Tag Archives: Marriage

Book Buzz: The Couple Next Door

You’ve heard of chick lit, but did you know that there is a new literary genre called “grip lit?”

Grip lit refers to the smoldering, tension-driven, dark crime novels written by women and featuring morally questionable female narrators.

Gone Girl comes to mind, of course. Its huge success spawned others in short order  — The Girl on the Train, for example.

Grip lit is a trend that is on the fast track, and understandably so. Who doesn’t love a dark, spine tingling domestic drama that keeps you on edge until the last page?

The Couple Next Door fits this bill, beautifully.

Book Buzz: The Couple Next Door

So, first, a warning. Do not read this book if:

You are on the beach or by the pool and low on sunscreen.

It is late at night and you have to get up early the next day.

You can’t handle suspense.

Written by the talented debut author Shari Lapena, the premise is one that will resonate with anyone, parent or not.

Anne and Marco are a young married couple whose life seems just about perfect: a loving relationship, a swanky townhouse, fancy cars, and a beautiful new baby girl.

One evening they are getting ready to go to a party next door. At the last minute, their sitter cancels. What should they do? The hostess (childless and clueless about parenting) has discouraged them from bringing the baby. Marco persuades Anne to go and she reluctantly agrees, provided they take along the baby monitor and return to check on the baby every 30 minutes.

When they return home at the end of the evening, they discover to their shock that the baby has been abducted. Snatched her from her crib in the middle of the night just minutes after the last time she was checked. The distraught parents can’t imagine who could have done such an evil thing. They are desperate to get her back.

As the police get involved, fingers are pointed and alibis are suspected. Whodunit?

And … I am not going to tell you anymore, because you should enjoy every twist and turn in this page-turner. In true grip lit fashion, author Lapena’s razor sharp writing will lead you to suspect one character, then another, then back to the first, and you’ll probably be wrong about all of them.

It is also a contemporary story that involves several provocative issues, such as the moral responsibility of parents, the pressure on new mothers to be perfect, the role of technology in solving a mystery.

If you are like me and love diving into a heart-pounding frenzy of a psychological thriller, you will love The Couple Next Door.


One of my lucky readers will receive a copy of The Couple Next Door. Please leave a comment below and a winner will be randomly selected. USA addresses only, please.


I received a copy of The Couple Next Door from Viking for an honest review, which is the only kind of review I write.

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Book Buzz: Written on My Heart

Written on My Heart

Those of us who enjoy reminiscing about “the good old days” will find them in the new novel by Morgan Callan Rogers, Written on My Heart. Set in a tiny fishing village in the early 1970s, it hearkens back to a time when things were so much simpler. At least in retrospect it seems that way.

Written on My Heart

Florine and Bud, the young married couple and protagonists, live in a small community called The Point on the coast of Maine. This is a place where everyone knows everyone (and their business). People keep their doors unlocked and visitors show up unannounced. It is precisely the kind of village referred to in “it takes a village to raise a child,” because the residents all love children and look out for them. Friends and family are ready and willing to help at any time, whether it’s babysitting, car repairs or a comforting shoulder to lean on.

It seems almost idyllic. Communication happens face-to-face. Small town pleasures like picnics, birthday parties and backyard weddings provide the entertainment. The village seems untouched by events taking place in the rest of the world, and except for one character who serves time in Viet Nam, The Point seems untouched by the political and social upheaval of those times.

Which is just the way they liked it.

Lest you think this is a remake of The Waltons, let me assure you it is not. There is sinful behavior (by Walton standards, anyway). There is cussing and drinking and wrongdoing. More significantly, there is the underlying tension of Florine’s missing mother, whose mysterious disappearance years ago has never been solved, as well as friction with a wealthy family that lives on “the better side” of town.

I found myself caught up in the story. The characters are so well drawn that you connect with them instantly, and wonder about them when you’ve finished the book. Florine is scrappy and blunt and can drop the f-bomb with the best of them. But she is a tender mother and has so much love in her heart for her family, her friends and her little corner of the world. She and Bud are so likeable that I found myself cheering them on.

Written on My Heart is a sequel to Rogers’ first book, Red Ruby Heart in a Cold Blue Sea, which I have not read but will put it on my TBR list now. Fortunately, you don’t need to read the books consecutively to understand what is going on.

