Pretty Little World by Elizabeth LaBan and Melissa DePino – Review

pretty-little-world_300dpi

In a desperate attempt to keep things the same, they change everything. Now there’s a secret behind the row-house walls of Emerson Street.

Pretty Little World

by Elizabeth LaBan and Melissa DePino On-sale January 17, 2017

On a cozy street in Philadelphia, three neighboring families have become the best of friends. They can’t imagine life without one another—until one family outgrows their tiny row house. In a bid to stay together, a crazy idea is born: What if they tear down the walls between their homes and live together under one roof? And so an experiment begins.

In PRETTY LITTLE WORLD, authors and real-life friends and neighbors Elizabeth LaBan (The Tragedy Paper, The Grandparents Handbook, and The Restaurant Critic’s Wife) and Melissa DePino present a snapshot of a modern family with a sentimental yearning for community. Bucking the trend of an increasingly fragmented society more accustomed to isolation than cooperation, the friends create a shared space that’s as practical as it is idyllic—six adults to keep you company, six pair of hands to pick up the slack with the kids and the housework. But before long, love, lies, and lust collide, and their “pretty little world” gets rocked by reality.

Celia and Mark now have the space they need, but is this really what Celia’s increasingly distant husband wants? Stephanie embraces the idea of one big, happy family, but has she considered how it may exacerbate the stark differences between her and her husband, Chris? While Hope always wanted a larger family with Leo, will caring for all the children really satisfy that need?

Commune, co-op, urban Utopia…their unconventional living arrangement helps them discover much of the magic they hoped for in a loving, extended family. It will also test each couple’s bond. Behind closed doors, they strive to preserve the closeness they treasure. But when the walls come down, the boundaries get blurred, and they find themselves crossing sacred borders, they’re forced to question their choices, and re-imagine the true meaning of family.

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elizabeth-laban_300dpiElizabeth LaBan is the author of The Tragedy Paper, which has been translated into eleven languages, The Grandparents Handbook, which has been translated into seven languages, and The Restaurant Critic’s Wife. She lives in Philadelphia with her restaurant-critic husband and two children.

 

 

 

 

 

melissa-depino_300dpiMelissa DePino lives in Philadelphia and is a founding partner and principal of Leapfrog Group, a marketing communications firm specializing in non-profits. In her spare time, she reads voraciously, writes fiction, practices yoga, and enjoys live music.

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My Thoughts –

I absolutely loved this book. I wanted to live on the same street, right next door and be part of their group. I wanted to share in the dinners out on the lawn every evening and sit and gossip with them around the table at night. This was a wonderful book about friends who became family to each other and decided to make combine their families in a unique way – and that is all I’m going to say on the book. I want you to read it. I do not want to regurgitate the book and spoil the plot.

The book is well-written and enjoyable to read. I was sad when I got to the end. For me, it was a book I wanted to go on forever and ever.

As you might guess, I’m giving this book every bit of five stars!

Praise for Pretty Little World

“A tender, charming, and deliciously diverting story about love, marriage, and how your restaurant- review sausage gets made. The Restaurant Critic’s Wife is compulsively readable and richly detailed, a guilt-free treat that will have you devouring every word.”
—Jennifer Weiner, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Good In Bed,

Best Friends Forever, and Who Do You Love
“Elizabeth LaBan’s novel The Restaurant Critic’s Wife stirs in love and intrigue making for a savory delight that pairs perfectly with your armchair. Prepare to be charmed!”—Elin Hilderbrand, author of The Rumor

“A heartfelt and relatable look at a woman navigating the difficulties of marriage and motherhood— while struggling to maintain a sense of self. Written with charm, honesty, and an insider’s eye into a usually hidden slice of the restaurant world, it’s a winning recipe.”
—Sarah Pekkanen, internationally bestselling author of Things You Won’t Say

“In her debut novel for adults, Elizabeth LaBan cooks up a delectable buffet about motherhood, friendship, ambition and romance (albeit one in need of a little more spice). LaBan’s four-star story has the satisfying effect of a delicious meal shared with friends you can’t wait to see again.” —Elisabeth Egan, author of A Window Opens

