Blog tour/book review: All the Single Ladies by Dorothea Benton Frank

All the Single Ladies coverAbout All the Single Ladies

• Paperback: 400 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (May 10, 2016)

In this fast-paced and evocative novel, beloved New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank again takes us deep into the Lowcountry of South Carolina, where three unsuspecting women are brought together by tragedy and mystery

Lisa St. Clair knows a thing or two about weathering storms. A dedicated nurse with a healthy sense of humor, she single-handedly raised her truculent daughter, Marianne, after her ex walked out on them twenty-four years ago, sending them a lottery ticket once a year as support. One day he reappeared and lured their daughter into a dubious but lucrative venture in Colorado. Now mother and daughter aren’t speaking.

So when Kathy Harper, Lisa’s favorite patient, loses her battle with cancer, Lisa finds herself drawing closer to Carrie and Suzanne, the devoted friends who were always by Kathy’s side. As these three women’s lives inevitably connect, they share their concerns about men, getting older, and the horrors of maintaining financial stability. Suzanne’s ninety-nine-year-old grandmother, a former chanteuse, offers unexpected perspectives on the mores of the day. Carrie’s greedy ex-stepchildren are a chorus of cackling crows. And Lisa’s mother just can’t help herself as she henpecks her to distraction.

Somehow their conversations always return to the enigma of Kathy. Who was she? What did her short life mean?

As Lisa, Carrie, and Suzanne power walk the beaches of the Isle of Palms, they gradually uncover the truth of Kathy’s life and unfurl plans to secure their own futures, as fate steps in to help them discover that being single doesn’t have to mean being alone.

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Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

My Review

I don’t know which came first, this book or the song by Beyonce. This review has nothing to do with her song. I am writing about the book by Dorothea Benton Frank. I have again had the privilege of reading a book by someone I didn’t know, courtesy of TLC Book Tours. Thank you TLC.

You know that I am partial to books with nurses in them, especially when the nurse is a main character. Lisa St. Clair is a nurse at a geriatric facility, Palmetto House Assisted Living Facility, and she loves it, and babies her dog, Pickle. She cares about the residents and is able to connect with many of them and is able to help them. Lisa is also divorced, and has an adult daughter who won’t speak to her. It might be because Lisa is not happy with Marianne’s choice of vocations, arranging tours in Colorado for folks who want to be in marijuana heaven. Colorado has legalized marijuana use. Lisa has a high moral standard, and selling dope just doesn’t make sense. (I am with her on that one.)

While working at the facility, she meets a lovely lady, Kathy Harper, who is dying of cancer. Kathy has two caring and faithful friends, and through Kathy, Lisa finds herself with two new friends. And as it says in the title, these two ladies, Carrie and Suzanne, are also 40ish and single. Carrie is impulsive, funny, and determined to find a new man for her life. After all, husband #3 dropped dead at the altar during their wedding ceremony.

Suzanne is single lady #3. She lives on the beach with her 99 year old, spunky, gin drinking mother, “olives please,” Miss Trudy. She hasn’t had a whole lot of luck in the relationship with men world either. Suzanne is Kathy’s executor, and strange things start to occur when bills for expensive things start to arrive in the mail after Kathy’s death.

Mix together a wicked landlady with a gun, 3 men of various stations in life, Lisa’s unusual parents, a druggie, and octogenarian with a rubber ducky, sudden homelessness, a search for a missing husband, and very hot and muggy weather in South Carolina, and you have the making of a hurricane waiting to happen.

I will admit that I felt the beginning was slow, (I’ve heard life moves slower in the deep south.) and I kept hoping something would happen. Well, when it did, one strange thing after another tumbled over each other and the heat was on. (Pardon the pun. I related it to the description of the heat in South Carolin-ee.) It was an enjoyable read after the action started and I laughed and got angry right along with the trio of single ladies over some things.

I won’t give any more hints. My recommendation is to read it for yourself. Despite the slow beginning, I would still give this book 4 stars out of 5.

 

Dorothea Benton Frank

About Dorothea Benton Frank

New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank was born and raised on Sullivans Island, South Carolina. She resides in the New York area with her husband.

