Book Review: Over the Hill on Yellow Brick Road by Cathi Turow

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Creativity has always been the most important aspect of a writer’s success in my humble opinion. Sometimes it’s the golden balance of wit and truth that make a book stand out among others in its genre. When a bloggerCathi Turow, I’ve been following published a book, Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road: Growing Older with Silliness, High Spirits and a Lot of Heart, earlier this year, I marked it as something to look into over the summer. Well summer arrived, and I found myself with a copy of something that sounded like a cross between almost everything. There’s a bit of truth in this off-beat and off-the-beaten-path (oh, that’s kinda funny when you think about the title) of a memoir (if I may borrow from Turow’s blog) combined with the sarcasm and humor of a well-written writer. And it makes sense given a former role was writing for television and children. So why not combine all of these things together in a ~100-page sorta-picture book filled with fantastic themes, imagery, advice and challenges, right?


Turow’s book was a surprise. I knew what it covered before I dove in, but the world she’s created is admirable and endearing. You’ve heard all the nursery rhymes. You’ve listened to all the corny advice people share about growing older. But you’ve never quite heard it all tied together like this… a mom learning to adjust to the next phase in her life goes for a walk but is swept adrift to a faraway land. She wants only to get home, but at the same time, she feels compelled to help those around her in this land. Sometimes she’s offering the same advice she had once needed or had given to her, but in others, the quirky and memorable characters (don’t even get me started on the cute google-eyed pictures) show her a different way of looking at things. I don’t like to spoil a book, but there’s 1 story that will make you want to take a chance on this book… think of the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe. What if she was a sudden empty-nester and considering downsizing? Should she choose a sandal? Or a glove? Or maybe something totally different? Yep, that’s the marvelous tone set for this book from the beginning. And what a fun read it was!

Less than 2 hours, a comfy couch, a glass of seltzer, and I’m laughing my you-know-what off for a while. But then we get to a certain truth about a certain 4-letter word, and I just lost it for a few minutes. Even Baxter (the 15-week puppy I just got) cocked his head and looked at me like I’m crazy. Crazy like a fox, I said… or at least the author is. She’s on to something quite good here and I can’t wait to see what journey unfolds with the next book she’s planning. For now, take a gander at her blog — you’ll LOVE it.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.


AWARD: Liebster #3

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Many thanks to Decluttering My Life for nominating me for this wonderful blogging award. I appreciate it, as it is a very great honor. I’ve been nominated before but with very different questions, so this is exciting! DML (my new name for my nominator) and I met about 3 weeks ago through another blogging friend and are enjoying getting to know one another… so much so that I recommend you go check out the site to see for yourself. Very thought-provoking content and great fun!!! I took a few days to come up with some doozies for questions. Is that the correct spelling of that word? Well, it probably doesn’t matter because you will hopefully be so entertained below with facts, questions and answers that you are focused on trying not to wet yourself instead of verifying my spelling of items in this post. You’re welcome.



The Rules for the Liebster Award:

  1. Acknowledge the blog that nominated you and display the award
  2. Give 11 random facts about yourself
  3. Nominate 11 blogs
  4. Notify them of the nomination
  5. Give them 11 questions to answer


Facts about me:

