Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair
Vanity Fair's Women on Women

Why Stuff Matters

Why Stuff Matters
Why Stuff Matters by Jen Waldo

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Vanity Fair's Women on Women - Edited by Radhika Jones and David Friend - Feature and Review


Looking back at the last thirty-five years of Vanity Fair stories on women, by women, with an introduction by the magazine's editor in chief, Radhika Jones

Gail Sheehy on Hillary Clinton. Ingrid Sischy on Nicole Kidman. Jacqueline Woodson on Lena Waithe. Leslie Bennetts on Michelle Obama. And two Maureens (Orth and Dowd) on two Tinas (Turner and Fey). Vanity Fair's Women on Women features a selection of the best profiles, essays, and columns on female subjects written by female contributors to the magazine over the past thirty-five years.

From the viewpoint of the female gaze come penetrating profiles on everyone from Gloria Steinem to Princess Diana to Whoopi Goldberg to essays on workplace sexual harassment (by Bethany McLean) to a post-#MeToo reassessment of the Clinton scandal (by Monica Lewinsky). Many of these pieces constitute the first draft of a larger cultural narrative. They tell a singular story about female icons and identity over the last four decades--and about the magazine as it has evolved under the editorial direction of Tina Brown, Graydon Carter, and now Radhika Jones, who has written a compelling introduction.

When Vanity Fair's inaugural editor, Frank Crowninshield, took the helm of the magazine in 1914, his mission statement declared, "We hereby announce ourselves as determined and bigoted feminists." Under Jones's leadership, Vanity Fair continues the publication's proud tradition of highlighting women's voices--and all the many ways they define our culture.



Vanity Fair's Women on WomenVanity Fair's Women on Women by Radhika Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Vanity Fair’s Women on Women is a 2019 Penguin Press publication.

Fascinating women, fascinating lives!

This is a strong collection of profiles of the women who appeared in Vanity Fair Magazine over the years. All were influential in their way, some were controversial, all are interesting and unique!

I’ve been a long-time subscriber to Vanity Fair and today it is the only magazine I still take. While I may have read some of these profiles over the years, there were many that were before my time- such as Emily Post. I was most surprised by the profile on Barbara Bush. Matronly grandmother? I think not!!

Others profiled included several other first ladies, including Michelle Obama, and the royals- Grace Kelly, Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth. Actresses and musicians from Tina Turner to Meryl Streep and important feminist icons like Gloria Steinem. From Cher to Lady Gaga, the book covers roughly four decades.

The book also includes articles examining two of the most prominent feminist issues of today- The #MeToo movement and the Silicon Valley Boy’s Club.

The book also serves as a profile of the magazine itself, showing the various ways the publication as evolved and changed and the influence it has had on society from a feminine standpoint.

Overall, this a very interesting compilation of profiles and articles. It is a short book, an easy read, and is a book one can put down and pick back up easily, read between other books, or while sitting in waiting rooms, or on your lunch break. But, once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down!!

Great history, strong women, thoughtful, eye-opening articles-all reminding me of why I continue to support this publication! Thank you, Vanity Fair!




David Friend is an editor for Vanity Fair Magazine, and an Emmy-winnning documentary producer. He is also the author of Watching the World Change: The Stories Behind the Images of 9/11.


Radhika Jones is an American magazine editor and the fifth editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair Magazine.


Why Stuff Matters - by Jen Waldo- Feature + Guest Post

  Sub-genre: Literary Fiction / Humor
Publisher: Arcadia Books
Date of Publication: June 4, 2019 (US)
Number of Pages: 212

When Jessica, a grieving widow, inherits an antique mall from her mother she also inherits the stallholders, an elderly, amoral, acquisitive, and paranoid collection. 
When one of the vendors, a wily ex-con named Roxy, shoots her ex-husband, she calls on Jessica to help bury the body and soon Jessica is embroiled in cover-ups, lies, and misdirection. Into this mix comes Lizzie, Jessica’s late husband’s twelve-year-old daughter by his first marriage, who’s been dumped on Jessica’s doorstep by the child’s self-absorbed mother and it soon becomes apparent that Lizzie is as obsessed with material possessions as Jessica’s elderly tenants. 
Why Stuff Matters is a compelling ode to possession, why people like things and the curious lengths they will go to keep them. Returning to her fictional Caprock, Waldo turns her wry wit on the lives of those afraid to let go.