Find her on the web at www.dotfrank.com, or like her on Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

Tour Stops

Wednesday, May 11th: Books and Bindings

Thursday, May 19th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

Monday, May 23rd: Back Porchervations

Tuesday, May 24th: Tina Says…

Wednesday, May 25th: Mama Vicky Says

Thursday, May 26th: Joyfully Retired

Thursday, May 26th: A Wondrous Bookshelf

Monday, May 30th: Queen of All She Reads

Tuesday, May 31st: Lavish Bookshelf

Thursday, June 2nd: The many thoughts of a reader

Blog tour/book review: Deception Island by Brynn Kelly

untitledAbout Deception Island

Hardcover: 336 pages

Publisher: HQN Books (May 31, 2016)

A stolen boy 

A haunted soldier 

A cornered con woman… 

Rafe Angelito thought he was done with the demons from his past—until his son is kidnapped. Blackmailed into abducting an American heiress, the legionnaire soon finds himself trapped in paradise with a fiery, daring beauty who’s nothing he expects…and everything he desires. But when he uncovers her own dark secret, Rafe realizes he’s made a critical mistake—one that could cost him everything.

Playing body double for a spoiled socialite was supposed to be Holly Ryan’s ticket to freedom. But when she’s snatched off her yacht by a tall, dark and dangerous stranger, the not-quite-reformed con artist will make a desperate play to turn her captor from enemy to ally, by any means necessary.

Yet as scorching days melt into sultry nights, Holly is drawn to the mysterious capitaine, with his unexpected sense of honor and his searing touch. When they’re double-crossed, they’ll have to risk trusting each other in ways they never imagined…because in this deadly game of deception, it’s their lives—and hearts—on the line.

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Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

 

My Review

The lives of a spoiled socialite, 10 year old boy who’s been kidnapped, a not totally reformed con woman, and a tall, dark, and dangerous soldier cross paths in multiple ways when the spoiled socialite is abducted from her yacht that has been coasting somewhere in the South Pacific. Rafe Angelito, whose demons from darker days have never truly gone away, is the pivotal figure that causes the collision between the other people. Throw in some man-eating sharks, semi-automatic machine guns, island natives, and a host of unsavory people, and you have the makings of a suspense-filled wild ride.

In exchange for the ransom of the American “princess,” Rafe will be able to free the 10 year old boy. Meticulous planning has gone into the abduction of the senator’s daughter. For Rafe this is all business. Things go awry when a double cross occurs, and people may not be who they appear to be.

As things go from bad to worse, an evil pirate from Rafe’s past is intent on killing them all. The senator has no intention of letting his daughter be harmed. The con woman has no intention of dying either, and so in a shaky alliance with Rafe, they begin to work together. Not trusting the other one completely, they have no choice.

Intertwined in this story of kidnapping, modern day pirates, human trafficking, and daring attempts to survive, a romance develops which is not good for anyone involved. Romance leads to clouded judgements and Rafe is about to lose control of the situation. He has never allowed this to happen in all past missions.

I really liked the idea of the plot with the double crosses and things not really being what they appear on the surface. Will everything implode, ruining everyone involved, or will Rafe stop thinking with what’s in his pants, and regain control? Will brains and braun beat out evil? It is hard to say.

This is a romance story on top of a race-against-time suspense plot. I am not a romance reader, as a rule, but the plot twists were very inventive. The book was good, though it is safe to say that this book is a bit steamy, and not just because they are in the scorching hot remote Pacific Islands.

I give the book 4 out of 5 stars.

 

About Brynn Kelly

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As a journalist Brynn Kelly once spent her days chasing stranger-than-fiction news reports. Now she spends them writing larger-than-life novels, in a happy bubble of fiendish plots and delicious words. Brynn has a journalism degree and has won several prestigious writing and journalism awards, including the Valerie Parv Award and Pacific Hearts Award. Her debut novel Deception Island was a Golden Heart finalist. She’s also a bestselling non-fiction author in her native New Zealand.

