Smart Women- First Book Review of 2019

Good Morning!

I finished my first book of 2019 on Saturday, and I wanted to go ahead and write this while it was fresh on my mind.

Smart Women by Judy Blume was different from the only other adult appropriate book I have read by Judy Blume. Until I read, In the Unlikely Event (which I reviewed on here a while back), I only ever thought about Judy Blume being an other for children and pre-teens. I loved her books when I was little, so I was thrilled to learn she also writes books for adults.

Smart Women was definitely not a child’s book to put it mildly. It’s set in the early 1980s. There’s a lot of sex. At some times, I even thought it was a bit much. The book needs it though, because it is an integral part in how the characters progress.

There are several main characters, and each chapter comes from the perspective of a different person. The two main characters are Margo and B.B. They both are divorced and relocated to Colorado to start over. Their mutual friend Claire (on the verge of divorce throughout the whole book) is their mutual connection, but otherwise there isn’t much of a friendship between the two. B.B. (formerly Francine) has one living child, a preteen named Sara, and Margo has two teenagers Stuart and Michelle.

B.B. is a high-strung, type A personality who thinks everything is going perfect until her ex-husband moves to town and tosses her perfect world up in the air. B.B.’s world is not perfect, it hasn’t been; she is just good at pushing all of her emotions and the memory of her deceased son to the back of her mind. I mean, B.B. isn’t even her real name- that’s how far she’s gone to create a new life. In the end, it backfires on her and she ends up in a mental institution getting the help she desparately needs.

Margo is a loveable mess. She just wants to love and be loved, and she finds that in B.B.’s ex-husband Andrew. It is definitely a factor in B.B.’s eventual breakdown, but it certainly isn’t the reason. The two fall in love pretty quickly, and throughout the whole book I switched from being happy for her and sad for B.B.

The details aren’t as important as the theme of the book though, which is that in the end, a smart woman always knows what is good for her. The book revolves around love, divorce, and change. In the end, B.B. gets the help she needs, and Margo gets the love she deserves. Even the teenage girls go through lessons that require them to grow up sooner than necessary.

All in all, I thought it was a good book. I probably wouldn’t have read it if Judy Blume had not written it though. I don’t typically enjoy cheesy love stories, and while this had a lot of other themes, the main one was love and doing whatever was necessary to hold onto it. I think it felt a little cheesy because of when it was written more than anything, but even though it’s from the 1980s I think most women can still relate to the characters in the book.

I would recommend this if you’re looking for an easy read. It’s a fun book to relax with, and I’m glad I found it on the back of a shelf at my parent’s house.

NEW YEAR, NEW BOOKS

Happy New Year y’all!

I have made my “To Be Read List” for 2019, including the book I’m currently reading: Smart Women by Judy Blume. I’m planning to keep them next to my nightstand so that hopefully I can stay focused. I hope to finish these sixteen books well before the end of the year, so that I can add more to my list.

As y’all know my favorite types of books are mysteries/cozy mysteries but I did try to add a couple from other genres.

I’m excited for the New Year, and I’m especially excited for my new Bookstagram account!

 

Coffee Break in Charleston

One of my favorite things to do before I started working a regular 9-5 was visit coffee shops where I could study or just read a book. Charleston has a lot of coffee shops and by no means is this a list that includes all of them or even the “best” ones. I simply thought I’d share my favorite ones that I have tried and that I have visited regularly because of how good they are.

My favorite coffee shop in Charleston (and maybe anywhere) is Brown’s Court Bakery. I lived across from Brown’s Court for my first year of law school, and I developed a slight obsession. They have wonderful lattes and their baked goods are out of this world. It’s in an old Charleston two-story house and there is seating on the second floor, as well as on the porch. I spent many days studying there. Their bread is also featured at many of the restaurants around town. Brown’s Court is located at 199 Saint Phillip Street. http://brownscourt.com/

The second coffee shop on this list is not your typical “coffee shop”. I am including Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts for several reasons. When I was in law school, Glazed was the only place I could stop quickly and get a simple cup of coffee that didn’t cost $3-$4 on my way to one of my classes. They have good brewed coffee and they have specialty drinks as well if you’ve got time for one. It doesn’t hurt that they have some of the best doughnuts I have ever tasted. It’s tempting to go in and not get a doughnut also, but if it hadn’t been for Glazed I would have had to sit through some lectures without coffee(HORROR). Glazed is located at 481 King Street. http://glazedgourmet.com/

