Novella Tells Compelling Family Story #FridayFunReads #BookReviews #Inspiration

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I reviewed this book here a couple of years ago after it was published. I’ve since revised it to reflect the times. Now that Thanksgiving has passed, those of you in the United States who celebrate will still enjoy reading this book.

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You Can Thank Me Later

by Kelly Harms

Copyright 2019

 

Every year, Sophie, a chef, hosts her family’s Thanksgiving dinner at her restaurant. This novella is divided into three parts: Thanksgiving 2016, Thanksgiving 2018, and Thanksgiving 2020. With the help of an interesting cast of characters and a series of events, some hilarious, she comes to realize she has a lot for which to be thankful.

I like how each of the three parts begins with messages from family members who call Sophie on Thanksgiving Day when she’s apparently too busy preparing the meal to answer the phone. In the version I downloaded from Audible, beeps are inserted to make it sound like you’re listening to them on an answering machine. Actually, I think Sophie is using a cell phone, and voicemail doesn’t sound like that, but I’m not sure how it could have been rectified.

I was a bit disconcerted when I got to the last part, Thanksgiving 2020. When I first wrote this review a couple of years ago after the book was published, we weren’t in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. So, this section doesn’t reflect that. However, there’s nothing wrong with escaping to a parallel world in which COVID never happened. But I don’t see why the author couldn’t have started with 2014, then moved on to 2016, then 2018.

Although this book is considered chic lit, it’s a wholesome, feel-good, holiday story. The Audible original isn’t very long, only a little over three hours. So, whether you’re a chic or not, you can enjoy it with a glass of wine or a turkey sandwich.

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New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

Front cover image contains: elderly woman in red sweater sitting next to a window.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

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Miracle on 34th Street #OpenBookBlogHop #Excerpts #Inspiration

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Welcome to another edition of Open Book Blog Hop. This week’s question is: “With the slew of holidays coming up at the end of the year, do you have a watch list of shows/movies you like to watch to celebrate? What are they?

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I don’t watch television anymore, but there’s one holiday movie I try to see each year, A Christmas Story. It’s based on Gene Shepherd’s memoir about how he wanted a Red Rider BB gun for Christmas when he was a little boy. Although I’ve never wanted such a thing, this film brings back memories for me.

On the other hand, in my latest book, Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me, the family has some holiday traditions, one of which is to watch a particular movie the night after Thanksgiving, as you’ll note from the excerpt below. This part of the story is told from the point of view of Natalie, who is sixteen years old. The scene starts as the family is finishing supper. Natalie’s ten-year-old sister Sarah is sick in bed.

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Finally, Grandpa asked, “Are we ready to watch Miracle on 34th Street?”

This was another of our Thanksgiving traditions. It was my sister’s favorite Christmas movie.

“Maybe Sarah will want to watch it with us,” I said, jumping up from the table. “I’ll go see.”

“I doubt it,” said Grandma.

“Natalie, I’ll check on Sarah,” said Mom, getting up from the table. “Why don’t you help your grandma with the dishes?”

“That’s a great idea,” said Grandma.

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So, does Sarah feel well enough to watch the movie with the rest of the family? You’ll just have to read the book and find out.

How about you? Do you have a favorite television program or movie you like to watch during the holiday season? You can answer this question in the comment field or click here to participate in this week’s hop and read what other bloggers have to say.

Note: Starting next week, I’ll be moving this feature to Mondays, since most other bloggers seem to be posting their responses on those days.

 

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

Front cover image contains: elderly woman in red sweater sitting next to a window.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

Books

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Open Book Blog Hop – 15th November #SocialMediaMonday #Reblogs #Inspiration

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

This week’s Open Book Blog Hop topic is holiday television programs. I don’t watch television anymore, but the family in my latest book, Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me, has a tradition of watching a specific movie the night after Thanksgiving. So, tune in here Wednesday and/or read the book to find out what that movie is. Meanwhile, here’s Stevie to tell you about holiday programs she likes to watch.

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To be honest Sam and I are not avid TV watchers. We prefer to be outside walking or cycling if the weather is good and there’s any spare time when we’re not meeting up with the family.

 

Read the full post here.

Her First Turkey #Fiction, #Tuesday Tidbit, #Reblog

The dining room table was covered with a white cloth. Linen napkins adorned the eight place settings that each contained a plate, silverware, and a glass. Two of the glasses were plastic and had milk in them. The other six wine glasses were empty. A bottle of wine and corkscrew were placed in the center of the table.

Pat admired her handiwork with her limited vision and hoped her mother-in-law would approve. This was her first Thanksgiving with her in-laws, and she willed everything to go smoothly. With a sigh, she sauntered to the doorway and called, “Okay, dinner’s ready.”

They all trooped in: her husband Steve, his parents Harry and Lee Ann, his brother and sister-in-law Rob and Linda, and their two children; Jayson, eight, and Ella, five. As Pat hurried to the kitchen to bring out the platters of food, she heard her mother-in-law say, “All right everyone, this is Pat’s first turkey. I don’t want anyone to say a word if it’s dry.”

“Do I have to eat the turkey if it’s dry?” asked Jayson.

Linda appeared in the kitchen doorway. “Can I help?” she asked.

