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

Monday, February 20, 2017

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Lifeblood (Everlife #2), by Gena Showalter {ends 2/27}

Killian's words echo through my mind. If I fight for you, I help my realm lose the war. If I fight against you, I lose you.

No middle ground.

Choose.

My tears—such silly, useless tears—spill over my cheeks, leaving hot, stinging tracks in their wake. I thought I was prepared to give up everything for my realm of choice. I thought I could live with any consequences.

But the cost is already too high. 

I reviewed Firstlife, the first book in the Everlife series, last March, and I gave it 3.5/5 stars. It was an intriguing read, and when I heard it was going to be a trilogy, I couldn't wait to read the next book in the series, Lifeblood. Although I found it to be a bit more confusing than the first book, overall I did enjoy it.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Lifeblood (Everlife #2), by Gena Showalter
My Firstlife is over, but my Everlife is only now beginning.

With her last living breath, Tenley "Ten" Lockwood made her choice and picked her realm in the Everlife. Now, as the war between Troika and Myriad rages, she must face the consequences.

Because Ten possesses a rare supernatural ability to absorb and share light, the Powers That Be have the highest expectations for her future—and the enemy wants her neutralized. Fighting to save her Secondlife, she must learn about her realm from the ground up while launching her first mission: convincing a select group of humans to join her side before they die. No pressure, right?

But Ten's competition is Killian, the boy she can't forget—the one who gave up everything for her happiness. He has only one shot at redemption: beating Ten at a game she's never even played. As their throw-downs heat up, so do their undeniable feelings, and soon, Ten will have to make another choice. Love…or victory.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Quick Pick: The Young Wives Club, by Julie Pennell

Book review: The Young Wives Club, by Julie Pennell
  • Opening lines: Two thousand, one hundred and fifty-four people live in my town. There are ten restaurants, two stoplights, one grocery store, and three schools - Toulouse Elementary, Toulouse Middle, and Toulouse High. Not the most creative names, I know, but that's Toulouse for you.

    Life here is simple. All we need is a nice white dress for church on Sundays, and a shaded porch on a hot summer day. For us, heaven on earth is a run-down restaurant with a sticky floor that serves crawfish and sweet tea.
  • Reason I picked up the book: I received an e-copy to review, and it sounded interesting. I also really liked the cover art.
  • And what's this book about?
  • In Toulouse, Louisiana finding your one true love happens sometime around high school. If you’re lucky, he might be the man you thought he was. But as four friends are about to find out, not every girl has luck on her side in this charming debut novel perfect for fans of The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Desperate Housewives.

    Laura Landry’s quarterback husband was her ticket out of Toulouse. But when a devastating football injury sidelines him, they’re forced to move back to the small town she was so desperate to leave. As Brian starts drinking instead of rehabbing his knee, Laura must reevaluate what her future looks like…and if it includes her husband.


    For years, Madison Blanchette has been waiting for bad-boy musician Cash Romero to commit to her. When wealthy George Dubois asks her out, she figures she may as well wait in style. Life with George means weekend trips to New Orleans, gourmet meals, and expensive gifts. At first she loves how George’s affection sparks Cash’s jealousy, but when George proposes to Madison, she finds herself torn between two men…


    All Claire Thibodeaux wants is to be the perfect wife and mother. If she can do everything right she won’t end up like her mom, a divorced, single parent trying to make ends meet. But when Claire’s husband Gavin, a well-respected local pastor, starts spending late nights at work and less time in their bed, she can’t help but fear that history is about to repeat itself…


    Gabrielle Vaughn never thought she’d end up with someone like her fiancé. The son of a prominent congressman, Tony Ford is completely out of her league—which is why she lied to him about everything from having a college degree to the dark truth about her family. She knows she has to come clean, but how do you tell the love of your life that your entire relationship is a lie?
    As these young wives come together to help each other through life, love, and heartbreak, they discover that there are no easy answers when it comes to matters of the heart.
  • Recommended for: Anyone who likes "chick lit" or easy reads.
  • Something to know: The book revolves around 4 women - all of whom are 18 to 22 years old - who are either married or about to be married. 
  • What I would have changed: The men in this book are all awful, but I liked that the women are all strong women who eventually realized which men were good for them and which men were not (ie, their self-worth wasn't dependent on having a husband). I'm not sure what I would have changed, this book was a little TOO "beach read"-y for me but I still overall enjoyed it. 
  • Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
  • Where can I find this book? Click here to pre-order - this book will be out on February 14.