“The narrative flows effortlessly, and the dialogue is engaging and evocative. Lila and Sam’s love and devotion, despite expected bumps along the way, provides a sensitive look at rediscovering yourself and your marriage.”—Publishers Weekly

“Lila is a gripping character. Author LaBan, who is married to a restaurant critic, excellently makes the joys and difficulties of young motherhood feel real on the page. Readers who are in the thick of raising a young family will enjoy, as will foodies looking for insight into the restaurant world.” —Library Journal

“Two things engage me when it comes to fiction—characters I want to spend more time with, and details, the juicier the better, from a world I’m curious about but not likely to ever experience. Elizabeth LaBan’s novel The Restaurant Critic’s Wife has both…The best part? Ms. LaBan really is a restaurant critic’s wife. Her husband writes for The Philadelphia Inquirer—which means that the wonderful details in the book both ring true and occasionally are.”
—New York Times, Motherlode

“Thoroughly entertaining.”—People

Pretty Little World can be purchased on Amazon here – https://www.amazon.com/Pretty-Little-World-Melissa-DePino-ebook/dp/B01HBKAYOI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1486756787&sr=8-1&keywords=pretty+little+world

Thanksgiving – Sometimes you have to dig deep to be thankful  

What makes alienation so easy? Humans need security. To ask someone to stop and question 10-15-20 and even 30 years of their security is something most people cannot handle. To learn that half of their life is built on lies and half-truths is unfathomable. Life is easy, why complicate it.

In most circumstances, only a tragic event will make a person question what they believe; and how many parents are willing to ask that their child suffer so great an event, that they hurt deep enough to make them question what they believe.

Many times, only after the alienated parent is long gone, does the alienated child come to the realization all was not right. By then, it is too late. So, why then, do kids not question when they have those nagging thoughts that God has placed on their hearts? Only they can answer that and the unknown is scary.

So, for eighteen years, I have spent Thanksgiving alone, Christmas alone, Easter alone, summers alone, days and weeks alone, birthdays alone. I don’t know if it will always be that way, but at times like this, it feels as though it will be.

Sometimes I get really really angry. Anger is the emotion that feels the void my kids no longer fill. It sneaks up on me when my heart is aching so much that it is an actual physical pain. Pain takes my breath away and anger keeps me from exploding. There is so much pain that anger consumes me.

It’s Thanksgiving Day today. It is a day when we are supposed to be grateful for everything in our lives. It is two-fold for me. It is a holiday that I thought I would always spend with my daughters. Now, I have only the memories. Holidays make me sad. I am thankful they are both happy in their lives and I guess that should be enough. But it’s not.

I am so very thankful that I had the first twelve and sixteen years of their lives. Sometimes it feels as though life has been suspended. Although they are no longer twelve and sixteen, they remain so in my mind. They are my babies. I wish I could gather them in my arms and hold them one more time. I wish I could smell them again. I wish I could tell them that I love them one more time. I wish I could see them smile one more time. I wish I could tell them I am sorry that they felt abandoned. I wish I could tell them that I didn’t abandon them. I wish I could tell them how broken I was. I wish I could tell them I was hanging on by a thread. I wish I could ask them if they could love a broken mother. I wish I could ask them if they could still love me.

Read also –

If You See My Mother

From the Heart – What we all long for

         I was reading an email that I received today and it immediately brought to mind my first marriage. The topic was about longing for a person to turn to, someone to defend you, and keep you safe.

Marriage Day
Marriage Day (Photo credit: Fikra)

The reason I thought of my ex-husband was I did not receive this acceptance and love from him. He never defended me, in fact, he often belittled me and told lies about me. I learned the difficult lesson that without mutual love and respect, the relationship does not prosper and grow; it falters.

Maybe I am a little old fashion, but my core beliefs are a husband/wife should love his wife/husband unconditionally. He should be willing to do battle for her – not against her, and above all, he should respect her. This was not what I found in my first marriage. I have heard my ex-husband’s family described as mean. Sadly, I would have to agree. I have bore witness to it on too many occasions; and since the divorce -16+ years ago-, some of the meanness has developed into hatred towards me; and the relationships with my daughters directly affected by the detestation.

