Stupid Things I Won’t Do When I Get Old by Steven Petrow

EXCERPT: Perhaps you remember a few years ago, ‘Saturday Night Live’ spoofed the American Echo, better known as ‘Alexa’, beginning with this cautionary sentence: ‘The latest technology isn’t always easy for people of a certain age.’ Referring to a fictitious partnership between Amazon and AARP, the announcer declares that the ‘American Echo Silver’ edition is designed specifically for the Greatest Generation. It is super loud, and responds to any name remotely like Alexa, including Allegra, Odessa, Anita, Alberta, Alisha, Alessandra, Excedrin and Alopecia. I especially liked the SNL promo for the Echo Silver’s handy-dandy feature that helps old people find things.

‘Amelia, where did I put the phone?’
‘The phone is in your right hand.’

Alexa also provides the latest in sports:

‘Clarissa, how many times did Satchel Paige strike out last night?’
‘Satchel Paige died in 1982.’
‘How many did he get?’
‘Satchel Paige died. Is dead.’

Unlike other Alexa editions, this one also provides an ‘uh-huh feature’ for long rambling stories – because you know the stereotype of old people always repeating themselves.

Simultaneously hilarious and ageist, the skit highlighted several of the ways that our parents generation struggles to master new devices, social media apps and plain old email. Sure, we laugh – but it’s not like we’re doing so well right now, either.

For instance, one friend told me about her mother’s struggles with the new TV she and her siblings had given her. ‘Mom loved the picture quality, but the remote just about did her in. We heard from neighbours that every so often, they’d get a call asking for help,’ she said. ‘We finally figured out that every time Mom accidentally hit ‘menu’, she practically had to dial 911 – she could press up and down on volume and channels, but the options on the menu were beyond her, so she’d need help getting back to a screen she recognized.’

This friend got a good laugh out of it at the time, but now reports a new found sympathy for her mom. ‘I have a new smart TV that’s definitely smarter than I am,’ she told me.

ABOUT ‘STUPID THINGS I WON’T DO WHEN I GET OLD’: Soon after his 50th birthday, Steven Petrow began assembling a list of “things I won’t do when I get old”—mostly a catalog of all the things he thought his then 70-something year old parents were doing wrong. That list, which included “You won’t have to shout at me that I’m deaf,” and “I won’t blame the family dog for my incontinence,” became the basis of this rousing collection of do’s and don’ts, wills and won’ts that is equal parts hilarious, honest, and practical.

The fact is, we don’t want to age the way previous generations did. “Old people” hoard. They bore relatives—and strangers—with tales of their aches and pains. They insist on driving long after they’ve become a danger to others (and themselves). They eat dinner at 4pm. They swear they don’t need a cane or walker (and guess what happens next). They never, ever apologize. But there is another way . . .

In Stupid Things I Won’t Do When I’m Old, Petrow candidly addresses the fears, frustrations, and stereotypes that accompany aging. He offers a blueprint for the new old age, and an understanding that aging and illness are not the same. As he writes, “I meant the list to serve as a pointed reminder—to me—to make different choices when I eventually cross the threshold to ‘old.’”

Getting older is a privilege. This essential guide reveals how to do it with grace, wisdom, humor, and hope. And without hoarding.

MY THOUGHTS: Getting older. We’re all doing it, until we stop, and Steven has written about his parents and his own journey with an easy humour and realism that had me simultaneously laughing and recognizing little bits of both myself and my husband, and our parents.

He has written a checklist of pitfalls and ways to avoid them as we reach certain milestones. He hasn’t confined himself to those amongst us who are aging healthily – he himself hasn’t, and he offers great advice tempered with experience on judging just how much people want to know, and just how much and how to tell them.

Along with the amusing anecdotes and sage advice on aging both with and without familial support, Steven takes us through the journeys to the end of some of his beloved friends, and how well, or otherwise, they handled their impending demise.

