Friday, April 21, 2017

Quick Pick book review: Confessions of a Domestic Failure, by Bunmi Laditan

book review: Confessions of a Domestic Failure, by Bunmi Laditan
  • Opening lines: Aubrey's ear-piercing cry rattled over the baby monitor yanking me out of a deep sleep.

    My eyes fluttered open. I looked at my phone's clock. No, no, no, no, no. 
  • Reason I picked up the book: Bunmi Laditan is better known as The Honest Toddler on Twitter (@honesttoddler), and her tweets are hilarious.
  • And what's this book about?
  • From the creator of The Honest Toddler comes a fiction debut sure to be a must-read for moms everywhere.

    There are good moms and bad moms—and then there are hot-mess moms. Introducing Ashley Keller, career girl turned stay-at-home mom who's trying to navigate the world of Pinterest-perfect, Facebook-fantastic and Instagram-impressive mommies but failing miserably.

    When Ashley gets the opportunity to participate in the Motherhood Better boot camp run by the mommy-blog-empire maven she idolizes, she jumps at the chance to become the perfect mom she's always wanted to be. But will she fly high or flop?

    With her razor-sharp wit and knack for finding the funny in everything, Bunmi Laditan creates a character as flawed and lovable as Bridget Jones or Becky Bloomwood while hilariously lambasting the societal pressures placed upon every new mother. At its heart, Ashley's story reminds moms that there's no way to be perfect, but many ways to be great.

  • Recommended for: Anyone who likes "chick lit," or really anyone that is a mom, that knows moms, or that ever wants to be a mom. 
  • Favorite paragraph: Two lactation consultants, bloodwork, a dozen delicious but ineffective lactation cookies, two boxes of lactation tea and a rented breast pump later, I gave in and bought my first tin of failure powder. That's what a mom from my online breastfeeding forum calls formula. Failure powder. For failures like me.
    .....
    One mom even asked - with tears in her eyes, no less - if she could breastfeed my baby for me. As if Aubrey is some malnourished third-world baby on television with flies buzzing around her emaciated body. I may have lied and said that she's allergic to human milk.

    Oh, and we stopped using the million-dollar-a-can organic formula blend when Aubrey was three months old. Now she's on the cheap brand stuff. She's the only eight-month-old I know with zero teeth - probably from all the trace minerals she's missing from my malfunctioning mammary glands. formula. When she drops out of community college, we'll all know why. 
  • Something to know: The "perfect mom" / "mommy-blog-empire-maven" that Ashley idolizes throughout the novel definitely reminded me of The Pioneer Woman, one of the first lifestyle bloggers who has now built an empire for herself, with a dash of Martha Stewart thrown in.
  • What I would have changed: Nothing that I can think of. I liked how the ending was realistic, for the most part, too.
  • Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
  • Where can I find this book? Click here to pre-order on Amazon. The book will be released on May 2, 2017. 
*Disclosure: I received an e-copy of this book for reviewing from NetGalley. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

GIVEAWAY - 2 books: The Outliers, and The Scattering, by Kimberly McCreight {2 winners, ends 4/26}

NEW GIVEAWAY: The Outliers, and The Scattering, by Kimberly McCreight.

The Outliers, by Kimberly McCreight, was released in May 2016 (and is only $1.99 on Kindle, currently!). Its sequel, The Scattering, will be released on May 2nd, and two of my lucky readers now have a chance to win both books!

About The Outliers:
It all starts with a text: Please, Wylie, I need your help.

Wylie hasn’t heard from Cassie in over a week, not since their last fight. But that doesn’t matter. Cassie’s in trouble, so Wylie decides to do what she has done so many times before: save her best friend from herself.

This time it’s different, though. Instead of telling Wylie where she is, Cassie sends cryptic clues. And instead of having Wylie come by herself, Jasper shows up saying Cassie sent him to help. Trusting the guy who sent Cassie off the rails doesn’t feel right, but Wylie has no choice: she has to ignore her gut instinct and go with him.