 

 

Connect with Brynn

Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

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Brynn Kelly’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, May 2nd: Bewitched Bookworms

Wednesday, May 4th: Worth Getting in Bed For

Friday, May 6th: Just Commonly

Monday, May 9th: Read Love Blog

Wednesday, May 11th: A Holland Reads

Thursday, May 12th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

Friday, May 13th: From the TBR Pile

Monday, May 16th: Books and Spoons

Wednesday, May 18th: I Wish I Lived in a Library

Thursday, May 19th: Books a la Mode – author guest post

Thursday, May 19th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Monday, May 23rd: Mom in Love with Fiction

Tuesday, May 24th: Book Reviews & More by Kathy – author guest post

Wednesday, May 25th: Mama Vicky Says

Thursday, May 26th: Romancing the Book 

Thursday, May 26th: Lilac Reviews

Friday, May 27th: Write Read Life

Monday, May 30th: The Romance Dish

Tuesday, May 31st: The Sassy Bookster – author Q&A

Wednesday, June 1st: Rebel Mommy Book Blog

Friday, June 3rd: Staircase Wit

TBD: A Chick Who Reads

 

tlc tour host

 

Thank you to TLC Book Tours and Harlequin Publishers for including me in this tour. I was not compensated in any way for my opinion.

Speak No Evil

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Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment. ~ Benjamin Franklin

Ill customs and ill advice are seldom forgotten. ~ Benjamin Franklin

Keep cool; anger is not an argument. ~Daniel Webster

Tact is the intelligence of the heart. ~ Anonymous

If wisdom’s ways you wisely seek, five things observe with care: of whom you speak, to whom you speak, and how and when and where. ~Anonymous

Friendliness is to do and say the kindest thing in the kindest way. ~ Anonymous

Anonymous has to be the wisest person on earth, right?

When I am referring to speak no evil, I am not referring to swear words this time, which in my humble opinion are completely unnecessary. Nor am I talking about insults, which are damaging, too. I am talking about the power that words have to heal and influence one’s attitude about themselves.

The positive and negative things we say, think, and hear go a long way to influencing our self-fulfilling optimism or pessimism. The thoughts, words, and what we hear can have a direct influence on how our bodies function and heal.

Victor Frankl, who was a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp, realized that the thing that can never be taken from a person is his/her choice of how to respond to a situation. He wrote a wonderful book in which he stated that those in the concentration camp who tried to help others and kept a more positive attitude survived longer than those who let the horrible conditions there ruin their outlook.

Athletes also know about the power of words. Remember, the little train that could, “I think I can. I think I can,” and he did.

Here a few things you can use to help you stay well:
Listen for inspiration. It will come. We just have to be willing to turn down the noise and listen, for usually the inspiration comes as a still small voice or as a thought. If we are distracted, we can miss it. Whether you are battling a life threatening illness, facing a difficult task, or even running a marathon, you can find encouragement in uplifting songs or testimonies of those who have been in your shoes. Don’t forget to look to historical figures, religious figures, or philosophers for comforting and inspiring quotes.

Announce your intentions. If you are going to cut back on sugar, quit smoking, lose weight, or some other strenuous event, tell someone. This works for two reasons. One, you have someone who can support your efforts; be your cheerleader. Secondly, when you put your plans out there into the world you actually help your mind remind itself. Writing things down and noting your improvements can help you set goals and see success.

Think with gusto. When negative thoughts begin to intrude, imagine them disintegrating. Think of those negative thoughts as dying embers in a fire and watch them fizzle out. Once you have kicked those negative thoughts off the stage of your mind, replace them with positive self-talk that will soothe and encourage your well-being.

One final quote from Mark Twain who was known for his tongue in cheek humor and wisdom: Drag your thoughts away from your troubles – by the ears, by the heels or any other way, so you can manage it; it’s the healthiest thing a body can do.

Wishing you good health and joy!

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Something to Think About Laughter

Always leave them laughing

Always leave them laughing

My father always said, “Leave them laughing.”
In tribute to my wonderful father,
I am sharing the following quote by Anonymous:

A ripple of laughter is worth a flood of tears.