Three Belongings
Guest Post by Jen Waldo

If I had to evacuate because of a fire, what three things would I save? Considering that my new novel, Why Stuff Matters, addresses a small community’s obsession with material possessions, this is a relevant question. Also, fires do occasionally sweep through this portion of Texas, so the possibility of this scenario coming true is a literal concern as well as a figurative one.
The first thing I’d grab would be my laptop, which goes with me every time I spend a night away from home. Over this one item, I’ll admit to obsession. I write every morning. It is invariably what I do. Even if I were evacuated to some stale hotel while my home burned down, I’d write.
The next thing I’d take with me is woefully unoriginal. I’d take the photo albums. Not that I ever spend time browsing through them, but as a family we’ve had adventures. I think our sons would want me to rescue pictures of them as children riding camels, hiking through the Scottish highlands, scrambling around the ruins of Petra, or strolling through the tulips at Keukenhof.
Lastly, I’d dump the little dishes that hold my jewelry into my leather jewelry box that’s meant for traveling. Necklaces, earrings, rings—the usual stuff, but it’s nice stuff and I wouldn’t want to lose it.
Now keep in mind that for us, a fire might become a reality. We live amongst a lot of splintery cedar trees and undergrowth, and when there’s been no rain for a couple of months, the area becomes frighteningly dry. But there would be warning. An evacuation notice would be given; we’d have ample time to gather some clothes, pack up, and get out.
It’s not like my husband and I haven’t discussed the likelihood and made a plan. The first thing in the truck will be the laptop. Then, while I gather the photo albums and jewelry, David would be freeing the art from the walls. We’ve collected some nice oils and batiks over the years, and each piece holds a memory—where we got it, how we haggled to get the price down, the endless discussion of where we’d hang it. In many cases, we know the artist.
After all this stuff is in the truck, we’d walk through and see what else we could save—probably a few small pieces of furniture. Together, we’d lift and carry the rosewood chest that reigns from the end of the hallway, purchased in Sorrento. And another chest; we bought it in Vietnam when we lived in Singapore and ended up paying the price again in duty to get it into the country. Live and learn. We’d slide both of these chests into the bed of the truck.
And that’s it. That’s all the truck will hold. 
While I’ve written about the items I hold most dear, I’m also aware that it’s just stuff. However, having said that, a few months ago David and I loaded up the truck and went on a road trip. Four hours into it, we stopped for lunch. I walked around the back of the truck and saw that we’d driven that whole way with the tailgate open. Our luggage and David’s golf clubs were still there, but we lost a box of items that I’d put in at the last minute. The box held two new beach towels, laundry detergent, sunscreen, a bottle of Grey Goose, and two bottles of a really nice Malbec. I didn’t spare a thought about how this box, falling on the highway, could have caused an accident. I was upset over the loss of the stuff. I felt befuddled and incomplete until every one of those items had been replaced. It seems I have more in common with the acquisitive folk in Why Stuff Matters than I thought.

Jen Waldo lived in seven countries over a thirty-year period and has now settled, along with her husband, in Marble Falls, Texas. She first started writing over twenty years ago when, while living in Cairo, she had difficulty locating reading material and realized she’d have to make her own fun. She has since earned an MFA and written a number of novels. Her work has been published in The European and was shortlisted in a competition by Traveler magazine. Old Buildings in North Texas and Why Stuff Matters have been published in the UK by Arcadia Books. Jen’s fiction is set in Northwest Texas and she’s grateful to her hometown of Amarillo for providing colorful characters and a background of relentless whistling wind. 



Guest Post
Author Interview
Guest Post
Guest Post
Author Interview
Guest Post
Guest Post

blog tour services provided by

Monday, December 9, 2019

Christmas in Little Penhaven


Have yourself a little Cornish Christmas

Wannabe author Jane Solomon is expecting an uneventful Christmas in her Cornish village of Little Penhaven.
But then super fit American gym owner Hal Muir comes to town, and suddenly the holiday season looks set to be far more interesting. Hal is keen on embracing every British tradition on offer, from mince pies to Christmas pub quizzes – and perhaps some festive romance too



Christmas in Little PenhavenChristmas in Little Penhaven by Angela Britnell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Christmas in Little Penhaven by Angela Britnell is a 2019 Choc Lit publication.

