Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng – Book Club

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste NG

Book club met recently to talk about Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. We liked it, but thought the ending was a bit weak.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Synopsis (an excerpt from Goodreads)

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.


Ng’s writing is deft and developed. It was intriguing to learn that the story is set in a real place with real rules and restrictions. Ng painted a clear picture of what a structured community, such as Shaker Heights, would be like.

We appreciated the insight into the teen relationships and friendships of the Richardson children and Pearl Warren. Their experiences were familiar and relatable.

Above and beyond anything else Ng’s character development was exceptional. It was easy to visualize and  connect with the characters through her strong and well thought out descriptions. I knew Ng had done an incredible job when, after reading the book, I could name every character.

Although, for me, the book was slow to start, I was really into it in the end.

The Ending

Little Fires Everywhere left a lot of unanswered questions, however there is good opportunity for a sequel. I’d love to know what becomes of the characters after Shaker Heights.

Next Up

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.


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Caring for an Older Dog-5 Years with Oscar

I haven’t posted about my sweet boy lately and last Thursday marked our five-year anniversary with Oscar. He is now twelve years old. If you don’t already know, we rescued Oscar when he was seven, which is already considered a senior dog.

We knew the risks of adopting and caring for an older dog, but despite some problems we have no regrets.

While Oscar did develop diabetes, not long after we got him, all has been going pretty well. His diabetes is under control and he continues to be the little light in our lives.

But caring for an older dog has its undeniable struggles. Oscar has always been stubborn. I would expect nothing less from a Schnauzer, but with every passing day his demands become more and more exhausting. It’s become his way or the highway – that’s it.


Sure we spoil him, but he’s a good old dog. We all find it hard to be tough on him when all he really wants is a few extra beans. Yes, I said beans. Oscar’s favorite treats are frozen green beans. We’ve reached a point where he is looking for them 24-7. It began when we didn’t have a fenced in area and I wanted to reward him for not wondering off. Somehow this has developed into a treat for any form of movement either on his part or mine – all day long! I could deny him or scold him for his constant pestering, but they’re just green beans, so nine times out of ten he gets one.

Aches and Pains

Other notable changes that make caring for an older dog challenging are Oscar’s obvious aches and pains. He has no interest in walking and his hind legs appear a bit wobbly. Don’t get me wrong, he will run full speed to a meal, but otherwise he’s in slow motion. I think his lack of exercise makes him irritable, but for every walk I attempt to take him on he reverses direction to head for home.

Tinkle Time

His bathroom needs have, not surprisingly, changed too. He needs to go out much more frequently. If he barks to go out, someone better move quickly because now when he has to go, it’s almost always urgent. We learned that the hard way.

Hurry Up and Wait

Forgetfulness and slowness come with caring for an older dog too. Often when I let him out he seems to forget what he’s doing out there. It’s up to me to be patient and ensure that he does what he set out to do. This is not always accomplished the first time out and if ever I’m in a rush, his pace is bound to be excruciatingly slow.


I have concluded that some of Oscar’s reluctance to be outside stems from vision and hearing loss. He’s not totally deaf or blind, but it’s clear that these functions are compromised. I often think he feels vulnerable outdoors, thus his mad rush to get back in. And, of course, more beans.

Nighty Night

The funniest thing I’ve encountered with Oscar as he ages is his desire to go to bed early. I get it, I like to go to bed early too, but he’s looking for me to accompany him at 7pm. He won’t settle down in his little bed until he sees me lying down in mine. And he wants his bed upstairs. Not a chair or a couch or a cozy piece of rug, just his bed where he can sleep uninterrupted until morning. It’s sweet really, but a bit ridiculous in the throes of summer.

Thankfully, Oscar’s issues with aging are minor and he continues to bring us so much joy despite the extra work involved in caring for an older dog.

“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” Mark Twain.

When it comes to Oscar, I definitely don’t mind 😀

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Fun with Flamingos in North Andover, MA!


Well hello there!


I don’t know what it is about pink flamingos, but they are funny and make me smile. When The North Andover Women’s Club decided to run their spring “Fly a Flock of Flamingos” FUNdraiser I knew they were on to something fabulous. In support of their North Andover High School scholarship program, you can send anyone in North Andover a flock (12) or two for $25 per flock.


The Details
Fly a Flock of Flamingos fundraiser flyerFlamingos for a Birthday

I realized my wonderful friend Rose was celebrating a birthday and knew a flamingo flock would make a perfect surprise.


