Best Staged Plans [NOOK Book]

Overview

As a professional home stager, Sandy Sullivan is an expert at transforming cluttered rooms into attractive houses ready for sale. If only reinventing her life were as easy as choosing the perfect paint color. She's eager to put her family's suburban Boston home on the market, to downsize, and to simplify her own life. But she must first deal with her foot-dragging husband and her grown son, who has moved back home after college to inhabit the ...
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Best Staged Plans

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Overview

As a professional home stager, Sandy Sullivan is an expert at transforming cluttered rooms into attractive houses ready for sale. If only reinventing her life were as easy as choosing the perfect paint color. She's eager to put her family's suburban Boston home on the market, to downsize, and to simplify her own life. But she must first deal with her foot-dragging husband and her grown son, who has moved back home after college to inhabit the basement "bat cave."

After reading them the riot act, Sandy takes a job staging a boutique hotel in Atlanta recently acquired by her best friend's boyfriend. The good news is that she can spend time with her recently married daughter, Shannon, in Atlanta. The bad news is that Shannon finds herself heading to Boston for job training, leaving Sandy and her southern son-in-law, Chance, as reluctant roommates. If that's not complicated enough, Sandy begins to suspect that her best friend's boyfriend may be seeing another woman on the side.

Filled with characters who are fresh and original, yet recognizable enough to live in your neighborhood--plus plenty of great tips and tricks for fixing up houses, and lives--this is a wise and witty story of letting go and moving on. Best Staged Plans is Claire Cook at her most humorous and heartfelt.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Midlife craziness careens into a happy ending in this crowd-pleaser for empty nesters. Sandy is a suburban Boston home stager with a to-do list to give you nightmares. She's selling the rambling home where she's raised a family, gently booting her slacker son into real life, saving her best friend from a cad, bonding with her inscrutable Southern gentleman son-in-law, and saving a marriage that's lost its way. Cook (Seven Year Switch) knows the territory of secret longing and snappy dialogue, and though she gets this charmer off to a slow start, lovable busybody Sandy more than pulls her weight as she discovers a post-mom identity, settling a goofy score with an officious Post Office worker, and tossing a lifeline to an unlucky woman in dire need of an act of faith. There's a lot going on in this sometimes wacky tale of an ambitious micromanager forced to accept that the whole world cannot be staged, but there's never any doubt Sandy will finally embrace her less than perfect life. (June)
Tom Perrotta
"Claire Cook's characters aren't rich or glamorous--they're physically imperfect, emotionally insecure, and deeply familiar."
Jacquelyn Mitchard
"If I had a sister, I'd want her to be Claire Cook . . . Claire Cook is wicked good."
Elin Hilderbrand
"Reading Claire Cook might be the most fun you have all summer."
Adriana Trigiani
"Claire Cook has an original voice, sparkling style, and a window into family life that will make you laugh and cry."
Meg Cabot
"Charming, engagingly quirky, and full of fun, Claire Cook just gets it."
New York Journal of Books
"Ms. Cook's writing only gets better with each new book."
Booklist
"Addicts to HGTV marathons will drool . . . well paced all the way to a genuinely delightful conclusion."
Joan Lang
"Claire Cook has knocked it out of the park with BEST STAGED PLANS! Everything she has written previously has been entertaining, fun, and funny, but this novel made me cry as well, then laugh again. Every page of this story of an almost-empty nester "Home Stager" trying to sell her own home is filled with humor, warmth, insight and humanity. Plus great tips and tricks! ... And a homeless woman named Naomi will steal your heart. I loved it!"
Jackie Blem
"Claire Cook is back with another gift for beach readers and book clubs everywhere--BEST STAGED PLANS....you'll find fun, heart and hilarity from cover to cover. This is yet another winner for Cook, most certainly."
Jill Miner
"BEST STAGED PLANS is jam-packed with trademark Claire Cook wit and wry observations on those everyday situations that would be really comical if you could just slow down and view them from afar - or if they were happening to, well, someone else! You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll tell all your girlfriends that BEST STAGED PLANS is THE beach read of the summer. I know we are!"
Karen Vail
"Another wise and witty novel from Claire Cook. There are some real nuggets of knowledge here on home staging, clearing your life of clutter and 'recipes' for creations made from prepared foods from Trader Joe's. I know this will make for some lively book club discussions for ladies of a particular 'stage' of life!"
Lisa Kennally
"In true 'Claire Cook form' BEST STAGED PLANS is thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish...fun, light-hearted but moving at the same time. An uplifting and fun read."
Whitney Spotts
"At the beginning of bestselling author Claire Cook's newest novel, professional homestager Sandy Sullivan has reached a mid-life crossroads, realizing that while she spends her time making other people's homes look picture-perfect, her own life could use some rearranging. Desperate for a change but with her husband dragging his feet, she takes on a job out of town staging a new hotel acquired by her best friend's boyfriend. But even the best staged plans are never perfect, leaving Sandy living with her son-in-law (minus her daughter) and wondering if her best friend's man is straying. Claire Cook has done it again with another fantastic, breezy summer read!"
Kasey Cox
"I'm really looking forward to recommending "Best Staged Plans" as well as your other titles, especially to our summer tourist crowd. Though I'm not a "reader in readers" quite yet, the novel spoke to me in ways I didn't expect when I read the first chapter. You provided a richness and a message within a story, subtle and powerful, without beating people over the head with a moral. Nice job!"
From the Publisher
"[A] crowd-pleaser for empty nesters."—Publishers Weekly

