A Story of Love, Heartbreak, and Everything in Between #Friday Fun Reads

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Better Luck Next Time: A Novel

by Julia Claiborne Johnson

Copyright 2021

 

What Amazon Says

 

“Do you want to read something funny? Let’s say, a novel set at a divorce ranch in Reno in the 1930s? A book with memorably eccentric characters, sparkling dialogue, a satisfying plot twist, and some romance and sex?  A feel-good literary comedy/western? Here it is, then, the book you’ve been looking for: Julia Claiborne Johnson’s Better Luck Next Time.”—Julie Schumacher, author of Dear Committee Members and The Shakespeare Requirement

The eagerly anticipated second novel from the bestselling author of Be Frank with Me, a charming story of endings, new beginnings, and the complexities and complications of friendship and love, set in late 1930s Reno.

It’s 1938 and women seeking a quick, no-questions split from their husbands head to the “divorce capital of the world,” Reno, Nevada. There’s one catch: they have to wait six-weeks to become “residents.” Many of these wealthy, soon-to-be divorcees flock to the Flying Leap, a dude ranch that caters to their every need.

Twenty-four-year-old Ward spent one year at Yale before his family lost everything in the Great Depression; now he’s earning an honest living as a ranch hand at the Flying Leap. Admired for his dashing good looks—“Cary Grant in cowboy boots”—Ward thinks he’s got the Flying Leap’s clients all figured out. But two new guests are about to upend everything he thinks he knows: Nina, a St Louis heiress and amateur pilot back for her third divorce, and Emily, whose bravest moment in life was leaving her cheating husband back in San Francisco and driving herself to Reno.

A novel about divorce, marriage, and everything that comes in between (money, class, ambition, and opportunity), Better Luck Next Time is a hilarious yet poignant examination of the ways friendship can save us, love can destroy us, and the family we create can be stronger than the family we come from.

 

My Thoughts

 

I like how the author tells the story from Ward’s first-person point of view. It’s as if you’re visiting him fifty years later, and he’s telling you his story. Some of it is funny, and some of it isn’t. This book offers a variety of life lessons on not just marriage and divorce. The ending will surprise and move you.

***

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Image contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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Pets and Writing #Open Book Blog Hop #Wednesday Words

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Welcome to another edition of Open Book Blog Hop. This week’s question is: “Do pets (or other animals) play an important part in your books? Tell us about them.”

Absolutely! I love dogs. I remember plenty of them when I was growing up. Now, I don’t want the responsibility of caring for them, but I enjoy incorporating them into my stories.

In my first novel, We Shall Overcome, my heroine’s boyfriend has an Irish setter named Molly. Last year when I was blocked on my novel-in-progress, a Great Dane puppy named Squeakers saved the day. Now, here’s an excerpt from my latest novel, The Red Dress, in which we meet Ginger, the family’s Black Lab.

***

The clicking of Ginger’s nails on the floor in the hall and the jingling of her collar interrupted Eve’s thoughts. She turned as the dog loped into her office and to her side and placed her head on her knee.

“Oh, Ginger, I wish the kids would take more responsibility for you,” said Eve, stroking the dog’s head. “I’ve finished the proofs, now, so all I have to do is check email, and then we’ll go for a walk. Okay?”

Ginger flopped onto the floor at Eve’s feet and looked up at her as if to say, “I’m holding you to that.”

Eve smiled and turned to her computer, where she clicked the Accept button on Charlene’s friend request.

“We’ll see what happens,” she said.

In answer, Ginger wagged her tail, thumping it against the floor.

***

What was Eve doing when Ginger’s jingling collar interrupted her? Who is Charlene? Read the book and find out. To participate in this week’s Open Book Blog Hop, click here.

***

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Image contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

Books

My Amazon Author Page

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Website

 

 

Love Conquers All #Friday Fun Reads

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Joy in the Morning, A Novel

by Betty Smith

 

What Amazon Says

 

From Betty Smith, author of the beloved American classic, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, comes an unsentimental yet radiant and powerfully uplifting tale of young love and marriage.

In 1927, in Brooklyn, New York, Carl Brown and Annie McGairy meet and fall in love. Though only eighteen, Annie travels alone halfway across the country to the Midwestern university where Carl is studying law—and there, they marry.

