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REVIEW:  Confessions of a Prairie Bitch by Alison Arngrim

REVIEW: Confessions of a Prairie Bitch by Alison Arngrim

confessions-of-a-prairie-bitch

I’ll start the confessions by admitting that I was never a major fan of “Little House on the Prairie.” Even at age 10 I knew sappy when I saw it and not ever having read any of the “Little House” books, I wasn’t invested in the series. That being said, I did watch my fair share of episodes since in that day and age, there weren’t the 500+ channel options of today. Without the snappy book title and loads of recommendations when Jane featured this in a Daily Deals, I would probably never have heard of or chosen to read this book but having finished it, I’m glad I did.

Arngrim starts at the beginning, laying out her parents’ lives and how they got into show business then proceeds to tell about her actor brother and then herself. She’s honest, painfully so at times, funny and a great raconteur. There are hilarious details of how she wowed ‘em with her snooty script reading during her audition for the part of Nellie, the inside scoop on the custom made curls she wore for the length of her time in “Walnut Grove,” her memories of the folks behind the scenes who really ran the production – learn what liquid lubed the actors and how seriously the stock was managed – and discover her take on her fellow actors. For the size cast they had, it is amazing how well they all got along and how they still consider themselves family almost 40 years later.

But don’t think that stories of Half Pint, Pa and the others are all that’s here. Alison bares her soul and her painful family past all without sounding strident or bitter though God knows she has a right to be. Readers who have drug, alcohol, rape or incest triggers are warned that parts of Alison’s story will hit home hard. Life might have been sweetness and light before the camera but the years leading up to her time on the series were awful for her.

The lessons learned on the set to speak up, look people in the eye and get outside her shy shell served her well during her school years of dodging LA gang members on the bus and sticking up for herself at home. The hijinks she got up to with cast member and good friend Melissa Gilbert are a riot to read about as they managed to make it through their teen years together.

By the age of 20 the series was behind her and I wondered what she’d done since then. Not much acting but what contributions she’s made to the lives of others. “Little House” ended just as the AIDS scourge was beginning to be seen in the US and Alison’s on-air “husband” Steve Tracey’s battle with the disease cued her next stage in life. For the next few years, she tirelessly dedicated herself to volunteering for the cause and using her Nellie notoriety to focus attention on the needs of the dying.

What happened then? Alison used Nellie one more time to turn the spotlight onto the dark of her past and work to overturn a law that, as explained in the book, is enough to make you weep. Alison had already had years of therapy by this time but by going public – on the “f*cking Larry King show!” as her father gleefully put it – she and others took on the California legislature and won a victory for the abused.

I finished the book in awe of Alison’s courage in speaking up for causes she believes in and for her willingness to open herself and her experiences to public scrutiny in order to help others as well as herself. I also appreciated her wit and humor and her ability to tell amusing anecdotes that put you there on the set of her show – all without talking herself up or others down. But she’s still honest and funny at the same time. Good memoires are an illuminating read – not just about past events but also about the teller as well and Alison’s book is well worth seeking out and spending time with.

~Jayne

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Daily Deals: A few recommended reads along with links to a list of discounts

Daily Deals: A few recommended reads along with links to a...

Amazon has a number of romance books between $.99 and $1.99.

Storm That Is Sterling by Lisa Renee JonesStorm That Is Sterling by Lisa Renee Jones. $ 1.99

From the Jacket Copy:

He may be invincible to everyone else. . .
Sterling Jeter has remarkable powers and has shown himself to be just about indestructible. But beautiful, brilliant Rebecca Burns knows that even a Super Soldier needs comfort, and so much more …

But she can see that deep down, he’s just a man …

Sterling and Rebecca’s teenage romance was interrupted, but years later the heat between them flares back to life. Even though it endangers everything they’re fighting for, it’s impossible to resist picking up right where they left off . . .