"Fans of HGTV and of Cook's previous charming fiction (Seven Year Switch; Must Love Dogs) will adore this light, funny read."—Library Journal (Starred Review)

"Ms. Cook's writing only gets better with each new book."—New York Journal of Books

"Addicts to HGTV marathons will drool . . . well paced all the way to a genuinely delightful conclusion."—Booklist

"Cook knows the territory of secret longing and snappy dialog."—Publishers Weekly

"Claire Cook's characters aren't rich or glamorous—they're physically imperfect, emotionally insecure, and deeply familiar."—Tom Perrotta, author of Little Children

"Reading Claire Cook might be the most fun you have all summer."—Elin Hilderbrand, author of The Castaways

"Claire Cook has an original voice, sparkling style, and a window into family life that will make you laugh and cry."—Adriana Trigiani, author of Big Stone Gap

"Charming, engagingly quirky, and full of fun, Claire Cook just gets it."—Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries

"Claire Cook has knocked it out of the park with BEST STAGED PLANS! Everything she has written previously has been entertaining, fun, and funny, but this novel made me cry as well, then laugh again. Every page of this story of an almost-empty nester "Home Stager" trying to sell her own home is filled with humor, warmth, insight and humanity. Plus great tips and tricks! ... And a homeless woman named Naomi will steal your heart. I loved it!"—Joan Lang, Front Street Book Shop, Scituate MA"Claire Cook is back with another gift for beach readers and book clubs everywhere—BEST STAGED PLANS....you'll find fun, heart and hilarity from cover to cover. This is yet another winner for Cook, most certainly."
Jackie Blem, Tattered Cover, Denver, CO

"BEST STAGED PLANS is jam-packed with trademark Claire Cook wit and wry observations on those everyday situations that would be really comical if you could just slow down and view them from afar - or if they were happening to, well, someone else! You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll tell all your girlfriends that BEST STAGED PLANS is THE beach read of the summer. I know we are!"—Jill Miner, Saturn Booksellers, Gaylord, MI

"Another wise and witty novel from Claire Cook. There are some real nuggets of knowledge here on home staging, clearing your life of clutter and 'recipes' for creations made from prepared foods from Trader Joe's. I know this will make for some lively book club discussions for ladies of a particular 'stage' of life!"—Karen Vail, Titcomb's Bookshop, Sandwich, MA