  1. I wear contact lenses because I am worse than a bat.
  2. I’m the fourth male directly in my line with this exact name, hence the “IV” after my name. Please bow before me. Just teasing. A curtsy is sufficient.
  3. I prefer spelling things the British way. I’m American. They seem better lately.
  4. I have been to Cambodia. I saw the best life has to offer. I saw the worst life has to offer. Don’t ask for details. I am not at liberty to reveal due to a… never mind.
  5. I am a reader and writer, yet I always test nearly perfect on mathematics. Took so many advanced calculus courses, I think I plotted every angle possible. I know the exact angle to send a sling shot towards… whomever deserves it.
  6. The calla lily is my favorite flower. I’d like them at my funeral please. You’re all tasked with making sure this happens or I’ll haunt you.
  7. I was a good gymnast as a kid. I could climb to the top of the rope, walk the balance beam, jump the horse and use the rings to turn myself in every direction. After puberty hit, my balance was so off, I could barely walk a straight line. A few drinks make it much better now.
  8. I used to ride horses, but it’s been almost two decades since I’ve been on one. I love it, but I see no reason to feel like I’m constantly vibrating (in a bad way, to clarify) while the wind is whipping in my face.
  9. My nickname in high school was Tooshie. You can decide why or what it means.
  10. I can’t smell tequila anymore or it will make me sick. Bad college incident. It’s okay in a mixed drink, but a shot will induce projectile, something fierce along the lines of what happened to me in question #8 below (you’re in for a treat!).
  11. I have no self control when it comes to dark chocolate or champagne. None. I will do anything for it.


Questions To Me:

1. What does life mean to you?

  • To learn, mentor and educate while encouraging personal growth and collaboration with others. When you have accomplished the right balance, you are free to move on, but your impact stays there forever. That means you lived a good life.

2. What would you enjoy doing 7 days a week?

  • Writing books.

3. What’s your birthday date?

  • March 18th, 1977.

4. Have you ever had a near death experience? If yes pls brief us about it

  • Nope. Choked on a gumball, but I don’t think I was quite near death.

5. Your favourite quote is ?

  • “There’s something I just realized, That I never knew before. I can’t explain the reasons, but I know that I want more.”
  • “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

6. If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be?

  • Cotswolds in UK

7. What’s your dream house?

  • Do you have a few hours? I could show you the architectural plans I’ve drawn up. 🙂

8. Most embarrassing moment

  • None really. I tend to laugh that stuff off. I do get embarrassed when my aunt would tell a story about what happened when I was a child with a very bad stomach virus. All I will say is that she told anyone she could that “It was flying out both ends!” And that should be enough of a visual for you. I am such a perfectionist and I never let anyone see me weak that they love telling this story as it makes me human. At least that’s what they say. I don’t compute.

9. Your biggest fear?

  • Dying without understanding my life or reaching my potential.

10. Any regret? If yes what ?

  • Not being as aware of who I am or comfortable in my own skin when I was 20. I could have done so much more.

11. Who’s your favorite author or speaker, maybe both?

  • I enjoy Suze Orman for her advice and attitude.
  • I am enthralled by Kate Morton, Agatha Christie, Ken Follett and Henry James.

Questions for My Nominees:

  1. Which body part would you exchange if you could?
  2. How often do you brush your teeth? Honestly, and if you try to lie, your teeth will turn yellow on the spot based on the dust I sent with this post.
  3. If you could inhabit someone else’s body for a day, who would it be?
  4. If you could have someone else’s personality and intelligence, who would it be?
  5. Where are you taking me to dinner tomorrow night? Or if that’s not gonna work for you, what gift are you sending in lieu of canceling last minute on me? Seems appropriate.
  6. Have you ever tried to count the licks to get to the center of the Tootsie Roll Pop?
  7. Did I share too much above? If yes, which item. If not, you’re my new best friend.
  8. If you could hide in someone’s pocket for a day just to see what they really do when you’re not around, who would it be?
  9. If you have an entire cake to yourself, and you know for certain that no one else will eat it nor see you eat it, would you still cut it up and serve it on a plate? Or would you dig in with a shovel? (Assume nothing bad happens to your body as a result of consuming said healthy cake)
  10. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I say “bite me” ? Good or bad, let it rip.
  11. Have you met Liebster? If Yes, please describe. If No, please contribute $25 to the charity of your choice in order to successfully have completed this easy and fun quiz. Failure to do so results in an automatic replication of 10 more quizzes a day from me to you as a loving gesture of support.

*** Thank you for playing and have a nice day. ***


Note 2: Yes, I know this is out of order. So am I. You must already know that if you’re reading my posts like this one, right?