I hope there will be a sequel, because I really want to see what happens with Florine and Bud next.

One of my lucky readers will receive a copy of Written on My Heart. Please leave a message below and a winner will be randomly selected.

I received a copy of Written on My Heart from Plume for an honest review,
which is the only kind of review I write.

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Book Buzz: Who Left the Cork Out of My Lunch?

In my family, I’m the peanut butter and jelly between two pieces of bread. The cream cheese schmeared on a bagel. The baloney on rye.

I’m not only a boomer, I’m part of the sandwich generation, which is code for you-worry-about-everyone.

Last week was a time of heightened anxiety for me when a variety of maladies converged on several family members on both slices of the sandwich. With my nerves jangling like the Salvation Army Christmas bells, I knew I had to calm down and find a way to laugh, since laughter is the best medicine as we all know.

Thank goodness for humorist Vikki Claflin, whose new book, Who Left the Cork Out of My Lunch? got thrown in my bag before I left for the hospital. It turned out to be my lifesaver.

And P.S., everyone is OK now.

Book Buzz: Who Left the Cork Out of My Lunch?

Who Left the Cork Out of My Lunch? Middle Age, Modern Marriage & Other Complications

I am a faithful follower of Vikki’s blog, Laugh Lines, because her essays consistently make me laugh. They are simply side stitch-inducing hilarious. She’s got a wicked sense of humor, that one.

Her latest book is  a collection of these essays and now that I’ve read them all, I think Vikki’s book is better than Prozac.

Vikki’s sizzling wit skewers topics such as marriage, fashion, makeup, bodily functions, ex-husbands, Spanx and midlife foibles. She’s a gifted writer who can zero in on the funny side of life and bring it to life … and nail it, every time.

Paraphrasing Vikki’s gems would be a disservice because no one can tell it quite like she can. So I offer you some of my favorites verbatim, straight from Who Left the Cork Out of My Lunch?

The 12 Stupidest Love Songs, Ever

Don’t Know Much About History (Sam Cooke) “Don’t know much about history, don’t know much about biology. Repeat for science, French, geography, trigonometry, algebra, and the nefarious slide rule … “But if I could be with you,  what a wonderful world it would be.” Seriously, dude? You just admitted to being on the wrong side of the Stupid bell curve, and yet somehow you think we’re going to hook up and have a fab life together? Here’s a thought. Get your GED, get a job, and lose my number.

Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad (Meat Loaf) “I want you, I need you, but there ain’t now way I’m ever gonna love you. Now don’t be sad cuz two out of three ain’t bad” followed by an entire verse lamenting the one that got away, but whom he never got over. Well, gee, Mr. Loaf. While I appreciate your only slightly arrogant offer and the assumption that I’d be grateful for two-thirds of your awesomeness, I think I’d rather date your ex-girlfriend.

24 Things Women Want in the Pre-Nup (No, They’re Not About Money)

  1. Repeatedly leaving the toilet seat up is the male equivalent of the female “Not tonight, dear. I have a headache.” It means nobody’s getting any tonight.
  2. Borrowing my car and returning it with the gas gauge on “E” tells me it’s been too long since we’ve had a good fight.
  3. Yes, I know you hate the songs on my iPod. That’s why they call it an “I” Pod. Get your own.
  4. Throwing all my delicates into the dryer on High isn’t “helping with the laundry.”

12 Reasons Sex is Better After 50

  1. We can finally put four-inch stilettos where they belong. In the bedroom. And we’re putting them on in bed, because limping to the bedroom, yelling, “Ouch, ouch, ouch!” is not foreplay.
  2. We worry less about having a perfect body. Yep, boobs are swaying like palm fronds in a tropical windstorm and cellulite makes our thighs look like five-pound bags of rice, but he hasn’t seen the six-pack abs of his youth for at least two decades.
  3. We tend to go to bed earlier, which also means earlier sex. After years of youthful and often alcohol-induced “Oh my God, it’s 2 a.m., and I’ve got to work tomorrow,” sex, we’ve discovered that 8 p.m. and sober is great, too. Who knew?