Kudu Coffee and Craft Beer is a beloved coffee shop for most Charlestonians. The baristas are great at designs in lattes (for those that love to take the cute pictures of their designs), and most importantly the coffee is good. It’s strong (necessary) and there is a lot to choose from. Most importantly, they also serve beer and have a great wine selection. As if they needed any more recognition that they are a great place, Jamie Lee Curtis has been spotted there several times while filming the newest “Halloween” movie. Kudu is located at 4 Vanderhorst Street right off of King Street. http://kuducoffeeandcraftbeer.com/

Black Tap Coffee is the last place on my list. I have only visited here one time with a friend a few months back. She recommended it, and I absolutely loved it. The atmosphere is great, and the latte is even better. They have their own coffee brand that they source from all over the world. The shop is located in Charleston’s historic Harleston Village neighborhood. http://www.blacktapcoffee.com/

I am positive that there are more great coffee shops in Charleston that I could make a list about, but I only felt comfortable commenting on the ones that I have been to. Please shoot me some suggestions of places I need to try!

Christmas with Bobby

December 21st, 1987- Justin

Justin’s parents didn’t stay anywhere for long. The Johanssons had lived in Florida and North Carolina in the last five years. He was twelve, so he had never lived in one place for very long.

They were writers. They could live wherever they wanted. Justin’s social life was not of consequence to them. Justin mostly stayed to himself, because he was never in one place long enough to make friends. He was into history, and most of his spare time was spent reading a book about some war or in the library looking at pictures from one.

Justin reached for the front door of the two-story, brick Victorian house that they were going to be renting. The door was heavy and a deep, rich mahogany. The owner had left a Christmas wreath hanging on it.

Justin took his coat and hat off and put them on the coat rack just inside the entryway. Since they were virtually nomadic, his parents opted out of owning furniture and instead only rented a house if it came furnished. They brought with them whatever would fit into their van, and if it didn’t it got left on a curb in whatever state they were fleeing. As long as Justin had his books and his supplies for painting his model battle figures, he didn’t pay much attention to anything else.

He walked around the house looking into each room and then made his way up the spiral staircase. He could choose between two different rooms. He chose one that had a brown, four post bed and a fireplace. There was a bookcase with a set of books on the top shelf and a stiff chair in front of it with a tall lamp.

That afternoon he unpacked his clothes and his figurines and books; when he was finished, he went outside to look around. There was a tire swing and an old shed, and then there was a pond about a hundred yards away. He went to the edge of the pond closest to the house and sat down.

As Justin was staring at the lake, he heard leaves crackle and he turned around expecting to see his mom or dad. It was a boy who looked about Justin’s age. He had brown hair, dark brown eyes, and he was dressed in jeans and a brown sweater.

“Hi, I’m Bobby,” the boy said.

Justin assumed he must be from one of the houses down the road so he stuck his hand out for the boy to shake.

“I’m Justin. We just moved in today.”

Justin invited Bobby in. He wanted to show him the figurine collection and all of his books. He walked into the kitchen and asked his mom for two glasses of lemonade and a plate of cookies, and then he and Bobby ran upstairs.

December 21st, 1987- Rhonda

Two glasses of lemonade. Maybe he was just thirsty, but she was worried it was starting up again.

They moved a lot. She knew it sometimes upset Justin, even though he didn’t show it. When Justin was younger, the moves were easier. He was more easily persuaded by the promise of new adventures.

The first few moves were about the experiences and making a better life. The last couple have been to escape the experiences of th past lives.

She hoped this latest move would be one of the last ones. Her husband, Raymond, loved the thought of settling down in Maine, and he was tired of running.

December 22nd, 1987- Justin

Since there wasn’t any school because of Christmas break, Bobby said he would be back over the next day. Bobby was quiet and didn’t have much to say when Justin asked him questions, but Justin was just glad to have met someone before he had to go to the new school- at least there would be a familiar face.

Justin waited on the front porch, and at about 10:00 a.m. Bobby came walking down the driveway.

They spent the afternoon inside. It was too cold to stay outside. Bobby told him about how he had been the new kid last year, and he didn’t have many friends either.

“All the kids here play hockey. My dad is in the military so we move a lot too. I can’t even skate,” said Bobby.

Justin felt like someone his age finally understood him. For the rest of the afternoon and the next day Justin and Bobby painted figurines, and went and explored the property around the new house.

Justin was going to ask his mom if his new friend could spend the night.

December 22nd, 1987- Rhonda

Justin walked in and he looked excited.

“Hey honey, get washed up for dinner. It will be ready in twenty minutes.”

“Okay. Can Bobby stay for dinner and spend the night Mom? I was hoping he could help put up the Christmas tree and decorations,” an excited Justin asked.

Her face fell. “Sure, I’ll set an extra plate for him.”

She talked to her husband that night when they were doing dishes and Justin had gone to decorate the tree.

