Thursday, May 5, 2016

Upcoming: Bookstock at Laurel Park Place (Livonia, MI), May 15-22

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending a luncheon about Bookstock, the book and media sale event in Livonia, MI. As a book blogger and avid reader, I had actually never heard of Bookstock prior to this, but it's a fun event where you can pick up some books, DVDs, and audio books for great prices.

More about the event:
Bookstock’s back, offering incredible deals on used books and media Sunday, May 15 through Sunday, May 22 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.

Bookstock’s Pre-Sale will kick-off on Sunday, May 15 at 8:15 a.m. with a performance by Livonia’s Stephenson High School Marching Band. 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 100,000 donated used books, DVDs, CDs, books on tape, magazines and records for sale at bargain basement prices. The sale will continue through Sunday, May 22, running Sundays, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and Monday through Saturday 10 a.m.-9 p.m. the Mike Morse Law Firm is the Bookstock 2016 Presenting Sponsor.

Quick Pick: When I'm Gone

  • Opening linesIt was a beautiful funeral. How could it not be? Natalie planned the whole thing, and she always had a knack for entertaining. Luke and Natalie had visited the funeral home together, but Nat did all the work. From the donation basket for the National Cancer Society to the personalized video messages playing on a loop in the foyer, it was probably the funeral of the year in Farmington Hills, Michigan.
  • Reason I picked up the book: The plot sounded interesting. The story also takes place in the metro Detroit area, where I live, so it was fun to see the main character reference places like Farmington Hills - real cities that I've been to.
  • And what's this book about?
  • Dear Luke, First let me say—I love you…I didn’t want to leave you…

    Luke Richardson has returned home after burying Natalie, his beloved wife of sixteen years, ready to face the hard job of raising their three children alone. But there’s something he’s not prepared for—a blue envelope with his name scrawled across the front in Natalie’s handwriting, waiting for him on the floor of their suburban Michigan home.

    The letter inside, written on the first day of Natalie’s cancer treatment a year ago, turns out to be the first of many. Luke is convinced they’re genuine, but who is delivering them? As his obsession with the letters grows, Luke uncovers long-buried secrets that make him question everything he knew about his wife and their family. But the revelations also point the way toward a future where love goes on—in written words, in memories, and in the promises it’s never too late to keep.
  • Recommended for: Anyone who likes romances, in a weird way, or mysteries - there are some small mysteries here that are later uncovered. 
  • Something to know: This is the author's second book; her first one is called Wreckage, which I have not read.
  • What I would have changed: It ends a little abruptly, but it did still manage to wrap everything up. I overall really liked this book so I can't think of anything major that I would have changed in it. 
  • Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.
  • Where can I find this book? Click here to order on Amazon.
*Disclosure: I received an e-copy of this book from Netgalley for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Book Review: Modern Romance, by Aziz Ansari

You didn't marry each other because you were madly in love; you married because you could make a family together. While some people said they were getting married for love, the pressure to get married and start a family was such that not every match could be a love match, so instead we had the "good enough marriage."

Waiting for true love was a luxury that many, especially women, could not afford. In the early 1960s, a full 76 percent of women admitted that they would be willing to marry someone they didn't love. However, only 35 percent of men said they would od the same.

If you were a woman, you had far less time to find a man. True love? This guy has a job and a decent mustache. Lock it down, girl.

Not one but two friends recently mentioned/recommended this book to me - one said he wants to read it, and the other said it was an interesting read. I checked the book out via e-book from my local library, but then knew I had to step up my reading "game" once I got an email from the library saying the e-book was due within three days (and I had not started it yet). I whipped through Modern Romance in a little less than 24 hours, and it was a great read.

Official synopsis:
At some point, every one of us embarks on a journey to find love. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with the hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection. This seems standard now, but it’s wildly different from what people did even just decades ago. Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history. With technology, our abilities to connect with and sort through these options are staggering. So why are so many people frustrated?