And finally,

From MILF to Middle-Age. 25 Signs It’s Happened to You

  1. Your plastic surgeon asks, “Why did you wait so long?” and offers a complimentary lip procedure with your tummy tuck because, well, he cares about you.
  2. Waiters and store clerks no longer ask you for your ID, even as a flirty joke. And if you suggest it, they just look confused.
  3. We still work out, but the parts we used to skip (the warm-up, the cool-down, and the stretching) are now the reason we’re there. Yesterday’s spinning class is now Tai Chi, often followed by a nap.
  4. When you lament the passage of your youth, you’re talking about your forties.

There is much, much more to giggle over, nod in affirmation with, and share with your girlfriends, while basking in the glow of knowing you’re not the only midlife woman plucking chin hairs.

Who Left the Cork Out of My Lunch? is available for pre-order on Jan 12, 2016 and will release Feb. 14. You can find it (and absolutely should) on Amazon. Barnes & Noble, and iTunes.

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Love in the Time of Portuguese

You know that recurring dream that everyone seems to have — the one where you are late for class or you can’t find your classroom or you didn’t study for the test or you don’t remember even signing up for the course? And you may just be stark naked, too?

Thankfully I was fully clothed, but my real life scenario was eerily reminiscent of that startling dream.

Yes, I was running through the halls of the high school in search of the elusive Room 203, my pocketbook slung  over my shoulder and bouncing against my hip in cadence with my stride. My first Portuguese class and I was lost in a corridor of confusion. Up the stairs, down the stairs, around the corner. Finally, Room 203 appeared and as I got closer I heard the booming voice of the teacher.

I paused to catch my breath before opening the classroom door. In unison, eight heads swiveled toward me.

Murmuring my apologies, I shimmied through the narrow aisles to an unoccupied desk next to a attractive dark-haired man in a business suit. Our eyes met and in several seconds we silently communicated the following:

“I thought I was on time (pant, pant). When did you get here?”

“Class just started. Don’t worry.”

“You’re kind of cute.”

“So are you.”

The teacher waited for me to get settled. I gestured toward the dark-haired man next to me.

“My husband,” I said, taking my seat.

“Ahh!” exclaimed Senhor. Delighted to be handed a teachable moment, he pivoted to the white board. “Meu marido,” he enunciated animatedly, writing the words in green marker and then turning to face us. “Repita.” He waited.

Meu marido,” we students intoned.

Muito bom,” he praised us. “Repita novamente.” Very good. Repeat again.

Meu marido. Meu marido. My husband.

My husband and I are taking class for a specific reason: our wonderful future daughter-in-law is Brazilian. Although she speaks English fluently, the rest of her family does not. We want to be able to communicate with our família brasileira at the wedding.

We will have our third class tonight, October 7. Our 30th wedding anniversary.

But there will be no candlelit dinner to celebrate. At least not tonight. With just eight classes in the course, we’d miss too much by skipping even one.

We practice the phrases over and over, trying to make them flow.

Bom dia, we learn is the way to say good morning. In 30 years, how many sleepy good mornings have my husband and I exchanged as we grope for the coffee decanter? Bom dia comes with a hug and a yawn. He sits down to read before going out to run. I get online with my first cup of coffee.

Desculpe, or I’m sorry.  Every marriage has had times of disagreement, hurt feelings and miscommunication, and ours is no exception. In 30 years we’ve had many desculpes. As we’ve gotten older they happen less frequently, and almost always over stupid little nothings. Desculpe can clear the air and get things back to normal. He is more likely to say desculpe. I am more likely to sulk.

Não me lembro  or I don’t remember. Não me lembro if I was supposed to pick up milk. Não me lembro the name of that actress in that movie we saw at which theater? We both don’t remember, so there is some comfort in that. In the 30 years of our marriage there are so many memories that sometimes we forget. Remember when you bought me this shirt? he will ask me. Não me lembro, I shrug.

Temos três filhos or we have three children. In 30 years we have seen our babies grow into adults too fast. In our 30 years of marriage we have spent much time arranging play dates, drying tears, driving to baseball practice, helping with homework. Life sped up when they reached high school, with SATs and proms and driving lessons. Now empty nesters, we look back over these 30 years with tremendous love and are so proud of the adults our children have become. Temos três filhos who are our greatest accomplishment in 30 years of marriage.

Eu te amo I love you. Every day. Through thick and thin. You’ve given me the life I always dreamed of having, one of happiness, sharing and laughter. Happy Anniversary, honey.

Meu marido e eu estamos comemorando nosso trigésimo aniversário de casamento. My husband and I are celebrating our thirtieth wedding anniversary.

