Pretty Little World by Elizabeth LaBan and Melissa DePino – Review


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.


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.


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 –

Sweet Spot, A Hale Street Story by Amy Knupp – Review

Sweet Spot: A Hale Street Story by [Knupp, Amy]

Former marketing whiz Kennedy Lowell knows bartending isn’t her destiny. After derailing her life to epic proportions in one fell swoop, though, she’s content with the easy refuge of pouring drinks and keeping to herself. But the arrival of her sexy new boss and two wannabe friends who won’t take no for an answer throws Kennedy into a tailspin. Add the temptation of a homey new bakery desperately in need of a marketing genius and Kennedy begins to wonder if easy is all it’s cracked up to be.

Purchase on Amazon –
Easy is Hunter Clayborne’s middle name. Uncomplicated is what he expects when he moves home to Nashville to take over the family business. What he finds, though, is the polar opposite of easy—a bar losing money, a family entrenched in doing things the old-fashioned way, and an irresistible redheaded bartender who keeps him at a cool distance in spite of their sizzling mutual attraction.

There’s nothing simple about the chemistry between Kennedy and Hunter. But sometimes, if you can work your way out of your comfort zone, that’s when you just might find your sweet spot.

Author Amy Knupp – lives in Wisconsin with her husband, two sons, five cats, and two turtles. She graduated from the University of Kansas with degrees in French and journalism. In addition to authoring twelve contemporary romance novels and three short stories, she’s the owner of Blue Otter Editing ( In her spare time, she enjoys reading, buying books in excess, traveling, breaking up cat fights, watching college basketball, and playing addictive computer games. She’s a member of Novelists, Inc., Romance Writers of America, Mad City Romance Writers, and Wisconsin Romance Writers.

My Life. One Story at a Time. A free book may have been provided by the source in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed by authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of My Life. One Story at a Time. My opinions are my own. This provided in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 55. In the state of Louisiana, we are no longer allowed to be Amazon affiliates, therefore the Amazon link is provided for your benefit only. My Life. One Story at a Time. does not collect any affiliate fees.

Review –

This is the first book by Amy Knupp that I have read and I enjoy it very much. The story is about three young women, two of whom are cousins and the third, a young woman that they have taken under their wing.

It is a sweet story of friendship between women with a sexy guy thrown in for a little romance. Anyone who follows my blog knows I am an introvert and the young woman at the center of this story is an introvert. I enjoyed the humor derived from her being an introvert, many things I personally identified with .

Kennedy had surpassed her capacity for acting like an extrovert about twenty minutes ago. She managed to pull off that act every night at the bar, but tonight was tougher. Maybe because the stakes were higher. Between making sure she talked to almost everyone, trying to keep uyp with her two social butterfly roommates, and avoiding Hunter, her introvert self felt like she’d been dragged behind a freight train for a couple hundred miles.

Peace and quiet. That was what she’d told Ivy she needed, and though Ivy likely didn’t comprehend how the party had sucked all her energy out, she’d not given Kennedy too hard of a time.

She managed to attain queter, shutting out the sounds of the party outside of her bedroom window with the hum of the air conditioner, the whir of the ceiling fan, and the soft piano music coming from the speaker Violet had loaned her to dock her phone to.

Peace was another story. Apparently it wasn’t on the docket tonight.

The book is not all fluff and addresses snobbery still evident in today’s society as Kennedy works hard to make friends and put her unpleasant past behind her. The book is well-written and would be a great read for those wintry nights that will soon be upon us.

She kissed him and then stood. Held out her hand to him. As he entwined their fingers and rose, he caught a glimpse of her ring. The stone was a vibrant, deep purple-blue.

You’ll have to read the book to learn about the ring!


The Life She Wants by Robyn Carr – Review

#1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr brings together a poignant novel with a rich tapestry of characters. A moving story that will leave the reader laughing and crying, as two friends confront their pasts and move towards their futures.

In the aftermath of her financier husband’s suicide, Emma Shay Compton’s dream life is shattered. Richard Compton stole his clients’ life savings to fund a lavish life in New York City and, although she was never involved in the business, Emma bears the burden of her husband’s crimes. She is left with nothing.

