January: Book/Movie Club Reviews “The Light Between Oceans”

January’s 2017 Book and Movie Review Theme: Australia

Book/Movie Club Set Up:

Each member of our group (women ages 24-48) draws a month and a genre/theme. Whosever month it is, gets to choose a book and movie in their category. (They do not have to be one in the same.)

The group has approximately 3 weeks to read the book and then we get together to eat, discuss the book, and then watch the movie.



Quick Book Summary (from Amazon): by M.L. Stedman, published July 31, 2012  Tom returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper and brings a wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.



Quick Movie Summary (from IMDB): 2016 directed and screenplay written by Derek Cianfrance  Starring: Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, Rachel Weisz  –  A lighthouse keeper and his wife living off the coast of Western Australia raise a baby they rescue from a drifting rowing boat.


The Itinerary:

light-between-oceans-food2We met at Sydney’s house this month. Since the theme was Australia, she ordered “Aussie-tizers” from Outback Steak House. We had Bloomin’ Onion® petals, Steakhouse Mac & Cheese bites, and cheesy fries. Wine, beer, and Australian cookies were brought by others.


Thoughts about the Book:

The opinions were split this month. Some people absolutely loved the book and some people hated the book. Out of six of us, three of us finished.

I was one of the people not to finish the book and was actually in the middle of loving and hating the book. I didn’t mind the writing; I actually enjoyed part I. I thought it was not the kind of book you read in a hurry but the type of book for a lazy afternoon. However, once I got to the more serious subject matter (I’m a sensitive reader when it comes to children), I couldn’t read it any longer. I wasn’t alone on this, even discussing the book made some of us tear-up.

Others hated/loved the book because of the writing style and details. One of us (I’m not naming any names) admitted to throwing her book across the room at one point because of the storyline.

Thoughts about the Movie:

Again, we were split down the middle. Here were some of the comments about the movie:

“The movie was really toned down. The most traumatic parts were not nearly as heart wrenching as the book.”

“I only stayed for half of it, and I was on my phone the whole time.”

“Loved the book and the movie was good, but I agree, it was toned down and it lost some of the drama because of it.”

“I thought it was super boring, and I didn’t like any of the characters.”

Girly Discussion:

Some thought the lead actress Alicia Vikander was gorgeous.book-club-peeps

We also pondered as to if we would be able to stay alone in a lighthouse like the characters had. How long would you be able to stay on an island with no other people – except your spouse?

Interesting Discoveries:

Five people portrayed the character, Lucy/Grace.

The Group’s Average ratings (out of 5):

Book: 3.4 Bloomin’ Onions

Movie: 2.8 Bloomin’ Onions

The bottom line:


This one is difficult to say. Personally, I thought the book was well-written and so if you don’t mind a non-feel-good tear-jerker, you should read it. But it did have a lot of flowery prose, so if you’d rather just get on with the story, this one might not be for you.

And if you were to pick just one, I would recommend the movie over the book (even though overall it received a lower rating) because you will actually get to see all the beautiful scenery instead of just reading about it.



Next month’s Book and Movie Theme: Looking Back.

Book: Before I go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

Love and Laughter,






Chapter 1: The Trouble with Snowmen by Dorlana Vann

the-trouble-with-snowmen-_8b-final-large-copyA Romantic Comedy all about heart-breakers (snowmen), fun shenanigans, fashion, séances, downtown Houston, urban cowgirls, and some of that kissy-kissy stuff.

The Trouble with Snowmen

by Dorlana Vann

Book 1: Trouble with Men Series



Snowmen drift into your life like they were sent from above. The relationship is great, rolls right along and builds. Everything seems perfect … until a little heat is introduced. Then they melt, leaving only their hat, their scarf, something to remind their victims of what they’d lost.

Urban cowgirl Haley Monroe is told that the fabulously hot guy who just dumped her was a snowman. Her friend, Maximilian, convinces her that the only way she’ll ever stop being played by snowmen is to become one. It takes a lot of drinks to work up the nerve, but Haley gets her sexy on and goes on the prowl.

Famous horror author Larry White drops everything to attend a midnight séance at Maximilian’s apartment where he meets Haley. By the way she’s dressed—and just propositioned him—he assumes she’s a hooker. Larry can’t pass up the chance to get inside her head, especially since prostitution is the character’s occupation in his next book.