Some of our problems are unique to our time. “Why did this guy just text me an emoji of a pizza?” “Should I go out with this girl even though she listed Combos as one of her favorite snack foods? Combos?!” “My girlfriend just got a message from some dude named Nathan. Who’s Nathan? Did he just send her a photo of his penis? Should I check just to be sure?”

But the transformation of our romantic lives can’t be explained by technology alone. In a short period of time, the whole culture of finding love has changed dramatically. A few decades ago, people would find a decent person who lived in their neighborhood. Their families would meet and, after deciding neither party seemed like a murderer, they would get married and soon have a kid, all by the time they were twenty-four. Today, people marry later than ever and spend years of their lives on a quest to find the perfect person, a soul mate.

For years, Aziz Ansari has been aiming his comic insight at modern romance, but for
Modern Romance, the book, he decided he needed to take things to another level. He teamed up with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg and designed a massive research project, including hundreds of interviews and focus groups conducted everywhere from Tokyo to Buenos Aires to Wichita. They analyzed behavioral data and surveys and created their own online research forum on Reddit, which drew thousands of messages. They enlisted the world’s leading social scientists, including Andrew Cherlin, Eli Finkel, Helen Fisher, Sheena Iyengar, Barry Schwartz, Sherry Turkle, and Robb Willer. The result is unlike any social science or humor book we’ve seen before.

Modern Romance, Ansari combines his irreverent humor with cutting-edge social science to give us an unforgettable tour of our new romantic world.

I like Aziz Ansari in the movies I've seen him in, and his recent Netflix series Master of None was great too. I'm also newly single, and I had previously done online dating, so I was curious to read this book.

The reason this book is so great is that although while some of it is cut and dry - statistics about online dating, different cultures, etc. - Ansari infuses his sense of humor through the book as well (I was reading the book to myself in his voice, too, which also made it funnier to me).

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

GIVEAWAY: After the Fire, by Jane Casey {ends 5/10}

After the Fire by Jane Casey makes its debut today, and I have a copy for one of my lucky readers to win!

This is the sixth book in the Maeve Kerrigan series, as well.

Book Synopsis:
London police detective Maeve Kerrigan has spent plenty of time at Murchison House. From domestic abuse victims and elderly widows with nowhere else to turn to its flourishing criminal elements, Maeve is familiar with many of its occupants by name or reputation.

But when a fire breaks out at Murchison House that consumes the top floors and leaves three dead, Maeve and her colleagues are startled to learn the identity of one of the victims. What Maeve begins to uncover will lead her on a terrifying journey through all levels of society, putting her very life in danger.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Stars Over Sunset Boulevard, by Susan Meissner {ends 5/5}

Christine withdraws a paper-wrapped lump from inside the box, revealing at first just a flash of moss green and shimmers of gold. Then she pulls away the rest of the layers. The Robin Hood-style hat in folds of soft velvet, amber-hued fringe, and iridescent feathers feels ghostly in her hands, as though if she put it to her ear, it might whisper a litany of old secrets.

She has seen this hat somewhere before, a long time ago. 
Stella moves closer, brow furrowed. "That hat looks familiar to me."

"It does to me, too." Christine turns the hat over to inspects its underside for signs of its designer - a label, a signature, a date. She sees only a single name in faded ink on a yellowed tag:

Scarlett #13.

I love historical books, so it was no surprise that I really enjoyed Stars Over Sunset Boulevard, as it jumps between the '30s to '60s and present-day (2012). It also revolves around Gone with the Wind, one of the most famous movies of the past 100 years, so that element was interesting as well.

Official synopsis:
In this new novel from the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life, two women working in Hollywood during its Golden Age discover the joy and heartbreak of true friendship.