“Baby, what are we going to do? We’ve been here two days, and it’s the same problems as always,” said a tired Rhonda.

“I don’t know anymore Rhonda. They said anything could trigger it,” he sighed. “I’m done moving though.”

December 23rd, 1987- Justin 

His parents didn’t like Christmas. He knew that, but he still loved celebrating, so he was excited to get a small tree (that his dad begrudgingly went and got for him) up and decorated last night just in time.

Bobby had gone home that morning after breakfast, but he said he would come back tomorrow so they could hang out.

Five years earlier (Denver, Colorado): December 24th, 1982-Rhonda

Her life was shattered. She sat next to Jonathan praying and rocking back and forth. It had been an accident- just an accident. She wouldn’t let herself think anything else.

Justin stood at the top of the stairs staring blankly into space.

December 24th, 1987 (Morning)- Rhonda

Justin didn’t remember that Christmas Eve in ’82. He didn’t remember his brother either. The doctors ran tests and they talked to him for months after it. They finally just said that he had disassociated himself, and that anything regarding his twin brother or the incident seemed sort of like a dream to him.

From the outside looking in, Justin seemed like a normal twelve year old.

The last five years around Christmas Justin would see people who weren’t there. They were all boys about his age. They thought if they moved that Justin’s “friends” would go away, but they never did. The doctors had put him on medicine, but the medicine made him violent, so Rhonda took him off of it.

When they lived in Florida, he had pushed her husband down the stairs on Christmas Eve for telling him that his friend “Dustin” didn’t exist. They chalked it up to it being the anniversary of Jonathan’s death, but it seemed like every anniversary, Justin had some type of outburst.

She hoped as he got older, things would improve, but it seemed like the delusions were just getting stronger. She was terrified to take him to a hospital though, because she knew they wouldn’t let her leave with him. She had lost one son, and she was determined not to lose another of her babies.

December 24th, 1987 (Afternoon)- Justin

Bobby showed up around 4 p.m. and they were upstairs in his room looking through some of the old books that had been left in the bookcase.

Justin could tell his mom and dad didn’t like Bobby. They didn’t speak to him at all, not even a “hello” until Justin called them out on being rude. They forgot to offer him anything to drink or eat unless Justin asked. It was ridiculous. He knew they were in their own little worlds writing, but that wasn’t an excuse.

He wasn’t going to lose his friend like they had run away all of his other ones. His Dad had said Dustin didn’t exist; he obviously did. He just didn’t want Justin forgetting about Jonathan. How could he forget Jonathan? He had ruined his life. He had broken Justin’s new toy he got, and when Justin got mad and pushed him, he fell down the stairs and died. Justin didn’t mean to do it. He just meant to hurt him.

Everyone blamed him for it. They didn’t want him having any friends, or having anyone to talk to. They just kept taking them away from him.

Not this time.

He heard his Dad coming out of his room.

December 24th, 1987 (Night)- Rhonda

She sat with her husband’s head in her lap; he was still breathing but it was shallow and he was weak. She screamed in agony when she saw Justin at the top of the stairs. She didn’t know why she bothered to even look up. She knew when she heard her husband screamed what had happened.

“Baby please don’t leave me,” she wailed.

She could hear the sirens. For the first time, she prayed they would take her son away too.

Carrie’s Cup- Final Chapter

Carrie tried to muffle out a scream for help, but she knew it was useless. It was getting dark and people would be arriving for the play soon. It was so cold and she was only wearing a thin sweater. Her hands were ice and the only thing keeping her teeth from shaking was the cloth Donovan had so generously shoved into her mouth. She looked around for anything that could cut the rope around her. She saw some garden shears, but she couldn’t exactly pick those up and use them, so she kept looking.

The rope was not very thick and Carrie knew if she could just find anything sharp that she could back up to, she could possibly cut it off. She could stand, but she was tied to a chair and the door was shut, so she knew her only way out was to free her arms. She scooted her chair closer to the edge of a metal table and tried to use the corner to saw through the rope.

“How could Donovan have done this?” mused Carrie.

Carrie blamed herself. If she hadn’t hired Mary-Anne, Donovan never would have had the opportunity to be near her. She knew there was not anything she could do to help Mary-Anne at this point, other than to stop Donovan from getting away with this.

She kept sawing at the rope until one popped. She moved on to the other one and she prayed by the time she got it undone, Donovan wouldn’t have already left town.

After what felt like another hour, Carrie finally got the second rope undone. She ripped the ropes off, pulled out the cloth from her mouth, and tore across the greenhouse only to find that the door was blocked by something.