Only one friend stands by her, a friend she’s known since high school, who encourages her to come home to Sonoma County. But starting over isn’t easy, and Sonoma is full of unhappy memories, too. And people she’d rather not face, especially Riley Kerrigan.

Riley and Emma were like sisters—until Riley betrayed Emma, ending their friendship. Emma left town, planning to never look back. Now, trying to stand on her own two feet, Emma can’t escape her husband’s reputation and is forced to turn to the last person she thought she’d ever ask for help—her former best friend. It’s an uneasy reunion as both women face the mistakes they’ve made over the years. Only if they find a way to forgive each other—and themselves—can each of them find the life she wants.

Robyn Carr is a RITA® Award-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author of almost fifty novels, including the critically acclaimed Virgin River series. Her highly anticipated new series, Thunder Point, will be released March 2013. Robyn and her husband live in Las Vegas, Nevada. You can visit Robyn Carr’s website at

My Review –

I’ve read quite a few of Robyn Carr’s books. I enjoy her style of writing. The characters are always well-developed and the stories are interesting.

This book is part of a series and I have enjoyed re-visiting some of the characters as the series continues. In this particular book, I especially enjoyed the storyline. Two women who have grown up as best friends break up over a misunderstanding involving a boy. One stayed in town and the other went off to college and a new life across the country. When her life falls apart, she heads back to the one place where she feels at home and then finds that the past is very much still in the present. It is a story of forgiveness and redemption and love ever after. The story mimics real life, as most stories do, but something resonated with me and I found the story captivating.

If you are a fan of Robyn Carr, you will enjoy this book. Her books stand alone, but once you begin meeting the characters, you really want to read them all.

My Life. One Story at a Time. A free book may have been provided by the source in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed by authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of My Life. One Story at a Time. My opinions are my own. This provided in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 55. In the state of Louisiana, we are no longer allowed to be Amazon affiliates, therefore the Amazon link is provided for your benefit only. My Life. One Story at a Time. does not collect any affiliate fees. 

A tourist in my own town – New Orleans

About a week ago I had my semi-annual check-up at Ochsner Hospital. They have recently switched over from pounds to (is it) kilograms. Can I mention just how much I HATE this system? Just get it over with. Tell me I weigh way too much. Don’t make me convert that lovely LITTLE number into a BIG number on the chart above the scale.

I had my blood work done a couple of weeks prior to my appointment – seven (yes 7) vials of blood were drawn – and I wonder why I resembled a vampire when I walked out! I ended up having another vial drawn yesterday and a shot. I was really BAD sick in December and ever since I’ve had one thing or another due to my immune system being compromised. The doctor suggested getting a tetanus shot since I hadn’t had one in a long time and it helps to boost the immune system. I don’t remember the details of the blood test, but when the results come back I may need to get a vaccine that they give to children and adults 65 and older that helps boost the immune system. I realized I’m giving you a whole lot of nothing information, but unless I write all the terms down, it is too much information to retain. The doctor and I discussed everything and I was comfortable with the information and know that I now need to wait for the test results before either taking the shot or not. The results will determine the outcome so the information was processed, decision made, and forgotten.

Hubby was working and I didn’t feel I needed him to accompany me so I asked a friend to make the drive with me. She is an older woman and so kind and sweet. She’s made several trips into the city with me and we make a day of it by going to lunch. Yesterday, we added an excursion to the trip. She is originally from New Orleans, born and raised, and knows her way around so it was really fun to just drive through some of the old neighborhoods and not worry about getting lost. Well, so I thought.

Our original plan was to take I-10 to City Park exit. We were traveling down Clearview to I-10 and she says, “You are missing the exit!” I was a little confused and thought I must have missed the I-10 part. Turns out it was the Earhart Expressway. I was freaking out a little because I haven’t heard anything good about this area. In fact, I had always been told to never take Earhart. My friend is really sweet and she kept reminding me of the speed limit. I guess I do tend to follow the flow, make the flow – you get the picture. I’m a little bit of a speed demon. This was one time when I told her the speed limit was 55 but I was going faster so the bullets wouldn’t get us. I’ve only heard bad stories so what else was I supposed to think!

