Tag Archive: chicklitplus


Welcome to those on the CLP blog tour of Unexpecting by Lori Verni-Fogarsi.

After the review stay a while and find a great easy recipe for supper or walk through my garden to see what is blooming this month. As for the regulars who come all of the time, you know where the tea cups are stored. Find your favorite and let’s get into this book.

Image from Chick Lit Plus

Image from Chick Lit Plus

So, some of us knows what it feels like to finally have kids out of the house or just about out of the house. You plan a great vacation for just you and the spouse. You buy a white couch. And you count down the days until that moment of peace with kids out of the house.

That is until a child shows up with no place to go, claiming to belong to your spouse. She comes along with a big drooling dog and a pregnant belly a month away from delivery.

Holy mid-life crisis not of your making.

Well, that is exactly what happens to Shelley and David who are both on their second marriage. They have been married about 10 years, raising their combined family of 4 children, the last of whom is a senior in high school.

But with Alexandra’s arrival, the finish line suddenly disappears. While she is a senior in high school, she is no where near being ready to handle the huge responsibilities that await her. Worse yet, she will drag the family through trauma they never expected.

The situation feels very real as this family goes through highs and lows from dealing with Alexandra’s issues as well as other family members who are trying to find their way. In that way, I appreciated the book for being real and honest, for not just focusing on Alexandra and what her inclusion does to the family.

Image from CLP

Image from CLP

The other part I like was how the parents dealt – or didn’t – with the problems brought on by Alexandra. A marriage gets rocked and both sides have to figure out what is most important to them.

So here is the long of the short – would I read it again? I think the answer is yes because I like Shelley to certain extent and I feel for her in a problem that was not her making.

Shelley did not ask for Alexandra’s mother to die, she did not expect David to do some of the things he did. Nor did she expect to have to be the tough guy.  She and David have a great marriage but when the going gets rough, suddenly he is acting like a dofus, forgetting how she has been there for him through the years.

Perhaps that is what bothered me the most, characters getting a little out of character. Some of the characters went in directions that seemed totally out of their normal routines. And yet, does that not happen to all of us when life throws a curve ball? We act a little crazy and reject those around us? That I can understand while not liking it one bit.

What perplexed me the most was the emotional buffer in this book that I or the characters could never break through. I could see their pain but never touch it. Alexandra – with all of her teenage drama and justifiable but unnerving angst – may have been the truest character.

In the end, the journey was worth the ride. We watched a couple make the next steps towards redefining their lives as well as slowly accepting a new person into their lives. Life, as it turns out, is never really all that boring.

Lori Verni-Fogarsi has been an author, speaker, and small business consultant since 1995. She has been featured in major media including Lifetime Women’s Network, the My Carolina Today Show, and Boston Globe Forums Live.

 Her public speaking has occurred at many prestigious venues including North Carolina State University, Nassau Community College, and many more.

She has received two awards for her novel, Momnesia, and her nonfiction, Everything You Need to Know About House Training Puppies and Adult Dogscontinues to be one of the most highly recommended in its genre since 2005.

 Lori is a happy married mom of two, step mom of two more, and has two cats, both rotten. Originally a native New Yorker, she now divides her time between Raleigh, NC, and Lake Gaston, VA.

She is very excited about the release of  Unexpecting, and looks forward to her book tour, interviews, launch parties, and other festivities!

Reading Challenge – The Paris Wife

Once again I picked up the challenge to read a chick lit book for the reading challenge set by Samantha at Chicklitplus. This month’s book was a bit more work as I went for historical fiction that focused on the relationship between Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley. It is the second novel by Paula McLain called The Paris Wife.

 

Here is the description from Better World Books:

In Chicago in 1920, Hadley Richardson, a quiet 28-year-old, meets Ernest Hemingway. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris and become the golden couple in a lively group of expats, including Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and Gerald and Sara Murphy. But the hard-drinking and fast-living cafe life doesn’t celebrate traditional notions of family and monogamy. As Hadley struggles with self-doubt and jealousy and Ernest wrestles with his burgeoning writing career, they must confront a deception that could prove the undoing of one of the greatest romances in history.

Image from Better World Books.com

So we get to see inside the life of Hemingway and his first wife who had a few inheritances that provided for their life overseas. This allowed Hemingway to work without having to earn a living most of the time. He did work for a few publications but his temperament was not made for working in an office and playing politics.

What we see is Hadley’s viewpoint as a woman who believed that her love had real talent that needed to be worked at and tempered. As they move to Paris and begin to meet other writers, Ernest shares some of his conversation with Hadley about literature. That part is fascinating for me to see how Gertrude Stein influenced him.

What is heart-breaking is to see how Hemingway did not value Hadley as the story moves on. I could not tell if he actually felt guilt for the affairs, the crushes, the heartbreak he would cause Hadley. Then again, I am not sure he thought about much else than his own needs and wants.

