Grisham Goes from Courtroom to Country

Since publishing A Time to Kill in 1988, Grisham has written one novel a year. His other books - The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, The Chamber, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, The Partner, The Street Lawyer, The Testament, The Brethren, A Painted House, Skipping Christmas, The Summons, The King of Torts, Bleachers, The Last Juror, The Broker, Playing for Pizza, and The Appeal - have all become international bestsellers. There are currently over 225 million John Grisham books in print worldwide and translated into 29 languages. Nine of his novels have been turned into films; The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, A Time to Kill, The Rainmaker, The Chamber, A Painted House, The Runaway Jury, and Skipping Christmas and original screenplay, The Gingerbread Man. The Innocent Man marked his first foray into non-fiction. Below is an excerpt and video clips from Grisham's new book of short stories Ford County.

Fetching Raymond

Excerpted from Ford County: Stories by John Grisham

Mr. McBride ran his upholstery shop in the old icehouse on Lee Street, a few blocks off the square in downtown Clanton. To haul the sofas and chairs back and forth, he used a white Ford cargo van with “McBride Upholstery” stenciled in thick black letters above a phone number and the address on Lee. The van, always clean and never in a hurry, was a common sight in Clanton, and Mr. McBride was fairly well-known because he was the only upholsterer in town. He rarely lent his van to anyone, though the requests were more frequent than he would have liked. His usual response was a polite “No, I have some deliveries.”
He said yes to Leon Graney, though, and did so for two reasons. First, the circumstances surrounding the request were quite unusual, and, second, Leon’s boss at the lamp factory was Mr. McBride’s third cousin. Small-town relationships being what they are, Leon Graney arrived at the upholstery shop as scheduled at four o’clock on a hot Wednesday afternoon in late July.
Most of Ford County was listening to the radio, and it was widely known that things were not going well for the Graney family.
Mr. McBride walked with Leon to the van, handed over the key, and said, “You take care of it, now.”
Leon took the key and said, “I’m much obliged.”
“I filled up the tank. Should be plenty to get you there and back.”
“How much do I owe?”
Mr. McBride shook his head and spat on the gravel beside the van. “Nothing. It’s on me. Just bring it back with a full tank.”
“I’d feel better if I could pay something,” Leon protested.
“Well, thank you, then.”
“I need it back by noon tomorrow.”
“It’ll be here. Mind if I leave my truck?” Leon nodded to an old Japanese pickup wedged between two cars across the lot.
“That’ll be fine.”
Leon opened the door and got inside the van. He started the engine, adjusted the seat and the mirrors. Mr. McBride walked to the driver’s door, lit an unfiltered cigarette, and watched Leon. “You know, some folks don’t like this,” he said.
“Thank you, but most folks around here don’t care,” Leon replied. He was preoccupied and not in the mood for small talk.
“Me, I think it’s wrong.”
“Thank you. I’ll be back before noon,” Leon said softly, then backed away and disappeared down the street. He settled into the seat, tested the brakes, slowly gunned the engine to check the power. Twenty minutes later he was far from Clanton, deep in the hills of northern Ford County. Out from the settlement of Pleasant Ridge, the road became gravel, the homes smaller and farther apart. Leon turned in to a short driveway that stopped at a boxlike house with weeds at the doors and an asphalt shingle roof in need of replacement. It was the Graney home, the place he’d been raised along with his brothers, the only constant in their sad and chaotic lives. A jerry-rigged plywood ramp ran to the side door so that his mother, Inez Graney, could come and go in her wheelchair.
By the time Leon turned off the engine, the side door was open and Inez was rolling out and onto the ramp. Behind her was the hulking mass of her middle son, Butch, who still lived with his mother because he’d never lived anywhere else, at least not in the free world. Sixteen of his forty-six years had been behind bars, and he looked the part of the career criminal—long ponytail, studs in his ears, all manner of facial hair, massive biceps, and a collection of cheap tattoos a prison artist had sold him for cigarettes. In spite of his past, Butch handled his mother and her wheelchair with great tenderness and care, speaking softly to her as they negotiated the ramp.
Leon watched and waited, then walked to the rear of the van and opened its double doors. He and Butch gently lifted their mother up and sat her inside the van. Butch pushed her forward to the console that separated the two bucket seats bolted into the floor. Leon latched the wheelchair into place with strips of packing twine someone at McBride’s had left in the van, and when Inez was secure, her boys got settled in their seats. The journey began. Within minutes they were back on the asphalt and headed for a long night.
Inez was seventy-two, a mother of three, grandmother of at least four, a lonely old woman in failing health who couldn’t remember her last bit of good luck. Though she’d considered herself single for almost thirty years, she was not, at least to her knowledge, officially divorced from the miserable creature who’d practically raped her when she was seventeen, married her when she was eighteen, fathered her three boys, then mercifully disappeared from the face of the earth. When she prayed on occasion, she never failed to toss in an earnest request that Ernie be kept away from her, be kept wherever his miserable life had taken him, if in fact his life had not already ended in some painful manner, which was really what she dreamed of but didn’t have the audacity to ask of the Lord. Ernie was still blamed for everything—for her bad health and poverty, her reduced status in life, her seclusion, her lack of friends, even the scorn of her own family. But her harshest condemnation of Ernie was for his despicable treatment of his three sons. Abandoning them was far more merciful than beating them.
By the time they reached the highway, all three needed a cigarette. “Reckon McBride’ll mind if we smoke?” Butch said. At three packs a day he was always reaching for a pocket.
“Somebody’s been smokin’ in here,” Inez said. “Smells like a tar pit. Is the air conditioner on, Leon?”
“Yes, but you can’t tell it if the windows are down.”
With little concern for Mr. McBride’s preferences on smoking in his van, they were soon puffing away with the windows down, the warm wind rushing in and swirling about. Once inside the van, the wind had no exit, no other windows, no vents, nothing to let it out, so it roared back toward the front and engulfed the three Graneys, who were staring at the road, smoking intently, seemingly oblivious to everything as the van moved along the county road. Butch and Leon casually flicked their ashes out of the windows. Inez gently tapped hers into her cupped left hand.
“How much did McBride charge you?” Butch asked from the passenger’s seat.
Leon shook his head. “Nothing. Even filled up the tank. Said he didn’t agree with this. Claimed a lot of folks don’t like it.”
“I’m not sure I believe that.”
“I don’t.”
When the three cigarettes were finished, Leon and Butch rolled up their windows and fiddled with the air conditioner and the vents. Hot air shot out and minutes passed before the heat was broken. All three were sweating.
“You okay back there?” Leon asked, glancing over his shoulder and smiling at his mother.
“I’m fine. Thank you. Does the air conditioner work?”
“Yes, it’s gettin’ cooler now.”
“I can’t feel a thang.”
“You wanna stop for a soda or something?”
“No. Let’s hurry along.”
“I’d like a beer,” Butch said, and, as if this was expected, Leon immediately shook his head in the negative and Inez shot forth with an emphatic “No.”
“There’ll be no drinking,” she said, and the issue was laid to rest. When Ernie abandoned the family years earlier, he’d taken nothing but his shotgun, a few clothes, and all the liquor from his private supply. He’d been a violent drunk, and his boys still carried the scars, emotional and physical. Leon, the oldest, had felt more of the brutality than his younger brothers, and as a small boy equated alcohol with the horrors of an abusive father. He had never taken a drink, though with time had found his own vices. Butch, on the other hand, had drunk heavily since his early teens, though he’d never been tempted to sneak alcohol into his mother’s home. Raymond, the youngest, had chosen to follow the example of Butch rather than of Leon.
To shift away from such an unpleasant topic, Leon asked his mother about the latest news from a friend down the road, an old spinster who’d been dying of cancer for years. Inez, as always, perked up when discussing the ailments and treatments of her neighbors, and herself as well. The air conditioner finally broke through, and the thick humidity inside the van began to subside. When he stopped sweating, Butch reached for his pocket, fished out a cigarette, lit it, then cracked the window. The temperature rose immediately. Soon all three were smoking, and the windows went lower and lower until the air was again thick with heat and nicotine.
When they finished, Inez said to Leon, “Raymond called two hours ago.”
This was no surprise. Raymond had been making calls, collect, for days now, and not only to his mother. Leon’s phone was ringing so often that his (third) wife refused to answer it. Others around town were also declining to accept charges.
“What’d he say?” Leon asked, but only because he had to reply. He knew exactly what Raymond had said, maybe not verbatim, but certainly in general.
“Said thangs are lookin’ real good, said he’d probably have to fire the team of lawyers he has now so he can hire another team of lawyers. You know Raymond. He’s tellin’ the lawyers what to do and they’re just fallin’ all over themselves.”
Without turning his head, Butch cut his eyes at Leon, and Leon returned the glance. Nothing was said because words were not necessary.
“Said his new team comes from a firm in Chicago with a thousand lawyers. Can you imagine? A thousand lawyers workin’ for Raymond. And he’s tellin’ ’em what to do.”
Another glance between driver and right-side passenger. Inez had cataracts, and her peripheral vision had declined. If she had seen the looks being passed between her two oldest, she would not have been pleased.
“Said they’ve just discovered some new evidence that shoulda been produced at trial but wasn’t because the cops and the prosecutors covered it up, and with this new evidence Raymond feels real good about gettin’ a new trial back here in Clanton, though he’s not sure he wants it here, so he might move it somewhere else. He’s thinkin’ about somewhere in the Delta because the Delta juries have more blacks and he says that blacks are more sympathetic in cases like this. What do you thank about that, Leon?”
“There are definitely more blacks in the Delta,” Leon said. Butch grunted and mumbled, but his words were not clear.
“Said he don’t trust anyone in Ford County, especially the law and the judges. God knows they’ve never given us a break.”
Leon and Butch nodded in silent agreement. Both had been chewed up by the law in Ford County, Butch much more so than Leon. And though they had pled guilty to their crimes in negotiated deals, they had always believed they were persecuted simply because they were Graneys.
“Don’t know if I can stand another trial, though,” she said, and her words trailed off.
Leon wanted to say that Raymond’s chances of getting a new trial were worse than slim, and that he’d been making noise about a new trial for over a decade. Butch wanted to say pretty much the same thing, but he would’ve added that he was sick of Raymond’s jailhouse bullshit about lawyers and trials and new evidence and that it was past time for the boy to stop blaming everybody else and take his medicine like a man.
But neither said a word.

