Monday, May 15, 2017

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: City Mouse, by Stacey Lender {ends 5/22}

It was the bathroom that finally started us house hunting on the weekends up in Westchester. Sharon and Dave had just moved to Scarsdale from the city and I swear during brunch they slipped Aaron some suburban Kool-Aid with their day-old bagels. While the kids played on a giant plastic gym set in their cavernous empty living room, they proudly gave us a tour of their five-bedroom Colonial, closet by closet. Aaron seemed bored, as usual, but when we entered the en suite master bathroom, complete with double sinks and a rainfall shower, I heard him gasp. "A separate little room for the toilet!" he said, eyes glowing wide with bathroom envy. 

I was surprised to learn that City Mouse is the author's debut novel, as it was very good. It follows a woman and her family who decide to move to the suburbs from NYC, and who does so with doubts, as they she loves the city and doesn't know how she and her family will fare in the suburbs.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: City Mouse, by Stacey Lender
Priced out of their Manhattan neighborhood, Jessica and Aaron move with their young daughters to the one place Jessica swore she’d never go: the suburbs. But to Jessica’s surprise, life in the commuter belt makes a great first impression. She quickly falls in with a clique of helpful mom friends who welcome her with pitchers of margaritas, neighborhood secrets, and a pair of hot jeans that actually fit.

Still, it's hard to keep up in a crowd where everyone competes for the most perfectly manicured home and latest backyard gadgets. And what’s worse, as the only working mom in her circle, Jessica sometimes feels disconnected and alone. So she’s thrilled when she’s invited to a moms-only weekend at the beach, which she assumes will mean new opportunities for real talk and bonding. Instead, the trip turns into a series of eye-opening lessons, and Jessica must decide if she’s strong enough to be honest with herself about the sort of life she really wants.

City Mouse is an irresistible debut that examines what it means to find your place, revealing unspoken truths about motherhood, friendship, and the thorny pursuit to have it all.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Alex & Eliza, by Melissa de la Cruz {ends 5/16}

"I don't know why she cares so much," Eliza said now. "This is hardly the most prominent party of the year."

"Yes, but the Van Rensselaers are coming and the Livingstons, and, of course, that famous young Colonel Hamilton. Husband season is open. The hounds are on the loose."

Eliza's face brightened. "A good thing, then, that I have no intention of being a fox!"

I'm a huge fan of Melissa de la Cruz books, as well as historical fiction so it's not a surprise that I enjoyed this one. The novel focuses on Alexander Hamilton, who meets and later wooes Elizabeth Schuyler, and their romance, of which not much history is known about.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Alex & Eliza, by Melissa de la Cruz
Their romance shaped a nation. The rest was history.

1777. Albany, New York.

As battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, servants flutter about preparing for one of New York society’s biggest events: the Schuylers’ grand ball. Descended from two of the oldest and most distinguished bloodlines in New York, the Schuylers are proud to be one of their fledgling country’s founding families, and even prouder still of their three daughters—Angelica, with her razor-sharp wit; Peggy, with her dazzling looks; and Eliza, whose beauty and charm rival that of both her sisters, though she’d rather be aiding the colonists’ cause than dressing up for some silly ball.

Still, she can barely contain her excitement when she hears of the arrival of one Alexander Hamilton, a mysterious, rakish young colonel and General George Washington’s right-hand man. Though Alex has arrived as the bearer of bad news for the Schuylers, he can’t believe his luck—as an orphan, and a bastard one at that—to be in such esteemed company. And when Alex and Eliza meet that fateful night, so begins an epic love story that would forever change the course of American history.

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