"In true 'Claire Cook form' BEST STAGED PLANS is thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish...fun, light-hearted but moving at the same time. An uplifting and fun read."—Lisa Kennally, R. J. Julia, Madison, CT

"At the beginning of bestselling author Claire Cook's newest novel, professional homestager Sandy Sullivan has reached a mid-life crossroads, realizing that while she spends her time making other people's homes look picture-perfect, her own life could use some rearranging. Desperate for a change but with her husband dragging his feet, she takes on a job out of town staging a new hotel acquired by her best friend's boyfriend. But even the best staged plans are never perfect, leaving Sandy living with her son-in-law (minus her daughter) and wondering if her best friend's man is straying. Claire Cook has done it again with another fantastic, breezy summer read!"—Whitney Spotts, Schuler Books and Music, MI

"I'm really looking forward to recommending "Best Staged Plans" as well as your other titles, especially to our summer tourist crowd. Though I'm not a "reader in readers" quite yet, the novel spoke to me in ways I didn't expect when I read the first chapter. You provided a richness and a message within a story, subtle and powerful, without beating people over the head with a moral. Nice job!"—Kasey Cox, From My Shelf Books, Wellsboro, PA

Library Journal
Sandra is a professional home stager based out of the Boston area. Knowledgeable about home design and full of ideas, she somehow can't manage to get her own house ready for the market, thanks to her slacking-off husband and son. When she gets an offer to stage a boutique hotel in Atlanta, she leaps at the chance to run away and get some distance and perspective. She soon starts to wonder whether her whole life, not just her home, needs a makeover. Fans of HGTV and of Cook's previous charming fiction (Seven Year Switch; Must Love Dogs) will adore this light, funny read.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781401342692
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Publication date: 6/7/2011
  • Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 112,394
  • File size: 5 MB

Meet the Author

Claire Cook
Claire Cook is the best-selling author of the novels The Wildwater Walking Club, Summer Blowout, Life's a Beach, Must Love Dogs, Ready to Fall, and Multiple Choice. Formerly a teacher of physical fitness and creative writing, she has also had stints as a copywriter, radio continuity director, garden designer, dance and aerobics choreographer. She lives in Scituate, Massachusetts, often called the Irish Riviera, with her family.

Biography

Raised on Nancy Drew mysteries, Claire Cook has wanted to write ever since she was a little girl. She majored in theater and creative writing at Syracuse University and immersed herself in a number of artistic endeavors (copywriter, radio continuity director, garden designer, and dance and aerobics choreographer), yet somehow her dreams got pushed to the side for more real-life matters -- like marriage, motherhood, and a teaching career. Decades passed, then one day she found herself parked in her minivan at 5 AM, waiting for her daughter to finish swim practice. She was struck with a now-or-never impulse and began writing on the spot. By the end of the season, she had a first draft. Her first novel, Ready to Fall, was published in 2000, when Cook was 45.

Since then, this "late starter" has more than made up for lost time. She struck gold with her second book, Must Love Dogs. Published in 2002, this story of a middle-aged divorcee whose singles ad produces hilariously unexpected results was declared "funny and pitch-perfect" by the Chicago Tribune and "a hoot" by the Boston Globe. (The novel got a second life in 2005 with the release of the feature film starring Diane Lane and John Cusack.) Cook's subsequent novels, with their wry, witty take on the lives of middle-aged women, have become bestsellers and book club favorites.

Upbeat, gregarious, and grateful for her success, Cook is an inspiration for aspiring writers and women in midlife transition. She tours indefatigably for her novels and genuinely enjoys speaking with fans. She also conducts frequent writing workshops, where she dispenses advice and encouragement in equal measure. "I'm extraordinarily lucky to spend my time doing what I love," she has said on countless occasions. " The workshops are a way to say thank you and open doors that I stumbled through to make it easier for writers coming up behind me.''