Excerpted from Ford County by John Grisham Copyright © 2009 by Belfry Holdings, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Doubleday, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Below is a series of conversations with John Grisham about his first collection of short stories, FORD COUNTY. Visit the official John Grisham website at

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

Frank -Love Him or Leave Him?

It just occurred to me that I’ve been blogging for almost a decade. The madness all started for me back in the year 2000. The AOL "You've got mail!" Internet connection lead me to forums and message boards and then, of course, Oprah's Book Club.
For an avid reader and writer, this outlet was a Godsend! I tried to join a local Oprah book club in Newmarket, Ontario but they had a full membership. Drat! I didn't let this stop me from reading books on the Oprah list but I found it very difficult to find other readers who wanted to discuss the books. Sigh! I desperately needed an expressive outlet! The Internet chats barely filled the gap and then there was that nagging urge to write. I'd heard about blogging and decided to check it out. My first blog was SAHM Rants and Raves. I began writing book reviews and it was all going very well with positive feedback and even the occasional hate mail! After 5 years of blogging and home schooling my oldest son, my husband took a work transfer and we moved to London, Ontario.

Somehow with the change in Internet servers I ended up deleting my blog. You know when it asks, "Are you sure you want to delete this post?" well, I think it actually said something more like, "Are you sure you want to delete this BLOG?" (Insert curse word of your choice here!) This was devastating at the time but looking back on it now it actually served as an opportunity to venture out of my comfort zone. Out of habit, I started up a new blog and on the advice of a few supportive friends, I decided to check out the opportunities available with local magazines. It was then that I went from a SAHM blogger to a book reviewer for a regional women's magazine. Flash forward to 2009 and I'm blogging for Erica Ehm's Yummy Mummy Club! I'm getting my fill of books, opportunities to write reviews and now book club chats! The Yummy Mummy Club has a Twitter book club that goes by Yummy Mummy Book Club, a.k.a. #YMBC. The virtual book club has been a joy for me to organize and I find all the invaluable insights to be a source of inspiration. Eureka! The club doesn't meet in person but there is a friendly connection with ongoing tweets and I've actually met some YMBC members during a tweet-up or two. Bonus! It's the best of all three worlds for me; reading, writing and camaraderie!

The first Yummy Mummy Book Club selection, Loving Frank by Nancy Horan, was suggested by The Yummy Mummy Queen herself, Erica Ehm. I was pleased with this selection since I had read it a while back due to my interest with modern architecture. The book title’s ‘Frank’ is the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright and the object of Mamah Borthwick Cheney's illicit love. The novel is a work of fiction based on real people involved in a forbidden love affair over a century ago. Both have spouses, children and prominent standing in society, just to add complications. You don’t have to agree with the couple's choices to get drawn into their lives. Nancy Horan sets the stage with a colorful cast of characters and scintillating settings. The author gets right into her characters heads with descriptive and intriguing dialogue. Alternating between drama and navel-gazing, the self-proclaimed soul mates spend years trying to be together, all the while hoping for public acceptance instead of notoriety in society. The novel is ripe with juicy gossip taken from actual newspaper clippings and personal notations.
Nancy Horan spent years researching and writing the novel and this is presented in her meticulous attention to period details. Each chapter tell the story about the growing love affair between Frank and Mamah and even more, their growing egos and self-absorbed lives. Both characters held grandiose visions of their self-importance. The affair actually served as a catapult to launch the couple into public infamy. There's no doubt in my mind that Frank and Mamah would relish the attention from the tabloids and paparazzi if they lived out their saga in today’s world.
The story brings up the age old conflict - should you be with your true love at all costs or love the one you're with? Will you love Frank? The man -maybe not. Whether you see Frank as an arrogant egomaniac or a creative genius, he will leave an impression on you! Mamah is a bit more difficult to understand. Mamah is an eccentric, intellectual personality who uses deception and rationalization to justify her personal growth. Mamah saw herself a Frank's muse and used him as an opportunity to As a mother myself, I found it difficult to fathom most of her choices. If I was to sum up the novel in two words they would be scandal and sacrifice. That's all I'm going to say for fear of slipping out some spoilers! Fair warning dear reader, you might find the book unsettling or even disturbing, yet somehow very hard to put down!

Rumor has it that the novel is slated to go from the page to the stage. The rights to the screen version of Loving Frank have been attained by Lionsgate. I'm very curious to see which actor and actress will play the potentially career changing lead roles of Frank and Mamah.