There is plenty to take away from this read. It offers a wonderful insight for children struggling to deal with the changes in their aging parents, and for those of us who have no idea how we got to the number of years we are so rapidly. I am closer to 70 than 60. Some days I feel twenty one and some days I feel ninety one. I have no idea where all those years went, and so fast! but I enjoyed them and I intend to enjoy the years left to me, without being a burden. Thanks to Steven’s lists I now have markers to recognize, and actions I can take.

A book for everyone, no matter your age.


#StupidThingsIWontDoWhenIGetOld #NetGalley

I: @mrstevenpetrow @kensingtonbooks

T: @StevenPetrow @KensingtonBooks

# health #memoir #aging #practicalguide #nonfiction #life

THE AUTHOR: Steven Petrow is an award-winning journalist and book author who is best known for his Washington Post and New York Times essays on aging, health, and LGBTQ issues. He’s currently a contributing writer to The Post and The Times as well as a columnist for USA Today.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Kensington Books, Citadel, via Netgalley for providing both a digital ARC and an audio ARC of Stupid Things I Won’t Do When I Get Old by Steven Petrow, and narrated by Michael Butler Murray, for review. I really enjoyed the audio narration. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and

Breaking & Mending by Joanna Cannon


EXCERPT: Up until that first day as a junior doctor, I had never met death outside of my own family, other than in the detached, leather cadavers of the dissection room and in the neat rituals of a post-mortem. As a medic, I had never found myself face to face with the end of someone’s life, at least not one that didn’t rest quietly upon a stainless steel table, but still I went to the ward on that day to fulfill my first task as a junior doctor feeling more than prepared for the experience.

And I did know how to feel for a pulse and how to look for signs of respiratory effort. I did know how to check for the presence of a pacemaker and fill out the death certificate. I had been taught all of this, and I could deal with it. But what I couldn’t deal with, and what I didn’t know, was how I would feel walking into a room at the end of someone’s life and seeing all the small details around that room that told me who this person was. The small details that told me this person’s story. The bag of knitting and the get-well cards, the half-eaten pack of Polo Mints, and the puzzle books. It was the paperback on the bedside table that stayed with me more than anything else. Closed shut, its bookmark resting forevermore halfway through a story. I took the sight of that paperback and kept it with me. It joined other small details I collected on the wards as I went through my days, not realizing that it was the weight of these details that would eventually break me.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: An intimate, urgent account of doctor burnout and life as a psychiatrist from bestselling author Joanna Cannon

“A few years ago, I found myself in A&E.

I had never felt so ill. I was mentally and physically broken. So fractured, I hadn’t eaten properly or slept well, or even changed my expression for months. I sat in a cubicle, behind paper-thin curtains, listening to the rest of the hospital happen around me, and I shook with the effort of not crying. I was an inch away from defeat, from the acceptance of a failure I assumed would be inevitable, but I knew I had to carry on. I had to somehow walk through it.

Because I wasn’t the patient. I was the doctor.”

A frank account of mental health from both sides of the doctor-patient divide, from the bestselling author of The Trouble with Goats and Sheep and Three Things About Elsie, based on her own experience as a doctor working on a psychiatric ward.

MY THOUGHTS: I admire Joanna Cannon greatly. I loved her novels, Three Things About Elsie, and The Difference Between Goats and Sheep. Now I understand how she can write like she does, with such great empathy and understanding.

I have worked in both general and psychiatric nursing in New Zealand, as well as in private practice. I have seen a lot of people, both nurses and doctors, burn out for the same reasons – the hours, the stress, the lack of care and concern for those who care for the ill and dying. People revere actors and sports stars, but are often rude and dismissive of those who save lives. Somewhere, we have managed to get our priorities wrong.

Breaking & Mending is a short but emotional read. This is, as it says in the promotional blurb, ‘an intimate account’ of a woman’s determination to become a doctor, and what happens on her journey.

Next time I need a doctor, I hope that I get a ‘cardigan’, not a ‘coat’.

Thank you Joanna, for sharing your journey with us. I admire you even more than I did before I read Breaking &Mending.