Remembering My Dad

My wonderful father

My wonderful father

As many of you know, my terrific father died on November 14th of last year. I will tell you that it is a loss truly felt to this day. He was a couple of months away from turning 93. He did have a full life; never a dull moment for a father of 7 living children (two were stillborn). I don’t know where he got the energy to work 2 and 3 jobs, spend time with his family, and in later life played for 2 senior softball leagues. My dad was a family man. Nothing made him happier than being together with his children. And as I have already mentioned, that while he was wise and put serious thought into things, he had a quirky sense of humor that either made you groan or laugh out loud. His motto was: “Leave them laughing.”

This past Saturday, his children and their families got together to wish him bon voyage. My brother, Pierre, arranged for the family to go out on a boat named the Fantasea to scatter his ashes on the ocean and have a little memorial service. My father was an avid fisherman, and he and one of my brothers who died, would fish together, talk about fish, and eat fish. (Though the one time I served fished for Thanksgiving dinner was the one time he didn’t want it and was disappointed. I guess he really didn’t relish the fact that the Native Americans brought fish to the first Thanksgiving meal. He was more interested in the turkey the Pilgrims brought. I still feel badly about that, Dad. And by the way, my daughter never lets me forget it.) Chris preceded my father in death by 21 years. We all miss him, but Dad felt keenly the loss as they literally used to be next door neighbors. When Chris died, his ashes were scattered at sea. So in a fitting ceremony, Dad’s ashes were scattered at sea as well. They have been in heaven together for a few months now and are probably talking about the big fish that got away, the best bait or lure to use, or the perennially losing state of the San Diego Padres.

Now it was time for Dad’s family to say, “Good Bye.” On Saturday the weather decided to start the June gloom we know so well here in Southern Cali. The day was breezy and overcast. The sun never did come out. Maybe this was fitting for the occasion. While heading out to sea, we saw seals, dolphins, and a mother/baby pair of whales. My father would have enjoyed this. The funeral director said in all the years she had done this service, this was only the third time that whales had been present. We all participated in spreading Dad’s ashes on the sea and rose petals were scattered on the water as well.

In spite of the somber occasion, many good memories of Dad were shared, including many funny ones. We had a memorial dinner at one of his favorite restaurants, and some of Dad’s friends joined us. It was so cool to hear their stories of my dad. I knew he was a gentleman, but the ladies would tell us he always opened and closed their car doors for them. He was always honest and could be trusted with anything. We enjoyed good Italian food, (I had salad and garlic bread – which really isn’t on the Medifast plan – because of being on a diet. No pizza. No lasagne. No Italian sausage.) but the best part were the really good stories about my father. He didn’t want us moping so I think it truly was a celebration of his life. I share this with you to let you know was Dad was an absolutely a wonderful and great man. He doesn’t have a monument anywhere, unless you consider the baseball trophies in our homes. I think his monuments are the lives of his children.

I also want to remind all of us, myself included, that we are here for a finite time on this planet. We need to make the best of it, and we need to make sure we spend time with and call or write the people we love, and tell them that, if nothing else. One of my father’s other pet sayings was, “Life is for the living!” I think Mr. Spock took my dad’s line and resaid it: “Live long and prosper!” Spock was a smart guy after all!

I am sincerely wishing each of you a wonderful life! It may not be sweetness and light all of the time, but living life is worth it.

Mama Vicky reviews some books – The Good, the Bad, and the (Very) Ugly

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Yes, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is the title of a western starring Clint Eastwood. I am not referring to the movie today, though. I am referring to a couple of books I received for my recent birthday. Daphne, who is my daughter, GM, and gift giver all rolled into one, gave me these books knowing that I do love suspense thrillers. You already know that I am a Tess Gerritsen fan as I have reviewed books written by her before. Playing with Fire is her very latest book. Her book is the good part. Gone Girl is the bad and very ugly part.

 
Let’s start with the (very) good.