Take a Look - Spooky Books!

Scream-Worthy Thrillers & Supernatural Page-Turners

Reading by moonlight while waiting for The Great Pumpkin? Face your fears this Halloween with a bestseller (and a bag of chocolate!).

If you fear…a missing child:

Fear the Worst by Linwood Barclay

Seventeen-year-old Sydney Blake’s summer is shaping up to be typical for a teenager: she’s spending it with her father, and she has landed a part-time job at a local hotel. One night, Syd fails to come home from her shift, and her father Tim is a bit alarmed. However, that alarm turns to full-on panic after he visits the Just Inn Time hotel and the manager claims that Syd has never worked there. Grilling his daughter’s friends for clues leads Tim nowhere — except to threats against his life — and as he frantically chases every lead, he can’t help but wonder if Syd is even still alive. Despite a growing list of unanswered questions, all Tim knows for certain is that he must continue searching for his daughter — no matter how high the stakes become.

If you fear…a pack of werewolves:

Frostbitten by Kelley Armstrong

New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong returns with the tenth installment of the Women of the Otherworld series.

The Alaskan wilderness is a harsh landscape in the best of conditions, but with a pack of rogue werewolves on the loose, it’s downright deadly.

Elena Michaels, the Pack’s chief enforcer, knows all too well the havoc “mutts” can wreak. When they hear of a series of gruesome maulings and murders outside Anchorage, she and her husband, Clay, journey to Alaska in the dead of winter in order to hunt down the dangerous werewolves. Trapped in this savage, untamed winter realm, she and Clay learn more about their own werewolf heritage than they bargained for, tapping a little more into the wild nature of the beast within. With Elena back in the starring role, this is the book Kelley Armstrong fans have been waiting for.

If you fear…a body under water:

The Taken by Inger Ash Wolfe

DI Hazel Micallef is still recovering from back surgery when a report comes in that a body has been found in a nearby lake, snagged under several feet of water. But as DC Wingate says, the whole thing is way too eerie. The first installment of a story has just been published in the local paper: a passage that describes in detail just such a discovery. Real life is far too close to fiction for coincidence.

The second novel featuring Hazel Micallef is a stunning and suspenseful exploration of the obsessive far reaches of love. It will confirm Inger Ash Wolfe as one of the best mystery writers there is.

If you fear…an arranged murder:

Breathless by Dean Koontz

In the stillness of a golden September afternoon, deep in the wilderness of the Rockies, a solitary craftsman, Grady Adams, and his magnificent Irish wolfhound Merlin step from shadow into light…and into an encounter with enchantment. That night, through the trees, under the moon, a pair of singular animals will watch Grady's isolated home, waiting to make their approach.

A few miles away, Camillia Rivers, a local veterinarian, begins to unravel the threads of a puzzle that will bring all the forces of a government in peril to her door.

At a nearby farm, long-estranged identical twins come together to begin a descent into darkness…In Las Vegas, a specialist in chaos theory probes the boundaries of the unknowable…On a Seattle golf course, two men make matter-of-fact arrangements for murder…Along a highway by the sea, a vagrant scarred by the past begins a trek toward his destiny…

If you fear…a ghost story:

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

Another brilliant, original and moving novel from the author of The Time Traveler’s Wife.

Julia and Valentina Poole are normal American teenagers — normal, at least, for identical “mirror” twins who have no interest in college or jobs or possibly anything outside their cozy suburban home. But everything changes when they receive notice that an aunt whom they didn’t know existed has died and left them her amazing flat in a building by Highgate Cemetery in London. They feel that at last their own lives can begin … but they have no idea that they’ve been summoned into a tangle of fraying lives, from the OCD-suffering crossword setter who lives above them to their aunt’s mysterious and elusive lover who lives below them, and even to their aunt herself, who never got over her estrangement from the mother of the girls — her own twin — and who can’t even seem to quite leave her flat….

Discover your next great (spooky) read at

Printed with permission from Random House Canada.

Spread the Secret!

Let me state up front that I don't consider myself an athlete. I would be the first to admit that I tend to veer more toward being uncoordinated and accident prone. I should also note that I'm not very graceful. I’m sometimes the gal with toilet paper dragging from my shoe or the hem of my skirt stuck in the waist of my pantyhose. My husband affectionately jokes that I have the habit of tripping over imaginary objects on flat surfaces.

When Yummy Mummy Club founder Erica Ehm started recruiting members for a Yummy Mummy team to attend the
Midsummer Night’s Run in Toronto, you might imagine that I received this invitation with a certain amount of trepidation. Running is not my forte. I belong to a gym where I use the weight machines and the elliptical - if I feel like it, which is not too often. When I read all the Twitter tweets about the #TeamYM run/walk I decided it was finally time for me to step up to the plate. (Being a left-handed hitter in grade school was not too cool.) Keeping in mind that this was my first running event and my limited time to train, I signed up for the 15km walk.
Let me tell you, panic did set in! The phrase, “What was I thinking?” crossed my mind a few times. For a month I alternated between running on the treadmill, using the elliptical trainer and the occasional run around the University of Western Ontario campus with my very fit and supportive husband. I needed him to scout out those phantom objects that invariably trip me up. The one thing I was lacking was confidence. I desperately needed to psych myself up for this challenge! I knew the physical training wasn’t going to be enough since part of the race to the finish line is mental. This is where I decided to draw on what I’d learned from
reviewing The Secret a few years ago. The Secret teaches about the law of attraction and positive thinking. It’s the adult’s version of the children’s classic The Little Engine That Could, with the mantra “I think I can, I think I can!” Every day I had to tell myself that I was going to finish the 15 km route. I envisioned myself crossing the finish line and getting a medal. It doesn’t seem like a big idea but it served me as quite a motivating image. I mentioned my goal to my sister Kara and she jumped on board joining me for the 15km walk. She wanted to keep up her momentum after participating in various Carabana events. In addition, she thought it would be a good way to mark her fortieth milestone.

During my training, I was introduced to the book
No Matter What! by Lisa Nichols. Nichols is one of the contributors to The Secret and a co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul. In No Matter What! the author and motivational speaker expands on The Secret’s Law of Attraction to include her Law of No Matter What. Nichols believes that in order to succeed we need to have a positive mindset of intention and commitment. Nichols says that an individual can turn a breakdown into a breakthrough by following her nine steps. If we use our mental muscles we can go from sadness and stress to self-fulfillment and success. If you feel you need to find motivation or inspiration then Lisa Nichols’ message can help you to drive and strive for your dreams.
Yummy Mummy Club is promoting a
contest with yummy prizes on behalf of New Aspiration and Lisa Nichols. Be sure to check out the contest and the No Matter What Tour. To read more see the Lisa Nichols interview by Kathryn Bechthold and pick up a copy of the book, No Matter What!
After participating in the 15km event, I feel eager to run in my next event. My friend Brenda says that my enthusiasm has inspired her to do a 6km run in the
Ride and Stride for Autism Ontario at the end of the September. I think I’ve found my next challenge! One thing I can suggest to anyone who finds they are hitting a mental roadblock is the need to be your own personal cheerleader. I’ve learned that the secret to success is to believe in yourself, no matter what!