After spending the weekend together, unexpected sparks surprise both Haley and Larry. The trouble is Haley is dead-set on snowmanning the unkempt “starving artist” she met at the séance, and Larry doesn’t think he could have a real relationship with a woman with a past, so they go their separate ways.

The real fun begins when they meet again and find out neither one of them were who they thought they were. Can they reignite the flame? Or will they have a snowman’s chance in hell?

The Trouble with Snowmen

By Dorlana Vann

Chapter 1

“I had him pegged as a snowman the moment I met him,” Regina said. “It was only a matter of time before he melted.”

“What are you talking about?” Haley Monroe appreciated Regina, the owner of the four-apartment multiplex they lived in, for jumping out of bed at 5 a.m., but now she wondered if she should’ve called Maximilian instead. “You’re not making any sense whatsoever. I’m talking about Travis. You know, my boyfriend.” Her throat threatened to close up as she forced out a high-pitched, “I mean, my ex-boyfriend. Here, look.” Haley gave Regina her phone with the text from Travis that said ‘I want to break up.’

“I know who you’re talking about.” Regina glanced at the phone before she sat down on the loveseat next to Haley. “I’m sorry, but Travis is a snowman, and snowmen never, ever last forever.”

Haley’s eyes burned as she wiped her tears on the shirt she had clutched against her chest. “Really, a snowman? A man made out of snow? I’ve never even seen a real snowman.”

Regina nodded and gave Haley a sad smile. “You have now. You see, snowmen drift into your life like they were sent from above, and you can’t believe that y’all have so much in common. The relationship is great, rolls right along and builds. Everything seems perfect . . . until a little heat is introduced, and then they melt. They melt, disappear, leaving only their hat, their scarf, or in this case, their shirt. That is Travis’s shirt you’re sobbing into, right?”

“Maybe, but that doesn’t mean anything. He’s forgetful, like me. That’s why we’re so perfect together.” Haley felt the heaviness in her chest as she forced out her reasoning, “We both love the same type of foods, love to do the same things . . . What?”

Regina shook her head and tsked a couple more times before saying, “The snowman’s snow job. They’ll tell you anything to keep you hopping into their beds. Travis most likely pretended to like everything you like in order to please you.”

“How is that a bad thing? I think it’s kind of sweet that he does things that I like just to make me happy.”

“Okay, fine. What about talk of commitment? Did you want to take the relationship to the next level? That would be the heat, because if he’s a snowman, there would’ve been something that caused him to melt.”

Haley thought of herself as a mature, independent, and smart twenty-five-year-old. True, she hadn’t really lived on her own for very long. After college, she had to move back home with her parents for a while. But now she lived in downtown Houston and worked two jobs. She was a legal assistant at the law offices of Skinner and Skinner during the day and a bartender at night. And she thought she’d had a sufficient amount of relationships to know when a man only wanted to play.

But crap! A moment of clarity banged around in her weary head as she thought about the night before. She’d told Travis she loved him. She could have sworn he looked straight at her, but then he started snoring. And who could blame him after their passionate night together? Well, that’s what she’d thought up until a second ago. Had that really set him off? Had that been stupid of her to say? “Nope.” Haley sat up straight, determined to be strong, even though her squeaky voice gave her away. “Can’t think of anything.”

“Right.” Regina sighed in defeat. “Well, I’m sure it’ll come to you.” She patted Haley’s knee. “Next time you hook up with a guy, maybe you should try to stay away from his type.”

The door swung open, and Maximilian walked in. He was fully dressed, eye-lined, and hair-sprayed. He lived down the hall from Haley in Apartment Three and, since living there, he had become one of Haley’s closest friends.

Maximilian took one look at the situation and said, “Aww, your snowman melted.”

Regina stood up. “He texted her. The bastard.” She handed the phone to Maximilian.

“You too?” Haley whined and wanted to curl up in a ball, her pretend strength not even fooling her anymore. “Why didn’t y’all at least warn me if this is what y’all thought?” A little sob and string of snot escaped. She considered wiping her nose on Travis’s shirt but just couldn’t do it, so she used the back of her hand instead.

“Would you’ve listened to us?” Regina said as she headed in the direction of the kitchen.

Maximilian said, “I wouldn’t have listened to us either if I had that tall, blond, muscled cowboy.”