When I met my husband -Hubby-, I knew that I would not settle for less than I deserved. Love and respect had to be part of the package, or there would be no relationship. Having gone through a similar marriage and divorce, he felt the same. It was hard for me to trust in the beginning, but with him as a light in my life, I learned how to trust again.

My marriage today is abundant in love, trust, respect, forgiveness, and a faith in God to guide us. Our marriage has been like the bed of roses in my garden. There are beautiful blooms, but there have also been pricks from thorns along the way. With God’s help, we continue to prune the thorns. It is the definition of a marriage blessed by God, and one that nurtures both my husband and myself.

I hope this post leaves you pondering, and I invite you to comment. What is your definition of marriage? Is there something you long for?

Thank you for visiting with me today.

Donna

 

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Before You Say I DO Again, by Benjamin H. Berkley

A Buyer’s Beware Guide to Remarriage!

 

Learning from the mistakes of a failed first marriage and telling yourself you will do better the next time around is like saying if you lose a football game you’ll win the next one.  You will but only if you learn some new plays before you go back on the field.  Presented   by an attorney who has seen all the warning signs, “BEFORE YOU SAY I DO, AGAIN!” will teach those new plays to avoid coming up on the losing side again.

 

Note, book shelves are filled with warm and fuzzy titles authored by psychologists and family counselors.  Their message is to teach how to listen to each other and improve the relationship.  “BEFORE YOU SAY I DO, AGAIN!”is not a how to book to get back together or to stay together.  Instead it takes the gloves off and provides insight as to the issues one must consider before walking down the aisle a second time.  Tackling a serious subject, but presented in a sometimes whimsical fashion, “BEFORE YOU SAY I DO, AGAIN!” puts the brakes on the wedding ceremony and provides the reader with the questions that must be answered before she drives down the path of destruction.

 

In addition,   it provides information regarding the legal consequences of a failed second marriage. “BEFORE YOU SAY I DO, AGAIN!” is a “tell it is like it is guide”   to avoid an impending disaster.

 

 

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Frederick Fell Trade (September 15, 2009)
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars

 

 

Praise for Before You Say I Do Again:

 

“According to Psychology Today, 60% of remarriages fail. What are the reasons? Why do people believe that whatever went wrong the first time won’t happen again?  Have you gone through a divorce, found a new partner and are considering remarrying? Perhaps you’re afraid of making the same mistake twice and are thinking of living together first? Do you wonder if you’re doing the right thing?  Before You Say I Do, Again answers these important questions, and much more. Written by a divorce attorney with over 30 years of experience, the book is filled with insightful information, practical advice and statistics supported by research studies.  Besides being chock-full of information, author/attorney Benjamin Berkley writes in a simple, light, engaging style, making the reading experience enjoyable. The structure is clear and well organized. Best of all, it is written by someone who really knows what he’s talking about. If you or someone in your life is considering remarrying, please do yourself a favour and get a copy of this book. It is definitely an eye opener.” Mayra Calvani, BlogCritic Books

 

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. “Before You Say I Do Again: A Buyer’s Beware Guide to Remarriage” is aimed at those who may be taking the dive into marriage the second time and want to be legally prepared this time around. Written from an attorney’s perspective, he offers much advice people should know the second time around to see if you’re truly ready to do it again. “Before You Say I Do Again” is a solid and highly recommended read that’ll educate and make many people reconsider.” Midwest Book Review

 

“Here’s helpful advice from an attorney, packaged in a readable, insightful new book! Even if you’ve already remarried, you may gain valuable tips here that can help you construct, or re-construct, the legal details of your new marriage.  Divorced? Dating? Considering a new marriage? Pick up this book and read it carefully. You’ll be glad you did.” Dr. David Frisbie, The Center for Marriage & Family Studies

 

Benjamin H. Berkley

Image of Benjamin Berkley

Growing up in Long Beach, NY, young Ben Berkley was fascinated by daily black-and-white re-runs of the TV lawyer show Perry Mason. After getting a B.A. in Speech and Hearing from Adelphi University in Garden City, NY, Berkley earned his law degree from Western State University in Fullerton, CA. For the past 34 years he has conducted a busy general practice which includes divorce, estate planning, family law, social security disability appeals and bankruptcy. His books include Before You Say I Do Again, A Buyer’s Beware Guide to Remarriage; My Wishes: Your Plan for Organizing and Communicating Your Family’s Needs; The Complete Executor’s Guide and Winning Your Social Security Disability Case. His debut novel, Against My Will, was published in September, 2012. He also writes a blog for the Huffington Post.