We made it safely to S. Claiborne I think. It may have been N. Carollton Avenue. That’s it! Carollton and then to City Park. It was an adventure after all. You see some strange sites while waiting for traffic lights to change.

We drove to City Park and rode around a little. It turns out she has a wonderful connection to this beautiful park (that had once sat under 6-10 feet of water following Katrina). Her great-grandfather was a horticulturist and saw how deplorable the park had become. He attempted to rally the city council into bringing the park back to its former glory with no success. He then solicited several businessmen and he began the restoration process, eventually garnering support from the city council. The park has grown by leaps and bounds, but at the entrance to Storyland, there is an old oak tree named the “Anseman Oak Tree” and a street named “Anseman”. What a wonderful legacy to leave your family. I was so excited that she shared this with me.

From City Park, we made our way to the Lake Front (Ponchartrain Lake). I hadn’t been there since high school. We’ll just say, it’s been a while and leave it at that. I used to go the lakefront and sit on the seawall with my cousin. I loved looking at the lake and listening to the water as the waves broke along the concrete steps. There was once an amusement park on the lake as well. I rode my first rollercoaster there. I still remember the exhilaration of the first ride. Maybe it was also the guy who encouraged me to ride it with him. He was kinda cute!

The lake was beautiful and filled with sailboats. The breakfront was filled with families enjoying picnics.

On the way to the lakefront, it was amazing to drive down streets and through neighborhoods that had suffered water infiltration during the levee break following Hurricane Katrina. Mary Lynn never tired of me constantly exclaiming, “There was really 10 feet of water here? Right here!? Where we are driving?!” I may have wanted to bat me over the head for saying it so many times, but it truly was incomprehensible. Like everyone else, I was glued to my television set watching the water inundate the city that sits a mere sixty miles to the east of where I live. Streets that I had driven on and visited people were filled with water. It is not until you sit there in the middle of the street and look at the houses on either side of you that the magnitude of what happened and the amount of water that disbursed hits you.

As we were exiting Old Metairie, it began to storm; complete with lightening and thunder and at one point on Airline Highway, it was raining and blowing so hard the rain was going sideways. It’s not often that I can feel the elements in my truck so it was a little intimidating. That type of weather spawns tornados. We did get home without incident – probably because Mary Lynn kept mentioning my speed (both ways!) That was a new experience for me. Hubby is a retired State Trooper so you can only imagine how intimidating it is to drive with him as a passenger. I feel like he’s going to pull out the ticket book at any minute and tell me to pull over and then read me a list of my violations!

I really do not drive that much over the speed limit; no more than anyone else. Again, I am married to a cop. I know the leeway. I also have a heavy foot but I still manage to keep it within 8 miles of the speed limit on the open road. (I also know most of the places where the police hide.) And, I remember an important piece of advice from Hubby – it doesn’t matter what speed you are going, just be aware of the speed and how long it takes you to react and your vehicle to react. Just know your speed. He said he had stopped numerous people (25 years worth) who responded they didn’t know how fast they were going when asked. That is dangerous. (Public Service Announcement over.)

All in all, it was a very nice guided trip around the city as well as educational. I can’t think of a better friend to have shared the day with. I am looking forward to our next adventure!


The Last Time I saw You by Eleanor Moran (Review)

THE LAST TIME I SAW YOU by Eleanor Moran explores the emotional “haunting” that can occur when an important friendship is severed.  Moran writes, “With relationships, there are prescribed rules we follow when we separate. With friendship, the gloves are off.”

Olivia Berrington is shattered to receive the news that her best friend from college has been killed in a car crash.  Their relationship was one of titanic highs and lows, ultimately ending in a devastating betrayal. Now, still reeling from the sudden end of their friendship, Olivia is shocked to discover that Sally had named her daughter after her.

Forced to confront Sally’s grief-stricken family at the funeral, Olivia finds herself, to her shame and bewilderment, irresistibly drawn to her late friend’s husband, William. As she and William spend more time together, revelations about Sally make Olivia begin to doubt her own understanding of their friendship. Suspicions and questions arise about the nature of the fatal accident, and Olivia tries to untangle her memories, looking to the past for answers.