Neuroscience Meets Nirvana

On a recent visit with my dear childhood friend she asked me what I was reading and we ended up taking about her health. At age of 40 my friend Denise had a wakeup call, but it wasn’t one of those ‘what should I do with the second half of my life?’ moments. One day while at work she didn’t feel quite right. She felt strange, woozy and a bit off-balance so she sat down. A co-worker asked her what was wrong and when Denise tried to speak it was gibberish that came out. This ‘blip’, as she puts it, only lasted a few moments and the symptoms passed. Like a typical busy mom she decided to carry on with her day and made a mental note to visit her doctor the next day. Denise described her symptoms to her doctor and he immediately sent her for tests. The tests confirmed that she had experienced a Transient Ischemic Attack (T.I.A.) or colloquially referred to as a ‘mini stroke’. She had several blood clots in her brain which were later revealed to be caused by a congenital heart defect. In laymen’s terms Denise had a hole in her heart. She was put on heavy duty blood thinning drugs to break up the clots. In the next few days it became noticeable to Denise that her left side was slightly weaker than her right side.
Denise was very fortunate that her stroke was mild and that she decided to seek medical attention for her vague, fleeting symptoms. It took about 6 months to fully regain the strength in the weakened side of her body and she is on blood thinning medication for the rest of her life. It’s been three years since her stroke and Denise is doing well. She practices yoga, watches her diet and takes her medication. Denise wants to stress the importance of recognizing the signs of stroke and the urgency for immediate medical attention.

You might be wondering what my friend's story has to do with a book review. Well, the book I picked up was a copy of the New York Times Bestseller My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D. (Published by Plume, a member of Penguin Group USA)
My Stroke of Insight the author takes the reader on an amazing and hair-raising journey through her stroke, recovery and self-discovery. In December of 1996 Jill Bolte Taylor, an accomplished Harvard trained neuroscientist, awoke to a day she would never forget. It’s actually incredible considering her circumstances that she can recall this day at all. At the age of 37 the brain scientist, researcher and teacher got a lesson of her own. She found herself having a stroke. Over the course of four hours Taylor was in a discombobulated state, flitted between lucid thoughts and mental blankness. She managed to challenge her increasing deficits from the brain bleed and call a colleague for help. In this short period Talbot was aware that she was losing her ability to walk, talk, read, write or recall memories or thoughts for her future. Talbot was living only in the moment and noticed the quietness and a sense of peace in her existence. There was an absence of what she calls “brain chatter.” She had a general feeling of well-being. Her brain was in a state of bliss! You might ask how is this? Well, Taylor had experienced a rare stroke in the left hemisphere due to a congenital malformation of blood vessels in her brain. The stroke on the left side gave way to her right side so it could take precedence.

“Your left mind might be rushing, thinking, deliberating, and analyzing, but your right mind is very mellow.”

The two lobes of our brain have different personalities so when Dr. Taylor “stepped to the right“, as she puts it, she found inner peace. This peaceful existence was interrupted only by the pain from her increasing headache which brought her back to her grave situation. If you want to know more about Dr. Taylor’s recovery and revelations then you should read the book. I will mention that after years of rehabilitation which included surgery, it took Talbot eight years to fully recover from her stroke. Compared to most stroke victims, Talbot knows she isn’t the norm. Dr. Taylor mentions that she had the advantage to understand how to repair, retrain and recover her brain. She is in the invaluable position to teach from the knowledge gained in her field and from her personal experience. Taylor is grateful for the opportunity to explain what happened to her brain and the insights she has gained!

“Wow, how many scientists have the opportunity to study their own brain and mental deterioration from the inside out?”

Taylor wishes to offer hope and inspiration to those who are dealing with a stroke or a brain injury. Taylor also mentions that trauma and disability doesn’t necessarily mean disaster. Dr. Taylor writes about her stroke as a miraculous recovery and a metaphysical revelation. My Stroke of Insight is a unique combination of science and omniscience; the physical and metaphysical.

“As a neuroanatomist, I must say that I learned as much about my brain and how it functions during that stroke, as I had in all my years of academia.”

Taylor wants us to pass her story on to our family and friends. My Stoke of Insight is a must read for anyone who works with stroke patients or family members caring for stroke victims. This is not a woe is me tale. Dr. Taylor is grateful to her experience, noting that she gained a shift in consciousness and a new appreciation for life.

If you wish to see a webcast of Jill Taylor’s presentation then check it out on
Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor created a mnemonic device to help people remember the most important signs of stroke. She suggests we commit these to memory and share them with everyone you know. Remember, stroke is a medical emergency: Dial 911

Warning Signs of Stroke

S = Speech, or problems with language

T = Tingling, or numbness in your body

R = Remember, or problems with thinking

O = Off-balance, or problems with coordination

K = Killer headache

E = Eyes, or problems with vision

Dr. Taylor recommends theses sites:
American Stroke Foundation
In my Google research I found these sites and links to be helpful:
Heart and Stroke Foundation
CanadaFive Signs of Stroke
Act F.A.S.T. -test list for stroke victim

Facing Forty with Fear and Foibles

When men approach the age of 40 they tend to be just hitting their stride. When women hit age 40 things start going downhill or at least this is what the popular perception is in today’s culture. When we reassess, regress or mull over our regrets, inevitably we try to make changes like a new career, hobby or mate. For men it’s called a mid-life crisis and for women it’s the change of life! Men get better looking as they age, this is true, but women just look older, or is this accurate? It really is a shame that women are only being compared to teenaged models and young actresses. Why is this measurement our only hallmark of beauty? Our society values youth, being young, looking young and staying young is encouraged and even demanded for some jobs. Examples of this trend can be seen with the advent of Botox parties and the popular term ‘cougar’ for older women who pursue younger men. There’s an ad that plays on my local radio station that encourages their ‘mommy makeover’ with an insulting jingle that sings out, “Fall in love with yourself, Blue..... Surgery.”
What a wonderful message.

In the novel Aging with Grace by Greg Liberman the heroine is a middle-aged, middleclass housewife. Grace finds herself in a race against time trying to regain her looks on the cusp of 40. Grace is self-absorbed. Always pretty and popular in her heyday, Grace feels her looks are fading and her abdomen needs tightening. She looks to the superficial world of plastic surgery for her answer to happiness. Grace has regrets. She’s always wanted fame and fortune. She dreams of being an actress and a model. Grace is bored. She doesn’t appreciate her life or her family and she doesn’t have any true friends. Grace refers to Jim, her husband of 14 years, as a wimp. Grace is bitter. As a mother Grace has a strained relationship with the oldest of her two daughters; a belligerent teenager who is taking notes from her mother.
Grace’s recipe for disaster starts with reconnecting with a high school friend on a social networking site called MyFace. Grace, being a competitive gal, finds herself jealous of April. Her fashion photographer friend has a lavish lifestyle full of celebrities, parties and glamour. She meets Victor at one of April’s parties, dabbles in illicit drugs and eventually involves herself in leading a double life. Victor presents himself as a powerful man with serious connections in the movie biz but it’s not the movie connections that Grace should be concerned about. Victor is not the man she believes him to be. Grace is lured into his lair with a lifestyle of luxury and promises of fame and fortune. Grace weaves a web of deceit and rationalization and eventually gets caught up in her own lies.

“Just two weeks ago, she was whiling away her time as bored housewife. Today she had flown across the country too ready to have an affair with some rich Hollywood type she barely knew.”