Note 3: I would love for all my friends to answer the 11 questions I posed… as I think they are truly amazing and would allow us to grow a stronger and more authentic relationship having been structurally honest with one another from the beginning. xoxo

Note 1: I really attempted sarcasm and humor, so hopefully no one was offended by my additional flair and style in today’s award post. If you did feel slighted, I hope all the font colors make your eyes tired enough that you go away sleepy and don’t feel the need to complain to me. I’m busy tonight dreaming up new questions for tomorrow’s posts.


My Nominees:



About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

365 Challenge: Day 26 – Poetic

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Poetic: having an imaginative or sensitively emotional style of expression

Its original source, Latin, generally meant “things created,” as in words or writing. As humankind evolved, it took on a more lyrical definition for shorter works for fiction, sometimes filled with rhyme. We’re all familiar with famous poets, which I won’t note here, as there are too many to remember and too many to include. For the record, Emily Dickinson is my favorite poet, but Anne Bradstreet’s “The Flesh and the Spirit” is my favorite poem. I’ve provided a link below for you to read it when you have time, if it’s of interest. For me, the poem shows the two parts inside of me, as I’ve always felt like two different people. No, not as in split personalities… but as in two distinct driving forces, styles, needs, vibes, personas… co-existing in a single body, representing to the outside world 1 distinct person. I am Flesh. I am Spirit. How can one choose?

I’ve never liked the word “poetic.” It’s been used as a negative word all too often throughout history. Students often struggle with learning the art of poetry, whether writing their own verses or interpreting the poet’s words. It’s such a basic word and can be a simple example of creative writing. It can also be a treasure trove of lyrical beauty and infinite metaphors. But what does it really mean, really imply… when you take it for what it is: a set of words crafted with an intention, short enough to be interpreted in so many different ways.

For me, poetic has always been the way someone thinks about the words they choose. And given that I’m also a writer, as much as a reader and a blogger, it’s important that my prose be poetic, that is, in the beauty of the letters and language being used. A poem can be an expression of a moment’s thought, or it can be a year’s worth of emotional impact. Being poetic to me is about creating a sentiment I’m feeling or thinking about during those moments, and successfully sharing it with the reader at the same time.

It doesn’t mean the author of the poem is the subject in the words, or even has any connection at all — other than it being an expression in their mind of a situation. I stumbled across some poems I wrote a few years ago and spent fifteen minutes reciting them again this morning. I thought to myself on a few… “wow, these are a little awkward…” but soon found a few where I said, “oh, you do have some talent for pairing words and feelings in short verses.”

And since the 365 Daily Challenge is about discovery and expression, I’ve decided to link 6 of the poems to this post. Feel free to comment with how awful or brilliant they are!

By sharing them, I’m putting myself out there with some poems I’ve written several years ago. What I hope to gain from this is an ability to push myself back into dabbling in a little poetry again. Some of these need a little refreshment. Some need an overhaul. Some are good as they are. Perhaps this challenge will push me forward as I focus on my creativity and my pragmatic nature.

And if nothing else, it’s a quiet reminder of a time in my life where I focused diligently on creating and developing expressions of things going on in my life. From pain comes beauty. Whether it’s a break-up, a lost dream or a failure, words can help you maneuver through the situation until you heal. And while these poems were based on some experiences, they also came from pure imagination. Thanks for checking them out.

365 Challenge: Day 21 – English

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English: containing roots from England

We’ve concluded another week, and on this, the third 365 Challenge Sunday, it’s time to select one of the countries from which my ancestors hail. I’m about 33% English, though Ancestry says my DNA is 81% English; however, those numbers include Irish, and Scottish, which will be next week’s “end-of-the-week” post, thus covering my four primary heritages. But I’m pretty certain at least half of me hails from Great Britain when I look at all the records and the family genes. I am pretty pale, remember! My favorite English last name in my family history: Pantridge. So formal and eloquent.