Both Poignant and Festive- A real holiday treat!!

I Absolutely loved “One Summer in Little Penhaven”, so of course, I was very excited to read this follow up Christmas novella!!

A shocking event has left Hal Muir feeling unsure of everything in his life. He sells his part of a lucrative and mega-popular gym, and to avoid constant hovering from his family, decides a change of scenery is in order.

Claiming he’s now an aspiring author, looking for a quiet place to concentrate on his writing, Hal calls on his cousin Sam, who lives in the small Cornish village of Little Penhaven with her husband, Caden, asking if he can come for a visit.

Upon arrival, Hal meets Jane Solomon, who really is an aspiring author. As he finds himself caught up in all the holiday preparations in the village, he learns of the sacrifices Jane has made for her family and begins to realize he must put his own demons to rest before he can move forward with his life in a meaningful way. For starters, he is going to have to tell Jane his most painful secrets.

Meanwhile, Jane is coping with an unwanted suitor and her troubled brother, while falling hopelessly in love with Hal, despite knowing his stay in Little Penhaven will soon come to an end.

The beauty of the story is in seeing two people from completely different backgrounds, with virtually nothing in common, help each other come to terms with their personal problems, and bring out parts of themselves they had buried underneath their burdens.

Britnell’s stories have real depth, as the characters grapple with genuine problems, while growing into stronger and better people as the story progresses. The holiday atmosphere and British traditions, adds that special touch to this wonderful romance. I must now give into my extreme curiosity and try a mincemeat pie!!

Overall, this a touching novella, packed with emotion and holiday passion!



Angela grew up in Cornwall and returns frequently from her new home in Nashville, Tennessee to visit family and friends, drink tea and eat far too many Cornish pasties! 

She is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association, the Romance Writers of America and the Music City Romance Writers. 

If you'd like to find out more of what Angela gets up to (warning this may include references to wine, chocolate and the hunky Aidan Turner) check out:

        OR FOLLOW HER ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER AT:                                              

Friday, December 6, 2019

Hanukkah at the Great Greenwich Ice Creamery by Sharon Ibbotson- Feature and Review


Hanukkah days, Christmas nights and strawberry ice cream
Cohen Ford is a man who could do with a little bit of sweetening up. It’s no surprise that when he walks into The Great Greenwich Ice Creamery on a typically gloomy London day before Christmas, he insists on a black coffee rather than his childhood favourite – strawberry ice cream. 
But then he meets River de Luca, the woman behind the flavours. After their first encounter, Cohen begins visiting the ice creamery every Tuesday, gradually learning more about the intriguing River. Could her influence encourage cynical Cohen to become the man who embraces Christmas, Hanukkah and even strawberry ice cream?



Hanukkah at the Great Greenwich Ice CreameryHanukkah at the Great Greenwich Ice Creamery by Sharon Ibbotson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hanukkah at the Great Greenwich Ice Creamery by Sharon Ibbotson is a 2019 Choc Lit publication.

A divinely enchanting and whimsical holiday treat!

World weary Cohen Ford grudgingly weathers the London gloom to run an errand for his mother. His mission takes him to a Greenwich ice creamery where he comes face to face with River De Luca-the daughter of his mother’s best friend, who is definitely off limits. His world tilts on its axis, causing him to pause and take stock of his life.

River’s life couldn’t have been more different from Cohen’s. She is deaf, abandoned by her birth parents, and hasn’t had the best luck in the romance department. How could Cohen, the wealthy man with a hardened heart be the right guy for her?

I loved this story!!

The atmosphere of the story immediately drew me in, and suddenly I could see the dreary London scenery and the charming brightness of the ice creamery by contrast. I knew this story would be good, and I was not disappointed.

The diversity and mingling of different religious celebrations are also a big draw. Cohen’s mother is Jewish, so she celebrates Hanukkah, and her faith has a big role in the story, as does her relationship with her son.