Regina came back with a paper towel and handed it to Haley.

As Haley cleaned up, she thought about the question. Besides being gorgeous, Travis was easy-going and they never fought about anything big. So none of this made sense. She didn’t know if she bought their snowman theory. “Maybe I misunderstood the text. I should call him, and—”

“No!” Regina and Maximilian shouted in unison.

“Let him seep into the ground where he belongs,” Maximilian said.

Regina said, “Since reinforcements are here, I guess I’m going to go pee, brush my teeth, and get my coffee.”

“Wait, Regina,” Maximilian said. “I was actually looking for you. Can I have a séance in Apartment Four tonight?”

Regina crossed her arms. “There are no such things as ghosts, Maximilian.”

Mr. Chase had died before Haley had moved in. She’d heard the story, though, of how they’d found the eccentric old man’s body amongst his hordes of canned goods that he’d stored for the end of the world. Maximilian speculated that his food had fought for freedom and buried him alive. All Haley knew for sure was that Regina couldn’t keep the apartment rented.

Maximilian put his hand on his hip. “Peter Jackson ran out screaming.”

“So did that biker dude,” Haley added and then blew her nose, grateful that the subject had changed.

Regina looked from Haley to Maximilian before saying, “Fine, it’s all yours.”

“Will you be there?”

“That old fart still owes me two month’s rent. You bet I’ll be there.”

After Regina left, Maximilian sat in the seat next to Haley. He handed her the phone back. “Tell Uncle Maximilian all about it.”

“Not much to tell. Seems like you and Regina knew Travis better than I did.”

“We just have more experience in reading people and not letting them manipulate us. The sad truth is, snowmen don’t fall from the sky preassembled. You had to help build him.”

“What? Me? What did I do?”

“You probably let him get by with little things because you didn’t want to lose him. Each time he got by with not calling when he said he would or blowing you off to go hang with his buddies, he grew. But honey, I’m not saying it’s all your fault. He took advantage of you because, let’s face it, you’re still a little green.”

Now that Haley thought about it, the reason they never fought was because he’d look at her with his baby blues, smile, and then take off his shirt and say, “I’m sorry, babe, let me make it up to you.” And she thought about what pretty babies they would have. Had he never planned on having a future with her? Haley looked down in disgust at Travis’s shirt. “Maybe y’all are right.” She went to throw the crumbled-up shirt to the floor when Maximilian grabbed it.

“Of course we’re right!” He stood up holding the maroon shirt with white shoulder yokes against his chest. “I could make cowboy clothes.” Maximilian slipped the shirt on over his white V-neck T. “What do you think? Is it me? ”

All it did was make Haley think about her and Travis’s night together and how sexy he had looked in that shirt. “What am I supposed to do? Regina told me not to date his type. Am I not supposed to go for guys I’m attracted to? Am I supposed to stay away from hot guys?”

“Of course not. You have to teach yourself to know the difference between a real man and one made of white fluff.” Maximilian arched a thin eyebrow. “You know, there may be a way to speed up the process of IDing the snowmen, but it might seem a bit extreme.”

“Okay,” she mumbled. “I’m curious. What is it?”

“Simple. It’s like the old saying goes, It takes one to know one. You have to become the snowman.”

“Simple? I’m still not positive what a snowman even is.”

Maximilian plopped back down on the couch.

Haley got a strong whiff of Travis’ musky, citrusy scent. She fought back the tears by squinching up her face and holding her breath.

“Oh, peaches, it’ll get better. Looking at you, I think this is a good idea. You just have to make sure you protect yourself by finding someone you’re not attracted to. Cozy up to someone who is totally not your type. Don’t even spit at anyone who you think is hot. Got it?”

She shrugged and puttered out her breath.

“As soon as they indicate that they’re in love, or almost in love, or at least in lust with you, you dump them. Don’t forget to leave something behind. It’s the icing on the cake, the cherry on the ice cream sundae, the cigarette after sex. It’s an ego trip. See, snowmen hope their victims do what you did with this garment.” He sniffed at the shoulder of his new shirt. “You know, I bet he dabbed extra deodorant or cologne on this before he left. I must say, he’s one of the best snowmen I’ve ever met. I’m a little in awe.”

Haley put her hands over her face and let out a muffled, “I don’t think I can do that. It seems really mean. It feels really mean.”

