Tag Archives: review

TWSM Book Review ‘The Four Winds’

If you are looking for a novel to make you smile, cry, and marvel at just how strong a single mom can be, The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah is a great choice. Set in the dust bowl of the 1930s, The Four Winds follows the story of Elsa, a woman with the odds stacked against her from the start. As she puts one foot in front of the other no matter what, she finds strength that she didn’t know she had and love that she didn’t know she deserved.

The Four Winds is a New York Times bestseller that delves into environmental disaster, economic collapse, workers rights, and fresh starts. The story is profoundly sad, but it is ultimately one of triumph. It will also make you angry about the treatment of women and glad that you live in the twenty-first century (after Elsa becomes a single mom, at one point she is told to continue to wear her wedding ring because it would help her to stay physically safe and be viewed as respectable enough to get a job and housing?!).

Some of my favorite quotes from The Four Winds include:

“She’d learned how to disappear in place long ago. She was like one of those animals whose defense mechanism is to blend into the landscape and become invisible. It was her way of dealing with rejection.” (Chapter three)

“ ‘The things your parents say and the things your husband doesn’t say become a mirror, don’t they? You see yourself as they see you, and no matter how far you come, you bring that mirror with you.’ 

‘Break it,’ Jean said. 

‘How?’ 

‘With a gosh dang rock.’ “ (Chapter thirty)

“A warrior believes in an end she can’t see and fights for it. A warrior never gives up. A warrior fights for those weaker than herself. It sounds like motherhood to me.” (Chapter thirty-five)

The Four Winds is a novel that will draw you in, tug at your heartstrings, and leave you in awe of the grit and triumph that can come from love. I highly recommend that you put it on your reading list. Once you pick it up, you won’t want to put it back down.

Rating 4 stars out of 5 

Copyright 2021 by Visible Ink Corporation

Liz is a technical writer by day and a humor writer by night. She lives in Minnesota with her younger daughter and their two cats. When Liz is not reading, writing, or searching for new books to review, she can be found practicing yoga or enjoying time with friends and family. She is savoring the time that she has left before her younger daughter flies from the nest, yet she is also secretly looking forward to a time when she can travel more and not worry about anyone borrowing her socks.

TWSM Book Review ‘The Successful Single Mom Gets Rich’

 

If you would like to read a book about finances written by a single mom who has “been there”, then The Successful Single Mom Gets Rich: Take Control of Your Finances and Your Future by Honorèe Corpron Corder is for you. Corpron Corder’s common sense advice and empathetic tone can help you whether your financial concerns are big or small.

Corpron Corder is one of my favorite authors. She has written a series of Successful Single Mom books which are filled with hope, humor, and down to earth action steps. The Successful Single Mom Gets Rich is no exception. Corpron Corder is not a financial advisor. She is a player-coach, entrepreneur, author, speaker, and mentor to professionals around the world.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from The Successful Single Mom Gets Rich:

“One of the reasons I wrote this book is because I believe that regardless of where you start out, anything is possible for you. I want you to start to believe it, and eventually know it.” (Chapter One)

“If you are saddled with debt or don’t have an emergency fund, those are your first areas of focus. Every single aspect of your financial life must be uncovered and known. Very simply, you can’t get where you want to go (Point B), if you don’t know where you are today (Point A).” (Chapter Two)

“The good news is, and there’s always good news, you get to change your now, your future, and your children’s futures.” (Chapter Nine)

My only problem with The Successful Single Mom Gets Rich is in one of the single mom examples that is shared in the book. In the name of being prepared to move forward, there is an example of a single mom named Tracey who endured “on-going physical and emotional abuse from her husband” while financially getting ready to leave the marriage (Chapter One). Staying in a situation that could be dangerous for her or her children strikes me as dead wrong regardless of finances. Perhaps Tracey’s definition of “abuse” is very different from mine? I hope so. With this exception (which is reflected in my rating of the book), the examples shared and action steps suggested are helpful and uplifting.