This is LRJ’s super soldier series. I love love the titles of these books. I bought the first two and they sit in my never ending to be read pile. I’ll have to add the third. The reading order is as follows:

Legend of Michael: Sin and Satisfaction (Zodius)
Danger That Is Damion
Storm That Is Sterling (A Zodius Novel)

Sourcebooks is having a $1.99 sale with over 300 books priced at $1.99 including many Georgette Heyer books.

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Duke of Shadows Meredith DuranThe Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran. $ 1.99

From the Jacket Copy:

In a debut romance as passionate and sweeping as the British Empire, Meredith Duran paints a powerful picture of an aristocrat torn between two worlds, an heiress who dares to risk everything…and the love born in fire and darkness that nearly destroys them.

From exotic sandstone palaces…

Sick of tragedy, done with rebellion, Emmaline Martin vows to settle quietly into British Indian society. But when the pillars of privilege topple, her fiancé’s betrayal leaves Emma no choice. She must turn for help to the one man whom she should not trust, but cannot resist: Julian Sinclair, the dangerous and dazzling heir to the Duke of Auburn.

To the marble halls of London…

In London, they toast Sinclair with champagne. In India, they call him a traitor. Cynical and impatient with both worlds, Julian has never imagined that the place he might belong is in the embrace of a woman with a reluctant laugh and haunted eyes. But in a time of terrible darkness, he and Emma will discover that love itself can be perilous — and that a single decision can alter one’s life forever.

Destiny follows wherever you run.

A lifetime of grief later, in a cold London spring, Emma and Julian must finally confront the truth: no matter how hard one tries to deny it, some pasts cannot be disowned…and some passions never die.

Is your clicking finger getting tired? My arm is sore all the way to my shoulder. This is Duran’s first novel that was published through a now defunct Borders + Gather.com contest.

The Duke of Shadows received multiple reviews at Dear Author with varying grades.

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One Wrong Step (Borderline Series #2) by Laura GriffinOne Wrong Step by Laura Griffin. $ 1.99

From the Jacket Copy:

SHE NEVER PLANNED TO GET INVOLVED WITH HER EX AGAIN, ESPECIALLY NOT IN HIS MURDER….

But that’s just what happens when Celie Wells has an encounter with her former husband, and he turns up dead an hour later. Now, after working hard to distance herself from his crooked ways and shady connections, she finds she’s smack dab in the middle of his murder investigation. And it isn’t just the police who have their eye on her, but an enraged drug lord who is seeking payback.

The only person who seems to be on her side is old acquaintance John McAllister. But the sexy reporter has a nose for news, as well as a reputation as a playboy. Is he helping Celie out because he wants a story…or a one-night stand? She knows John’s interest is potentially hazardous to her heart. But not accepting his help could put her life at even greater risk — and she can’t afford one wrong step.

I thought I read all of Griffin’s novels but this one appears to have escaped me. How is that possible? Jayne got me started on Griffin. Jayne’s not much of a romantic suspense lover so when she reviewed and recommended the Glass Sisters books, I started reading Griffin’s backlist. I feel like her Glass Sisters series and earlier Tracer books were her best.

 

In looking back on the archives, Jayne reviewed this title but the book was incomplete and gave it a C-.

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The Midwife of Venice by Roberta RichThe Midwife of Venice by Roberta Rich. $ 1.99.

From the Jacket Copy:

Overview
Hannah Levi is renowned throughout Venice for her gift at coaxing reluctant babies from their mothers—a gift aided by the secret “birthing spoons” she designed. But when a count implores her to attend to his wife, who has been laboring for days to give birth to their firstborn son, Hannah is torn. A Papal edict forbids Jews from rendering medical treatment to Christians, but the payment he offers is enough to ransom her beloved husband, Isaac, who has been captured at sea. Can Hannah refuse her duty to a suffering woman? Hannah’s choice entangles her in a treacherous family rivalry that endangers the baby and threatens her voyage to Malta, where Isaac, believing her dead in the plague, is preparing to buy his passage to a new life. Not since The Red Tent or People of the Book has a novel transported readers so intimately into the complex lives of women centuries ago or so richly into a story of intrigue that transcends the boundaries of history.

Jayne gave

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