“Wonderful! Someone please help me!” screamed Carrie. She kicked and screamed on the door until tears were streaming down her face and her voice was growing raspy.

Suddenly she could hear someone coming. She backed away from the door and grabbed the garden shears she had seen earlier in case it was Donovan coming back to check on her.

It wasn’t Donovan.

“Beatrice!” exclaimed Carrie. She had never been so excited to see that woman, or anyone for that matter, in her life. “Thank God you’re here. How did you find me?”

“Carrie,” cried Beatrice, “why are you in here? What is going on? When you weren’t there for final alterations and curtain call, I went looking for you. Donovan said he thought you had just run back to the coffee shop, but I knew something was off.”

“He’s still here? Listen Beatrice, Donovan put me in this shed. He is the one who killed Mary-Anne. I figured it out, or I was about to, and he confronted me when I got to the school earlier today. We have to go right now.”

Beatrice looked pale, but she nodded her head and they ran towards the school.

“Beatrice, go inside and find a phone and call the police department. Ask for Detective Johnson- tell him to meet us here and not to make a big scene.”

Beatrice nodded and followed it with “Wait where are you going Carrie, why aren’t you coming in to wait on him?”

“I have something I need to grab while I still can from Donovan’s house. If he’s in there, and does not know I’m out of the shed, this is the best time to do it” said Carrie, and she took off down the sidewalk.

Donovan lived close to the school, so Carrie hurried towards his house. When she got there, she ran around the back and grabbed a key from under the stone frog beside his door. She let herself in, and gasped at how the heat felt on her face. She looked around. She knew his laptop had to be here; she just needed to find it. She wouldn’t need any more proof than that to hand Detective Johnson.

She grabbed a coat out of his hall closet to try to stop her bones from shaking, and she made her way into his bedroom. The laptop wasn’t there. She was walking out of the room when she saw it on the master bathroom counter out of the corner of her eye.

Carrie snatched the laptop up and ran out of the house as fast as she could back to the elementary school.

As she opened the double doors, she was met by Beatrice and a confused Detective Johnson and ushered into a side room.

“Beatrice, go make sure he stays where he is until I can talk to Carrie and figure this out,” ordered Detective Johnson. Beatrice left the room, closing the door behind her.

“Tell me what happened Carrie. Beatrice was a mess and I only got half of what I assume is the story.”

“Donovan killed Mary-Anne,” said Carrie flatly.

She explained how she found the mug handle, how Waffle had gone missing, how she had gone through Mary Anne’s Facebook and figured out she was talking to someone. Then, she explained the connection of Donovan and Connor’s name, and how he confronted her and tied her up inside the greenhouse.

“So, you left to go to his house to get his laptop so he wouldn’t be able to destroy it?” asked Detective Johnson.

“Exactly” smiled Carrie.

Detective Johnson opened the laptop and looked through the messages. Turning a shade of red, he closed it and stood up.

“Carrie, you did really good with this. I’m going to go get him now.”

Carrie nodded her head and followed him out of the room. No way was she going to pass up the opportunity for Donovan to see her.

His reaction did not disappoint. He pitched a fit in front of everyone standing in the lobby of the auditorium. As Detective Johnson put handcuffs on him, Carrie smiled and waved at the frowning face of the man she once considered her closest friend in town.

Guess she would have to find someone new to have coffee with every morning.

 

 

Carrie’s Cup- Chapter 6

Donovan was waiting on Carrie when she got to work the next morning.

“Sorry I didn’t call back. I fell asleep early last night…wasn’t feeling well,” said Donovan.

“Aw I’m sorry you weren’t feeling well. Come on, it’s cold out here. Let’s get some coffee,” Carrie said.

They walked into the shop, and Carrie made a pot of coffee. She poured two mugs, and sat one down for Donovan on the table and took the chair across from him. She told him about the night before, and Donovan sat and listened quietly. She told him about Waffle being missing and the coffee cup handle. She told him more about Connor and Noel mentioning that no one in Mary-Anne’s life had met him.

“I think it’s weird,” mused Carrie. “Don’t you think it’s weird? No one knows him, no pictures of them together. Do you think it’s a fake profile?”

Donovan nodded, but he was quiet. Carrie figured he just still did not feel great from the previous night. He had a second cup of coffee and then was off to work.

The Thanksgiving play was that night. With everything that had been going on, it hadn’t been at the front of her thoughts, but she only had one small part of a Pilgrim costume left to finish.

Carrie closed the shop early at 4:30 so she could get to the school to finish the costume. No one was there yet; the play wasn’t until 7 p.m. so she didn’t expect anyone to be there until around 6 p.m. Carrie preferred it that way- fewer distractions. She got out of her truck and hurried inside. It wasn’t even dark yet, but the temperatures were dropping quickly.