If your finances can benefit from a review (or perhaps a complete makeover), The Successful Single Mom Gets Rich is a good place to start. Corpron Corder’s dedication to staring reality straight in the face while embracing prosperity principles and new habits can help you get to the abundant life that you want for yourself and your children.

Rating 3 ½ Stars out of 5 

Liz is a technical writer by day and a humor writer by night. She lives in Minnesota with her younger daughter and their two cats. When Liz is not reading, writing, or searching for new books to review, she can be found practicing yoga or enjoying time with friends and family. She is savoring the time that she has left before her younger daughter flies from the nest, yet she is also secretly looking forward to a time when she can travel more and not worry about anyone borrowing her socks.

TWSM Movie Review ‘Playing For Keeps’

Playing for Keeps

Career ………. Over.

 Family ………. gone.

 Money ……… what the heck is money?

George is a former professional soccer player who played against many of the greats including David Beckham.  He had it all – fame, fortune, family.  He had it all until he messed it all up.  

He finds himself broke, alone, and lonely.  Soccer is all he’s ever known.  He’s been trying to break into the sports broadcasting business but with no luck.  George finds himself lower than low and decides that he at least wants to spend his time with what he considers the most important part of his life – his son. That prompts a sudden move back to Virginia where his ex-wife (Stacie) and son (Lewis) live – along with her new fiancé. The reconciliation between him and his family is a welcome one yet awkward at times.  

George ends up finding himself coaching his son’s soccer team after realizing it was evident that the coach knew absolutely nothing about the game and cared even less!  After one coaching session with his new team, he was a superstar to these kids!  He also became a superstar to many of the moms sitting in the stands — many of them either divorced or unhappily married.  These women threw himself at him, but he didn’t succumb to their advances.  After all, his heart was still with his ex-wife whether she wanted to realize it or not.

In order to get his attention, one of the soccer moms was able to get George an interview with ESPN for a sports announcer.  It was his dream job.  He flew to Connecticut for an interview and nailed the audition.  He got the job!

Upon arriving back in Virginia, he immediately pays a visit to his ex and tells her about his newfound success and makes it clear to her that he doesn’t want to do this alone – he wants his family with him.  Although it’s evident in her face that feelings still exist, she turns him down and is angry for leaving their son AGAIN!  

The day comes for George to leave.  He stops and says his goodbyes.  It is obvious that it’s not just his son who is sad to see him leave.  So obvious, that after George pulls out of the driveway to begin his new adventure, Stacie’s fiancé turns to her and asks if she still loves George.  At the same time George is looking back at his life and what really matters. 

~Sherri

TWSM Book Review ‘Breathing Lessons’

TWSM Book Review ‘Breathing Lessons’ by Anne Tyler

For this review, I chose a Pulitzer Prize-winning contemporary classic, Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler. This novel is chock-full of lovable and quirky characters that Tyler brings to life with her incredible sense of detail, descriptions of family relationships, and perfect comedic timing. 

Breathing Lessons was originally published in 1988, giving it the feel of stepping back into the retelling of a family story from that era. Maggie, the main character, is like a warm, crazy aunt who wants to meddle in everyone’s life, but of course doesn’t see her actions that way at all. She is intent upon reuniting her adult son, Jesse, with his ex-wife Fiona and daughter Leroy. Maggie’s husband, Ira, is supportive, but more level headed than Maggie and along for the ride. 