Hadley describes how the man changes over the years that they are in Paris, how he goes from being neat and clean-shaven to a man proud to be in his shabby jacket and long hair. Perhaps by this time he felt like a real ex-patriot and therefore had to dress/look the part.  she is not comfortable with these changes but realizes that he is exploring a new persona as he develops his talent and grows in success.

Photo by Bob Perkoski, Image from Freshwatercleveland.com

This book is supposed to be about Hadley, her thoughts and feelings during her time as ‘the Paris wife.’ But what I found it to be was more about what Hadley thought about Ernest, how he did everything, how he saw things, how he was the center of her world. And that includes life after Bumbly was born.

But I have to keep reminding myself in what era this book was written. Women were not expected to have a ‘life’ outside of marriage. Considering the years Hadley spent being depressed after the death of a favorite sister and the suicide of her father followed by taking care of a sick mother, I am surprised she had any will left at all.

Strangely enough, once she meets Ernest and they fall in love, Hadley has the will the drive to live differently than what would have been expected of her by her family.

Paula McLain has written a book that captures the time period, the players, the emotions of the time. We can hear the music, taste the alcohol, and see the running of the bulls. In the beginning, we see how these two crazy kids fall for each other as they have both come from families with difficult histories.

While slow at times, I found the book to be very interesting as I entered a world I had studied but never quite understood while I was in school. The wildness of the era, the constant drinking, the need to be ‘bohemian,’ the talent that constantly flowed like a springtime mountain stream.

To be honest, I would read this book again. That is the highest compliment I can give it.

Some books I don’t care if I ever see again after the initial reading. This one makes me want to explore it again while listening to music from that era. Afterwards, I will find Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris just so I can look for the references I missed the first time.

Who wants to join me for a trip back to 1920s Paris?

Editor’s Note: While researching more about Hemingway and Hadley, I also read boards on “Hemingway and Gellhorn” which is a movie about his third marriage to the legendary war correspondent.  One poster stated that all of Hemingway’s wives latched onto to him for his fame and money. However, in the case of Hadley, it was Hemingway who latched on to her. She had some money and an emotional stability to help settle him while he was beginning his craft. She believed in his talent before he was published as a novelist or knew Stein, Ezra Pound or even Sherwood Anderson. 

I realize that Hemingway is a hero to many but he was a pill to live with – as we see in this novel and other biographical anecdotes. Maybe the later wives ‘latched on’ to him but it did not take much persuading either. 

On the Book Pile

Do you have a book pile by the bed?

I do along with a magazine pile and a catalog pile. There is no end to these things. And yet, I love it all. One magazine has a picture of how I want my hair highlighted the next time I get it done. A few catalogs show outfits I would like to own.

I also have books I am currently reading or have read and would like to read again. Then there is the pile of books I need to take over to the paperback book store to add credit to my account and buy more books.

Some of the books by my bedside are the books we read at bedtime. Dr. Seuss and other favorites gather around. My seven-year-old has been getting books about the planets and weather events from the library which is always fun. These two books are ones we have read recently. One is almost 20 years old (and still a lot of fun). The other is a newer book.

Image from AuthorHouse

I was recently sent a review copy of The Year the Snow Didn’t Melt by Dr. William Kirmes by AuthorHouse in Bloomington, Indiana to review. It is a small book, about 27 pages long. The pictures are worked in solid bold colors and fun in their depictions of snow falling all year-long.

The story is about a town that gets an early snowfall in October. The snow lasts through the winter and does not go away when the spring months arrive. Nor does the snow go away when summer comes around as well.

My children liked the story, found images of people playing baseball in the snow funny, and enjoyed the idea of ice cream cones lasting longer.

When I was cleaning up around the house I found The Three Little Wolves and the Big, Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. We received it through the RIF program at our school but it was published around 1993. There have been several re-tellings of old fairy tales and this one is just as clever and insightful as many of those.

Image from Barnes and Noble.com

Here we find that the three little wolves are being put in the world by their mother. They build wonderfully strong homes but the Big, Bad Pig destroys each and every one. Then one day they decide to try a different tack with the Pig.

Does it work? Well, you are going to have to read the book to find out. I find that this book tells a good story and makes the wolves likeable. Their creativity along with a real love for each other is something that the classic story does not always give to the readers. In any case, if you happen upon this book expect to have a good time.

Now a note for adults. Chick Lit Plus ran a challenge this year to encourage her readers to read twelve books in the Chick Lit genre, including two by debut authors. She enjoyed it so much that she is doing it again this year. I have already signed up and she is asking those who did sign up to tell others.

So if you are interested in taking a reading challenge, here is your chance.

What have you been reading lately?