But figuring out where Cassie is goes from difficult to dangerous, fast. As Wylie and Jasper head farther and farther north into the dense woods of Maine, Wylie struggles to control her growing sense that something is really wrong. What isn’t Cassie telling them? And could finding her be only the beginning?

About The Scattering:
New York Times bestselling author Kimberly McCreight raises the stakes in the second book of the heart-pounding Outliers trilogy, a uniquely speculative story about secrets, betrayal, and a world where one small group of people are blessed—or cursed—with an incredible power.

Wylie may have escaped the camp in Maine, but she is far from safe. The best way for her to protect herself is to understand her ability, fast. But after spending a lifetime trying to ignore her own feelings, giving in to her ability to read other peoples’ emotions is as difficult as it is dangerous.

And Wylie isn’t the only one at risk. Ever since they returned home, Jasper has been spiraling, wracked with guilt over what happened to Cassie. After all they’ve been through together, Wylie and Jasper would do anything for each other, but she doesn’t know if their bond is strong enough to overcome demons from the past.

It is amid this uncertainty and fear that Wylie finds herself confronted with a choice. She was willing to do whatever it took to help Cassie, but is she prepared to go to the same extremes to help complete strangers . . . even if they are just like her?

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Used media sale: Bookstock at Laurel Park Place (Livonia, MI), April 23-30

Bookstock at Laurel Park Place (Livonia, MI), April 23-30

Before last year, I had never even heard of Bookstock - however, it's been going on for quite a number of years now, and it's back this year at Laurel Park Place.

Last year I wrote a post about it, which you can find here, and the post ended up being one of my most popular posts on the website! {I guess you guys like a deal, which I definitely agree with!}

This week, I was able to catch up with fellow bloggers at the WDIV Channel 4 studio in Detroit, and learn more about this year's event. I'm hoping to actually attend this year, as well - last year I was out of town during it. I have my eye on some of those $1 - $3 books!

About the event:
Bookstock’s back, offering incredible deals on used books and media Sunday, April 23 through Sunday, April 30 at Livonia’s Laurel Park Place.

Bargains abound at Bookstock, metro Detroit’s biggest and best used book and media sale, where proceeds benefit literacy and education projects in metropolitan Detroit. Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley and Detroit News columnist Neal Rubin are Honorary Co-Chairs of Bookstock and the Mike Morse Law Firm is Bookstock’s 2017 Presenting Sponsor.

Bookstock’s Pre-Sale will kick-off on Sunday, April 23 at 8:15 a.m. with a performance by Livonia’s Churchill High School Drumline. There is a $20 admission charge for the Pre-Sale only, which runs through 11 a.m. and offers savvy shoppers and collectors first crack at Bookstock’s treasure trove of bargains. Bookstock has over 200,000 donated used books, DVDs, CDs, books on tape, magazines and records for sale at bargain basement prices. The sale will continue through Sunday, April 30, running Sundays, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. – 9p.m.