“Sacrifices must be made in order for you to get your education. You have to experience it from the other side. You’ll get over Travis, and whoever you snowman will get over you. And everyone will be the better for it.”

“I don’t know.” Haley dropped her hands to her lap and shook her head.

“Why don’t you come tonight? To the séance. I promise there will be a couple of single, straight men.”

“No offense, Maximilian, but I don’t think anyone going to your séance will be anyone I’m interested in.”

Maximilian sighed with vigor. “You are a slow pupil, aren’t you? That’s who you need, sunshine! Someone you will never ever fall in love with. If you don’t do this now while you hate men, you probably never will. Use your anger and pain. Grrr. Put your cowgirl boots on and do some ass kicking.”

“I’ll have to think about it. Right now, all I feel like doing is nothing. Maybe I’ll go back to bed. Wait, do you have any of that double chocolate espresso ice cream left? Better yet, tequila. Yes, tequila. Oh wait, it’s breakfast time. What was I thinking? I mean a tequila sunrise.”

“Don’t you have to go to work?”

“The last thing I want to do is face Brenda Fishlips this morning.”

“Come on. Get up and get dressed. Moping around won’t do you any good.”

“Fine. I’ll go to work, but I’ll have to let you know about the séance later.”

“Well, you know I’m not one to pressure, but this time I must insist. It’s for your own good.” He gave her a quick peck on the cheek and then stood up. “Midnight, of course. Be there or be snowman bait forever.” And he was out the door.

Haley thought back to the night she’d met Travis. Did he do as Regina had said he’d done? Had he drifted into her life? What did that even mean? True, she hadn’t known him before.

He had caught her attention that first week she’d tended bar at Kicker’s nightclub. He was built and bulged but moved gracefully with this girl and the next on the dance floor.

When he made it up to the bar to buy a round for his group, they locked eyes. He smiled and slowly tipped his cowboy hat. Haley tried not to look at him while she helped other customers, but every time she sneaked a glance, she caught his stare. When she got to him, her heart pounded, and she couldn’t keep the smile from giving her excitement away.

The first words out of his mouth had been “What time do you get off work?”

She expected to get hit on by customers, kind of part of the job, and she usually brushed them off, but this guy actually made her cheeks heat up. She told him the truth. She had to close and then get up early to go to work the next day.

He leaned on the counter and said, “That’s okay, babe, I can wait all night for you. In the morning, I’ll make you a hot breakfast in bed before you head out to work.”

She remembered the thoughts she had at that moment. What a shame. The hottest cowboy I’ve ever met is a walking cliché of a playboy.

But then he said, “I’m sorry.” He removed his hat, his blond hair bringing out the sparkle in his blue eyes. “I didn’t mean to come on so strong. I panicked. I usually don’t get so nervous, but I’ve never met anyone like you before . . . you’re breathtaking.”

She’d given him her number, and they went out a couple of nights later. On the third date, they slept together, which she thought had shown tremendous restraint.

As she thought this all through, she guessed she had had some type of gut feeling about him being what Regina and Maximilian called a snowman. She totally ignored it because she had been blinded by his dynamic looks and charm combo.

Haley closed her eyes and moaned. If she were to be honest with herself right now, Travis wasn’t the first snowman she’d ever dated. How many times had she felt this sickening feeling that she would miss them to death, but they wouldn’t even glance back? She didn’t like it one bit. Maybe it would be possible to learn how to trust and pay attention to her instincts more. Maybe Maximilian was right. Perhaps it would “Take one to know one.”

Buy at Amazon:


You can still read Kindle books even if you don’t have a Kindle

Soul Mate Publishing Aug 2015


Book (Tailored for Trouble) and Movie (Enchanted) Club’s Review for December 2016

December’s 2016 Book and Movie Review Theme: Romance

Book/Movie Club Set Up:

Each member of our group (women ages 24-48) draws a month and a genre/theme. Whosever month it is, gets to choose a book and movie in their category. (They do not have to be one in the same.)

The group has approximately 3 weeks to read the book and then we get together to eat, discuss the book, and then watch the movie.

Quick Book Summary (from Amazon)

tailored-for-troubleTailored for Trouble by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff (August 2016): Taylor Reed is no stranger to selfish, uncaring CEOs. She was fired by one, which is why she has created her own executive training program—helping heartless bosses become more human. So Taylor shocks even herself when she agrees to coach Bennett Wade, the cutthroat exec who got her unceremoniously canned.