#Breaking&Mending #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Joanna Cannon is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling debut novel The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, which has sold over 250,000 copies in the UK alone and has been published in 15 countries. The novel was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize, shortlisted for The Bookseller Industry Awards 2017 and won the 2016 BAMB Reader Award. Joanna has been interviewed in The Guardian, The Observer, The Sunday Times, The Times, and Good Housekeeping magazine, and her writing has appeared in the Sunday Telegraph, Daily Mail, and the Guardian, amongst others. She has appeared on BBC Breakfast, BBC News Channel’s Meet the Author, interviewed on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 5, and is a regular at literary festivals across the country including Edinburgh and Cheltenham. Joanna left school at fifteen with one O-level and worked her way through many different jobs – barmaid, kennel maid, pizza delivery expert – before returning to school in her thirties and qualifying as a doctor. Her work as a psychiatrist and interest in people on the fringes of society continue to inspire her writing, and Joanna currently volunteers for Arts for Health, an organisation bringing creative arts to NHS staff and patients. Joanna Cannon’s second novel Three Things About Elsie is published in January 2018 and explores memory, friendship and old age. She lives in the Peak District with her family and her dog.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Serpent’s Tail/Profile Books for providing a digital ARC of Breaking & Mending by Joanna Cannon for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and

Watching What I’m Reading…

It’s easy to tell when I am having a bad week…I request/buy/borrow books to make myself feel better. And I have had a bad week this week; a combination of work, one son in hospital with blood poisoning, and the dismal weather have drained me, resulting in 9 new ARCs this week! Susan and Carla can stop laughing right now, I’m sure they were responsible for some of my requests.

I am about to start Dead Wicked by Helen H. Durrant, a series that I have been enjoying.


And I am a little over half way through All the Ways We Said Goodbye by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig and Karen White.


This week I am planning on reading One in Three by Tess Stimson of which Jayme of says ‘That. Was. Fun’


Both of them loved him. One of them killed him . . .

Louise has had to watch her husband, Andrew, start a new family in the four years since he left her. The ‘other woman’ is now his wife – but Louise isn’t ready to let Caz enjoy the life that was once hers, or to let go of the man she still loves.

As Louise starts to dig into Caz’s past, the two women’s pretence of civility starts to slip. But in trying to undermine each other, they discover more about the man they both married.

And when Andrew is murdered at a family party, both women are found standing over the body.

And when Andrew is murdered during the anniversary celebrations, both women are found standing over the body.
It’s always the wife. But which one?

I also plan on reading The Day She Came Back by Amanda Prowse


When her loving, free-spirited grandmother Primrose passes away, Victoria is bereft, yet resilient—she has survived tragedy before. But even her strength is tested when a mysterious woman attends Prim’s funeral and claims to be the mother Victoria thought was dead.

As the two women get to know each other and Victoria begins to learn more about her past, it becomes clear that her beloved grandmother had been keeping life-changing secrets from her. Desperate for answers, she still struggles to trust anyone to tell her the truth.

To live a full and happy life, Victoria knows she must not only uncover the truth, but find a way to forgive her family. But after so many years, is trusting them even possible?

And now (drumroll please!) my ARCs…..

Out of Her Mind by T.R. Reagan


One In Three by Tess Stimson, and yes I know that I wasn’t going to request any more books due for publication in July or August, but I love this author…


The Butterfly Room by Lucinda Riley


What’s Not Said by Valerie Taylor


The Night Whistler by Greg Woodland


A Pretty Deceit (Verity Kent #4) by Anna Lee Huber


Come When I Call You by Shayna Krishnasamy


The Ocean House by Mary Beth Hughes


and finally, The Bone Jar by S.W. Kane


There’s a lot of variety there, so I hope that you have found something to tempt your bookish taste buds.


A Taste of. . . A Fence Around the Cuckoo by Ruth Park. . . Tuesday

A Fence Around The Cuckoo

I remember reading this autobiography many years ago, and rediscovered it while unpacking my books after our last move. Ruth grew up in my home town, but had left many years before I was born. She still has family in the area. This was a really good read and I am looking forward to revisiting Ruth.

EXCERPT: What I am doing, I think, is walking softly behind this child as she creeps down a hallway. Her aunts are in the kitchen, the only warm room in the house, and she is going to eavesdrop.

