Mission Hollywood by Michelle Keener has a lot going for it. It’s fun, well written, and has memorable characters that seem realistic (with one exception).
Here are some things I liked: Lily’s church; I really appreciated the emphasis her church put on serving Christ through serving others. The pastor and his family weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty when it came to their homeless ministry.
Ben Prescott’s story felt real. I felt Keener did a good job helping us see why Ben was fed up with the hypocrisy he’d seen growing up in a churchgoing yet abusive home. It was really nice to see him realize God’s love was consistent through all he’d been through. Lily and Ben’s growing feelings for each other seemed very natural and unforced. I also liked that Lily was grumpy sometimes and not chipper and holier than thou.
What I didn’t like: I didn’t feel like Lily’s father and brother respected her all that much. She was someone to be cherished and protected, but maybe not taken seriously. When she was uncomfortable having Ben around after he put unwanted moves on her, they kept inviting him over for dinner and church events. It was supposed to come off as cute, but it left me a little cold. I also found the villain of the story hard to swallow. There wasn’t really any reason for that person to act the way they did, aside from clinical insanity, which we were shown no sign of.
Despite my reservations regarding the villain and the lack of respect I perceived from the males in Lily’s family, it was a good read. The main characters really stood out. Even the small characters were well-drawn and interesting. I like how compassionate Lily and her friends were, and the way they responded with kindness instead of judgment. I’d recommend it.
Today, I want to chat about Gingerly by debut author Rachel Hodges. But by reading this book, you’d have no idea it was Hodges’ first work.
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Heat Level: ❤️
Overall Rating: 5/6 Glass Slippers
Caitlyn never thought her life would end up like this. At twenty-seven, she’s divorced, broke, expecting an exchange student she can’t afford, and still can’t find the right styling products to tame her wild, red hair. Unemployed and in serious need of something to pour her heart into, she becomes the nanny to an autistic boy named Aiden. Her background as an assistant to a special needs child makes the job a breeze, but there’s one issue…Aiden’s dad.
Nick isn’t a bad man, but he is devilishly handsome and not shy when it comes to the ladies. At first, it’s easy for the pair to keep a professional distance. But as time goes…
Marketing my book is really, really frustrating. There. I said it.
Now how to complain about it without being unfair to (and potentially pissing off) the powers that be? That’s tricky. Another thing to be frustrated about.
I’ll just stick with complaining about myself. It’s safer that way, and makes for a shorter blog post.
Without further ado, let’s cut straight to the whining.
I read and read and read all I can about how to create ads, when to run them, how to get reviews, how to promote myself, how to put myself forward, how to be everywhere online and in person at once without seeming self-absorbed (but yes, totally promoting myself) and I swear I only retain 5% of what I read. My mind is like a flippin’ spaghetti strainer with too-big holes. It doesn’t help that I have ADD, am trying to write a sequel and raising two young kids who LOVE to distract me. Actual things they’ve said, mostly this week:
“Mom! Mom! Mom! What’s for dinner?” Seriously? You just had lunch.
“Mom! Mom! Mom! Two years ago, when I was five, someone in kindergarten hurted my feelings. I don’t remember which kid who said the mean thing or what the mean thing was, but my feelings were so hurt! And now I can’t stop being sad! Hey, are you laughing at me? Laughing at your own daughter? Your only daughter? You don’t love me, do you? I’ve never been your favorite!” Stamp. Stamp. Loud wailing. Slamming door.
“Mom! Mom! Mom! Is Ringo hitting the high hat or a triangle on Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, and is that a good song for me to listen to?” My autistic son is obsessed with The Beatles and I can’t finish a thought without being asked about them. (Ringo was actually hitting an anvil, and whether or not my third-grader should be listening to a whimsical, catchy song about a serial killer is a different conversation entirely).
“Mom! Mom! Mom! My brother just kicked me in the stomach!” No, he didn’t. He was asleep on the couch. I saw you walk your stomach into his foot just to get him in trouble.
“Mom! Mom! Mom! Can I call you ‘Mole’? You have a lot of moles, and ‘Mole’ is easier to say than ‘Mom’.” No, for the hundredth time. My name is ‘Mom’, you little ingrate.
It’s difficult to organize my scattered thoughts and follow involved step-by-step book promo plans. So I post pictures of flowers. And Disney World. And my incredibly adorable children (while second-guessing every image of them I post, as though stalkers are lurking behind every cell phone, waiting to pounce). Everyone likes those posts. Not nearly as much attention gets paid to my book, Gingerly, even though I treat it like a newborn baby and bring it to theme parks, the beach, historic landmarks, the zoo and take a million pictures of it. Check out the bottom left picture. Even the giraffe could care less about Gingerly. “Oh, you wrote a book? I’ve taken poops bigger than that.”