This year, Bookstock will feature six days of special sales:
    Bookstock at Laurel Park Place (Livonia, MI), April 23-30
  • Monday Madness – Monday, April 24: The first 1,000 shoppers will receive spectacular giveaways and one lucky shopper will receive a $500 VISA gift card.
  • Teacher Appreciation Day – Tuesday, April 25: Bookstock is celebrating teachers by giving 50% off to all teachers with a valid ID from 3–9 p.m. At 5 p.m., the Bookstock B.E.S.T.* Awards, (Bookstock Extraordinary Student/School/Teacher)will be presented to fourth grade students from Detroit Public Schools Community District who write the best essays entitled, “My Favorite Book Character…and Why.” A WDIV TV personality, will present the awards live,and cash prizes will be given to five students, their teachers and their schools.
  • Cookstock – Wednesday, April 26: Bookstock will feature the area’s largest collection of gently used cookbooks, and local TV celebrities Tati Amare (WDIV- 4), Carolyn Clifford (WXYZ-7) and Sherry Margolis (Fox 2) will announce the winners of the first Cookstock Recipe Contest at 5 .pm. at Bookstock, the first recipe contest to benefit literacy in Michigan!
  • Bookbuster Special Days – Thursday, April 27 and Friday, April 28: Buy three books and get the fourth book *free (*least expensive item) from 3 – 9 p.m. Spend $25 or more either night and be entered in a special drawing for: 
    • 4 tickets to a Red Wings game in the new Little Caesars Arena
    • A piece of the Palace floor signed by Pistons Bad Boy Bill Laimbeer
    • A two night stay and two rounds of Golf for two people at Treetops Resort in Gaylord
  • Half Price Finale, Sunday, April 30: All books and media will be sold for half price!
Bookstock at Laurel Park Place (Livonia, MI), April 23-30

Monday, April 3, 2017

Book Review: It Happens All the Time, by Amy Hatvany

He grunted and moaned as he stabbed himself inside me, not sounding like himself. This was some other man, some animal, not the boy I'd known and loved. He was a stranger violating my body, a monster taking what he wanted and not caring about the carnage left in his wake. 

This was me, having led him on to the point where he thought that it was okay to keep going, even after I told him to stop. 

This was me, opening my eyes and staring at the ceiling, my soul floating up above my body, trying to deny that I was being raped by my best friend. 

Wow, this was a great book. To be honest, I was asked to participate in a book tour for it, so I downloaded the e-galley and planned to read it in a few weeks; however, NetGalley had a preview of the book up on its site, and I read it and was immediately hooked. I ended up reading the entire book in only two days.

Official synopsis:
Book Review: It Happens All the Time, by Amy Hatvany
From master storyteller Amy Hatvany—whose writing has been hailed as “gripping and emotionally honest” (Stephanie Evanovich, New York Times betselling author)—comes a provocative and compelling novel about two friends whose lives are changed by a drunken kiss.

I want to rewind the clock, take back the night when the world shattered. I want to erase everything that went wrong.

Amber Bryant and Tyler Hicks have been best friends since they were teenagers—trusting and depending on each other through some of the darkest periods of their young lives. And while Amber has always felt that their relationship is strictly platonic, Tyler has long harbored the secret desire that they might one day become more than friends.

Returning home for the summer after her college graduation, Amber begins spending more time with Tyler than she has in years. Despite the fact that Amber is engaged to her college sweetheart, a flirtation begins to grow between them. One night, fueled by alcohol and concerns about whether she’s getting married too young, Amber kisses Tyler.

What happens next will change them forever.

In alternating points of view, It Happens All the Time examines the complexity of sexual dynamics between men and women and offers an incisive exploration of gender roles, expectations, and the ever-timely issue of consent.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Quick Pick Book Review and GIVEAWAY: In the Light of the Garden, by Heather Burch {ends 4/2}

Book Review: In the Light of the Garden, by Heather Burch
  • Opening lines: When Charity Baxter was little, she believed in fairies and pixies and the kind of magic that made unicorns and cotton candy. To her, Gaslamp Island itself was as magical a place as any in this world, except maybe for the one Alice found while chasing a white rabbit. 
  • Reason I picked up the book: I received the book to review, and it looked interesting.
  • And what's this book about?
  • In the Light of the Garden is a novel about unearthed family secrets, the enchantment of past loves, and the indelible power of forgiveness. Inheriting her grandparents’ island estate on Florida’s Gulf coast is a special kind of homecoming for thirty-one-year-old Charity Baxter. Raised by a narcissistic single mother, Charity’s only sense of a loving home comes from childhood summers spent with Gramps and Grandma. But piercing her fondest memories is her sharpest grief—the death of her beloved grandmother, when Charity stopped believing in the magical healing power of the weeping willow that still casts a shadow on their property. Now that Charity has returned, she’s full of longing and regret, until she befriends her neighbor Dalton Reynolds, who has come to Gaslamp Island carrying his own heartache. As other exiles arrive—a great uncle harboring secrets, a teenage runaway—Charity begins to reconsider what makes a family. When her own estranged mother shows up in crisis, Charity is challenged to search her heart for forgiveness. But forgiving herself may require a little magic from the last place she’d expect to find it.
  • Recommended for: Anyone who likes a "summer read." 
  • Favorite paragraph: Far off the beach, a sailboat kissed the horizon, and all of Charity's excitement lulled into a sort of satisfied restfulness. The island was the best place in the world, and Charity would love it forever. How could anyone come here and not believe in magic?