She doesn’t know me, and I doubt whether I know her. One thing I do understand, she is very frightened. If I could put my hand on her bony little shoulder, I would feel her trembling.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: This first volume of Ruth Park’s autobiography is an account of her isolated childhood in the rainforests of New Zealand, her convent education which encouraged her love of words and writing, and the bitter years of the Depression.She then entered the rough-and-tumble world of journalism and began a reluctant correspondence with a young Australian writer.

In 1942, Park moved to Sydney and married that writer, D’Arcy Niland. There she would write The Harp in the South, the first of her classic Australian novels. A Fence Around the Cuckoo is the story of one of Australia’s best storytellers and how she learnt her craft.

…. I see that, like Phar Lap, Pavlova and Crowded House, Australia has claimed Ruth for their own! 😂😅😂😅

Happy reading my friends 💕📚


Friday Favorite – Of Ashes and Rivers That Run to the Sea by Marie Munkara

Looking for something to read over the weekend ?

Nothing on your book radar that is screaming ‘read me’?

Take a look at my Friday Favorite. It may be new. It may be old. It may be written by a famous author, or by someone you have never heard of. But wherever in the spectrum it falls, it will be a book that is special to me, one that has captured both my imagination and my heart.

Of Ashes and Rivers that Run to the Sea by Marie Munkara

EXCERPT: As a little kid I knew I hadn’t grown under my foster mother’s heart like her two sons had. And I hadn’t grown inside it either like our sister who needed all the love she could get to survive a frail constitution and being unwillingly relinquished by her mother when she was a tiny baby. And I knew I wasn’t a daughter for the man I had to call my father to make it look like we were one big happy family. I knew this because memories and dreams came to me at times to remind me of people and places that had once been. And some were good memories with sunshine and smiles and gentle black hands, and I was at peace with these. Others were scary with sharp edges and angry faces and discordant sounds and they made me afraid. I spent a lot of my childhood afraid.

Then one day when I was twenty-eight years old the Past, where these memories and dreams stayed when they weren’t visiting me, turned up out of the blue without any warning. And everything changed.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: A heartbreaking, darkly funny and deeply moving memoir from a fearlessly talented writer

Delivered on the banks of the Mainoru River by her two full-blood grandmothers, Marie Munkara was born with light skin which meant one thing – it would only be a matter of time before she would be taken by the authorities and given to a white family to be raised.

Then twenty-eight years later an old baptismal card falling out of a book changed the course of her life forever. It was a link to her past.

Knowing that she had to follow her heart or forever live to regret it Marie set out to find the family that she had lost, leaving her strict white Catholic parents aghast – why dig up the past?

With devastating honesty, humour and courage, the award-winning author of Every Secret Thing shares her extraordinary journey of discovery to find her origins.

MY THOUGHTS: There was nothing I didn’t like about Of Ashes and Rivers that Run to the Sea by Marie Munkara.

This memoir written by one of the ‘stolen generation’ is, and I quote, ‘A heartbreaking, darkly funny and deeply moving memoir from a fearlessly talented writer. It is also brutally honest about the aboriginal lifestyle – the drinking, the violence, the promiscuity, the disease that is rife amongst the communities.

But we also see the other side of these displaced people, their warmth, their generosity, their talent, their acceptance of things they cannot change. All this made me wonder if the violence is an inherited trait, or is it caused by the frustration of this nomadic people being ‘corralled up’ like livestock?

As a three year old, Marie is removed from her birth family and placed with a white strictly Catholic family in the city. She is beaten if she speaks in her native tongue, and for many other reasons.

Then at aged twenty-eight an old baptismal card falling out of a book changed the course of her life forever. It was a link to her past. And she takes herself off to find her birth family.

This book abounds with beautiful writing, especially when Marie is speaking of her mother’s death. ‘What a beautiful thing, to look at the world through eyes that have seen everything (they) are ever going to see and to be content with that….just to walk on this earth and know that you have been blessed with a life, to have an acceptance of what has been before and what’s to come.’

