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Love! Laugh! Panic! Life with my Mother
By: Rosemary Mild
Publisher: Magic Island Literary Works
Publication Date: 2014
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: April 16, 2014
Rosemary Mild pens a bittersweet memoir in her latest work, Love! Laugh! Panic! Life with my Mother.
The story begins in 1943. Rosemary introduces her mother, Luby (Bragernick) Pollack and shares her recollection of having to take weekly piano lessons with Miss Parchel. Her parents’ (mother’s) goal was to provide Rosemary with cultural rounding. There is a distinct tone concerning Lucy’s persona once she insisted upon something and Rosemary’s only choice was to embrace the notion. Complaints from Rosemary were not an option (even if she didn’t have the talent). Somehow, through the many choices her mother made on Rosemary’s behalf; the outcome usually had a silver lining. In the case of piano lessons, handsome Tommy Brown was the prize. Easy on the eyes, Tommy had a propensity for mischief which translated to something to look forward to for Rosemary.
As the story progresses, I couldn’t help but think the purpose of Ms. Mild penning this story was to pay homage to the intricate workings of her mother’s larger than life persona. While each chapter is devoted to the experiences Ms. Mild had growing up, there is a distinct spotlight that is constantly shone upon her mother. Early on, there is an entire chapter devoted to Luby (Bragarnick) Pollack’s education. It details the immediate launch of her journalism career shortly after her graduation from the University of Wisconsin in 1929. She lands her first job with the Boston Store in Milwaukee shortly after graduation and eludes such accomplishment was merely a door opener to a long and fruitful career as an esteemed writer.
In many respects, Ms. Mild paints a clear picture of the devotion and undying love she has (and had) for her mother, yet there is also a perception that no matter what Rosemary accomplished (at least while her mother was alive), there was an innate sense she never quite measured up to her mother's standards. This is not a pontification of malice toward her mother by any means. Rather, I interpret this story to be a cathartic account that Ms. Mild needed to set to paper.
My interpretation of Love! Laugh! Panic! Life with my Mother is that Ms. Mild embarked upon a journey to pay homage to a woman who was a tremendously important cornerstone in her life. She portrayed Luby Pollack’s strengths (sometimes overbearing), but her insistence that she was the most important teacher in Ms. Mild’s life resonated throughout. I give her great props for penning the myriad of accounts ranging from utter embarrassment to borderline rage. The overall message, however, was an account written by a daughter in memory of a mother whose life ended too soon. Luby (Bragarnick) Pollack died of stomach cancer in her early 40’s. Her legacy to her daughter was a trunk filled with memories of her larger than life existence and how integral her presence was in molding the woman Ms. Mild became. In short, the author has written a sometimes whimsical, other times eyebrow raising account of her life and what it meant to be the daughter of Luby Pollack.
Quill says: Live! Laugh! Panic! is a daughter’s heart-felt rendition of memories of the most important person in her life… her mother.
By: Jane Green
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: 2014
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: April 6, 2014
What if an innocent night out with girlfriends changes the course of one woman’s life for the rest of her life thanks to temptation? Jane Green presents an intriguing story that dissects and answers this very question in her latest novel, Tempting Fate.
Gabby is forty-three. She has arrived at that moment in a woman’s life when she questions her desirability. Happily married to Elliott for eighteen years, they have the proof of their wonderful life together in their two teenaged daughters. Yet, Gabby wonders if her husband Elliott still sees her through the eyes of desire. Not too thrilled to be going out on a girls’ night out, she is practically forced into the excursion by her best friend Clare. The last thing Gabby has on her mind is the possibility of catching the eye of a man—any man at the trendy bar the girls settled upon for their night out.