 

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Playing with Fire
By Tess Gerritsen

Tess Gerritsen’s famous characters in many of her books are Jane Rizzoli, Boston PD, and Dr. Maura Isles, Medical Examiner. This book is not a Rizzoli and Isles title. This is a stand-alone book featuring Julia Ansdell, an accomplished violinist whose hobby is procuring old music. When in Italy after a concert, she comes across an antiquated curio shop in which she peruses an old book of Gypsy tunes. As she opens the volume a handwritten piece of music titled “Incendio” drops to the floor. She reads the music, and imagines in her head how it will sound. The piece is challenging, beautiful, passionate, and mournful. She immediately falls in love with it and intends to master the piece.The shop owner charges an exorbitant sum for the book and sheet music, but Julia has made up her mind that she has to buy it no matter the cost.

Back in the US she practices the piece with her daughter in hearing distance. The normally sweet and innocent child seems to be transformed into an evil monster when the music is played. The family cat is brutally murdered, and Julia is stabbed in the leg with a broken piece of glass. Julia’s life turns upside down. No one believes that the child is malevolent, especially because of a piece of music. Julia’s sanity is questioned and her husband makes her see a psychiatrist. The shrink determines Julia is not a fit mother and needs a psychiatric hospital stay.

Instead Julia flees to Italy to find the answer as to why this music has ruined her life. Searching for the identity to the music’s unknown author, L. Todesco, and the reason for writing the music are her goals. She is determined to prove she isn’t crazy and get her normal life back. Italy is not safe, however, as a friend betrays her and someone is feverishly hunting her down before she can find the answers. Somehow Fascist Italy and WW II have something to do with all of this.

I could not have guessed the outcome in my wildest imagination. A total twist occurs and somehow it all makes sense. I read this book in two days, using all the spare time that I had, which isn’t much. I didn’t want to put the book down and stayed up late on work nights to read it. Didn’t feel too rested in the morning, but the reading was well worth it. Anyway, I would recommend this book to others and I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Now moving on to the the bad, and very ugly.

 

gone-girl

Gone Girl
By Gillian Flynn

If you look at the back cover of the book, there are listed several comments about the book. “Spectacularly Sneaky.” “Mercilessly Entertaining.” “Razor-Sharp.” (That is accurate because “Gone Girl” does use a razor in the story.) “Menacing.” (True, Gone Girl is a psychopath.) “Superb.”

If my reviews were posted on the back instead of the ones above, they would be very different. “Evil.” “Co-dependent very flawed characters.” “Negative perception of life.” “No redeeming value.” “Vulgar, lewd, disgusting.” Also on the back of the book is the author’s picture. Looking at the photo she has a very sweet appearance. Looks are definitely deceiving. She had the worst “potty” mouth in the world. I wanted to grab a toilet brush and scrub her mouth out. Good books have and will continue to be written without vulgar expressions. In this book they were extensive.

This is the story of a marriage between 2 people who are actors and appear pretty and wonderful and perfectly matched, on the surface. As the marriage falls apart, Nick, the wretched husband, has an affair with a younger woman. Creepy, psycho wife finds out and the adage is true: Hell has no fury like a woman scorned. In the midst of this marriage, Amy goes missing; disappears without a trace. The front door of their home is wide open, the living room has been torn apart, and Nick doesn’t have an alibi. I knew right away that he didn’t do it. Everyone turns on Nick and believe he is like the infamous Scott Peterson who in real life murdered his pregnant wife. The husband is always guilty, right?

I may be giving away spoilers, but I am trying to encourage people to stay away from this novel. Save your mind and your time. Don’t read this book. You may be wondering why I finished it. (I am still having to scrub my mind out to get rid of the vulgar language and descriptions of anatomy.) One reason, is my daughter gave it to me. She now knows it is the worst book I have read in a long time, though I thanked her for the gift. The story line sounded interesting and she thought I would like it. You know, it is the thought that counts. The second reason is that I was really hoping justice would have been meted out to the crazy wench. Nope. The ending is equally co-dependent and disgusting.

I am not giving this book even 1 star. It was that bad in my opinion. And it is definitely not a keeper.