Grace does not live up to her name. Grace is self-absorbed, catty, vindictive, spiteful and basically a heartless, hateful biatch! She's a character that can be hard to take but you’ll love to hate! Do you remember Joan Collins as Alexis in the 80’s drama Dynasty? That's who comes to my mind. Isn’t everything 80’s coming back in style? I can imagine Aging with Grace being developed into a movie with the now 40-something Heather Locklear playing Grace and someone like heartthrob Antonio Sabato Jr. in the role of Victor. Locklear starred in a recent movie called Flirting with Forty based on the book Flirting with Forty by Jane Porter. In Flirting with Forty the newly divorced Jackie sets off on a much needed vacation to Hawaii. She meets surf instructor Kai and falls for him despite the age gap between them. Who cares right? He makes her feel desired and young. Back at home in Seattle, Jackie's bubble bursts with the reality of her new role as a single parent and fielding the flack from her judgemental friends. Book or movie, worth the read or watch.

Back to Aging With Grace, I won’t give any of the plot but I can say that I kept waiting for Grace to get what was coming to her! Eventually reality hits, right? Much like chick lit is set up to do - take the reader away on a fantasy ride- Grace lets Victor take her on a ride but where is he taking her? Aging with Grace (Booksurge, 2009) is a cautionary tale; a warning to watch what you wish for or you might just get it!
As we age we also hope to sage with time. Grace needs to look a bit closer at herself and not in the mirror for flaws but inward to find her truth and happiness. I must say that Author Greg Liberman writes chick lit like no man’s business! It’s encouraging to hear from the author that he's been giving some thought to writing a sequel to Aging with Grace. It seems Grace has not quite learned her lesson! Liberman has set up a
blog where readers can provide feedback. Liberman was featured as a guest author at The Book Faery Reviews. The novel is available on and also available on so get yourself a copy and enjoy getting to know Grace!

Books With Bite!

I thought about using the titles ‘books with blood on them’ or books you can really sink your teeth into’ or even ‘books that really do suck’ but as you can see I went with the title ‘books with bite’. What’s this all about you ask? Well, I’m talking about vampires, blood and yes, even romance!

If you follow me on Twitter or you’re a friend on Facebook then you already know that I’m a big fan of vampires. On any given Sunday night my twits and I are all a-twitter waiting for the new episode of True Blood to air. I don’t know where my fascination with vampires started but I know I’m not alone in this fixation! From way back I’ve always been drawn to vampires. It may have all started with Anne Rice’s book Interview with the Vampire from the Vampire Chronicles. Then there was the movie Interview with the Vampire. The pre-Scientology crazed Tom Cruise and pre-Brangelina Brad Pitt were an irresistible combo in my younger years!

Last year when HBO started airing it’s
True Blood series, I found myself in vampire heaven, but then again vampires don’t really die, so there’s no heaven for them right? The True Blood television series is now in its second season and happens to be based on the Sookie Stackhouse series of books written by Charlaine Harris. Sookie Stackhouse is played by the Oscar winning talented actress Anna Paquin. Paquin’s character is an intriguing mixture of curiosity and vulnerability as a telepathic waitress with a penchant for ‘fangbanging’. Since I’ve already established that I’m a big vampire fan it won’t surprise you that I’m recommending the Sookie Stackhouse books for the adults and, just for good measure, the Twilight series for the tweens or teens. Note: HBO’s True Blood is not for the youngsters! Oh, my word, no! You might want to Tivo the show because you just know one of the kiddies will wander by in the middle of a sex scene!

The Sookie Stackhouse series is available in boxed sets of 7 or 8 titles: Dead Until Dark, Living Dead In Dallas, Club Dead, Dead To The World, Dead As A Doornail, Definitely Dead, All Together Dead, From Dead To Worse and don’t forget the most recent book Dead And Gone. Also worth noting is the collection of short stories A Touch of Dead. So far I've read Dead Until Dark and Living In Dallas and I've found they're hard books to put down. Kudos to you if you manage to read them all!

The Twilight book series is the genius of author Stephanie Meyer. The list includes: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn and the yet to be released Midnight Sun. Stephanie Meyer is also the author of The Host. Unfortunately an unedited draft of Midnight Dawn was leaked on the internet. The author has posted chapter one of Midnight Sun for fans to read on her website, along with a few words for the person who leaked the draft as well!
I’ve heard that the Twilight books are geared more toward the female species but I do know a few young males who've read and enjoyed the series too. The Twilight movie was a blockbuster success and now quick on it’s heels comes the much anticipated
New Moon movie slated for the theaters on November 20, 2009. There’s a variety of ages and interests in my testosterone infused family but for a change we all managed to enjoy the same movie; Twilight. Go figure! With this in mind I would highly recommend the Twilight movies for a family with teens. The younger dudes might squirm at the romantic parts but overall it will hold their interest and believe me it’s far better than having to endure a Fast and Furious movie marathon. BTW, thanks for that guys, not!
Just for fun, if you like vampire movies then check out this list I found for the
top 70 vampire movies of all time. It’s bloody good!

Life is a Series of Books

"The books one reads in childhood, and perhaps most of all the bad and good bad books, create in one's mind a sort of false map of the world, a series of fabulous countries into which one can retreat at odd moments throughout the rest of life..." George Orwell

In a recent post I set you up for the summer with a selection of chick lit reads. The books should be keeping you busy unless your kids are home and won’t leave you some time alone! The recent movie release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince from the book series inspired me to recommend other collections available for the tween and teen scene.
News flash: the notorious James Frey is being taken off the backburner and back into the Frey-ing pan! You might recall his book A Million Little Pieces creating quite the kafuffle in the literary world. Frey went from the pan to the fire soon after Oprah put A Million Little Pieces on her book club list. Oprah proceeded to tear Frey into a million little pieces after it was revealed that his autobiography was a bit more imagination than realization! Frey was panned but now he’s on fire! All the hullabaloo didn’t hurt Frey’s career since he went on to write My Friend Leonard and Bright Shiny Morning. Now it appears that Frey is venturing into the teen scene with a sci-fi series for the younger set of ravenous readers. Frey is pairing up with a new novelist, Jobie Huges, to write four books. The first book is titled I Am Number Four. Are they going to work backwards or what’s the deal? It’s also been reported that Transformers director, Michael Bay has bought the film rights to I Am Number Four. Let’s hope the books and the movies do well or we’ll be hearing reviews that I Am Number Two stinks! Phew! Sorry, I just had to add that. With the recent release of the latest Harry Potter movie, I can’t help but wonder if Frey is switching gears desperately trying to be the next J.K. Rowling? Maybe it’s just the cynic in me but we can’t blame him for trying, right? Maybe Frey is looking for a million little dollars? Cue song: Barenaked Ladies singing ‘If I Had A Million Dollars’
If you have kids at home this summer and you’ve already heard “I’m bored” a million little times and feel as if you are going out of your freaking mind then maybe I can help. If your kids spend the majority of their waking hours starring at a screen or glued to a game controller then I might be able to assist. I have a 13 year old son. Need I say more? What’s a parent to do you ask? Get your kids into reading a good book, or better yet, a book series! I’m all for children reading whatever they’re into, even if it’s Archie Comics. BTW, did you hear Archie and Veronica are getting hitched? OMG! I thought I’d share a Twitter tidbit there!
After a few years of disinterest in reading, my “I’ll wait for the movie” son turned out to be an avid reader and now actually enjoys spending time in Chapters with me. Sometimes ‘DS’ likes to go it alone but that’s not the point and I don’t take it personally, really. (Sniff, sniff.) He is a teenager after all! This summer he’s discovered a series of books by Michelle Paver. For grading day I gave him a bag full of books that made him grin from ear to ear! I’m always asking him, “Whatcha reading?” and he always answers with the name of a book and looks forward to reading the next one. That’s my boy! I’m all for recommending the Harry Potter books but if your kids have ‘been there and done that’ so to speak and eager for a different series to get into then check out these titles.
Chronicles of an Ancient Darkness by Michelle Paver: Oath Breaker, Outcast, Wolf Brother, Soul Eater, Spirit Walker.
Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, The Magician’s Nephew, The Horse and His Boy, The Silver Chair, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Last Battle.
Inheritance Series by Christopher Paolini: Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr.
Pendragon by D.J. MacHale: The Merchant of Death, The Lost City of Faar, The Never War, The Reality Bug, Black Water, The Rivers of Zadaa, The Quillan Games, The Pilgrims of Rayne, Raven Rise, The Soldiers of Halla.
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer: Artemis Fowl, Artemis Fowl and the Arctic Incident, The Eternity Code, Artemis Fowl and the Opal Deception, Artemis Fowl the Graphic Novel, Artemis Fowl and the Lost Colony, Artemis Fowl The Time Paradox, Airman.
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Daniel Handler aka Lemony Snicket: The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room, The Wide Window, The Miserable Mill, The Austere Academy, The Ersatz Elevator, The Vile Village, The Hostile Hospital, The Carnivorous Carnival, The Slippery Slope, The Grim Grotto, The Penultimate Peril, The End.
So this summer encourage your kids to spend some time in the library or a book store and then bask in the quiet solitude as they immerse themselves in their books!