I’ve been fascinated with the royal families and ascendancy to the thrones of England for years. At one point, I could name most of the Kings and Queens in order, but I’ve forgotten some of those details in recent years. I would love to find out that I descend from one of them, but I highly doubt it’s true. Perhaps Henry VIII’s court jester is my real ancestor!

And in keeping with tradition, I’ve located the Top 10 English traits… but this time, it’s according to the Metro UK news. Let’s see how I fare:

1. Talking about the weather

  • I do often use that as an easy line of conversation, given that I tend to be shy and quiet when it comes to conversing with others. I am fascinated by whether it will be warm or cold, rainy or dry. I hate, loathe and despise hot weather. I prefer the temperature to be a nice 50 degrees Fahrenheit. A good topic for another day!
  • Score: 1 out of 1.

2. Great at queueing

  • Yes! I love lines. It’s the most fair way to ensure those of us who arrive early don’t get left out when a crowd forms. My favorite place for a proper queue is at the airport, but it does not always happen. Each American airline (don’t get me started on other countries’ approach to the ticket counter) calls group by group to queue for an orderly on-boarding to the aircraft. EXCEPT, most Americans (of which I am one) are RUDE (not me, I am orderly). They all just run to the line even though their group hasn’t been called, and then orderly people like me have to ask people to move, step over all their luggage, blah blah blah. Get the @#*& out of my way is what I really want to say. Wait your turn. If you’re group 5, don’t stand right at the beginning of the line. Don’t be an @$$^&*%.  OK, rant done.
  • Score: 2 out of 2.

3. Sarcasm

  • I had a post dedicated to that… remember? Although, someone wise said I am probably more clever, so…perhaps not. But in general, I think the English are sarcastic like I am – never in a cruel way.
  • Score: 3 out of 3.

4. Watching soaps

  • Yes, I must confess. I used to watch a lot of soap operas when I was a teenager, not including prime time soaps. Let’s see if I can remember them: Loving (became The City), Another World, Days of Our Lives, As The World Turns and Guiding Light. I had lots of VCR tapes going while I was in school. And I also had 3 magazine subscriptions to keep me well read when not watching them on TV. Such a LOSER!!!!!
  • Special Kudos to anyone who can name the fake soap opera in the clip below.
  • Score: 4 out of 4.

5. Getting drunk

  • I remember covering this during the Irish post. Are all British drunks? Or is it really just everyone in the world at this point? Yikes. But no, I’m not a drunk. I drink but know when to stop on most occasions.
  • Score 4 out 5.

6. A love of bargains

  • No, definitely not me. I am careful with money, but I am not a bargain shopper. I like to get a discount, and I will usually balance quality and cost when making a purchase, but I always wonder “what’s wrong with this?” when it seems like a bargain.
  • Score: 4 out of 6.

7. A love of curtain twitching

  • I am stumped. What the… is curtain twitching? Let’s Google it……… OK, I’m back. OMG, I would not have guessed this. Seriously? OK, well curtain twitching is “a nosy person who watches his or her neighbours, typically from a curtained window.” AND it uses the British spelling in the word “neighbours.” Laughing so hard, I can only think of one thing. AbFab! Too bad they weren’t actually curtain twitching the neighours in the clip below. But yeah, I’m a little nosy sometimes. Remember curious?
  • Score 5 out of 7.

8. Stiff upper lip

  • Sometimes I do, sometimes I do not. I tend to be pretty strong, but not always. I’m gonna say yes to this one.
  • Score: 6 out of 10.

9. Love of all television

  • I watch TV almost every day. Besides reading, it’s the other hobby I have that involves sitting down a lot. 🙂
  • Score: 7 out of 9.

10. Always saying sorry

  • I used to do this ALL the time. I’m much better about it now, but if I get too close to someone and almost bump them, the first words out of my mouth are “I’m sorry.” It would never occur to me to say “excuse me” or “watch where you’re going!” I always assume it was my fault.
  • Score: 8 out of 10.