Good To Know

In our interview, Cook shared some fun and fascinating anecdotes with us:

"I first knew I was a writer when I was three. My mother entered me in a contest to name the Fizzies whale, and I won in my age group. It's quite possible that mine was the only entry in my age group since "Cutie Fizz" was enough to win my family a six-month supply of Fizzies tablets (root beer was the best flavor) and half a dozen turquoise plastic mugs with removable handles. At six I had my first story on the "Little People's Page" in the Sunday paper (about Hot Dog, the family Dachshund) and at sixteen, I had my first front page feature in the local weekly."

"In the acknowledgments of Multiple Choice I say that even though it's probably undignified to admit it, I'm having a blast as a novelist. To clarify that, having a blast as a novelist does not necessarily mean having a blast with the actual writing. The people part -- meeting readers and booksellers and librarians and the media -- is very social and I'm having lots of fun with that. The writing part is great, too, once you get past the procrastination, the self-doubt, and the feelings of utter despair. It's all of the stuff surrounding the writing that's hard; once you find your zone, your place of flow, or whatever it is we're currently calling it, and lose yourself in the writing, it really is quite wonderful. I've heard writers say it's better than sex, though I'm not sure I'd go that far."

"I love books that don't wrap everything up too neatly at the end, and I think it's a big compliment to hear that a reader is left wanting more. After each novel, I hear from many readers asking for a sequel -- they say they just have to find out what will happen to these people next. I think it's wonderful that the characters have come to life for them. But, for now, I think I'll grow more as a writer by trying to create another group of quirky characters. Maybe a few books down the road, I'll feel ready to return to some of them -- who knows?"

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    1. Hometown:
      Scituate, Massachusetts
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 14, 1955
    2. Place of Birth:
      Alexandria, Virginia
    1. Education:
      B.A., Film and Creative Writing, Syracuse University
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 40 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(20)

4 Star

(10)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 40 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 8, 2011

    Highly Recommended - a good read

    I read this book in a matter of hours yesterday afternoon. It was an easy read and really enjoyable. The characters seemed like they could be anyone in my hometown. There were several passages that made me laugh out loud. I am eager to read other Claire Cook books after reading this one.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 5, 2011

    Fantastic Read

    I loved Claire Cook's latest book, Best Staged Plans. It was a fun read and so real with great, fulfilling twists.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 31, 2011

    Recommend this book!

    I recommend Best Staged Plans. The story is solid and engaging. It has funny parts (losing glasses!) but also tackles some of the serious side of a woman's life (moving, older kids who need motivation). I found the book easy to read and enjoyable. I enjoy Claire Cook's style of writing and look forward to any future books!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 22, 2011

    Couldnt put it down

    I love all of Claire's books; just like the rest I could not put this one down. It is so easy to get involved in the book and relate to all the characters. My favorite part was when Sandy was helping Naomi get back on her feet, so many people just walk by and not give a second thought about the homeless. It was really resfreshing to read and watch their relationship grow from strangers to friends. I can't wait for her next one!! I preordered this book for my Nook Color, recommend the nook color for all books it makes for easy, portable reading!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 19, 2011

    Best Staged Plans definitely worth reading

    Home stager Sandy Sullivan is frustrated. Her husband and son are not with her on the same decluttering page and her goal of selling her home and simplifying her life is stalled. Asked to take on a challenging renovation job on an Atlanta hotel, she leaves her husband and son to continue sorting through the clutter, and she takes off on an adventure. It isn't long before her plans begin to go awry. Her arranagements to stay with her married daughter and her husband are the first snafu-her daughter has to go to Boston for a month to work, leaving Sandy and her new son-in-law to develop a relationship. Next, while working with the current boyfriend of her best friend on the hotel renovation, she is dubious that he is remaining faithful to Denise.
    Sandy's ability to transfer her talents for renovation to a new city is awe inspiring and as she meets each new challenge, more of her personality and inner self is revealed. She is a character who shares a characteristic with Claire Cook's other female protagonists, in that in many ways she is Everywoman of a certain age and stage of life. The other characters are well developed and the story is carefully laid out to insure Cook's trademark humor and emotion. How Cook weaves together the many threads of Sandy's life as well as the plots of this book, is a tour de force. Definitely a good read and a chance to meet a new friend in Sandy Sullivan.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 24, 2011

    Some life difficulties, some decorating, some fun reading!