The Color of Love

Writing a blog can be an intensely personal and revealing experience. It can be like passing your diary around for all to see but of course to a lesser degree! Funnily enough I’m usually a very private person. I tend to be more of a listener in most social settings, but one-to-one I’m all about telling you like it is. I’m stealing a phrase from my sister that goes, “everyone is entitled to my opinion!” (Special shout out to Kara - Holla!) This is one of the reasons why I started reviewing to compliment my love for reading and writing. At times I pick a book for purely selfish reasons instead of sticking to the tried and true bestseller list. Sometimes I discover a real gem!
A while back on a trek to the book store I noticed the book
Pig Candy: Taking My Father South, Taking My Father Home: A Memoir (Free Press, 2009) by Lise Funderburg. I found myself compelled to read it after perusing the book’s covers. Lise Funderburg is a freelance journalist and the acclaimed author of Black, White, Other: Biracial Americans Talk About Race and Identity (Quill, 1995) and The Color Purple: A Memory Book (Carroll & Graf, 2006). I recalled Oprah, the book maven herself, giving the thumbs up to Black, White, Other and read Funderburg’s insightful contributions to Oprah’s O Magazine. Why was I so draw to reading this memoir? Lise Funderburg is the mixed- race daughter to a black father and a white mother. Funderburg’s novel Black, White, Other is a collection of forty-six stories told by adults from black- white unions. Like these individuals and the author, I share this similarity. My father is from West Indian descent and my mother’s heritage is French Canadian. I can relate to being in the ‘Other’ category.

In Pig Candy Lise pays tribute to her terminally ill, stroke-impaired father, recalling their annual trips from his retirement community in Pennsylvania to his summer farm house in Georgia. George Newton Funderburg was a complex man with a colorful background and a thorny past. His life experiences are marked by times of segregated schools, ‘White’s Only’ signs and KKK threats. Lise wondered why she and her two sisters had such restricted childhoods but more than that she wanted desperately to get to know her father after years of disconnect. As an aside here, I can relate to the strict upbringing, but now that I’m a parent myself I can look back on it as a form of protection.

Lise reflects on her father’s skewed psyche,
“My father won’t let Margaret close all of the sunroom blinds to August’s wilting midday heat. You can close most of them, he says, as long as you leave two or three open. I want to be able to see the Klan sneaking up on us. He is joking and he is not joking.”
Lise puts on a brave face and deals with her father’s cancer and cantankerous manner, all the while trying to gain some much needed closure to their strained relationship.

George’s e-mail is a good example of his headstrong nature.
Subject: Eddie Frank’s Ungracious Behavior.

dear Jackie and Eddie,
it is distressing to have to write this e-mail about eddie’s confrontational, ungracious behavior toward one of my guest invited to fish on our lake.
it may be that we can straighten this outwhen i return in about two weeks, I hope so, how ever to emphaxize my position, let me suggest that eddie not, fish on our pond until we do straighten this out. also, it might be a good idea for eddie not to take any of my liquor, vodka or wine,until that time I am not an Indian giver and realize that there may be some wine I had given Jackie that she should feel free to take home if she likes.
by copy of this writing to francees smith [Dorothy’s sister] i am requesting she pass it along to troy eugene johnson so that he may reassure his nephew that my permission for him to fish on our lak is still in tact and he is welcome to come back.the nephew should know that his grandmother was most gracious to me over sixty years ago when i spent a weekend at their house in the Glades.
Keep well, continue your good work and enjoy
uncle george
Best Wishes

Don’t get me wrong, George isn’t all bad; he has a likeable quirkiness about him. He likes the challenge of inventions and helpful gadgets. The special order pig box is right up his alley! Lise, family and friends, help him in his mission to make pig candy; a slow cooked barbecue pork delicacy. George is a collector of hobbies. He’s a master of dabbler, if you will. He dives into a new endeavor and inevitably loses his enthusiasm when a new interest comes along. I can relate to this habit myself with a studio full of half completed projects. Don’t get me started!
Endearing and amusing,
Pig Candy is a book to be slowly savored, like the succulent, slow barbecued pork. Just like southern hospitality and home cooked flavor, Pig Candy leaves you feeling warm and wanting more. The themes of mortality and race are treated with dignity and grace. Lisa’s recounting of the Funderburg’s layered family history will leave a legacy for generations to come. In Lise’s search for her own racial identity she discovers a blurring of the lines between race and family. Growing up in a family with assorted colors the one message I can send is that love has no color. I can imagine that Lise Funderburg would agree with me wholeheartedly.

News flash: It was recently announced that Pig Candy made it on the Southern Indie Bestseller (SIBA) list. So much for recommending a little known gem!