But Carl and Annie’s first year together is much more difficult than they anticipated as they find themselves in a faraway place with little money and few friends. With hardship and poverty weighing heavily upon them, they come to realize that their greatest sources of strength, loyalty, and love will help them make it through.

A moving and unforgettable story, Joy in the Morning is “a glad affirmation that love can accomplish the impossible.” (Chicago Tribune)

 

My Thoughts

 

I disagree with the above about the book being unsentimental. Many emotions, including joy when Annie discovers she’s pregnant to anger and frustration when money is tight and worries about the future run rampant. I admire the couple’s resilience in the face of the adversity life throws them during their first year of marriage. This book shows us that if two people love each other, they can face anything together and come out stronger.

***

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Website

 

 

Writing My Protagonist #Tuesday Tidbit #Open Book Blog Hop #Excerpts

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Fellow blogger Stevie Turner asks this question. “Whose perspective do you like to write from best, the hero (protagonist) or the villain (antagonist)? And why?”

Frankly, I don’t want to understand villains. So, I write from my protagonist’s point of view. But I like to have my villain change, to a certain extent.

Take, for example, The Red Dress. After Eve, my protagonist, tells her college roommate, Charlene, about a painful memory associated with a red dress, Charlene bullies her into giving her the dress. Eve gives in, but when her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same. Twenty-five years later, Charlene is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Before she dies, she and Eve are reconciled.

Below are two excerpts. The first shows us Charlene’s villainous side, where she bullies Eve into giving her the dress. In the second scene, near death, Charlene undoes what she did twenty-five years earlier.

***

“You know, I can see why you put this dress off to one side. It’s only hurting you now. Let me take it off your hands. You don’t need it anymore.”

“But my mother made it. She worked long days at her job as director of the public library. There were only two weeks left until the prom when I told her I wanted a new dress, so she stayed up nights and scrambled to get it done.”

“Oh, you poor, homesick baby. Now you miss your mommy, who made this beautiful dress for you. Are you gonna cry now? Go ahead, crybaby. Cry.”

Eve was stunned but shouldn’t have been surprised. Her roommate cared little about others’ feelings. Her sympathy and curiosity were only a ploy, and she would stop at nothing to get what she wanted.

“Fine, take the damn dress. I don’t care,” Eve said before turning away in disgust.

***

Eve stared at Charlene as she lay there sleeping. Her old college roommate hadn’t really changed.

She looked around the room again. Was the red dress in the closet? She looked back at Charlene, who seemed to be sound asleep, and wondered what would happen if she got up, walked over to the closet, and looked inside.

Charlene opened her eyes and said, “It’s still there.”

“What?” asked Eve, leaning forward in her chair.

“The dress I took from you years ago in college. It’s in the closet.”

***

Thanks to Stevie Turner for inspiring the above with her Open Book Blog Hop prompt this week. If you’d like to participate, click here.

***

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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Novel Portrays Idyllic Irish Small-Town Life #Friday Fun Reads

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

In light of our recent St. Patrick’s Day celebration, I would like to share an oldy but goody book review from a couple of years ago. Happy reading!

An Irish Country Cottage

By Patrick Taylor

Copyright 2018.

 

This story takes place during the late 1960’s and is about three doctors. Although it’s part of a series, it can stand alone. In the Irish community of Ballybucklebo, Dr. O’Riley organizes a relief effort to help a family who lost everything in a fire. Dr. Laverty and his wife are trying to conceive a child, and Dr. McCarthy, a trainee, suffers from a lack of self-confidence. The Protestant-Catholic conflict provides an ominous backdrop to this portrayal of idyllic small-town life.

This book reminds me, in a way, of the James Harriott stories except that the patients are people, not animals. Funny things happen that will make you laugh, and there are serious moments that may move you to tears. I like the way the author interjects Irish culture into this story. He tells us that in Ballybucklebo, everyone gets along, whereas in the rest of Ireland, people are duking it out over religion and politics.

Unfortunately, there are a couple of issues that aren’t resolved in the end. Not wanting to give you any spoilers, I won’t tell you what they are, but I’m sure you’ll find them when you get to the end of the book. I hope a sequel is forthcoming. Meanwhile, I suggest you let this book take you back to the good old days when doctors made house calls. Don’t you wish those days still exist?

***

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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