Saturday, May 21, 2016

Quick Pick: First Comes Love, by Emily Giffin

  • Opening linesIt is the first day of school, a symbolic and hopeful fresh start, at least that's what I tell myself as I stand before my captive, well-scrubbed audience of ten boys and eleven girls in my J.Crew finest - gold ballet flats, gray pants, and a pink, sequined sweater set.
  • Reason I picked up the book: NetGalley had it for reviewing and I love Emily Giffin books - she's also written Something Borrowed, which was a great movie too, plus its sequel, and tons of other "chick lit" books that I've enjoyed.
  • And what's this book about?
  • In this dazzling new novel, Emily Giffin, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Something Borrowed, Where We Belong, and The One & Only introduces a pair of sisters who find themselves at a crossroads.

    Growing up, Josie and Meredith Garland shared a loving, if sometimes contentious relationship. Josie was impulsive, spirited, and outgoing; Meredith hardworking, thoughtful, and reserved. When tragedy strikes their family, their different responses to the event splinter their delicate bond.

    Fifteen years later, Josie and Meredith are in their late thirties, following very different paths. Josie, a first grade teacher, is single—and this close to swearing off dating for good. What she wants more than the right guy, however, is to become a mother—a feeling that is heightened when her ex-boyfriend’s daughter ends up in her class. Determined to have the future she’s always wanted, Josie decides to take matters into her own hands.

    On the outside, Meredith is the model daughter with the perfect life. A successful attorney, she’s married to a wonderful man, and together they’re raising a beautiful four-year-old daughter. Yet lately, Meredith feels dissatisfied and restless, secretly wondering if she chose the life that was expected of her rather than the one she truly desired.

    As the anniversary of their tragedy looms and painful secrets from the past begin to surface, Josie and Meredith must not only confront the issues that divide them, but also come to terms with their own choices. In their journey toward understanding and forgiveness, both sisters discover they need each other more than they knew . . . and that in the recipe for true happiness, love always comes first.

    Emotionally honest and utterly enthralling,
    First Comes Love is a story about family, friendship, and the courage to follow your own heart—wherever that may lead.
  • Favorite paragraph:
    "No. I can't," I say, shaking my head. Then, talking about my sister in the third person, I add, "Will someone please tell her that bringing a child into the world is the hardest thing you can do?"

    When nobody answers, I finally turn to walk out of the house, catching the look of anguish on Mom's face and knowing, in an instant, she's thinking how wrong I am about this. That watching your child
    leave the world is actually much harder.
  • Recommended for: Anyone who likes family tales and also family secrets; also for those who like "chick lit."
  • Something to know: I found this to be more serious than Giffin's other books; it deals with a family tragedy and the aftermath of that. 
  • What I would have changed: Nothing.
  • Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
  • Where can I find this book? Click here to pre-order on Amazon - it will be released on June 28th.
*Disclosure: I received an e-copy of this book from Netgalley for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Book Review: Meternity, by Meghann Foye

"One more. How many weeks are you right now?"

"I don't know?" I freeze. I look down at the app. Since "weeks" start on Mondays, I'm at the tail end of sixteen weeks. Just a little over five months until October 20. My "due date," I realize with strange solemnity.
...
Everywhere, the sights and sounds of possibility are brewing. Maybe more is out there than I've let myself realize. Maybe my friends are right.

I sit back in my chair and allow the idea of a "me-turnity leave" - time off for me to really figure out what I want to do with my life - to take hold ... Could this be it?

A few weeks ago, I read a review of Meternity on one of the book blogs I follow, Chick Lit Central, and it sounded like a fun read. A week or so later, an article written by the author was being shared by a good percentage of my Facebook friends - mommies or not - and was being hotly debated, as well as its counterpoint article. Even my friends who are childless were saying things like "OMG, this is awful - what a selfish person," etc. I also found it unfair that the book on Amazon was getting all 1-star ratings - probably from people who haven't even read it!

After all this, I was definitely curious to read the book, and I found it to be not unlike most cute "chick lit" books I have read - entertaining and a fast read.

Official synopsis:
Not quite knocked up…

Like everyone in New York media, editor Liz Buckley runs on cupcakes, caffeine and cocktails. But at thirty-one, she's plateaued at
Paddy Cakes, a glossy baby magazine that flogs thousand-dollar strollers to entitled, hypercompetitive spawn-havers.

Liz has spent years working a gazillion hours a week picking up the slack for coworkers with kids, and she's tired of it. So one day when her stress-related nausea is mistaken for morning sickness by her bosses—boom! Liz is promoted to the mommy track. She decides to run with it and plans to use her paid time off to figure out her life: work, love and otherwise. It'll be her "meternity" leave.

By day, Liz rocks a foam-rubber belly under fab maternity outfits. By night, she dumps the bump for karaoke nights and boozy dinners out. But how long can she keep up her charade…and hide it from the guy who might just be The One?

As her "due date" approaches, Liz is exhausted—and exhilarated—by the ruse, the guilt and the feelings brought on by a totally fictional belly-tenant…about happiness, success, family and the nature of love.


Liz Buckley is thirty-one years old, and she's been working at Paddy Cakes, a mommy magazine, for about ten years now. She's tired of working long hours with the promise of a raise, but nothing concrete. Her boss, Alix, dumps all of her own work on Liz as well. One day, she's not feeling well and she throws up while at her job; her boss assumes she's pregnant, and she just goes with it.

The plan is to rock a (fake) baby bump for a few months or so, all while covertly applying to travel writer and freelance writer jobs, so that she can get out of Paddy Cakes before her "due date." However, things get out of hand, and before she knows it, she's still employed by the magazine and her "due date" is fast approaching.

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.

In 
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.