Book Talk Tuesday: The Sweet Spot

I first heard of The Sweet Spot last summer when I took an online class and the instructor used examples from this debut novel. I have to agree, the opening line is awesome!

Book Talk Tuesday: The Sweet Spot


The grief counselor told the group to be grateful for what they had left. After lots of considering, Charla Rae decided she was grateful for the bull semen.

And the story just got better and better.

Charla Rae and her husband, JB or Jimmy, are recently divorced. The details are dribbled into the story on a need to know basis. A tragedy is alluded to and Charla’s dependence on Valium is shown.

But Charla has to ignore the pills calling to her when she has to take care of the ranch and her Alzheimer’s afflicted father.

Charla learns just what she’s capable of.

Jimmy already knows what he’s capable of. He’s a big man in the professional bull riding world and he let that go to his head. When their life fell apart, he tried to keep it together, but gave up.

This is a seriously good book. While written with a light and humorous voice and fun secondary characters, The Sweet Spot is not a slight story. There’s heart, depth, and great emotion. I loved it!

After last summer’s class, I continued to hear about the book. Then it was a RITA® finalist. Then, in San Antonio last month, Laura Drake won the RITA® from Romance Writers of America® for Best First Book. Because I was at the awards gala as a Golden Heart® finalist (insert demure smile here), I got to see Laura’s shock and humility and hear her gracious acceptance speech.

The book is warm and witty and as much women’s fiction as romance. It’s an easy read and well worth the few hours you’ll invest. I highly recommend it.


Media Monday: Love and Honor


When our television provider had a few preview weekend of several movie channels, I recorded everything I could find that we had missed or I thought we’d enjoy. And we have. Secretariat, The Iron Lady, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, have all been great.

Media Monday: Love and Honor


Love and Honor sounded intriguing. Part war story, part love story. Perfect for his and hers movie night.


Sappy story.

Sloppy writing.

Scant acting.

I was so hopeful and so disappointed.

Dalton Joiner and Mickey Wright are platoon mates in Vietnam. They are shown on the job, joking around, and under fire to establish their relationship as buddies. They earn R&R in Hong Kong and are released by their CO for a week.

But Dalton just received a Dear John letter from his girlfriend back home so he jumps on a plane to Michigan instead of staying in Hong Kong. What’s a friend to do? Stay and enjoy a week in a city full of women, booze, and soft beds or follow his friend?

The two arrive in the states and find Jane’s home only to discover she’s now called Juniper and she lives with a bunch of anti-war protesters who demonstrate and put out a rebel newspaper. One of the other girls in the house is Candace and she and Mickey spark.

I’m not even going to bother with the rest of the plot. Dalton and Mickey’s hair cuts were not regulation army in 1969. The wardrobe was what a costumer pictured young adults wore in 1969, not what they actually wore. The ending was contrived for the “Ahhh…” but fell far short. It’s apparent why we missed this one in the theaters.

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Unforgettable?

I’m not Natalie Cole so I think I’m eminently forgettable. I’m a fairly quiet and reserved person by nature.

Combine that with the fact that I have one of those annoying brains that remembers the most arcane and useless info. I remember dates, places, people, names, and facts. But often the truly important eludes me.

Computer_Handshake_1_by_Merlin2525It’s a common occurrence for me to be introduced to someone I’ve already met who says, “Nice to meet you,” as they extend their hand.

About half the time, I just shake their hand and say, “Nice to meet you, too.”

The other half of the time, I shake their hand and say, “We actually met before.” Then I tell them where and when and all kinds of other details.

For example, a couple of weeks ago, I told a woman, “Oh, we met several years ago. It was winter. You were sitting in that chair over there and having hot chocolate. I remember you’re an artist, right?”

She looked at me like I said King Kong was coming up the stairs behind her.

I quickly added, “I’m not a stalker, I just have one of those minds.”

But several times in the last few weeks, I’ve introduced myself to someone I’ve only known online or reintroduced myself to someone I’d met several years ago. Each time they responded, “Oh, I know who you are, Carrie.” Or, “I remember you.” Or, “I love your posts online.”

Each time I was taken aback. I wanted to say, “Oh, my gosh, you know/remember/recognize my name?? But, I’m not memorable. I’m a nobody.”

Apparently, I’m a bit more memorable than I thought.

So my next question is: Am I memorable because of something good or something bad?

I hope it’s for something good. I try to be circumspect and encouraging in my online communication. I don’t always succeed though, so there’s a chance I’ve said something scurrilous and brought a bad memory to mind.

What about you? Do you remember names, dates, faces? Or do you meet new people all the time, even when you’ve met them before?


Book Talk Tuesday: Thankless in Death

For a few of my favorite authors, I’m a total fan girl.

me and noraNora Roberts is one of them. I got the opportunity to meet her last month in San Antonio at the Romance Writers of America (R) annual conference.

I’ve read several of her stand alone romances and enjoyed them but I love her J.D. Robb … In Death  series.

She signed Thankless in Death for me and I just finished it.

This series just gets better and better. I teared up at the end.

This book is seriously good.


It’s approaching Thanksgiving in New York City in 2060. Lt. Eve Dallas is kinda-sorta looking forward to the holiday. Roarke’s Irish family is about to descend on them.

Of course, Eve gets a murder case.

A couple murdered in their home. The prime suspect is their son, a perpetually petulant and selfish man who blames his life (or lack of one) on everyone else. It’s never his fault that he gets fired, even though he’s late to work most days. tid

The son sets out to avenge all his perceived slights on the friends and family he holds responsible.

Eve and the team work tirelessly to find him and catch him before he kills again.

What I love about this series is not just the characters and the stories, but the humanity Robb brings.

Eve is not a perfect character. She’s wounded but she’s finding healing in her husband and new family and friends and her work. She takes her work very personally and it makes her good at her job.

The victims matter to Eve. I got a bit teary at the close of this book when Eve had to fight down her own emotions. She’s getting better at acknowledging her feelings and facing them.

If you’re a fictional character in 2060 NYC, Lt. Eve Dallas is the cop you want working your case.

Who’s your favorite fictional cop?

Besides Eve Dallas, I really like Magnum P.I. Because really, Tom Selleck?


Willy vs. Charlie

I’ve never been a Tim Burton fan.

I think I just don’t get him.

Corpse Bride? Why?

Edward Scissorhands? I wanted to love it. Failed.

But even I have to admit that pairing Tim Burton with Roald Dahl is genius. Add in Johnny Depp and the result seems guaranteed.

I held off seeing the 2005 movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory until recently.

The first movie adaptation, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, starred Gene Wilder in the wwtitle role and was released in 1971. I was twelve-years-old and had loved the book since my classroom teacher read it aloud a few years previously.

I didn’t love the movie immediately. But it did grow on me and I have a fondness for it now.

I didn’t expect to enjoy the 2005 Tim Burton and Johnny Depp version so I didn’t bother to watch it when it was released.



The good: Burton and screenwriter John August kept the story closer to the original novel.
The (ironically) bad: The story as Dahl wrote it, was quite dark. It’s still dark, yet accessible. Children know the world is a dark and scary place and Dahl never condescended to his youngest readers. The movie holds to that standard.

The ugly: I had to humble myself and admit it’s quite good.

I still wouldn’t call myself a Tim Burton fan, but I certainly appreciate him and his work more now.

What movie or book forced you to change an opinion after you saw or read it?