

The thought of going over seas was both awesome and scary. Within two months I was dating a guy that I would later refer to as the Hubs. Being stationed in Italy was by far a highlight of my life and an experience I wouldn’t change for the world.

I met some of my best friends while in the Navy. These people were my family, especially when I was stationed overseas. We spent holidays, birthdays, and all our free time together. Thanks to Facebook, catching up with most of these people made it seem like we had never been apart. Whenever we get the chance to catch up face to face, it feels like we just saw each other yesterday.

I have a respect beyond measure for those that serve their country. Military members and their spouses are put through the ringer and are forced to make a lot of sacrifices daily. An active duty member often misses holidays, the birth of their children, and about a hundred other occasions that the normal civilian takes for granted. Don’t even get me started on the pay that an active duty member makes! They risk their lives for a menial paycheck that barely helps them get by. It is a very selfless job and I appreciate more than I can express what they do for our country.

I only served a short amount of time compared to other veterans. However, the military will always be in my bones. It is a part of my being and I am a better person for the time I spent in the Navy. I can only offer my thanks to everyone who has served or is currently serving and hold a special place in my heart for those families out there that have had to bear the ultimate sacrifice.


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