Playing with Fire is definitely a keeper and will find it’s niche on my overloaded book shelves. (I am trying to read the books and sort the true favorites from the good ones and then passing the good ones on to the library used bookstore. I’ll make a dent in those shelves one of these years. It would certainly help if I stopped buying books!)

Keep on reading. It is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

Sugar and Spice Advice on Taming the Bad Breath Beast

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Bad breath is a sensitive problem. No one likes smelling it, but at the same time no one wants to tell someone that they have “boca negra”, “dragon breath,” or the medical word, halitosis. It is just too embarrassing. Bad breath can come from poor dentition, poor oral care, gum disease, sinus infections, diabetes, acid-reflux, some foods, some medications, and dry mouth. When you wake up in the morning, you may have “morning breath.” This is because when sleeping saliva production is lower. Also, many people have their mouths open when sleeping which will further dry out your mucus membranes.

 

So that you don’t have to personally worry that people won’t get close to you, do the following to control bad breath:

 
1) Brush your teeth, tongue, gums, and the roof of your mouth as least twice a day.

 
2) Floss at least once a day to remove food particles from between your teeth. Flossing  can be time consuming and a pain in the neck so it is often neglected. However, if you are smiling and pieces of your lunch are still hanging around, flossing sounds like a really good idea, doesn’t it?

3) Gargle with water or medicated mouthwash. Don’t have a toothbrush handy after lunch, gargling with water will help to remove leftover debris.

4) Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.

5) Use dissolving breath mints or strips. Go for sugar free.

6) Eat at regular intervals. When a meal is skipped, saliva production is decreased, and the end result, yes, is bad breath.

7) Visit your dentist regularly.

 

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Something to Think About Perseverance

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“We may find there are times in our lives when we falter,
when we become weary or fatigued,
or when we suffer disappointment or heartache.
When that happens, I would hope we will persevere
with even greater effort toward our goal.”
~ President Thomas S. Monson

Spring Cleaning and Your State of Mind

Make a list of things you need to do

Make a list of things you need to do

Just recently I shared with you folks some ideas related to spring cleaning, de-cluttering your home and office for increased peace of mind, and for a freshly clean home. It is true that when there is clutter, it can make things seem out of control. Getting control of the “stuff,” can create a feeling of satisfaction. Besides the help that comes as peace of mind, there are other things one might due to spring clean the mind and spirit. The key is to get rid of the clutter that our minds collect. How does a person do that? Let me tell you.

Exercise is a great way to escape. You don’t have to run marathons or bench press 200 pounds to feel the benefit. Exercising allows you to get away from phone calls, emails, and other intrusions. Even if it is just a short getaway, the benefits are still there. You have time to be alone with your thoughts, sort out problems, and review how your day has been.

Something that is closely related is turning off the electronics, phones, video games, etc. Make one day a no digital day. For some people this is going to be a fate worse than death, but it can be done. Less distractions equals more time to relax and de-stress. 24/7 availability is made possible with all of our devices, but if a person doesn’t get some down time, the brain becomes cluttered.

I am a list maker. That is one way to take the load off one’s mind. If what you need to do is written down you don’t have to store the to do list in the brain. You also don’t have to go over and over it in your head because you are worried you will forget something. The other type of list is one in which you record things you want to work through or dilemmas that are pressing on your mind. Then prioritize some of them to help you gain some clarity. Journal, anyone? These help as well.

Sometimes we dwell on things, or should I say brood over things. Why not talk about these things with a trusted relative or friend. Not only does it help to have someone share your burdens, but they may present you with some ideas that will help your situation that you didn’t come up with on your own. A fresh perspective can do wonders.

Honestly speaking, there will be times when no matter how much thought and effort you put into things, there are some things that won’t be resolved. Instead of feeling defeated, accept that these are part of life. Focus on what you can control – your attitude and feelings. As the wise journalist Paul Harvey was quoted as saying, “In times like these it helps to recall there have always been times like these.”

Happy Spring! Hoping you get your spring cleaning done for a happier, stressless you.

Something to Think About “Unimportant Days”

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There is no such thing in anyone’s life
as an unimportant day.
~ Alexander Woollcott