    This was the first book I've read by Claire Cook, but it certainly won't be my last. It was a fun (and funny!) book. Great summer time reading!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 4, 2011

    An Easy Read

    Best Staged Plans is the story of a middle aged women who finds herself wondering if what she thought she always wanted is what she still wants now. I found myself relating to Sandy even though I am not yet at that middle aged stage of life. I could see myself in her need to control everything around her. This is something I have been working on myself! I wanted to tell her not to sweat the small stuff! I enjoyed taking the journey to figuring out what was next in her life. For me this was a quick and very enjoyable read, perfect for a lazy day at the beach!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2011

    Great read, great fun and upbeat!

    I always enjoy Calire Cook because I am guaranteed a solid story, real characters, good values, and real life experiences without major drama. There are always simple life lessons in each book! This one was no exception!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 25, 2011

    Love this author!!

    I really enjoy reading Claire Cook's books! Once you read one you can't stop reading her!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 23, 2011

    What a pleasure to read - I can't wait for Claire's next one

    Perfect reading for this "stage" in my life; and relates to all ages! So much fun to read and just what I needed. I would give it MORE than 5 stars.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 20, 2011

    I love this book!

    I'm a huge fan of all of Claire Cook's books, and I think this may just be my favorite! Sandra is such a wonderful, relatable character. BEST STAGED PLANS is warm, fun, and smart - an absolute joy to read! I love the insider info on home staging and the decorating tips. As someone who is trying to de-clutter my life, I love how practical Sandra is and think I will put some of her strategies to work for me. I plan to become a dinner "assembler" too! I'd love to know what happens to Sandra next!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 27, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Humor, Rich Characters, and so Entertaining!

    As usual, enjoyed Claire Cook’s humor, her rich characters, and home staging was delightful, since I am a home stager and a marketing consultant for boutique hotels, and best of all centered in Atlanta Midtown) where I lived most of my life!

    Loved the interior design and gourmet tips, as well as the quick wit of Sandy and her best friend Denise. The banter between mother and daughter and son in law was so much fun. Best of all was Sandy taking Naomi under her wing and saving her life.

    Would highly recommend Best Staged Plans (audiobook), as Janet Metzger was outstanding, as the narrator and performer. I look forward to reading more of Claire’s books as always full of humor and heartfelt stories for women-very entertaining!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2013

    Really good book!

    Instead of staging a house, try staging your life. But, stand back because life might have other plans. Great believable characters in a fast paced story. Well worth a read

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2012

    Read over a 100 pages and, if you want to "hear" abou

    Read over a 100 pages and, if you want to
    "hear" about a hum drum life, this is it.Boring.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Yes, I admit it. We talk, we fight. I have even named her! Clair

    Yes, I admit it. We talk, we fight. I have even named her! Claire Cook has done it yet again. She has created characters that you can relate to so well, you wonder if you are being spied on! LOL JK. Sandra (the main character) has even helped me cook this weekend, and that is no easy task. This book is filled with ideas for meals, dressing your rooms and, of course, giving you the entertainment of a light, beachy read. Great job Claire Cook! I look forward to the next one, Wallflower!