Gabby was more than uncomfortable watching the display before her. The women—half of them ‘happily married,’ were behaving like a gaggle of college girls at their first mixer—overly flirtations in their provocatively plunging necklines. Their debauchery was more than awkward for Gabby’s conservative British background. Of course, even though she didn’t know how to flirt, the thought did cross her mind more than once that it would have been nice to be noticed perhaps by one or two of the many men in the bar. When the extremely handsome man nearly ten years her junior takes an interest in her and saddles up next to her at the bar, unbeknownst to Gabby, she has arrived at her crossroads. Matt is engaging and charismatic and for all intents and purposes, truly seems like a gentleman who is merely looking for light conversation. He is on business and fate has deposited him next to her at the bar. He is confident and polite and immediately shows interest in talking with Gabby. It would seem he is the young, powerhouse owner of a renowned social media company and Gabby can’t understand how someone so young can be so successful, let alone interested in talking with her.
Deep in conversation, when Gabby surfaces for a moment and realizes her friends have abandoned her, she has no choice but to make alternate arrangements to get a ride home. Matt is all too willing to assure her she can follow him across the street to his hotel while he checks in. It will give them a chance to continue their conversation and he can call her a cab from his hotel. Innocent enough or perhaps not. After their chance encounter, as the days ahead unfold, Gabby realizes the choices she will make as a result of that girls’ night out will not only change her life, but may very well destroy everything she held so dear and loved.
Jane Green portrays a confident comfort and familiarity in the story she has written. Tempting Fate is easy to read and the topic has appeal to many women when it comes to questioning their own desirability. While there may be some predictability to the story, I enjoyed the fact that Ms. Green quashed obvious outcomes with a consistent element of surprise. I admire an author who knows the audience she is targeting and is sensitive to delivering a solid story. Ms. Green has mastered wonderful conversation and dialogue throughout Tempting Fate which breathes credibility into this work of fiction. Overall, this book is a read that is enjoyable and manages to keep the reader engaged.
Quill says: Think long and hard about temptation. Tempting Fate is a testament to the old adage: “Be careful what you wish for…”
Jane Austen’s Guide to Life: Thoughtful Lessons for the Modern Woman
By: Lori Smith
Publication Date: April 2014
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: March 29, 2014
There is many a female who wonders what Jane Austen - the woman who is not only heralded as the mistress of romance, but also a woman who worked hard, kept her strength, and was unfortunately taken from the world far too soon - would think if she was living in the 21st century. Would she be able to understand the electronic clicks instead of dinner conversations being held in households across the world? Would she understand the sex before marriage issue, or single parenthood? Or, the woman having the career over the man?
Well...chances are she most definitely would understand some, shake her head negatively when it came to others, and sit back and ponder others. And, perhaps, create yet another bestselling novel for us to think about and enjoy.
In this thoughtful book, Author Lori Smith, has dove head-first into the mind of Jane Austen, and by using her books, her few personal words left behind and her life story, she has brought nuggets of pure gold to the reader; offering solid advice on everything from getting a career to finding the love of one’s life to living with joy.
To name just a few topics...Living Your Dreams is a chapter that shows people that if they persist, follow their head and heart and be brave, they can make all dreams come true. When it comes to a career, one of the most poignant topics talks about what a person would do for work, even if it was a job where they could end up poor. Austen was all about passion and becoming a woman of substance through conversations, thought, and valuing yourself without devaluing others, and her strength certainly shines through in lessons such as these.
The author also explores the world of finance. And rightly so, explains how, in Austen’s world and mind, she always believed recognizing that money was essential was a certainty, but it was not essential to a person’s happiness. Another piece of sage advice is the fact that no one should ever equate fame with their success or importance in this world.
There is also a full spectrum of thoughtful lessons from Austen regarding the world of love. Whether it be marrying well, enjoying passion, or how to go it solo in the world and be happy with that. Cherishing family, friends, yourself, and thriving because you embrace your gifts and enjoy the laughter of life that IS accessible, are also words of wisdom for one and all.
Although Austen certainly came from a very different time period than females in the 21st century, her words have endured for this long for a very important reason: The woman was intelligent. This is not a self-help guide; this is a way to open doors to things that you have closed off within yourself because of hardship, broken love, dreams that never came to fruition, or simply because life has become mundane. A super project that offers superior advice for all of us.
Quill says: A perfect way to re-learn or first understand the precious life each of us was given! Great job!