Carrie sat down at the sewing machine, and fixed the hemline on the Pilgrim skirt she was working on. It didn’t take her long, so when she finished it, she pulled out her laptop.

Carrie googled Donovan’s name, and a few different things popped up. Donovan had grown up in Ristretto, and some local news articles about him popped up, including a list of graduates from the year Donovan graduated high school: “Donovan Connor Landry.”

Carrie stared at the name. “His middle name is Connor?” she questioned.

Is it a coincidence? Since she spoke with Donovan earlier, all she could think about was how out of character he seemed. She was just starting to wonder if she needed to call and speak to Detective Johnson when she heard a footstep.

Carrie felt a hand touch her left shoulder, and she jumped slamming her laptop closed.

She turned around and Donovan was standing behind her.

“What did you find Carrie?” Donovan asked.

“Wha…wha…do you mean?” Carrie stuttered.

“Why did you save that handle Carrie?” asked Donovan. “Why couldn’t you have just let the Detectives do their jobs? They wouldn’t have found out, but at least you wouldn’t be in this situation now.”

Carrie turned white. “I don’t know anything though. What are you talking about?”

“Don’t play dumb with me Carrie. You’ve been digging around asking questions, looking for answers that you don’t need. I loved Mary-Anne.”

Carrie gripped the arm of her chair, as Donovan started laughing. She didn’t say anything. She didn’t want to interrupt him.

“She’s the one that suggested we meet at C4. It was her idea. We’ve been talking for months, and I told her I’d “fly in” to meet her. She didn’t want her mom to know she was meeting someone off the internet so she wanted to meet at the shop instead. She got there and didn’t seem happy to see me. I tried to explain that it didn’t matter that I was older, that she wouldn’t get in trouble. She tried to leave; she was upset. I grabbed her arm to stop her, but she started screaming. I couldn’t let her leave. I hit her in the head with the mug, and I dragged her into the back room. You know the rest,” Donovan sighed.

Carrie felt like she was going to be sick. “Did you break into my house?”

“Not exactly,” laughed Donovan. “You left your door unlocked and I snuck in before you got home. When you fell asleep, I let Waffle out and when you went to look for him, I found the mug handle.”

Carrie felt the room shift out of focus.

“Now what to do with you?” asked Donovan.

Carrie tried to get up and run, but before she could, Donovan pushed her down. He grabbed a rope from a supply box under the table and tied her arms. He rushed her out the back door of the school without her coat.

Donovan led her to a shed behind the school that the kids used in the spring for their garden. He tied her to a chair and put a piece of cloth in her mouth so she couldn’t scream out.

He left her there.

Carrie’s Cup- Chapter 5

Carrie poured herself a glass of Merlot that night and sat down on the couch with her laptop, Waffle, and her favorite fuzzy blanket. Carrie attempted to keep her mind occupied with online shopping, but her brain eventually shifted her back to Connor Dalton’s Facebook. She opened up his messenger to see if she could see how long it had been since he logged on; Connor had not been on Facebook for five days.

Carrie called Donovan. She hadn’t seen him in a couple of days, and she missed him. When Donovan didn’t answer, she left him a voicemail telling him about her suspicions about Connor, finding the mug handle, and what Noel had told her at the funeral.

She must have fallen asleep, because when she woke up, it was 2:44 a.m. and Waffle wasn’t on the couch with her anymore. She called out to him, but he didn’t come. She walked to the dining area, where Waffle’s bed was and saw that the porch door was open. Shivering, Carrie pulled the blanket around her shoulders, and hurriedly ran to the door.

“WAFFLE!” yelled Carrie. “Are you there boy?”

Nothing.

Carrie ran back into the house screaming for Waffle, but he never came out. She threw on her coat and her boots. She grabbed her keys and ran out the front door forgetting to lock it behind her.

Carrie drove around for hours looking for Waffle, and in tears she pulled into her driveway as the sun was rising. She dragged herself back in the front door, and when she opened it, there was Waffle stretched out on the sofa.

“Waffle!” squealed Carrie. “Where in the world have you been?”

As soon as Carrie got over the shock of Waffle being home, she looked around the living room. Someone had been in her living room… drawers were flung open, things were thrown across the floor. The wooden box was open. Carrie ran over to it, and horrified she saw that the handle was gone.

Waffle had been let out; she was sure of it. She just didn’t know how.

Carrie didn’t call the police. They’d think she had just dreamed all of it. What could she say “Someone stole a piece of evidence that I didn’t hand over to you”?

So, she made a pot of coffee and got ready to go into work.