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review 2017-03-11 16:53
"They May Not Mean To But They Do" by Cathleen Schine - excellent look at the experience of being old.
They May Not Mean To, but They Do - Cathleen Schine

"They May Not Mean To But They Do" is an immersive story of family life, told mainly from the point of view of Joy, a New Yorker in her eighties. Joy has a husband suffering from dementia, two grown up children who keep trying to look after her and three grand children.This is an affectionate but realistic tale that captures the joys and frustrations of family life


The central focus of the book is what it means to be old. What it does to your own sense of identity, your desires, your fears,  your place in the world .


The title is a paraphrase of  Philip Larkin's "This Be The Verse"   that changes "Mom and Dad" to "Son and Daughter"

"They fuck you up, your son and daughter.
They nay not mean to but they do."

Joy's son and daughter each, acting with the intent to care for and protect their mother, keep doing things that undermine her sense of self or ignore or over-ride her wishes. As Joy comes to terms with who she is now, her life is made more difficult by the anxieties and expectations of her children.


The book gives is written with empathy and honesty that is very engaging. I kept finding myself going: "That's EXACTLY how it is". Here are some examples


At one point, Joy,who is struggling not to be angry with the man her husband is becoming as he slips into dementia, finds herself saying: 

"I love you. I've loved you for so many years that I even love you when I don't."

One of the sources of conflict between Joy and her son and daughter is the way Joy deals with what they see a messy piles of paperwork.


Joy sees that messa as her life but she understands that, whe she was her daughter's age, this would have been incomprehensible to her.

"To them it was a pile,. To Joy  it was the  past and the future jumbled together. Some day they would understand. They would feel sad the way she felt sad about her own mother.

.It occurs to Joy that parents and children would understand one another better

"if only everyone could be old together."

I particularly liked the way the book dealt with Joy's grief at the death of her husband and the depression that it causes.


When Joy returns to her New York home after visting her daughter in California, she finds:

The sadness was there waiting for her in the apartment.  "I'm sorry," Joy said to the sadness. "I'm sorry I had to leave you behind for so long but believe me the blue skies never fooled me. You were in my thoughts I'm my heart every minute."

There is also a short chapter that captures the different expectations of the generations

Chapter 41

Daniel asked his mother if she was depressed.

She said, "Naturally".

Joy, newly widowed, newly truly old, struggles with a feeling that she has lost her place, that she no longer belongs.  Visiting a Court to pay her grandson's fine, she finds that she is not sure how to behave, in the company of such a disparate group of people.


She says,

"I have lost touch with normal social behaviour. I no longer know what is expected, When i find out what is expected, I do not like it. I do not belong here.  I do not belong anywhere."

As Joy makes peace with herself, she comes to understand that she does belong. She belongs amongst the frailty, failings, and the unexpected kindnesses that make up humanity in cosmopolitan New York.


This book was my first book by Cathleen Schine but it won't be my last. I'm grateful to her for reminding me that we all have so much in common when it comes to dealing with the things in life.

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review 2016-07-01 04:36
Highlander - Cathleen Ross

The romance happened to fast!

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review 2016-02-06 00:54
So boring!
The Love Letter - Cathleen Schine

I had recently heard about this book because it was (supposedly) a book about a bookstore. Awesome! I had never heard of this book before (and had no idea it was also made into a movie?) but I have a weakness for books about books/reading/bookstores/libraries so I thought this would be a great read.


Sadly, not so much. The book opens on Helen, the bookstore owner. She is beautiful, she is flirty, she is an independent woman after her divorce. And she's into her college-aged employee, Johnny. It was very difficult to get into the book when we have this set as the opening. Helen was already a highly unappealing character and one I couldn't identify with at all.


I don't mind unappealing/unlikeable characters, but I am not sure if it was the author's intention to make Helen like that and whether this was a failed attempt to make Helen as an appealing heroine in some form. I also didn't realize the book was also more of a romance. I try hard to be open, but romances often don't appeal to me.


Overall the book was quite dull. I was shocked to see that on Amazon it has 40% one star reviews. That's quite a lot for a book and while I try not to let reviews affect my POV, this was a situation where reviews would have been a good guidance.