Quick Movie Summary (from IMDB)

enchantedEnchanted (2007) Directed by Kevin Lima and written by Bill Kelly (He also wrote “Blast from the Past”): The beautiful princess Giselle is banished by an evil queen from her magical, musical animated land and finds herself in the gritty reality of the streets of modern-day Manhattan. Starring: Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden, and  Susan Sarandon


The Itinerary:presents

We met at my house this month. Everyone brought either book related or Christmas themed snacks, so we ended up with mulled wine wassail and a regular wassail, croissant pizzas, cucumber sandwiches, lots of cookies, popcorn, and peanuts, champagne and wine. We also had a secret Santa book and bookmark exchanged – (I was so excited to get Z: a novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler. )

Thoughts about the Book:

Well, it was my pick this month …  *clears throat*

No one liked the book. The author did not bother to add the plot promised in the synopsis. The writing was awkward and the story-line was unbelievable and cheesy. Here are some of the group’s comments:

“I didn’t realize it was so easy to get published.”

“Maybe this book was supposed to be a joke.”

“I laughed … but more like Ha!”

“This was like a bad knock-off of Fifty Shades.”

“I couldn’t finish it.”

“No character transformation/arc.”

“What was up with the cookies?”

“Her inner dialogue was annoying.”

“Why didn’t the author just make the book in 1st person?”

“I hated this book.”

Thoughts about the Movie:

Everyone had already watched the movie before, and we all pretty much liked it. We thought it was sweet, romantic, and funny.  We laughed a lot and enjoyed all the different fairy tale (Disney) references that I didn’t pay much attention to the first go around.

Girly Discussion:

The sex scenes in Tailored for Trouble were gag inducing and were compared (unfavorably) to Fifty Shades.

Interesting Discoveries:

Enchanted has tons of fairy tale references (Giselle’s Character is based on a lot of different Disney Princesses but mostly Snow White) and cameos from Disney’s fairy tale movies, such as:  Judy Kuhn the singing voice of Pocahontas, Jodi Benson who was the voice of Ariel in The Little Mermaid, and Idina Menzel who later sang the Oscar and Grammy Award-winning song “Let It Go” in Frozen.

You can find a list of Disney references here.

We noticed how Giselle’s wardrobe became progressively modern and when someone looked it up, it pointed out how Robert’s clothes became more fitting a fairy tale prince.

We also discovered that one of the women in our group knows all of the names of the actresses/singers who played Disney’s fairy tale princesses – crazy.

The Group’s Average ratings (out of 5):


OK, I’m just going to give the actual ratings from each of us:

F for effort, 0, .25, .25,-1.00, 0 – I’m pretty sure that adds up to an empty cup.


4 cups of wassail

The bottom line:

I checked Amazon before making my book choice and Tailored for Trouble  had overwhelmingly positive reviews – which I really don’t understand, seeing as 6 out 6 of us – different ages and book preferences – didn’t care for it. I say skip the book.

Enchanted is fun for a lot of audiences: Disney fans, fairy tale fans, romantic comedy fans – If you haven’t already watched the movie, watch it. And if you have, watch it a second time to catch all the fun references.

Next month’s Book and Movie Theme:

Australia and we will be reading  The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman 


Love and Laughter,


Fairy Tale Inspired poem: Sonnet to Old Man Winter

50819854 - winter forest. winter landscape. snow covered trees.Sonnet to Old Man Winter

by Dorlana Vann

I wrote this in 2011 – my first (and last) attempt at a sonnet. My inspiration for this poem was the Russian fairy tale Morozko (Old Man Winter).


You’re a vision in white; lightly sun kissed.

Your touch can be soft and your rhythm slow.

You take my breath away with your crispness.

Your name echoes with the breeze, Morozko.

I met you in the bitter woods that day.

Your trick question I answered with the truth.

Please tell me, what was I suppose to say?

To blatantly lie would have been uncouth.

Your mood changes from slightly cool to harsh.

Your nature is biting; naturally cruel.

Your icy winds went straight through my cold heart.

You gave me chilling death, my sister jewels.

Respect Old Man Winter, father would say.

I’ll pay my respects…in the month of May.




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