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Breathing Lessons

“Just once in your life, Maggie, I wish you would manage not to stick your nose in what doesn’t concern you.” “And if I didn’t, who would?” she asked him. (Part 2, Chapter 1) 

“It was amazing, Ira often said, how people fooled themselves into believing what they wanted to. (How Maggie fooled herself, he meant.) He said it when Maggie threatened to sue the Police Department that time they charged Jesse with Drunk and Disorderly. He said it when she swore that Spin the Cat sounded better than the Beatles. And he said it again when she refused to accept that Fiona was gone for good.” (Part 2, Chapter 2) 

“They were one of those happily childless young couples with eyes for only each other, and no doubt they were returning from dinner in a restaurant and now would…do what? Put on some romantic music, maybe something with violins, and sit conversing graciously on their spotless white loveseat, each raising a wine glass made of that thin, extra-breakable crystal that doesn’t even have a lip around the rim. Or maybe they would dance.” (Part 3, Chapter 4) 

Breathing Lessons is a great read that is fun, poignant, and manages to respect each of the characters in the book and his or her individual strengths and foibles. As a novel from the 1980s, it also has the advantage of being available for free from your local library app (or can be found for next to nothing used — bonus!). 

I highly recommend that you add it to your “to read” list of fiction. Enjoy! 

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Liz is a technical writer by day and a humor writer by night. She lives in Minnesota with her younger daughter and their two cats. When Liz is not reading, writing, or searching for new books to review, she can be found practicing yoga or enjoying time with friends and family. She is savoring the time that she has left before her younger daughter flies from the nest, yet she is also secretly looking forward to a time when she can travel more and not worry about anyone borrowing her socks.

TWSM Movie Review ‘Peppermint’

TWSM Movie Review ‘Peppermint’

When someone hurts your child do you ever sit and just let your mind wander about the things you would like to do and/or say to the person or people or hurt them. You think “If I ever see them, I am going to give them a piece of my mind!”   Sometimes you may even be so angry you might think about how good it would feel to punch them since they felt entitled to take a swing at your own child.  As much as it may make us feel somewhat better to imagine these things, all in all it’s something we would never do. But oh, how good it is to imagine the feeling of doing it!  Mess with me but not my child.

Now imagine not only losing your only child but your spouse as well.  At the same time.  In a senseless act of violence.  I don’t even want to imagine that scenario.  Well meet Riley North (Jennifer Garner).  Riley loses her daughter and husband in a drive-by shooting while leaving a carnival in celebration of her daughter’s birthday.  She too is badly wounded, but not too wounded to climb out of her hospital bed and identify all three shooters.

Because of her positive identification of the three and their well-known involvement with a drug cartel, it almost seems like an open and shut case.  At least one would think.  Due to what seems to be corruption within the local government, the judge sets the three criminals free. The District Attorney doesn’t even argue.  This enrages Riley and she flies off the witness stand in court to attack the killers.  Before she can reach them, however, she is overpowered by the guards and put into an ambulance to be taken to the hospital psych ward.  Before they can close the doors, she has knocked the paramedic and policeman out with an oxygen tank and flees.  She runs and gets away.  In fact, she goes off the grid entirely.  It’s as if she’s disappeared from the face of the earth.

Five years later the three men who killed her family are found hanging from a Ferris wheel at the very carnival where the dreaded killings had taken place.  No one suspects it would ever be Riley.  Little did they know, she had reemerged as her own vigilante to pay back all those involved in the loss of her family.  No one, and I mean no one, has been forgotten in her mind.

It turns out she has been traveling the world under false identities.  She studied martial arts and learned combat maneuvers. She knew what she was doing upon her return. The police and FBI finally realize she is back once the people who were responsible for letting her family’s killers go free start dying in “unusual” ways.  Yes, Riley is back, and she means business.

This movie obviously is very violent.  In fact, it reaches a point where you might think enough is enough.  Ironically as tough as Riley has become both mentally and physically, she still has a soft and tender side to her especially when it comes to children.   She has become their protector of sorts at Skid Row, where she lives out of an old cargo van.  As far as she is concerned, the same thing will never happen to another child that happened to hers.   

~S.

TWSM Movie Review ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’

Ahh, love.  Beautiful, wonderful, and yes “Crazy, Stupid, Love”!   When you see someone walk down the aisle you never know who will last for 50 or more years, and who won’t make it through the first.  There is no magic formula.

In ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’- Cal and his wife Emily have been together since their teenage years. Over the years Cal has become somewhat complacent and let himself go. While out to dinner one evening he asks Emily what she wants for dessert and she declares “A divorce!”.  He is undoubtedly stunned. He doesn’t realize there was ever a problem.  On the ride home Emily confesses that she had an affair with a coworker. She says, “I mean we really haven’t been a couple in quite a while, right?” Cal shows his remorse by opening the car door and throwing himself out as only Steve Carrell could do.

He moves out of the house and starts frequenting a bar that he used to drive by and admire, wondering what went on inside.  He eventually is noticed by Jacob, a lady’s man (played by Ryan Gosling) who leaves each night with a different woman.  After finding out Cal’s story he takes an interest in him and wants to help.   Jacob takes Cal for a wardrobe and hair makeover.  It really makes a difference in Cal’s outward appearance as well as his self-confidence.  Eventually, Cal becomes a lady’s man as well.  

He and Emily meet at a parent teacher conference for their son.  It is obvious that the two still have feelings for each other.  Emily, not knowing what Cal has been up to, realizes during the conference that the teacher and Cal have “been close”.  She is angry and hurt but even given her own infidelity, she is disappointed in his behavior.  Yet her love for him still shows through all the bitterness even though she tries so hard for it not to. 

 In fact, it is obvious throughout the entire movie that the two still have deep feelings for each other.  At one point Cal is secretly watching his family from his backyard, missing being a part of it all. He sees his wife through the window calling someone and it ends up being him.  Not realizing he is watching her she asks for his help in lighting the pilot light on the furnace. She just wants to hear his voice.  However, she pretends to go through every step that he tells her and once the pilot light is lit, it is obvious that both parties are sorry when the phone call is over.

This movie is not about infidelity.  It’s about love.  It’s about a love where two people have become a little too “familiar” and drifted apart. It shows our humanness and our vulnerability.  Overall, it is a sweet movie, and although fictitious, probably is a lot more real than most would expect.  Some loves last forever.  Some don’t last a month.  Life and love are both games of chance.  Wherever you find yourself in this thing called love, always remember to love yourself first. That is the most beautiful love of all!

 

~Sherri

TWSM Movie Review ‘Enough’

TWSM Movie Review: Enough

I really like to keep things light.  I mean I’m not going into the all the things that can bring us down.  Just watch the news for 3 minutes and that alone will bring you down.  However, this movie focused on something real that I felt that it wouldn’t hurt to discuss, and that is domestic abuse.

“Slim” (Jennifer Lopez) is a struggling waitress at a local diner.  After being harassed by a patron a hero emerges to save the day.  The “hero” “Mitch, who unbeknownst to anyone was a wealthy and powerful man, and Slim strike up a romance which can’t be contained.   He is her hero.  She is his queen.  They marry, have a child, and life is bliss.  At least that’s what Slim believes.  

One evening Mitch’s beeper goes off.  Feeling like something is off, she hesitantly looks at it looks at it and then calls the person back. It ends up being a woman with whom Mitch is having an affair.  When confronted, he profusely apologizes and tells her that it was a mistake, and it is only her.  She says “I thought we were happy.  I thought we were lucky.  You said I was safe with you”. 

Things were good for a while but one evening Slim hugs her husband when he arrives home.  She says, “I can smell her.”  Mitch ends up beating her up.  When she confronts him, he tells her “I make the money and set the rules.  I refuse to live without you.   This is the price for the life that you live” It’s at this point that Slim realizes deep down in her gut that she needs to get out!  

Finally she acts.   She makes plans to leave, and once in the safety of one of her best friends, she obtains a new social security number and an eventually a new identity.  She also has cut off all her beautiful hair to make herself look different on the outside, as she continues to work on the inside.,

She eventually looks up her wealthy “real” dad.  Obviously, a lady’s man, He accuses her among many others of using him to get money.  Not long after that, however, t he is met by people who threaten him if he helps her.  Realizing this is real he sends her thousands of dollars in cash to the diner where she worked.  The owner of the diner was aware of the situation and made sure it made it into her hands.  