Los Angeles, Present Day. When an iconic hat worn by Scarlett O’Hara in
Gone With the Wind ends up in Christine McAllister’s vintage clothing boutique by mistake, her efforts to return it to its owner take her on a journey more enchanting than any classic movie…

Los Angeles, 1938. Violet Mayfield sets out to reinvent herself in Hollywood after her dream of becoming a wife and mother falls apart, and lands a job on the film-set of Gone With the Wind. There, she meets enigmatic Audrey Duvall, a once-rising film star who is now a fellow secretary. Audrey’s zest for life and their adventures together among Hollywood’s glitterati enthrall Violet…until each woman’s deepest desires collide. What Audrey and Violet are willing to risk, for themselves and for each other, to ensure their own happy endings will shape their friendship, and their lives, far into the future.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Book Review: Lust & Wonder, by Augusten Burroughs

The leather squeaked as he uncrossed his legs and place the papers on the floor at his feet. He propped his elbows on his knees and asked me, "What were you too late for, Augusten?"

I looked into his eyes, and then my gaze shifted to clock behind his head. It was now almost nine forty-five. But he hadn't even noticed.

I'm the one who said, "I think we ran over."

When your psychiatrist forgets to look at the clock and is hanging on your every word, that's when you know, out of all his patients, you are the sickest.

I have read Augusten Burroughs' work before, most memorably Running with Scissors - which was also made into a movie (which I have also seen), with Gwyneth Paltrow. Dry, another of his memoirs, was written first but was the second one released; apparently Running with Scissors was actually written after Dry, but released first. His writing reminds me much of David Sedaris's, except a bit darker (though still witty), and I very much enjoyed this novel.

Official synopsis:
First came Running with Scissors. Then came Dry. Now, there's Lust & Wonder.

In chronicling the development and demise of the different relationships he's had while living in New York, Augusten Burroughs examines what it means to be in love, what it means to be in lust, and what it means to be figuring it all out. With Augusten's unique and singular observations and his own unabashed way of detailing both the horrific and the humorous,
Lust and Wonder is an intimate and honest memoir that his legions of fans have been waiting for.

In this memoir, Augusten talks about life in New York, as well as his relationships. He dates a man named Dennis for many years, eventually realizing he doesn't love him anymore, and he later realizes he's been in love with his book agent, Christopher, for even longer than that. Augusten and Dennis have a house together, though, and dogs, and it would be hard to separate their entwined lives; the novel contains details about this, as well as anecdotes about the small Massachusetts town where they chose to build a house. 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Two-Family House, by Lynda Cohen Loigman {ends 4/15}

This night was different. Never before had she seen such longing, pain and relief braided together more tightly. Two mothers, two babies, born only minutes apart. She had witnessed tonight what pure woman strength could accomplish, how the mind could control the body out of absolute desperation.

She breathed in the air again, crisp and cold, clearing her head. It ahd been a good night, two healthy babies born to healthy, capable mothers. She couldn't ask for more. What happened now was out of her hands. Wholly and completely she put it out of her mind, said her goodbyes to the house on the steps and made her way home to go to sleep. There would be more babies tomorrow, she knew, and the constancy of her work would keep her thoughts from this place. She promised herself never to think of it again.

This novel was more interesting than I thought it would be, partially because of a twist near the end of the book that I didn't see coming. In a Q&A, the author says that some readers may have already figured it out; however, it blindsided me at the time, although makes more sense now, that I've had time to reflect on it.

Official synopsis:
Brooklyn, 1947: in the midst of a blizzard, in a two-family brownstone, two babies are born minutes apart to two women. They are sisters by marriage with an impenetrable bond forged before and during that dramatic night; but as the years progress, small cracks start to appear and their once deep friendship begins to unravel. No one knows why, and no one can stop it. One misguided choice; one moment of tragedy. Heartbreak wars with happiness and almost but not quite wins.

From debut novelist Lynda Cohen Loigman comes
The Two-Family House, a moving family saga filled with heart, emotion, longing, love, and mystery.

Rose and her husband, Mort, live in the first floor apartment of a house that Mort owns with his brother, Abe; Abe and Helen, his wife, live on the second floor. Mort and Rose have three girls, and Abe and Helen have four boys. When both Rose and Helen get pregnant around the same time, they are overjoyed, since the two soon-to-be born cousins will be around the same age.