MJ’s Musings-Book Bingo: Pets & Romance: Ready for Love

One of the squares on my Book-Reading-Bingo board is Pets & Romance, where at least one of the main characters is a pet owner and pet ownership is a central theme to the book. Pets can include horses or other livestock, but not in a farming or ranching context. Thing “furry friend” vs. “making a living.”

The third book of Marie Force’s GANSETT ISLAND series fits the category to a tee.

Ready for Love is the story of a woman healing from the loss of her husband and children in an automobile accident. All she has left of her family is the dog.  One of the other characters has always wanted to be a veterinarian and has a pack of special needs dogs. No, the second character is not the love interest, but she plays a crucial role in the story.

I started reading the GANSETT ISLAND series because the author was a guest speaker for my local RWA chapter.  By about the fifth book, I realized I wasn’t reading a series of romances so much as I was reading a soap opera.  When I went to Goodreads to see what other people thought (and I never do this until I have my own opinion in place), I wasn’t surprised to see several others had come to the same conclusion. GANSETT ISLAND is a soap opera.

In the beginning of the series, the individual books more or less focused on one couple. As the series continues, each book tells the story of one couple, but there are multiple scenes involving past couples (usually having  sex) and scenes setting up future books.  I’m not saying I don’t like this. Heck, I’m on the 13th  or 14th book in the series. It’s just…different than what I usually read.

MJ Monday: MJ’s Music-Saffire


A co-worker introduced me to a band called Saffire–The Uppity Blues Women. They were a short-lived group, but I do like their music. There’s something freeing about women singing true things. The gritty things. Smashing out of stereotypes.

These were women, singing about being women, and celebrating who they were..and who some of us are.



MJ’s Musings: Being an Author

I’ve always known I wanted to be an author.

In first grade, the class wrote a poem “together”. Except I was too excited to let any one else in the class participate. It was a little ditty a about a clown who came to down and turned the frowns upside down.

In third grade, poor Mrs. Birmingham tried to teach us pronouns and punctuation. I clearly remember thinking, I need to know this because I’m a writer.

Every year in early June, I would set up an “office” somewhere in my parents house, preparing for my summer of novel writing. Once year, my dad procured an old Remington cast iron office typewriter (manual), with a broken return bar. The typewriter was always in my makeshift office.

In high school, I always carried a notebook for jotting down my angsty teenage poems. I also kept a journal because journals are how biographies of famous people are researched.

When I moved into my own apartment, I borrowed my mom’s typewriter so I could “practice typing,” but I was really writing horrible poems and maudlin stories.

I always kept a notebook on me. I was always working on something. Once, while sitting in a hospital emergency waiting room for word on my badly injured grandmother, I pulled out a yellow pad and went to work. My uncle, who was with me, asked, “What are you doing?” “Working on my novel,” I replied. He said, “Oh. Are you still doing that?”

I’m a writer. An author. Yeah. I’m still doing that.


MJ Monday: MJ’s Movies-The Little Shop of Horrors

Many years ago, when I was working in local TV, my general manager called me into his office and said, “I have a kitchen set for you. I’ve hired a host. Here’s your budget. Make me a TV show where guests hosts come on and cook while watching movies.”

I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Bad movies. Bad horror movies. The black-and-white motion pictures I grew up loving. I don’t like what passes for horror movies these. I prefer the absurd. 

One of my favorite movies of all time is The Little Shop of Horrors. No, not the campy musical version with Steve Martin, but the original Roger Corman film from 1960.  It’s a terrifically funny movie, which is probably why Frank Oz remade it as a musical in the 1980s.

The original contains a  dreadful, blaring jazzy sound track. Jack Nicholson appears in one of his earliest motion picture performances.  The film is the source of one of my favorite quotes: “Feed me. I’m hungry.” And when it came time to create the opening graphics for the show, I insisted this line be included. What better for a cooking show?

I never realized the movie is now considered a cult classic until recently. It’s been redefined as a black comedy. That’s fair. I never knew Roger Corman had a following until I was much older, and even then, I didn’t realize Little Shop was one of his.

Apparently I have very good instincts.


MJ’s Musings: SEP-What I Did For Love

One of my top three favorite Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ novels is WHAT I DID FOR LOVE. Many people refer to this book as her “Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie/Jennifer Anniston” book, and there are many strong reasons why people consider it to be so. That’s not why I love this book so much. I barely know who the aforementioned celebrities are.

The story about how the protagonist finds true love–and grows up in the process–is captivating. The hero, a bad boy through and through, has unsuspected depths and maybe isn’t as bad as we think.

But I love this book for it’s textures. The setting. The heroine’s wardrobe. The food. The characters, from the assistants to the treacherous ex and his new woman have a multitude of facets, both rough and smooth. I love details, and SEP creates a wonderfully specific world populated with  fully-developed personalities.

There was one “ick” scene involving a lingerie shop that I could have done without, but even the secondary romances in this book are riveting.

I cannot recommend the story enough.