This is a wonderful book, a keeper for me, and one that I know I will read many times.

THE AUTHOR: Of Rembarranga and Tiwi descent, Marie Munkara was delivered on the banks of the Mainoru River in Arnhemland by her two grandmothers and spent her early years on Bathurst Island. Her first novel, Every Secret Thing, won the David Unaipon Award in 2008 and the Northern Territory Book of the Year in 2010. She has written two children’s books, Rusty Brown and Rusty and Jojo, and another novel, A Most Peculiar Act. Marie is presently working on the TV mini-series for Every Secret Thing and her next novel.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House Australia via Netgalley for a digital ARC of Of Ashes and Rivers that Run to the Sea by Marie Munkara for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my profile page or the about page on for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my page

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen
Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake 
by Anna Quindlen

Reviewed by

EXCERPT: Every once in a while we meet our long ago selves across a dining table or a desk, when younger women come to ask for advice or to interview for a job. They’re so eager and so smart, with their dresses and their shiny hair, and we know exactly what they want because we once wanted it, too. They want a formula, a plan,a set of directions, an assembly kit. Connect A to B, C to D, and in the end, there it is, the life you crave. The job, the salary, the companion, the home.
It’s so hard to tell them the truth, that there is no formula, no plan. It’s harder still to communicate that your life has been filled with accidents and that they have determined so much of how things turned out. Some have been happy accidents, some not. There were plans for a family but the right partner didn’t come along, or came along too late. There were plans for a big family but after the first child there was no other, or plans for an only child that were changed by an accidental pregnancy. My early plans to have no children at all morphed into plans to have four, and we wound up with three. And now that seems exactly right, even fated somehow. It’s amazing how resilient people are, and how the things that didn’t come true become, after a while, simply the way things are.

THE BLURB: “[Quindlen] serves up generous portions of her wise, commonsensical, irresistibly quotable take on life. . . . What Nora Ephron does for body image and Anne Lamott for spiritual neuroses, Quindlen achieves on the home front.”—NPR

In this irresistible memoir, Anna Quindlen writes about a woman’s life, from childhood memories to manic motherhood to middle age, using the events of her life to illuminate ours. Considering—and celebrating—everything from marriage, girlfriends, our mothers, parenting, faith, loss, to all the stuff in our closets, and more, Quindlen says for us here what we may wish we could have said ourselves. As she did in her beloved New York Times columns, and in A Short Guide to a Happy Life, Quindlen uses her past, present, and future to explore what matters most to women at different ages. Quindlen talks about

Marriage: “A safety net of small white lies can be the bedrock of a successful marriage. You wouldn’t believe how cheaply I can do a kitchen renovation.”

Girlfriends: “Ask any woman how she makes it through the day, and she may mention her calendar, her to-do lists, her babysitter. But if you push her on how she really makes it through her day, she will mention her girlfriends. ”

Our bodies: “I’ve finally recognized my body for what it is: a personality-delivery system, designed expressly to carry my character from place to place, now and in the years to come.”

Parenting: “Being a parent is not transactional. We do not get what we give. It is the ultimate pay-it-forward endeavor: We are good parents not so they will be loving enough to stay with us but so they will be strong enough to leave us.”

Candid, funny, and moving, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake is filled with the sharp insights and revealing observations that have long confirmed Quindlen’s status as America’s laureate of real life.

MY THOUGHTS: I liked Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen, but I didn’t love it. I think I was expecting something quite different from what I actually got. This is not so much a memoir, as a philosophical essay on aging.

I was expecting more of Anna’s life. She does make reference to incidents in her life from time to time to illustrate a point she is making, but that is all. And while I may feel slightly disappointed, Quindlen makes a lot of valid points about aging, about how we are aging differently to how our parents aged and to how our children will age. She talks about the opportunities and choices we had that our parents never had, and how many more of these our children have.

I think that this is a book that I will pick up again in the future and reread. While I didn’t find it funny, there is a great deal of wisdom contained within. And next time I read this, I will be ready for it.

All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my profile page or the ‘about’ page on for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my page