I must be doing something wrong. It’s a pretty good book, if I do say so myself. Other people say so, too. One thing I’m NOT frustrated about is the very kind people who have honored me by reading the book and taking the time to leave reviews with phrases like:
“…endearing characters and memorable setting…”
“…most impressed by the book’s sharp pacing and effortless writing…”
“…full of twists and turns without losing the coherency…”
“…great characters. I couldn’t put the book down!”
“…honest, raw and real…effervescent read…”
And so on.
Am I shamelessly trying to get people to buy my book through whining about my difficulty marketing it? Yes. That’s totally happening. Consider yourself manipulated.
“You are pregnant.” It wasn’t a question. All I wanted to do was walk my dog in peace.
“No. I just have a lot of bloat. From medication and mild digestive issues.”
“Oh. Do you have colitis?”
The lady I was talking to wasn’t trying to be rude, but here’s a word to the wise:
Unless you have gotten a baby shower invitation or can see the baby’s head crowning, NEVER assume a woman is pregnant.
Because of the way my hips tilt, my tummy has always stuck out a bit. I’m taking corticosteroids for asthma. They’re helping me use my inhaler less, but are making my stomach, face and neck swell up like a balloon. They’re also making my skin hyper-sensitive to sunlight. I swim in the pool late in the afternoon for 15 minutes with SPF 70 on and still turn red.
So…just putting it out there: I am not pregnant or a tomato.
You know why I love to sew for my friend, Christy? Besides the fact that we’ve known each other since we were 10-year-old California girls and she’s one of the sweetest people in existence, everything I make her fits. It doesn’t matter what pattern I use or what fabric I use, it all fits her like a glove. I’ve never made her anything that hasn’t fit well, and I’ve easily made her a dozen things. This kind of sewing magic hasn’t worked for myself, any of my other friends (even those with similar measurements), or even on my own daughter (though to be fair, she grows so fast I sew for the next size up). What makes this even wilder is that Christy lives in Texas and I live in Florida, and we haven’t seen each other in about 4 years. I attribute this to our long friendship and amazing connection.
As you can see, there are two different Springtime looks here. The pattern, B6453, is by designer Gretchen Hirsch for Butterick. In choosing the size, I followed the measurements per the finished garment, not Christy, as paper patterns tend to run a bit large in my opinion. I was torn between making this a fitted dress and a full-skirted one, so I decided to do both. I was going to sew a tricot chiffon overskirt, but quickly realized it would be almost as cheap to buy one. I’m trying to write a sequel to my first novel, Gingerly (not coincidentally about a young woman with a sewing business), and don’t have as much time to sew as I’d like. (Interestingly, this is the kind of dress my heroine, Caitlyn, would LOVE to wear). I ordered this tutu from Amazon, praying the coral shade would coordinate with the lovely fabric from Sis Boom’s Sugar Beach line. I love this fabric. If I was a drug addict, I’d grind it up and snort it like cocaine.
I mailed the tutu and dress to Christy, she found the perfect accessories, as usual, and her talented daughter, Julia, snapped the photos for me. Doesn’t my friend look radiant? Which way do you prefer it: with or without the chiffon overskirt?
One thing I love about living in Florida is that there’s such a long growing season. I don’t think things actually stop growing, to be honest. I miss growing daffodils and tulips as I did in New England, but having a front yard full of year-round roses compensates for a good deal. I can’t begin to explain how nice it is to have roses that survive my care (or lack thereof). I snip off the dead roses and branches once in a while, water them if it hasn’t rained in a couple days, and that’s it. Most of the flowers pictured are from my own yard, with a few that I see on my evening walk. The Knockout Roses are the hardiest and most prolific, though they have a disappointingly slight fragrance. The Hybrid Tea Roses are slow-blooming, but the fragrance smells wonderfully like the kind of hand cream you find in a gift shop that caters to old ladies. Old ladies know how to live, because that stuff smells delicious.
Besides six rosebushes, I’m also growing two bougainvillea vines that remind me of me and my husband’s honeymoon in Catalina Island (glorious bougainvillea vines weighing down chain link fences everywhere you look), two jasmine vines that can’t decide whether to live or die, two azalea bushes that are looking pretty melancholy because they need fertilizer and water, thriving asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed, but the butterflies are ignoring them), tall, proud hollyhocks that will be blooming in a few weeks, marigolds, and dozens of morning glories that my husband keeps mowing over. I need to put them in pots until they’re big enough to hold their own. There are also one or two three-foot-tall dandelions. There’s something bold and rakish about them that I admire. It seems a shame to pull them now that they’ve gone on for so long. So I won’t.
My books arrived! Three heavy boxes containing fifty books from BookBaby for my book signings. I’m afraid everyone else will have to wait until March 1 to get their orders, when they arrive from Amazon.
I am over the moon! It feels so, so good to hold my book! The painting on the cover is by Wanda Cox of Villa Rica, Georgia. The cover is the handiwork of my friend, Chris Audet. The writing is all by myself. It’s done. I wrote a book.