The challenges the deaf or hearing- impaired face is gently approached, with great respect, and is also an integral part of the romance.

The book is short, so things progress rapidly, but the relationships are fleshed out, and character growth, along with true love, develops beautifully. The story has its moments of poignancy, and can be emotive, but the tone has a fantastical quality to it, as well, making it feel positively magical!

Overall, this is simply a delightful story from start to finish!!



Sharon Ibbotson was born in Sydney, Australia, to British emigrant parents and lived there until her sixteenth birthday, at which point she was schooled in the U.K. She started writing from an early age, including a long-foray into 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' fanfiction, and was a Sydney Morning Herald Young Writer of the Year in 1997.

Her first novel, 'The Marked Lord' was published by Choc Lit in January 2019, followed soon after by 'A Game of Desire' in June of the same year.

By day she can mostly be found parenting her two small children and two (even smaller) cats, while by night she writes, often into the early hours.

Sharon currently lives in London, the U.K, with her husband, son and daughter.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Land of Wolves by Craig Johnson- Feature and Review


Recovering from his harrowing experiences in Mexico, Sheriff Walt Longmire returns to Absaroka County, Wyoming, to lick his wounds and try once again to maintain justice in a place with grudges that go back generations. When a shepherd is found dead, Longmire suspects it could be suicide. But the shepherd's connection to the Extepares, a powerful family of Basque ranchers with a history of violence, leads the sheriff into an intricate investigation of a possible murder.

As Walt searches for information about the shepherd, he comes across strange carvings on trees, as well as play money coupons from inside Mallo Cup candies, which he interprets as messages from his spiritual guide, Virgil White Buffalo. Longmire doesn't know how these little blue cards are appearing, but Virgil usually reaches out if a child is in danger. So when a young boy with ties to the Extepare clan arrives in town, the stakes grow even higher.
Even more complicating, a renegade wolf has been haunting the Bighorn Mountains, and the townspeople are out for blood. With both a wolf and a killer on the loose, Longmire follows a twisting trail of evidence, leading to dark and shocking conclusions.



Land of Wolves (Walt Longmire, #15)Land of Wolves by Craig Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Land of Wolves by Craig Johnson is a 2019 Berkley publication.


Longmire is back on familiar ground in this fifteenth installment. A complicated family situation, and the strange death of a shepherd, initially labeled as a suicide, has Longmire back at work while still recovering from the soul-crushing experience he barely survived in Mexico.

This is one of the best installments in this series I’ve read in a while. The 'arc' centered around Walt’s trip to Mexico to rescue his daughter, was very dark and gritty. I felt I was quite patient with Johnson’s off the beaten path meanderings. However, I was beyond ready to get back to Absaroka County, Wyoming!!

This mystery is interesting, and complex, as are the characterizations and motives. The wolf, and the symbolic spiritualism it represents, is very befitting of this series, which has always had a spiritual undertone. The story is also back on procedural grounds and the guessing game is as good as it gets.

“In my culture, animals are celebrated as beautiful, mysterious, powerful, dangerous, and benevolent. There was a period, before we lost the ability to listen, when the animals took pity on us, protected and taught us to the point where they became human in times of need.

Johnson does set a different tone here, however, as Longmire’s previous escapades are not a distant memory, just yet. Walt presents with some classic PTSD symptoms and is often in physical discomfort. As though realizing, and accepting his limitations, readers will probably pick up on an unfamiliar fragility about Walt, but the story has an edge many of the pre-Mexico stories don’t.

I wonder if Johnson is signally readers that the series may progress into a different sort of crime story, removed from the usual cozy-like atmosphere of old. There are still a few laugh out loud moments and our favorite characters are back in their element, as well, which was so nice to see.

I thoroughly enjoyed this latest installment in the series. Although the tone is a bit gravelly, it was still a comforting return home, so to speak. Overall, this was a stellar addition to the series and I’m once again feeling very excited about the next installment!