    That was the year her grandmother died.

    That was the year magic ended for Charity Monroe Baxter.
  • Something to know: The island does have some magic, and it's interesting to see how that's incorporated into the book (it's done very realistically).
  • What I would have changed: The ending is very predictable, but I'm not sure what I would have done to change it. 
  • Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars. 
  • Where can I find this book? Click here to purchase on Amazon.
*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

GIVEAWAY:

I have one paperback copy of this novel to give away to one of my lucky readers!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Sunday, April 2nd, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be contacted via email the next day and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. and Canadian residents only, please.

Good luck!

Paperback copy of In the Light of the Garden

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Book Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Evelyn's mood turns a bit darker. "I'm not a good person, Monique. Make sure, in the book, that that's clear. That I'm not claiming to be good. That I did a lot of things that hurt a lot of people, and I would do them over again if I had to."

"I don't know," I say. "You don't seem so bad, Evelyn."

"You, of all people, are going to change your mind about that," she says. "Very soon."

I'm going to be honest and say that Taylor Jenkins Reid is one of my favorite authors nowadays, so when I was able to get my hands on a very early e-galley of her newest novel, I was quite happy. The good news is, this novel is just as good as her previous ones, and it was quite a compelling read.

Official synopsis:
Book Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
From Taylor Jenkins Reid comes an unforgettable and sweeping novel about one classic film actress’s relentless rise to the top—the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.

Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Filled with emotional insight and written with Reid’s signature talent, this is a fascinating journey through the splendor of Old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means—and what it takes—to face the truth.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Quick Pick book review: Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty

Book review: Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty.
  • Opening lines: "That doesn't sound like a school trivia night," said Mrs. Patty Ponder to Marie Antoinette. "That sounds like a riot."

    The cat didn't respond. She was dozing on the couch and found school trivia nights to be trivial.
  • Reason I picked up the book: I've read a few of Liane Moriarty's books before (and reviewed two of them), and I knew the TV show would be on HBO soon.
  • And what's this book about?
  • Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

    Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).


    Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.
    New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny.

    Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.
     

    Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive. 
  • Recommended for: Anyone who likes murder-mysteries, or who is a fan of books like Gone Girl.
  • Favorite paragraph: For a moment, Celeste couldn't speak. Big blocky words filled her mouth. She imagined letting them spill out.

    My husband hits me, Renata. Never on the face, of course. He's far too classy for that. Does yours hit you?

    And if he does, and this is the question that really interests me: Do you hit back?

    "I'm fine," she said.
  • Something to know: Episode 1 of the HBO show aired last week, and so far I am liking it, although they've already changed some details from the book - the elementary school is called Otter Bay, rather than Pirriwee Public, for example. 
  • What I would have changed: Nothing that I can think of. I really liked how we flash back from present to past - we know one of the parents gets murdered, but we don't know by whom or what the circumstances are. The identity of the parent that gets murdered, as well as who was responsible, was something I didn't see coming, too. 
  • Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.
  • Where can I find this book? Click here to purchase on Amazon.
Shailene Woodley as Jane, Reese Witherspoon as Madeline, and Nicole Kidman
as Celeste, in HBO's Big Little Lies
credit: businessinsider.com