This money gives her what she needs to buy a house and start a new life with her daughter.  She also begins to take self defense classes from a martial arts student because she is still afraid of her ex.  She realizes that she can run from Mitch for the rest of her life or take matters into her own hands. 

Eventually she makes plans to break into his house and prepares everything to take him down.  He catches her and starts to beat her again.  As she is lying flat on the ground, she remembers what her martial arts coach told her, “He thinks he has won.  And as sure as he is a coward, he will try to kick you”.  Just as she thinks it, it becomes reality.  She uses all the skills that she has been taught and fights for the lives of her and her daughter. 

Thankfully, I personally have never had to live in such dire circumstances.  Even though this was only a movie, it hits home for many women — many of them reading this right now.

The only type of advice that I feel I can give you is that there is more in life in store for you than this.  We were meant to live whole, happy, and healthy lives!  We all have gifts to share and that is what we should be doing; I would hate to see you as well as the world robbed of what you have to offer  

Please seek help.  There are shelters, support groups, friends.  The bottom line is that there are so many people who love you and want only the best for you.  What was described in this movie, or anything close to it, is not what was intended for your life.  You were meant to live free without being controlled and manipulated by another.  There is help there.  Please find it and go out and live life fully the way it was meant to be.  You are worth it!

~Sherri

 

TWSM Recipe Review ‘Lasagna’

Growing up in an Italian household there was always some type of pasta or bread. Over the years when I got into the restaurant industry my love for lasagna grew even more because of how much I could experiment with it. I will say serving lasagna in a restaurant fashion is interesting at times and can be very annoying but, when it is done right it is so good. This is a basic recipe but still so good. As usual when I make this, I make several pans of it and freeze so that I always have some on demand.

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 packages lasagna noodles
  • 1-2 jars of a good quality Marinara sauce
  • 22 ounces of ricotta
  • A container of Parmesan and Romano blend grated
  • Fresh parsley
  • Fresh basil
  • S&P
  • Dried oregano
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1-2 bags of Shredded Mozzarella
  • 1 bag of Shredded asiago

Boil the noodles in heavily salted water. You may need to cook two pots for both packages. Do not cook the noodles to al dente drain them about a minute to a minute and a half before. Next in a large bowl put in all the ricotta. Next mince garlic, parsley, and the basil. Put it in the bowl with the salt, pepper, dried oregano, and a heavy handful of the parmesan mixture.

Next mix it with a spoon and in a separate bowl add the shredded mozzarella, asiago, and the parmesan mixture. Now get your pan or pans together and start building. Here are how the layers should be from bottom to top: Sauce, noodles, ricotta, sauce cheese, noodle, ricotta, noodle, ricotta, sauce, cheese noodle, sauce, cheese.

Now you can either bake at 425 right away but I recommend putting in the fridge for 10-15 minutes to set then bake covered with foil for 30 minutes then uncover and bake until golden brown. Also rub the foil with olive oil so the cheese does not stick.

~The Prosperous Plate

TWSM Movie Review ‘Double Jeopardy’

Double Jeopardy…I have my movies.  My go-to movies. The ones I watch every time I need a pick me up and/or they show up on to. Sometimes I seek them out because that’s just how much I like them.  This is one of those movies.

Libby is a happily married wife and mom.  She has it all.  Wonderful husband, beautiful son, great friends, and a life to be envied by many.  Her wealthy husband surprises her and takes her on a weekend sailboat trip – just the two of them.  She wakes up one morning to blood all over her and the boat.  It was everywhere.  Her husband was gone.  She found a bloody knife on deck, but he was nowhere to be seen.

To cut to the chase, she was charged and convicted of his murder.    After spending six years in prison, she was finally paroled after befriending two other women who did murder their husbands.

While in prison she finds out that her best friend, who she had asked to adopt her son while she was imprisoned, had run off and created a life with her still alive husband.  The puzzle starts to fit together.