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  • Posted April 21, 2012

    Sandy Sullivan can easily “stage” a home, transformi

    Sandy Sullivan can easily “stage” a home, transforming its décor into appealing rooms which more quickly sell houses. Her problem, (a mid-life crisis?), seems to be that she cannot transform her own life in a direction she would like to go. Her retired husband cannot be motivated to update their own home for sale; her grown son has career trouble and has moved back into their lives. In order to get away from a home situation that she feels has stagnated, she accepts a job to renovate a hotel that belongs to her best friend’s “younger” boyfriend in Atlanta.
    Cook’s descriptions of Sandy’s work “staging” houses grabbed the attention of this HGTV fan. Sandy’s husband, kids, friends, and life will really resonate with readers who have reached the stage where our husbands are precious friends and our kids are still our worlds… but are slowly leaving us behind to find their own lives. She writes, “Looking at my husband was like watching my life flash by.” Sandy’s friend’s relationship with a younger man made me wince. At that stage of life, it seems wrong to be still drifting, looking too hard for love that may only disappoint. Sandy’s hesitant attempts …and then whole-hearted support/”staging” of a homeless woman were inspiring for this part-time volunteer. Her battle with the by-the-book post office worker over a pair of favorite reading glasses is hysterical.
    This is a fun, yet meaningful read for middle year’s women who will enjoy the humor while appreciating the fundamental messages about love, family, and friendship.
    Three and a Half Stars

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 1, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    a must read

    best staged plans by claire cook
    Great memory book. This woman is telling others what they need to do to sell their house. She tries to impleemnt the same thing in her house so
    her 20+ yo son and her husband will help with the manual labor and get their house ready to sell or she's leaving.
    She has things in her junk drawer that I also remeber having: mood ring-and she knew what all the colors meant. This is a hilarious book at times
    and a serious one at times. Maps that are more uptodate online, games: go fish cards, mousetrap, etc.
    She's tired of not trying fun new things.
    she leaves her husband and son there to dismantle the kitchen cablinets to spruce them up so they can sell the house, her daughter shows up in town as
    she's there on a business meeting for some time, while she heads to where the daughter lives with her husband to redo a hotel. She has a lot of fun with
    that and helping her friend who arrives to try to find out if her boyfriend is seeing an old friend behind her back.
    What a fun and very helpful book if you want to redo your house in order to sell it. Various tips through the book and at the end tell you how to accomplish this.
    Ending was just right, not too much over the edge but and not dull -what you expect, either.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2011

    Disappointing

    I was unable to relate to the characters in this novel. They seemed superficial and uninteresting. The staging info was interesting, but again no depth. It was definitely not worth what I paid.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 17, 2011

    Funny and honest depiction of the realities of women in "midlife"

    Thank you, Claire Cook, for writing my biography. At least that's what it felt like as I read Best Staged Plans. Could it be we are twins separated at birth? Early on in my reading of the book, I started to reach for my highlighter; in books that I own, I often highlight passages that stand out for me. But I quickly realized that if I started doing that with Best Staged Plans, the entire book would be awash in neon yellow ink. Children's coloring books have more white space in them than my book would have had. Cook's writing style is clean and easy to read. She brings life to her characters that we can all recognize, if not in ourselves, then at least in family and friends around us. Sandra's first person narrative is by turns funny, sad, frustrated, and happy. I wish I she were my friend, what a ball we could have together. I laughed, I cried, and I thanked Claire Cook for sharing this book with the world.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Feel the need to declutter

    Sandy is a home stager, hired by people hoping to sell their homes quickly. Although she and her husband have agreed to put their own home on the market, only one of them seems to be actively getting the house ready for sale. As Sandy leaves for Atlanta and a job staging a hotel, she gives her husband an ultimatum.

    This quick read is full of tips which home stagers use to make a house look its most appealing. The focus on chocolate was a bit over the top; having the hotel named Hot Chocolate, with walls in varying shades of brown, plus the chocolate theme woven throughout detracted from the story. The sub-plot about Sandy's relationship with her son-in-law didn't seem complete; I felt there was a need for more information about the man if Sandy was going to get to know him and have more than just a polite conversation with him. When I finished the book, I felt the need to move and organize all the piles of paperwork which had somehow appeared on my countertops!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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