 

My Review

 

(From the Preface)”I just hope I don’t make the same mistake twice.” Believe it or not, this is the phrase most often spoken by a client at the end of a divorce hearing.

(From the Introduction) “WARNING LABEL: This book may cause anxiety. It is best read when consuming ice cream, chocolate, or alcohol. If you are starting a new relationsip, this book should be read once a day. If you are engaged, it should be read four times a day. Regardless, always consult your attorney if you feel an uncontrollable urge to get remarried.”

(From Chapter 1) “A remarriage has one of the same partners who was present in your last marriage.”

Those three statements should give you pause – especially if you are thinking about walking down the aisle a second time – or a third? Before You Say I DO is a book full of valuable information, and I might add – statistics. An alarmingly high number of first marriages end in divorce. That number multiplies tremendously for those willing to take a second shot at happiness. I do not wish to deter you from marrying a second time. I myself was divorced after 18 years of marriage and have been happily married for 15 years to my husband. Not all of us play a part in statistics.

Anyone who is married will tell you that marriage is a like a job. You work hard and the benefits can go beyond your wildest imagination, but, if you do not take your “job” seriously, divorce may be lurking around the corner.

The book is divided into four parts. Part One deals with Navigating the Sea of Divorce with chapter titles such as “Should I open a restaurant or remarry?” and “The legal and nonlegal consequences of divorce” (and other chapters).

Part Two finds you “Getting Ready to Say I Do Again! And has chapter titles such as “Getting emotionally ready to say I do again” “Remarrying for love or money?” “Getting financially ready to say I do, again” and “Are you ready for remarriage?” (and other chapters)

Part Three shows you how to “Kick the tires and check under the hood” with chapters such as “Buyer Beware!” “Sex and Remarriage” and “The Symptoms of Divorce-What you may have missed the first time around” as well as “A blueprint to a successful remarriage” (and other chapters).

Part Four brings us to “Compatibility” and Mr. New vs. Mr. Old – How do they compare?”

The author also includes a sample Prenuptial Agreement, Last Will and Testament with Guardianship, and Asset Organizer.

What this book does is open your eyes with stories and examples that will resonate with any reader who is divorced and contemplating a second marriage. In all of the drama surrounding divorce, we sometimes fail to remember our own part in the demise of the marriage. We find someone new, the sparks are flying, and we once again have stars in our eyes. The chances of those stars blinding you to reality are great. Before you say I DO again gives you a reality check. The author has stuffed the book full of wonderful advice, garnered from over thirty years as a divorce attorney, to help you navigate those unchartered waters with success the second time around.

It is an engaging book with helpful stories and should be required reading for the divorced person wanting to take a second chance. Benjamine Berkley has an engaging style and the book is well organized with self-explanatory titles. He has been a divorce attorney for over thirty years of experience and is using that knowledge to help people before they show up in his office with a second failed marriage.

If you are divorced and hoping to remarry, this is a great guide book and well worth the read. Do yourself a favour and pick it up.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased opinion.

 

"You choose your actions, not the consequences"

 There is a saying, “You choose your actions, you do not get to choose the consequences”.

Never is that more true than in divorce.

The reasons, no matter how substantial, cease to matter as time wears on; it is the consequences that live long and prosperous lives.

       It no longer matters that there was abuse, infidelity, lack of love, miscommunication; it is the consequences that linger on. And, it is those consequences that affect everyone, from adults to children, grandparents to godparents, cousins to godchildren.

       I have not written any personal stories on my blog in a while. When your heart is broken, your mind struggles to be happy and that makes it difficult to write, at least it does for me. What made me sit down to write this morning was something that happened this past weekend.

        We attended a family function the other night, and my own deeply guarded pain bubbled to the surface as I watched and listened to the pain of a child, now a grown young man, who was caught up as an extended casualty of a divorce that had nothing to do with him. He didn’t understand when someone he loved dearly suddenly disappeared from his life without a word. The only explanation he was given came from his parents. His anger and hurt got the best of him and he confronted the accused, the one he did not know had been banned from his life due to divorce. As I watched their pain surface, my own pain jerked unchecked from its hiding place once again.

