Reading in the Time of COVID-19

I like to aim for a fiction/non-fiction balance in my choice of reading material. But during these challenging times, I find myself gravitating toward escapist fiction with intriguing storylines. This past month’s selections include time travel, domestic noir, and women’s fiction with historical elements.

Here are my reviews:

Intrigued by the premise of this delightful short story, I set aside an evening to read it. An excellent storyteller, Ms. Baron excels at descriptive detail. I could easily imagine visiting Florence and immersing myself in its culture.

As for the ‘What If’ scenario…I had no problem imagining a younger Kathryn Buckthorn emerge, toss aside her cane, and connect with a dashingly handsome Italian heartthrob.

A perfect distraction!






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Told from the perspective of Meredith, an abused wife and mother of two, this novel crackles with tension. Her husband Brian has uprooted the family from sunny California to a ramshackle house in the backwoods of Idaho. Lacking roots and a support system, Meredith fantasizes about Brian’s death.

When he is found shot in the head and left by the side of the road, Meredith is pegged as the prime suspect. A series of eccentric characters emerge, and unexpected twists follow as Meredith and Curtis, the handsome Sheriff, solve the murder.

I recommend setting aside large, uninterrupted blocks of reading time. You won’t be able to put this book down.

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Ms. Probst has crafted a powerful novel about a woman’s desperation and reawakening in the most unlikely of circumstances. A self-proclaimed nerd/owl, Elizabeth struggles with the many expectations of her roles as wife, mother, sister, and Ph.D. student.

Adding in the secondary story of Georgia O’Keeffe and her obscure Hawaii paintings was an inspired move on Ms. Probst’s part. A longtime admirer of the artist, I was fascinated by all the details provided in this well-researched, multi-layered novel.

I was also able to get into Elizabeth’s head as she made the decision to re-enact those famous nude photos.

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How to Practice Letting Go

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

I receive a daily dose of inspiration from bestselling authors and coaches Marc and Angel Chernoff. Here’s a timely segment from last Friday’s blog post:

Imagine you’re blindfolded and treading water in the center of a large swimming pool, and you’re struggling desperately to grab the edge of the pool that you think is nearby, but really it’s not—it’s far away. Trying to grab that imaginary edge is stressing you out, and tiring you out, as you splash around aimlessly trying to holding on to something that isn’t there.

Now imagine you pause, take a deep breath, and realize that there’s nothing nearby to hold on to. Just water around you. You can continue to struggle with grabbing at something that doesn’t exist… or you can accept that there’s only water around you, and relax, and float.

Truth be told, inner peace begins the moment you take a new breath and choose not to allow an uncontrollable event to dominate you in the present. You are not what happened to you. You are what you choose to become in this moment. Let go, breathe, and begin again.

Read the rest of the post here.


Reading in the Time of COVID-19

During this challenging period, I find myself craving a daily escape into another world, one totally removed from the present reality. With the help of three amazing authors, I was able to escape into well-crafted novels that kept me reading well into the night.

Here are my reviews:

I struggled to put down this fascinating tale about two women from two different eras. While I tended to sympathize more with 1950s housewife Nellie Murdoch, I will admit that Alice Hale faces her own demons as she navigates a turbulent contemporary marriage.

Determined to launch a writing career, Alice finds inspiration in the most unlikely of places: Nellie’s cookbook and unsent letters. Intrigued by Nellie—who happens to be the deceased former owner of her new house in the suburbs—Alice cooks her way through the recipes and reflects upon the subtext within the letters. Not all is as it first appears in this character-driven novel filled with suspense and something possibly more sinister.

A thought-provoking book that will linger in consciousness!

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All the elements are there—intrigue, romance, and murder—set against the backdrop of Mystic Keep, a small town on the Pacific coast. Add in a hot human detective, a rogue warlock, an annoying vampire, sarcastic familiars, a mischievous young witch, and an unknown force of darkness…Protagonist Cassie Black (who also happens to be a witch) has more than her hands full in this second installment of the Perfect Brew Trilogy. Ms. Carson has expertly woven all these elements into a delightful tale that borders on fantasy and cozy mystery.

Well done!



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Captivated by the first chapter, I stayed up two nights to finish reading this character-driven novel brimming with suspense. It definitely helps to have an unexpected inheritance, hidden secrets and tunnels, an eclectic cast of characters, and a murder conviction that needs to be overturned. Set against the backdrop of small-town America, the book succeeds in completely transporting me to Sweet Iron. At times, it felt like Ms. Van Kirk had endowed the town with human characteristics.

An excellent start to an intriguing new cozy mystery series!



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My Yoga Practice…Then and Now

In late June of 2009, the following newspaper advertisement caught my attention:

Unlimited yoga during the months of July and August for $160

I planned to attend three classes a week and see how I felt by the end of the summer.

I was hooked after the first week.

The classes were small, and the instructors were able to work with me on an individual basis. I test-drove all the instructors and then zeroed in on my favorites: Amy, the social worker from Newfoundland who had completed her training in India; Claudia, the young mother who offered a structured class that appealed to my left-brain tendencies; and Lisa, the quintessential willow.

Continue reading on the Soul Mate Authors blog.