Don't recommend it. It's going back to the library.

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text 2015-09-24 16:10
Contemporary Romance Novels Set in New Mexico
Walk In Beauty - Barbara Samuel,Ruth Wind
Just Before Dawn - Rochelle Alers
Chayton's Tempest - Aliyah Burke
How to Rope a Real Man (Catcher Creek) - Melissa Cutler
The Hungry Heart - Brenda Gayle
Welcome to Last Chance - Cathleen Armstrong
Enchanting Baby - Darlene Graham
Almost Perfect (Perfect Trilogy) - Julie Ortolon
The Midwife and the Lawman - Marisa Carroll
Cloud Waltzer - Tory Cates

When I was 18, I took a train trip around the United States on my own. I was gone for about 3 months. I would stop in various places and visit friends and family. I spent a lot of time back East and in the South where it is very green. 


On my return leg of the trip, when the sunrose over New Mexico, I began to weep. I was homesick. I grew up in the desert and missed the sky, the dirt, and the distance.


Enjoy this wonderful Comtemporary Romance Novels set in New Mexico.


My lists are never in any particluar order. 


1. Walk in Beauty by Barbara Samuel


Once, Luke Bernali’s proud Navajo blood and strong carpenter’s hands made genteel Jessie Callahan love him with youthful abandon. But, to his endless regret, Luke faltered and he let Jessie down. Hurt, Jessie left, with a broken heart…and unaware that she was pregnant with Luke’s child. 

Now, eight years later, Jessie was back—with a darling daughter in tow. Luke was older—and wiser—and determined to recapture the beauty lost. Could a fierce, desperate long-ago love soar anew on the delicate wings of a child?


2. Just Before Dawn by Rochelle Alers


After prosecuting the biggest case of her career, New York district attorney Sara Sterling was looking forward to relaxing amid starry desert nights in her childhood home in New Mexico. Then she met enigmatic neighbor Salem Lassiter, who inspired an inescapable hunger…and made her reassess everything she thought she valued.


3. Chayton's Tempest by Aliyah Burke


Tempest Burnell was content with her life in the Southwestern desert until the day she came face to face with her past. A tall Native American, blessing him with jet black hair, obsidian eyes, and bronzed skin covering a body packed in muscles. James "Maverick" Lonetree heads to New Mexico because of a vision. When he lays eyes upon a sexy bartender, new life pours into him. He longs to know more about the dark-skinned, curvaceous woman and yet she seems to hate him.When the past comes out, Maverick is faced with a hurdle more crucial than anything he's ever faced in his thirty-six, even recent years as a SEAL. He is however, determined to break through the wall erected around Tempest's heart and earn forgiveness for past transgressions. SEALs are known for many things, giving up


4. How to Rope a Real Man by Melissa Cutler


Against all odds, the Sorentino sisters saved their family's rundown New Mexico ranch, but the youngest has a dream that just may ruin their hard-earned peace--unless a certain sexy cowboy lawyer changes her mind. . .

Jenna Sorentino is as independent as they come. Despite her wild past, she's grown up enough to keep quiet about the identity of her baby's daddy, go to night college--and hide her plan to escape tiny Catcher Creek. She's also stopped dreaming of happily ever after--except in the case of gorgeous, rugged, Santa Fe native Matt Roenick. Too bad the oil rights attorney acts like he barely knows she's alive. . .

Matt knows only too well that Jenna's alive--in fact, she's driving him crazy with desire. But Matt's got his reasons for resisting her. And when her son's father shows up, those reasons multiply. Trouble is, Jenna's secrets are more complicated than he imagined, and forgetting her isn't as easy as he'd hoped. Matt knows life can be messy as hell. For Jenna, maybe it's time he got dirty. . .