4.5 stars



Craig Johnson is the New York Times bestselling author of twelve Walt Longmire mystery novels, which are the basis for Longmire, the hit Netflix original drama. The Cold Dish won Le Prix du Polar Nouvel Observateur/Bibliobs. Death Without Company, the Wyoming Historical Association's Book of the Year, won France's Le Prix 813, and Another Man's Moccasins was the Western Writers of America's Spur Award Winner and the Mountains & Plains Book of the Year. The Dark Horse, the fifth in the series, was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and Junkyard Dogs won The Watson Award for a mystery novel with the best sidekick. Hell Is Empty, selected by Library Journal as the Best Mystery of the Year, was a New York Times best seller, as was As the Crow Flies, which won the Rocky for the best crime novel typifying the western United States. A Serpent's Tooth opened as a New York Times bestseller as did Any Other Name and Wait for Signs, Johnson's collection of short stories. Spirit of Steamboat was selected by the State Library as the inaugural One Book Wyoming and included visits to sixty-three libraries. Johnson lives in Ucross, Wyoming, population twenty-five.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

The Right Reason to Marry by Christine Rimmer- Feature and Review


She turned him down. Twice.

Karin Killigan refuses to marry Liam Bravo solely for the sake of their pending baby. This time, the widowed mother of two is holding out for true lasting love. And even though she is knee-deep in kids and family chaos, Karin and Liam’s attraction is hotter than ever, but Karin won’t settle. Liam will have to prove he’s in it for love if he wants a family for his baby’s first Christmas.



The Right Reason to MarryThe Right Reason to Marry by Christine Rimmer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Right Reason to Marry by Christine Rimmer is a 2019 Harlequin Special Edition publication.

Once bitten, twice shy-

When Karin discovers she is pregnant, informing the father isn’t a priority for her. But, when she runs into her former lover, Liam Bravo, at the supermarket, the proverbial cat is out of the bag. Not only that, Karin’s worst fears come to light when Liam immediately steps up, insisting he do his part, and begins an all -out campaign to convince Karin to marry him, and is much more persistent than she had anticipated. But, Karin’s first marriage fell apart under the exact same set of circumstances and she’s not about to make the same mistake twice…

Liam is stunned to discover he's about to be a father. However, he’s determined to do the right thing by Karin and his child. But, while Karin is convinced his feelings stem from a sense of duty, Liam knows deep down that his feelings for Karin, and the baby, are far more complicated than that. But no matter what he says or does, Liam can’t talk Karin into taking another chance on love.

We’ve all loved and lost at some time, and we know people like Karin, who thought getting married was the right step to take after an unplanned pregnancy. We’ve all made mistakes, made decisions we regret, and we hope that we learn from those mistakes.

However, there is a big difference between learning from our mistakes and being so afraid of making another one we never take a chance or try again, for fear of failure. Karin falls into the latter category and while she makes some valid points along the way, she’s asking for something none of us ever get… a guarantee.

Now, ladies- Liam Bravo? Whew! He’s my kind of guy! I wish this type of hero would show up more in romance novels. I don’t always like the message the ‘bad boy’ stories send, or the suggestion that there are no good guys out there anymore, because, let’s face it- we seldom hear about those stand-up guys who talk the talk and walk the walk. Rimmer reminds us that yes, there really are mature, respectful, guys out there who are committed to making their relationships work, are hands on parents, and family men.

However, because Karin couldn’t quite screw up the courage to admit Liam was solid gold, and that he had real feelings for her, and she for him, I became really frustrated with Karin before all was said and done. I was team Liam all the way!! This guy will make your heart melt!

But life is and love is a gamble- you’ll lose sometimes, but you’ll have to stay in the game if you ever want a shot at winning. Karin may have lost a few rounds, but I’d say she finally hit the jackpot…. Big time!

By now, if you follow my reviews, you’ll have noticed I tend to stick with just a handful of romance authors these days, mainly those I’ve followed or read for ages. Christine Rimmer is one of those authors and this book happens to be her 115th Harlequin romance novel! Congratulations Christine and thanks so much for all these touching stories that brighten our lives!


A New York Times and USA-Today bestselling author, Christine Rimmer has written more than 100 contemporary romances for Harlequin Books. A reader favorite, Christine has won Romantic Times BOOKreview's Reviewer's Choice Award for best Silhouette Special Edition. She has been nominated seven times for the Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA award and five times for Romantic Times Series Storyteller of the Year. Christine lives in Oregon with her family.