The Girls of Summer

If you’re looking for some cool summer reads to take to the cottage or beach then read on dear readers, read on! This summer I’ve noticed a fabulous selection by some of our favorite chick lit authors. There’s so many fresh reads that are just ripe for the picking, and ready for us to devour!
At the top of the list is My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. Sara and Brian have a son Jesse and a daughter Kate. All is well until Kate becomes very ill. In desperation, the couple decides to have another child to help their sick girl live a better life. The book introduces a controversial topic. Ethical and moral issues are brought forward when the youngest daughter Anna decides to challenge her parents in court. Anna wants to sue her parents for the rights to her own body. The recent release of the screen version starring Cameron Diaz and Abigail Breslin is bound to harvest some more interest and popularity for novel. If you haven’t already read the book then you might be interested in the movie tie-in edition. Word of warning: whether you read the book or take in the movie make sure you have tissue at hand!
When I say The Devil Wears Prada what do you think of first; the novel or the movie? If you’re a fan of either of these guilty pleasures then you should know about
Laura Weisberger’s recent novel Chasing Harry Winston. The narrative introduces the reader to three best friends, each on the verge of turning thirty. Two of the gals make resolutions and they give themselves one year to change their lives for the better. Can they all remain friends forever? There’s so much at risk and so much to lose. Talk about drama! Do I smell a movie sneaking around the corner? You heard it here first, people!
Did you read the book Lipstick Jungle or watch the now defunct television series of the same name? If you answered yes to either then you might want to pick up a copy of
Candace Bushnell's new novel One Fifth Avenue. BTW, did you see Brooke Shields speaking at Michael Jackson’s memorial? Heart wrenching! So, getting back to the book One Fifth Avenue, just imagine a Manhattan backdrop, swanky living accommodations and five women on the make. Need I say more? This book is sure to indulge your voyeuristic side!
Emily Giffin is a bestselling author of Something Borrowed, Something Blue and Baby Proof. Now she’s penned a new novel. Love The One Your With is the tale of a woman’s journey in search of true love. Does she stay with the man of her dreams or go with her soul mate? Is it love or is it lust? There’s too many questions and no clear answers. What’s a gal to do? This book is sure to tug at the heartstrings.

Jennifer Weiner is a personal favorite of mine. Hola, twitter friend! I so enjoy her terrific tweets! This summer she offers us the paperback version of her popular book Certain Girls: A Novel. This book is the sequel to Weiner’s bestseller Good In Bed. Certain Girls is appealing just like the 40 something character with all her charms and flaws. This read is both romantic and realistic! You might remember Weiner’s popular book In Her Shoes. Didn’t Cameron Diaz star in the movie In Her Shoes along with the talented Shirley MacLaine and the quirky Toni Collette? Side note: if you get the chance to see Collette in Showtime’s United States of Tara then you are in for a great rollercoaster ride!
BFF’S listen up! What better than spending time with your BBF? How about reading about BFF’s? Jennifer Weiner’s new book Best Friends Forever: A Novel is about to fly off the shelves on July 14. Lifestyles and distance can get in the way of a friendship but some childhood friendships can withstand the test of time. Full of adventure and angst, Best Friends Forever is a tribute to loyalty in friendship. Reading can be more fun if it’s shared so pick this one up and pass it along. Heads up Denise I’m throwing this one your way soon! The unstoppable
Sophie Kinsella brings a new novel to the Shopaholic series. In Shopaholic and Baby, Becky’s back and now there’s a baby on the way! Everything is better than ever or so it seems. Does Becky finally have it all or are there complications on the way? No spoiler here; only the pages will tell!
Twenties Girl is Kinsella’s captivating new narrative about a young woman who finds herself haunted by a ghost; her very feisty and opinionated great-aunt. Great-aunt Sadie just won’t rest until Laura finds the heirloom necklace. Laura goes on the hunt but ends up finding something more than she bargained for in her search for the treasured piece of jewelry. Fans of Sophie Kinsella might already know about the author’s alternate nom de plume
Madeline Wickham. Under the pen name Wickham the author brings her fans a fantastic collection of reads. In Wickham’s novel The Gatecrasher, we meet a mysterious woman who has a penchant for a lavish lifestyle and wealthy men. She knows just how to meet her needs; funerals! I've heard of wedding crashers, but funerals? Are you shaking your head too? Wickham’s writing is wonderful and will leave you wanton or at least wanting more Wickham!
In Sleeping Arrangements, Wickham weaves a tale involving secrets and surprises. Picture this; two families forced to share accommodations while on vacation in a Spanish villa. Add to this uncomfortable situation the fact that Chloe is with her beau and the other man is her former boyfriend. Yikes! If you want some intrigue then this is the novel for you to read.
If you liked Wickham’s novel Remember Me then you might want to try Cocktails for Three. Three friends meet in a bar, and no it’s not the start of a joke but the setting where juicy secrets are revealed! It’s the London, UK fashion scene where gossip reigns supreme and boy these girls can be mean!
Heads up dear readers! Be sure to check out the audio book versions for these titles. They would be perfect for those summer walks or a long drive. Better yet, just grab your beach chair, take in some sun, enjoy a frothy drink and read at the same time! Gentle warning: don’t forget the sunscreen! I should mention that recently I’ve been visiting
Shortcovers to check out popular books and find both the website and the smart phone application very helpful. You can read the first few chapters of a book on-line or from your phone and then have the option to purchase the entire e-book if you so desire. Isn’t technology grand? So dear readers I hope I've given you a good sample of reads to hold you over for the summer. Feel free to send me your feedback or suggestions if it moves you to do so!

Father's Day Message From Author Kevin Alan Milne

Dad’s Day Message from Kevin Alan Milne Author of
The Nine Lessons: A Novel of Love, Fatherhood, and Second Chances
(Center Street- Hachette Book Group, 2009)

Recently I picked up a copy of The Nine Lessons by Kevin Alan Milne. I had planned to tuck it away and give to my husband for Father’s Day. (Note to my husband if you’re reading this ~ surprise!) Instead of wrapping the book I started to read it and then proceeded to check out the author’s website. To my delight I discovered a very frank, funny man who writes with a fine finesse! Milne is also the author of the novella
The Paper Bag Christmas (Center Street-Hachette Book Group, 2008).

Milne is a businessman by day and a writer by night. He has four daughters, one son and a devoted wife. As an aside, I noticed the son (a.k.a the boy) was named Kyler. My husband and I have two boys named Kyle and Tyler. If you blend the two names together it forms a very efficient moniker to yell, um, I meant call, when they are needed at once! I asked the author if he would share with us some words of wisdom and inspiration. He has a message to share about his book The Nine Lessons, “a novel about fears, joys and foibles of being an imperfect parent, and the truths passed on from one generation to the next.”

After graduating from high school in 1991, I attended a public event where all recent graduates were asked what we wanted to be when we “grow up”. I have to admit, I took exception to that question. I’d just graduated from high school, for Pete’s sake, and what could possibly be more grown up than that? Still, I knew what they were really asking: what career will you pursue? I tried to play along, but for the life of me, I didn’t know what I wanted to be. One by one my friends stepped up to the microphone and predicted their future successes. Most wanted to be doctors, lawyers, and the like…nothing wrong with that. When it was my turn, however, I chose to address my parents directly, explaining that I had absolutely no clue what job I would fulfill as a full-fledged adult (I’m sure at that moment they wanted to slink beneath their chairs). “Eventually I’ll figure out how to earn a living,” I said. “But if you really want to know what I’ll be when I grow up, I can tell you: I want to be just like my dad…and if I’m even half as good at being a father and husband as he is, I think everything else will work out just fine.”
Cheesy, I know, but one wife and five kids later I’m living the dream! Jobs have come and gone since high school, but along the way nothing has been quite as satisfying—or scary or challenging or downright frustrating!—as marriage and parenthood. With Father’s Day right around the corner, I sincerely hope that fathers, mothers, and children of all ages will appreciate the message of The Nine Lessons, and will seek to share their own lessons from one generation to the next.
Happy Father’s Day!
Kevin Alan Milne

(Printed with permission from the author Kevin Alan Milne.)

The Nine Lessons is a touching tale that should be a must-read for any father and son. To learn about the author’s inspiration for writing see his story How Corporate America Ignited My Inner-Author. Check out Milne’s blog for updates and his website for future projects.

Father's Day Book Picks and Free eBooks!