This brings out a side in her that even she didn’t know existed.  She begins working out, getting into the best shape of her life.  One day while running in a pouring rainstorm her friend says “I’ve never seen anything like it.  What’s driving you is pure hate!”  

One of her best friends in prison happened to be a lawyer “once upon a time”.  She trains Libby on the exact words to say in order to convince the parole board that she has been reformed.  It works, and she is out.  

She tracks her ex-husband and ex best friend down to New Orleans and goes through a living hell trying to find her son.  Even as far as being trapped in a casket in a cemetery with a dead body, thanks to the hands of her husband.  But she tries everything.  

All to get to her son.

This movie shows true grit.  Once realizing she had been framed, a fire ignites inside her.  It drives anything and everything she would every need to get out of prison and find her son. 

What drives you?  Is it love? Hate? Passion? Fear?  The truth is we are all driven by hidden truths, none of which are necessarily wrong.  It’s the reason behind the drive that matters.  

This movie teaches us that we can find friendship in the most unlikely places.  The two women that Libby told in the beginning of the movie to back off and leave her alone ended up being her biggest allies and true friends.  We are all people.  We are all human.  We all have made mistakes.  It’s what we do with these experiences that forms us into who we were meant to be.

How do you think the movie ends?  You could probably figure it out.  But then, maybe you can’t.  Life is full of surprises both good and bad.  And so are movies.

Just remember, just as Libby dealt with whatever life threw at her she stood strong and never gave up.  We can do the same.  We are all strong.  It just depends on how we want to show up for life.

Streamed from Netflix,

~Sherri

TWSM Book Review ‘The Authenticity Project: A Novel’

 The Authenticity Project: A Novel by Clare Pooley 

If you are looking for an entertaining novel about seeking connection, friendship, and love in our modern world, I recommend The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley. It’s a book about the stories we tell ourselves and others, and how these messages can get in the way of true connection or help us to grow. 

Set in London in 2018, Pooley creates a cast of lively characters for The Authenticity Project. They start out as strangers, but their lives begin to intersect and change as they get to know one another by way of an anonymous “traveling journal”. 

Here are some of my favorite quotes: 

“She kept scrolling, despite knowing this would not be a comfort, more of a form of mild self-harm. Hayley had changed her relationship status to “engaged”. Whoop whoop. Pam had posted a status about her life with three kids, a boast thinly and inexpertly disguised as self-deprecation, and Sally had shared her baby scan picture — twelve weeks.” (Chapter 5: Monica) 

“Riley wasn’t sure how much he believed. Julian seemed to have been present at every significant social event in recent history, from dinners with Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies to the party where Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull were arrested for possession of marijuana.” (Chapter 19: Riley) 

“Before she’d had a baby, he’d never seen her less than perfectly made-up, blow-dried, and waxed. It had all gone a little downhill since then… Alice thought back to the days when all she needed were her keys, money, and a mobile phone stuffed into a jeans pocket. It felt like a different life, belonging to a very different person.” (Chapter 25: Alice) 

The only negative that I have to share about The Authenticity Project is the way in which Pooley writes the character of Mrs. Woo. Although Mrs. Woo is a lovely woman who is both warm and tough as nails, her dialogue seemed a bit like a stereotype of someone who learned Chinese as a first language and English as a second language. I don’t know if this is a fair criticism or not, but it struck me that way. 

Overall, The Authenticity Project is a fun and thought provoking novel. I recommend that you brew a cup of tea, put your feet up, and give it a read. 

Rating 4 Stars out of 5 

Copyright 2020 by Clare Pooley 

Liz is a technical writer by day and a humor writer by night. She lives in Minnesota with her younger daughter and their two cats. When Liz is not reading, writing, or searching for new books to review, she can be found practicing yoga or enjoying time with friends and family. She is savoring the time that she has left before her younger daughter flies from the nest, yet she is also secretly looking forward to a time when she can travel more and not worry about anyone borrowing her socks.