Flamingos for Prom

I nearly forgot that it was prom night for Rose’s daughter, Helen. She and her handsome date got in on the flamingo fun too. Isn’t she gorgeous?

Helen and Will and the flamingos


Think Pink for Any Occasion!

The North Andover Women’s Club is thrilled to deliver a set of pink ladies to your doorstep for a special occasion or just for fun. Call them at 978-475-4411 to set up your flight.  Your flock will land and stay put for 48 fun-filled hours. Get your cameras ready!


Set up your flight today!

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Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner – Book Club

Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner, white wine, lemon cookies

Book Club’s latest meeting brought together a lively group. Discussing the ins and outs of Jennifer Weiner’s suburban sleuth story, Goodnight Nobody, was our first order of business.

General consensus – this was a good read. In fact, it boasts four out of five stars on Goodreads.

Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner

Synopsis (an excerpt from Goodreads)

For Kate Klein, a semi-accidental mother of three, suburbia has been full of unpleasant surprises. Her once-loving husband is hardly ever home. The supermommies on the playground routinely snub her. Her days are spent carpooling and enduring endless games of Candy Land, and at night, most of her orgasms are of the do-it-yourself variety.

When a fellow mother is murdered, Kate finds that the unsolved mystery is the most exciting thing to happen in Upchurch, Connecticut, since her neighbors broke ground for a guesthouse and cracked their septic tank. Even though the local police chief warns her that crime-fighting’s a job best left to the professionals, Kate launches an unofficial investigation — from 8:45 to 11:30 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, when her kids are in nursery school.

As Kate is drawn deeper into the murdered woman’s past, she begins to uncover the secrets and lies behind Upchurch’s picket-fence facade — and considers the choices and compromises all modern women make as they navigate between marriage and independence, small towns and big cities, being a mother and having a life of one’s own. 


Goodnight Nobody had a little bit of everything…murder, mystery, romance, family, drama and humor. The Club agreed it may have been a little too much of everything. Some of us loved the mystery, some loved the romance and others loved that we told them about it because they didn’t read it.

For me, the sad suburban mommy from the city was played out. The fact that Kate couldn’t get her act together in any mothering situation was annoying. Admittedly, most of us in Book Club have teenage children. Those traumatic toddler days are long since forgotten or more likely blocked out. We didn’t relate. Also, Kate’s investigative tactics were outrageous, if not uncomfortable. It was over the top.

The romance was compelling and the whodunit kept us committed. Although the ending may have furrowed a few brows, Goodnight Nobody was a good book with some fun twists and turns.

Fun Fact

If you have kids, you may recall that “goodnight nobody” is a line from the bedtime classic Goodnight Moon, but we didn’t make the connection from the title alone.

What have you been reading lately?

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The College Search is On!

When I’m stumped with what to blog about, I think about what 3 Olives & a Twist is all about…cocktail conversations! So, what is top of mind when I’m out and about these days? College!

I have a high school junior and, whether I’m ready or not or she’s ready or not, the college search is on. Our mailbox is inundated with college promotional material. I have not heard of half of these schools.

Most conversations about the college search are innocent enough. Have you gone on any tours yet? What does your child want to study? What part of the country do you see them in? My answers…yes, probably business, can I say my backyard?

The truth is I happily field these questions, but my prospective college student isn’t nearly as engaged as I am.

I am oddly excited about the prospect of my kids heading off to college. Between fits of panic, I dream about the wonderful opportunity both of my girls have ahead of them. The freedom, the change of scenery, the independence, the newness of it all is thrilling.

As a parent, I’m fascinated with the college years. I’ve already blogged about it four times.

  1. Advice for College Students
  2. Part 1 College Life – the parent perspective
  3. Part 2 College Life – the student perspective
  4. College in New York City

While I’ve happily held the reins of Julia’s college search, it’s time I hand them to her. I question whether she’ll grab hold, but following a conversation with one of the high school guidance counselors, I’m reassured to hear that it’s entirely normal for a high school junior to be tepid about their college search. I’m also happy that help is right around the corner. In April, the high school guidance department will begin their annual push to get juniors on track with their college search and I hope the spark I’ve been waiting to see will finally be ignited.


I love having someone else tell my child exactly what I’ve been telling them for months and suddenly seeing action.

Whatever it takes – I’m on board and I can’t wait for our next round of college tours. Back to the Big Apple. NYC here we come – again!

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