If you're searching for a great book to give dear old Dad for father's Day then look no further. You've definitely come to the right place! Below is a list of my Daddy's Day picks. To read the full descriptions follow the link to my Bookalicious Blog in the Yummy Mummy Club. Please leave comments if it moves you to do so!

The Nine Lessons (Center Street- Hachette Book Group, 2009)
Author: Kevin Alan Milne

Pacify Me: A Handbook for the Freaked-Out New Dad (Simon & Schuster, 2009)
Author: Chris Mancini

Lamentations Of The Father: Essays (St. Martin’s Press, 2009)
Author: Ian Frazier

What Every Man Should Know About Being a Dad (Routledge, 2009)
Author: David Cohen

I Am My Father's Son (Harper Collins Publishers, 2009)
Author: Dan Hill

The Daddy Shift: How Stay-at-Home Dads, Breadwinning Moms, and Shared Parenting Are Transforming the American Family (Beacon Press, 2009)
Author: Jeremy Adam Smith

It's the Best Day Ever, Dad! (Harper Collins Publishers, 2009)
Author: Brooke Shields

The Last Lecture (Hyperion, 2008)
Authors: Randy Pauch, Jeff Zaslow

Tuesdays With Morrie (Doubleday, 1997)
Author: Mitch Albom

Free eBooks!

by Gene Stratten-Porter

by Edmund Gosse

Get Dad to check out the free 32-page ebook by Brett McKay from The Art of Manliness.
They've also compiled 100 books they call the Essential Man's Library.

Just in case you can't resist giving Dad a tie, that old standby, then check this out for fun! How do you tie a tie? See the link below:

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!

When I was invited to review the book 10-10-10 written by Suzy Welch I must admit that I was a bit skeptical about a self-help book claiming to solve our decision-making dilemmas. Suzy Welch is a bestselling co-author of Winning along with her husband Jack Welch, former Chairman and CEO of General Electric. As a journalist, author and public speaker, Welch has a list of credits to her name as the former editor of the Harvard Business Review and columnist as a life /work balance for O, The Oprah Magazine and Business Week Magazine, just to name a few.

Suzy Welch has developed a strategy she’s dubbed 10-10-10 to help us make decisions. The 10-10-10 system is a guide that breaks up time into three frames of 10 minutes, 10 months and 10 years. These time frames are not to be taken literally, but suggest the immediate present, mid-term and distant future. Welch felt that she had been making decisions based on her immediate circumstances and living too much in the present with little consideration for the long term consequences. Welch knew that her life was off-kilter and after a disastrous business trip she experienced a eureka moment. It was after this pivotal experience that she developed the 10-10-10 approach as a decision-making guide for life.

When making decisions, we sometimes get hung up at the onset with too many options, too many choices, too many unknowns and too many questions. Suzy Welch says the first thing we need to decide is how to frame our dilemma with a defined question. We can seek out advice from family, friends, co-workers. Sometimes we rely on our gut instincts or we let guilt guide our lives. In some instances we can leave the decision-making up to fate as if to say, what will be, will be. Welch warns about the influences of stress, impulse and expedience in the decision-making process.

Another crucial part of the 10-10-10 system involves defining one’s core values, beliefs, goals, dreams and needs. This can be easier said than done, but Welch gives tips and questionnaires to help guide us in this personal analysis.

The 10-10-10 decision-making process purports to help the 10-10-10ers in all areas of life including, family, parenting, love, friends and career. Welch shares candid examples of her personal struggles and supplies a broad variety of 10-10-10 stories from her ever-expanding circle of followers. Welch provides practical advice on how to implement the 10-10-10 process whether it’s in the form of a written list or an internal dialogue.

10-10-10 claims that following the decision-making process can be transforming and make us more at peace with our decisions, in turn leading to an authentic existence. It doesn’t report to be an easy process and the author mentions that the process can take time in some instances where more data is needed to make an informed decision. The 10-10-10 system requires emotional work, discipline and commitment. 10-10-10ing will give insights and an understanding of how and why your decisions and choices are made.

Suzy Welch puts it all into perspective when she states,

“…beginnings and endings are part of the human condition. We are all living; we are all dying. In between we have the gift of deciding how.”

Would you rather make decisions based on gut and guilt or would you prefer to guide your decisions with the clarity and confidence of living an authentic life? If the latter sounds better, it would be a good decision to pick up a copy of 10-10-10. Then when you hit another proverbial fork in the road, instead of complaining decisions, decisions, decisions, you can now exclaim 10-10-10!

See the link and video below for more info.

Wanderlust and Wine

An Author & Addicts Autobiography

So many lives are touched by addictions, whether it is from personal habits or the influence of an addicted spouse, family member, friend or co-worker. Some take on the role of enabler in a futile attempt to help or hide the loved one’s addiction. The addicted person might go to great lengths to hide their addiction from the world but the real truth is they are hiding from them self in their addiction.

In the autobiography Loaded: Women and Addiction, author Jill Talbot gives a candid account of her struggles with addiction. Talbot takes the reader back to her family history and relays the influence of her family legacy- alcoholism. Talbot’s mother attempted to shield her family from the grandmother’s alcohol addiction. Her father held a distain for anything connected with booze or bars and aimed to give his children a tea totalling upbringing. Talbot’s parents considered her to be a “wild child” with an obsessive compulsive nature and prone to risk taking behaviours. In the typical style of a self fulfilling prophesy, “Jilly” started drinking at age 15 and moved on to experiment with pot and drugs. To add more drama to the picture, the author reveals her addiction to sex with a particular affinity for married men. In her twenties, the wanton Talbot admits to enjoying the fleeting nature of her affairs and the infamous status of being the other woman. Talbot eventually swears off married men after her partner leaves her for another woman a few short months after she gave birth to their daughter.

Talbot’s poison is, and probably still is, wine. She describes herself,

“I am a college professor, a mother, a wanderer, a distant person. I am ritualistic, fearful of confrontation, a runner, a heavy drinker.”

She tries to function as a reliable and responsible adult stating, “I’ve always been good at living in two worlds- the halls of the English department by day, the bar stools of some joint by night.”
Talbot has a sense of wanderlust, a need to escape and “get away from herself.” She states, “We don’t know how far we can go until we’ve gone too far”. She has an insatiable drive to do just that- drive. The author recounts a dizzying number of alcohol fuelled road trips zigzagging across borders in Colorado, Mexico, Nevada, Texas, New Mexico, Utah and Oklahoma.

When Jill Talbot finally sinks to the bottom of the wine bottle she checks herself into a rehabilitation centre. She finds the writing exercises difficult and refers to the experience as “a writer’s workshop for drunks.” Talbot’s intellectual status as an English professor and an accomplished writer hinder the truthfulness in her writing. She struggles with sharing her autobiography and reflects that “It was hard for the rehab to get past the writer and get to the wino.” The impression here is that the author needs to dig deeper to find her truth. I sense that Talbot is just starting to graze the surface and not telling the whole story of what really fans the fires of her addictions. Talbot leaves the reader as she approaches the milestone age of forty and claims that she has a “firm hold on her drinking” and limits herself to moderate drinking. I imagine that Talbot’s blame and shame strategy to dealing with her addictions will undoubtedly lead her to back to rehab.

Talbot doesn’t come up with any clear answers in her quest for sobriety; a clear head as it were. How can she find the answers without asking herself the difficult questions?
Something to think about...

Wanda Lynne Young