And what does this tell me?  I am emblematic of 80% of these things… and that matches the 81% noted above. How am I always so in sync with my DNA? Quite a stumper…

365 Challenge: Day 15 – Sarcastic

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Sarcastic: marked by or given to using irony in order to mock or convey contempt

There aren’t many good images for “sarcastic,” but I was able to find this one. I liked that it should have said “sometimes I’m asleep” or “sometimes I’m sleeping,” but doesn’t!

Today’s characteristic is an unusual one. By true definition, I am absolutely not sarcastic, as when I exhibit the behavior I’m thinking of, it never comes from contempt. My brand of sarcasm is always humorous, and either meant to fill in a gap in silent conversation or an attempt to be funny and show my affection.

I’ve never intended to use contempt; I actually don’t condone that behavior. If you truly dislike something or someone, have unadulterated hatred or anger over it, figure out how to deal with it in a positive way. Don’t take it out on another person. Try to explain to someone why you are angry, figure out a way to fix the situation or convince them what they’ve done is wrong. But don’t ever mock them or physically hurt them because you don’t like what they’ve done (unless you’re trying to stop them from being violent, etc.).

Back to sarcasm. To be sarcastic, you need to be witty and timely. You need to know when to repeat versus leave it at one brief line and let the humor unfold all on its own. My sarcasm often comes out when someone asks me a question that opens an opportunity for me to provide the ultimate silly or stupid answer, thus bringing about a moment of laughter and connection.

Often on the receiving end of my sarcasm is my mother. I love to respond with slightly sarcastic answers to basic questions. For example, when she comes over for lunch and asks what time we’re eating, my response would be, “as soon as you leave, I’ll probably have some lunch. By the way, how long do you plan to stay today?” Or if she wants to know what I’m looking for in the bookstore, I’ll say: “Not sure. Something with words on paper, most likely.” And we’ll banter for a few seconds, get a good laugh, and move on.

Actually, thinking about my history of being sarcastic, the person on the receiving end is almost always the 3 or 4 people I’m closest to… parents, partner, best friend… how interesting it should be those you love!

As I write this, and truly think about the definition, maybe I’m not sarcastic. I wouldn’t call myself witty. Perhaps I’m sassy? Although, sassy to me implies a much more boisterous tone, and I’m anything but boisterous. Any suggestions for the best trait to use here? <i>I’m sure someone as literate and intelligent as anyone, like you, reading my blog must know the word I’m trying to use…<i/>

I think about the people I’ve interacted with over my time and don’t really ever recall being on the other end of the someone’s sarcasm. I tend to not engage with people who come across mean-spirited or contemptuous, unless there is humor attached to it. Humor helps ease the situation, ensure words aren’t bitter, or as bitter as they could be taken.

People often use sarcasm as a way to avoid the truth or intimacy, a detraction from something they are uncomfortable with. I’ve done that a few times. Someone asks a question that requires you to reveal or respond in a way you would prefer not to. So you deflect with a sarcastic comment and hope to end the conversation. It’s rare I will use it, as I believe I mentioned very early on in these daily challenges that I am honest, and prefer to just say what I’m thinking. But sometimes you just don’t want to engage in a specific conversation for any number of reasons.

If someone often brings up a negative item (constantly referring to themselves as overweight or not intelligent, etc.), and you’ve tried to convince them otherwise many times before, sarcasm may come into play. You can change the topic, or say something sarcastic about yourself to level-set the conversation and hope it moves on. Not in any grand manner, but in the hopes you don’t have to repeat prior discussions or soothe someones mind yet another time. I don’t mean this to be insensitive, but you can only help someone else as much as (s)he is willing to be helped and you are educated.

So… sarcasm can be a handy tool for good reasons, which perhaps means I am considered sarcastic. Ugh, I’m just talking to myself on this one. Like you’d know, right?