       It is human nature to choose sides when there is conflict present, but what so many fail to realize is that the pain and the consequences of anger linger far into the future, where it has no place. There seems to be a demon present in some people that rears its ugly head to cause a normally sane person to lose all perspective, and anyone who will listen to the lamenting is drawn in.

       Children are often manipulated and lied to in the name of revenge, as adults circle the wagons and prepare to wage war, a war that will affect a child far into the future. Adults choose the action; the children suffer the consequences, most times needlessly. Divorce is an ugly animal. I myself have witnessed this behavior on many occasions, as adults choose not to accept their part in the break-up of a marriage – it does take two to make a marriage, just as it takes two to break up a marriage. It seems to be a little-remembered fact.

       I have seen adults who have finally moved past their pain; neglect to calm the waters (anger) in those around them. Therein lays a huge injustice. I have witnessed this in the lives of people who are close to me repeatedly.

       It is no misnomer that divorce brings anger and pain. It is how we as adults, conduct ourselves, that determines the extended consequences to those around us. Children do not need to become the pawns in the ugly game, but they do more often than not. As adults, we transfer our feelings of hurt, abandonment, and anger onto the shoulders of those who are too young to process the emotions. Children are not born hating, we teach them to hate, to hold grudges, to take sides, to mimic our adult behaviors.

       Never has it been more evident than in my own life, but also in the life of the young man this weekend, a child who lost someone in his young life due to a family divorce. A child, now a grown young man, who when confronted with the opportunity to speak with the person he lost, did not know how to process his anger and hurt. I stood by and watched the pain of two people who were hurt deeply through no fault of their own, struggle to communicate, one young, one older. Hurt knows no bounds. I can only pray that maybe it is not too late for the two of them to perhaps mend the great divide, a divide caused by hurt, anger, and lies. Who knows? Maybe they can overcome the one major obstacle standing in their way. But, to mend one relationship with the truth may mean destroying a trusted relationship built on lies. It is a difficult decision at any age.

       The point of this story – maybe it is to assuage some of my own pain. Maybe it is a plea to others suffering from or causing some of this pain to think twice before they step off into abyss – we, as adults, need to think before we destroy a child’s trust in another human being. I’ll close with this advice: think twice before you circle the wagons and pull out the heavy artillery, there just might not be an enemy.

The views expressed here are my own.

From the Heart – What we all long for

        I was reading an email that I received today and it immediately brought to mind my first marriage. The topic was about longing for a person to turn to, someone to defend you, and keep you safe.
        The reason I thought of my ex-husband was I did not receive this acceptance and love from him. He never defended me, in fact, he often belittled me and told lies about me. I learned the difficult lesson that without mutual love and respect, the relationship does not prosper and grow; it falters.
        Maybe I am a little old fashion, but my core beliefs are a husband/wife should love his wife/husband unconditionally. He should be willing to do battle for her – not against her, and above all, he should respect her. This was not what I found in my first marriage. I have heard my ex-husband’s family described as mean. Sadly, I would have to agree. I have bore witness to it on too many occasions; and since the divorce -16+ years ago-, some of the meanness has developed into hatred towards me; and the relationships with my daughters directly affected by the detestation.
        When I met my husband -Hubby-, I knew that I would not settle for less than I deserved. Love and respect had to be part of the package, or there would be no relationship. Having gone through a similar marriage and divorce, he felt the same. It was hard for me to trust in the beginning, but with him as a light in my life, I learned how to trust again.
        My marriage today is abundant in love, trust, respect, forgiveness, and a faith in God to guide us. Our marriage has been like the bed of roses in my garden. There are beautiful blooms, but there have also been pricks from thorns along the way. With God’s help, we continue to prune the thorns. It is the definition of a marriage blessed by God, and one that nurtures both my husband and myself.
        I hope this post leaves you pondering, and I invite you to comment. What is your definition of marriage? Is there something you long for?

Thank you for visiting with me today.”Say goodnight Gracie” – “Goodnight”

Donna