5. The Hungry Heart by Brenda Gayle


Child advocate Nora Cross doesn't have time for the private cooking lesson her sister won at a charity auction. Hunter Graham, the young chef, is the last person she needs telling her she's forgotten how to have fun. So why can't she get the very hot, very eligible man off her mind? After a stellar debut in New York City, Hunter's back in Santa Fe to open a new restaurant. He lives a charmed life and he knows it. He isn't interested in a workaholic who's glued to her smart phone. So why is he trying to convince Nora to relax and enjoy life--with him? When Nora's apartment and office are ransacked, Hunter comes to her rescue, surprised to find himself playing knight-in-shining-armor to the uptight executive. But when it becomes clear Nora is no random target, Hunter realizes he'll do anything to keep her safe.


6. Welcome to Last Chance by Cathleen Armstrong


The red warning light on her car dashboard may have driven Lainie Davis to seek help in the tiny town of Last Chance, New Mexico, but as she meets the people who make this one-horse town their home, it's her heart that is flashing bright red warning lights. These people are entirely too nice, too accommodating, and too interested in her personal life--especially since she's on the run and hoping to slip away unnoticed.

Yet in spite of herself, Lainie is increasingly drawn into the small-town dramas and to a handsome local guy with a secret of his own. Could Lainie actually make a life in this little town? Or will the past catch up to her even here in the middle of nowhere?


7. Enchanting Baby by Darlene Graham


She'll do anything to protect this baby

When TV personality Ashleigh Logan became pregnant by artificial insemination of her deceased husband's sperm, she ignited a media frenzy and attracted a stalker. So she's sequestered herself in the mountains of New Mexico, under the watchful eyes of the midwives of The Birth Place. Here she can be safe until the baby arrives.


And so will he

Greg Glazier doesn't have an easy time tracking down Ashleigh. And when he finally finds her, he can't tell her his news—not until she's further along in her pregnancy. Because what he's got to say might come as a bit of a shock—he's the real father of her baby. 


8. Almost Perfect by Julie Ortolon


A Free Spirit and a Reformed Bad Boy -- a Perfect Match? 

Maddy was always the artistic one of the group, alive with color and mischief from her saucy red curls to her vintage hippie skirts. Her challenge, the friends decide, is to get her artwork accepted at a gallery. A job as arts director at a summer camp near Santa Fe—with its multitude of galleries—seems like a start in the right direction. 

There’s just one catch: The camp is run by Maddy’s high school flame, Joe, whose heart she broke—okay, smashed—and his anger towards Maddy hasn’t cooled one bit. But neither has their attraction. 

Old desires burn hotter than ever as Joe makes it clear there’s only one way back to his heart: She has to get serious about her art. But will falling in love help or hinder Maddy as she struggles to meet her challenge?


9. The Midwife and the Lawman by Marisa Carroll


If Devon Grant had her way, she'd turn her back on Enchantment. There's simply too much history in that small town. But her sense of honor has her returning to help her ailing grandmother run The Birth Place—even though she's still angry about her grandmother's past actions. And there's also Miguel Eiden, the man who broke her heart ten years before.


Then Devon uncovers a secret and must decide what to do and who to trust—because in order to help three innocent children she might have to bend, if not break, the law. Not so easy when the new chief of police is her old love Miguel.


10. Cloud Waltzer by Tory Cates


Meredith Tolliver has cast off her old gray life as an investment banker. Enchanted by the warmth and bright colors of sunny Albuquerque, she’s made a fresh, buoyant future for herself, turning her financial knowledge and her way with words into a new life as a reporter—far from the wintery secrets that weighted her down in Chicago.

She’s happy with being single, too . . . until she meets the mysterious tycoon Archer Hanson. The conflicting rumors about him intrigue her as a reporter. Is he a self-made man? Or did he inherit his father’s millions? Is he a fair boss? Or is he a ruthless tyrant? But when the handsome Archer takes her for a ride in his hot-air balloon—the magnificent Cloud Waltzer—it is Meredith’s response as a woman that threatens her hard-won peace. Dare she respond to Archer’s rugged charm and soar away into the unknown with him?



You have a recommendation? Let me know! Vote for the best of the best on my Goodreads list: Contemporaryl Romance Novels Set in New Mexic

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review 2015-09-02 00:00
Cathleen Ni Houlihan
Cathleen Ni Houlihan - William Butler Yeats An outstanding play with some particularly poignant messages about patriotism, war, and national identity. All fans of literature should read this at least once.
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