Eleanor Moran is the author of three previous novels: Stick or TwistM.r Almost Right and Breakfast in Bed, which is currently being developed for television. Eleanor also works as a television drama executive and her TV credits includeRome, MI5, SpooksBeing Human and a biopic of Enid Blyton, Enid, starring Helena Bonham Carter. Eleanor grew up in North London, where she still lives.

 Social Media Links:

Twitter: @EleanorKMoran

Eleanor Moran’s Website:


My Review:

I found THE LAST TIME I SAW YOU a little strange, and I’m not quite sure how to define strange in this instance. After reading the book blurb, I was expecting much more of a story and a lot more mystery. I read through three-fourths of the book before I felt I was getting more into the heart of the story. I felt there were a lot of words and not much story at times.

The book is about friendship and betrayal, lies and deception, and love and heartache, although it felt at times that half of the characters in the book were bi-polar and not just the one. Although drawn out, the story was well-written and showed in-depth what it is like to have someone with bi-polar in your life, and how the effects of bi-polarism are much like tossing a pebble into a puddle of water and experiencing the ripple effect. As I said, I felt the book was well-written, it just seemed to take the long way around the mountain – in my opinion.

The book is written in flash-back style to explain Olivia and Sally’s friendship dynamics; a friendship so strong that for years afterward, their presence, or lack there of, in each other’s lives was still felt by each of the women. THE LAST TIME I SAW YOU was an interesting read. I am giving the book three stars.

Purchase The Last Time I Saw You in these formats:


My Life. One Story at a Time. is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. A free book was provided by the source in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed by authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of My Life. One Story at a Time. My opinions are my own. This provided in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 55. 

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From the Heart – Best Friends

Best – better than all others

Friend – somebody who trust and is fond of another

How do you define best friend?

Do you have one?

Do you want one?

The Girl Friend

          I was having a conversation with my best friend this morning – a texting conversation – and, after completing our conversation, realized just how lucky I was to have such a good friend. I can tell Girlfriend anything and she will not get mad at me, well maybe a little upset at times. My words may not be what she wants to hear, (or I, her) but we respect the other’s thoughts and opinions.

          Girlfriend and I have been besties for a few years now, and because we share many of the same personality traits, we know each other quite well, sometimes too well. And, that can lead to trouble at times. But, on the other hand, we also know how (or when) to push or not push the other’s buttons. 

          We know what will send one of us over the edge causing the other to make a hasty retreat, hoping for a white flag. We tell each other how we see it, even when we know it will be hard to hear. Everyone needs a person like that in their life. We all want to look at life through finger smudged rose-colored glasses and we need someone to take them off every now and then. and clean them. As I told her just recently (before she laughingly accused me of being poetic), I am here to plants seeds of thought, to help clear the cobwebs. That, is what friends do.

         When I have a dilemma, she plays Devil’s Advocate. When Girlfriend is having a problem, I take my turn; and even though I am secure in our friendship, you will sometimes find me hiding out behind the pecan tree because I may have pushed too far and feel her wrath buzzing around my head like a bee. I go in for the sting and then offer sweet iced tea.

         Let me add that texting is an easy way for two people who do not like confrontation, to have a sensitive conversation. Sometimes I come in like a gentle summer breeze, while other times I am like a Southern thunderstorm, like a bull in a china shop. I have no mid-way; I’m either not engaged or full out – nostrils flaring and pawing huffs. There is no doubt you have to be a special person to handle me.

         I have a few other close girlfriends who wander in and out of my life depending on how busy our lives are, but Girlfriend is a constant. Since we met, she has been my girl rock, my girl port in a storm; someone to celebrate achievements with, someone to pick me up when I’m down, cry when I cry, and laugh when I laugh, or make me laugh. We’ve seen each other through some rough patches when we didn’t think the storm would break long enough for the sun to shine through. Those are the times we reached for the other and choose to dance in the rain.

        Let’s just say, here in the South, we take our friendships seriously.

         How about you? Is there someone in your life that you trust with your deepest, darkest thoughts? Do you have a best friend, someone who inspires you? (I’m talkin’ about someone other than Hubby.)

 (Reprinted from My Life. on blogspot 2012)

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