“Sure,” answered Pat with a sigh of relief. “Take the turkey to Steve so he can start carving it.” She carefully removed the electric knife from a nearby drawer and placed it on the platter next to the bird. “Then you can come back and get the potatoes and gravy. I’ll get the stuffing, salad, and cranberry sauce. Oh, I still need to take the rolls out of the oven.”

“Take your time,” said Linda, placing a reassuring hand on Pat’s shoulder. “This all looks wonderful.”

After the turkey had been cut and the wine opened, and all the food was served, Pat was relieved to hear the satisfying sounds of cutlery scraping against plates. Still too nervous to eat, she stared at her food.

“Ummm, this turkey is nice and juicy,” said Lee Ann.

“I knew it would be,” said Pat with a smile. She picked up her fork and took a bite. It was delicious.

“Have you cooked a turkey before?” asked Lee Ann. “I’d think that would be hard for someone who can’t see.”

“This stuffing is delicious,” said Linda. “I’d love the recipe.”

The room fell silent, and Pat could feel everyone’s eyes on her. She didn’t want her in-laws to know that she hadn’t prepared the meal, but now that someone had asked for a recipe, what could she say? She didn’t know the first thing about making stuffing. Her mother had never shared her recipes with her.

She took a deep breath and said, “To be honest, I’m not much of a cook. The turkey, stuffing, potatoes and gravy, salad, and rolls came from Albertson’s. The cranberry sauce came out of a can. I ordered the pumpkin pie from Schwan.”

“Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done? Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!” came Ella’s sing song voice from the opposite end of the table, breaking the tension. “We sang that at school yesterday, and I told everyone we were going over the river and through the woods to Uncle Steve and Aunt Pat’s house, but it doesn’t fit into the song.”

Everyone giggled, and Pat said, “You’re right, sweetie. It doesn’t, and I’m sorry I missed your program yesterday. I had to work.”

“That’s okay,” said Ella. “I really like your turkey.”

“I do too,” said Jayson. “It’s not dry at all.”

“The potatoes are great,” said Steve. “I think they’re just like Mom’s.”

“Oh you,” said Lee Ann with a laugh.

“I like the salad,” said Rob.

“The rolls are wonderful,” said Harry. “Excuse me. I’m going to have another.”

“This was a great idea,” said Linda. “Maybe the next time I host a holiday dinner, I’ll do the same thing. It would save a lot of time.”

Lee Ann cleared her throat. “Linda, surely you realize that nothing compares to a home-cooked meal. However, this is rather nice. Pat, I’m sure it would have been next to impossible to prepare a meal like this from scratch when you can’t see.”

There it was again. Pat’s mother-in-law expected less of her because she was visually impaired. Maybe she should have tried to cook a turkey. She’d seen plenty of articles on cooking in Dialogue and other magazines for the blind written by sightless cooks. In fact, there had been step by step instructions on how to cook a turkey with no sight.

The rest of the family continued eating and chatting as if nothing were wrong. But Pat put down her fork and hung her head, as shame washed over her. Her appetite was gone.

***

“What are you smiling about?” asked Steve a month later, as they were driving to Rob and Linda’s house for Christmas dinner.

“Promise me you won’t say a word,” said Pat. “I told Linda I wouldn’t tell anyone, not even you.”

“You and Linda can trust me. My lips are sealed. Now spill.”

“Okay, Linda ordered the prime rib, twice baked potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls, and apple pie from Warehouse Market.”

Steve burst into loud, uproarious laughter. “Mom’s gonna be pissed.”

“Not if she doesn’t know,” said Pat. “If she or anyone else asks for a recipe, Linda will promise to email it to them and send them a recipe she finds online. I wish I’d thought of that last month.”

“I do too. I didn’t think Linda would ask you for that stuffing recipe. It was pretty good, though. But I think this Jell-O salad you’re bringing is going to be a hit.” He tapped the Tupperware container she held securely in her lap.

“I figured if my friend Jackie could make this recipe with no sight at all, I could make it with some vision.”

“I think you’re right, honey.”

“If anybody asks for the recipe, I have it right here.” She tapped her pants pocket that held the printed recipe. “I saved it on the computer so if more than one person wants a copy, I can email it.”

“Good for you,” said Steve. “That talking computer of yours sure works wonders.”

“I downloaded a book from the National Library Service for the Blind called Cooking without Looking. Maybe next year, I’ll feel more confident about cooking a Thanksgiving turkey.”

“Maybe we could do it together. It’s about time I learned how to cook.”

***

The above story appears in Magnets and Ladders and The Writer’s Grapevine.

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Services 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

Front cover 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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Over the Bridge and Along the Creek #Musical Monday

Today, I would like to sing, for you, a parody I wrote of a familiar song we associate with this time of year. When I was single, I often walked from my apartment to my grandmother’s house for holiday meals and other occasions. My route took me across a bridge and along a cement walking path that meandered next to a creek. Hence, the song.

I wrote two verses: one from the perspective of a cane user, which I am, and one from the viewpoint of a guide dog user, which I’ve never been. I know plenty of guide dog users, though. Enjoy, and have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Services 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

Front cover 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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Image contains: Abbie, smiling.