Learning how to speak Portuguese is like a marriage of 30 years. If you work hard at it, and listen intently, the beauty of it will grab your heart and never let go.

Love in the Time of Portuguese

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A Special Wedding Anniversary

Happy 64th wedding anniversary to my amazing Mom and Dad!

You read that right. Sixty-four years!

A special wedding anniversary for two special people.

If you met my parents, you would find it hard to believe they are old enough to have been married this long.

They are young – young at heart, young in appearance and spirit, and as deeply in love with each other as they were on their wedding day 64 years ago.

wedding anniversaryIt seems that every year we ask them their secret. My mom usually demurs and my dad makes a joke, but this year I wanted to pin them down.

What is the key to your marital success?

Mom: Mutual respect.

Dad: Having wonderful children.

wedding anniversary

What is the best thing about your spouse?

Mom: He is smart and funny.

Dad: Her beauty inside and out. Also, our compatibility — we see things the same way.

wedding anniversary

What advice can you give to other married couples?

Mom: Be affectionate with each other. Enjoy a close relationship with your children and grandchildren. Have fun.

Dad: Be tolerant of moods.

wedding anniversary

Their love has made our world go round.

There is no greater gift than growing up in a house filled with love and laughter. My brother and I know how lucky we are.

My parents’ happiness simply comes from enjoying life … together. They share a passion for art and Broadway shows, Penn State (where they met and have remained active alumni), reading The New York Times every day and The New Yorker every week, animals and in particular my dog Duncan, energetically supporting their community, and of course, their family.

wedding anniversary

wedding anniversary

Their genuine pleasure in being with each other is obvious. My dad often remarks that my mom is the most beautiful and most gracious woman in the world (she is). And my mom still laughs at every joke my dad makes (as do I. He is the wittiest person I’ve ever known).

wedding anniversary

They are adored by their children and grandchildren who are grateful for them every single day. To say they’ve been an inspiration is an understatement. I am blessed to have them in my life and I send them all my love on this special day, June 18, their wedding anniversary.

wedding anniversary

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Book Buzz: The Longest Date

I’ve discovered my new best friend.

Not that she is aware of my affection. But I’ll state it right here and now: Cindy Chupack, I want to be your BFF.

It took just a few pages into her new book,  “The Longest Date: Life as a Wife,” to become enchanted with this immensely likeable woman and her story. Totally absorbed by the time I finished the Introduction, I settled in for what would be an afternoon of reading pleasure.

I didn’t get up until I finished reading it.

The Longest Date

In this memoir of her midlife dating escapades and two marriages, Cindy (since we’re on a first name basis, or so I’d like to think) opens the door to her world with a virtual hug and a cup of coffee.

I was immediately drawn to her because of her humor and warmth. Let me tell you, Cindy is funny. Not just funny ha ha, but funny clever and funny self-deprecating. Funny in a natural, unforced kind of way. Like she’s not trying to convince you. It’s just the way she is.

She writes conversationally about her first marriage that ended when her husband announced he was gay, her romance with and marriage to bad boy Ian, about gaining and losing weight and their St. Bernard dog and cooking four-ingredient meals and going to extremes to make a housekeeper happy.

I giggled reading the chapters “The First No No Noel” (about Jewish people celebrating Christmas) and “I Find My Husband Rappelling” (Ian’s adventure with a garden hose) and “Eggspecting” which you’re just going to have to read to learn more.

But it was her emotional recounting of their quest for parenthood that was spiked with such frankness and pain that I was moved to tears.

So who is Cindy Chupak and where has she been all my life? Turns out she won three Golden Globes and an Emmy for her work as a writer/executive producer on HBO’s Sex and the City. AND she has written for Modern Family, Everybody Loves Raymond AND she has had her own column in “O” Magazine.

I loved this book (can you tell?).  And so did 20th Century Fox TV, which has already signed on to create a comedy based on “The Longest Date,” with Cindy writing and executive producing along with executive producer and director Jake Kasdan.

I think you will love this book, too. I am delighted to give away a free copy to one of you. Leave a comment and I will make a random selection.

But forget about being BFFs with Cindy. She’s already taken.


Disclosure: I received a free copy of The Longest Date for review from Viking,  plus a book for one of my readers. All opinions are my own.

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