    *Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Quick Pick book review - Talking As Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (And Everything in Between), by Lauren Graham

Talking As Fast as I Can book review, by Lauren Graham, Gilmore Girls
  • Opening lines: If you'd asked me back at the beginning of my career to guess which character I was most likely to return to, fifteen years after I'd played her for the first time, there would have been only one answer. Even back then I knew, from the very first time I read the script, that I had been given the opportunity to play someone very special. 
  • Reason I picked up the book: I'm a huge Gilmore Girls fan (although I binged the series on Netflix starting last year, and had not watched it while it aired). 
  • And what's this book about? In this collection of personal essays, the beloved star of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood reveals stories about life, love, and working as a woman in Hollywood—along with behind-the-scenes dispatches from the set of the new Gilmore Girls, where she plays the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore once again.

    In
    Talking as Fast as I Can, Lauren Graham hits pause for a moment and looks back on her life, sharing laugh-out-loud stories about growing up, starting out as an actress, and, years later, sitting in her trailer on the Parenthood set and asking herself, “Did you, um, make it?” She opens up about the challenges of being single in Hollywood (“Strangers were worried about me; that’s how long I was single!”), the time she was asked to audition her butt for a role, and her experience being a judge on Project Runway (“It’s like I had a fashion-induced blackout”).

    In “What It Was Like, Part One,” Graham sits down for an epic
    Gilmore Girls marathon and reflects on being cast as the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore. The essay “What It Was Like, Part Two” reveals how it felt to pick up the role again nine years later, and what doing so has meant to her.

    Some more things you will learn about Lauren: She once tried to go vegan just to bond with Ellen DeGeneres, she’s aware that meeting guys at awards shows has its pitfalls (“If you’re meeting someone for the first time after three hours of hair, makeup, and styling, you’ve already set the bar too high”), and she’s a card-carrying REI shopper (“My bungee cords now earn points!”).

    Including photos and excerpts from the diary Graham kept during the filming of the recent
    Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, this book is like a cozy night in, catching up with your best friend, laughing and swapping stories, and—of course—talking as fast as you can.
  • Favorite paragraph: I wondered what it would be like to put someone I loved so much down for eight years and then pick her up again. I wondered if rebooting Gilmore Girls could be as gratifying as doing the series was for the first time, if the show would feel as fresh and quirky and smart and speedy as it had been, if returning to Stars Hollow after all those years would be as wonderful as I dreamed it would be.

    Spoiler alert: it was.
  • Recommended for: Anyone who is a fan of Lauren Graham's work (specifically, of course, Gilmore Girls, but there are some Parenthood nuggets thrown in here too) or wants to know more about her.
  • Something to know: I didn't know that Graham had a theater "internship" of sorts in Augusta, MI, for two summers (which is by Kalamazoo - I looked it up), which was interesting. There is also a lot of behind-the-scenes info on Gilmore Girls here which I liked. The book reads like Lorelai Gilmore is narrating it too (it's written very well in Graham's own voice, which is similar), which I loved. 
  • What I would have changed: Nothing I can think of.
  • Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.
  • Where can I find this book? Click here to order on Amazon.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Forever is the Worst Long Time, by Camille Noe Pagán

As I watched Kathryn's face twist as she drifted off, I thought, Yes, this is good, and it is easy. Easier than anything I'd ever known as an adult, and maybe would again. Of course, I didn't know or appreciate that then because I had no point of reference. In your twenties, it's easy to think most of your better days are still up ahead. But sometime around the point when you find yourself in a face-off with forty, time does a peculiar thing and unfolds at once, almost like a map, so that while you can see that you are no longer truly young and you are not yet old, it's quite clear that you will be very soon—if you're lucky.

So, writing this to you from that precipice, I will simply say: if you find yourself in an effortless position in life as I did beside Kathryn in bed that fall morning, enjoy it, but don't stop there. When something comes to you so easily, it may leave the same way, and you'll be left wondering if it ever was at all. 

I've been a big fan of Camille Pagán's books after reading Life and Other Near-Death Experiences, which I reviewed back in September 2015, and this novel was no different - the author is great at revealing her characters, as well as their motivations.

Official synopsis:
Book Review: Forever is the Worst Long Time, by Camille Pagan
When struggling novelist James Hernandez meets poet Louisa “Lou” Bell, he’s sure he’s just found the love of his life. There’s just one problem: she’s engaged to his oldest friend, Rob. So James toasts their union and swallows his desire.

As the years pass, James’s dreams always seem just out of reach—he can’t finish that novel, can’t mend his relationship with his father, can’t fully commit to a romantic relationship. He just can’t move on. But after betrayal fractures Lou’s once-solid marriage, she turns to James for comfort.

When Lou and James act on their long-standing mutual attraction, the consequences are more heartbreaking—and miraculous—than either of them could have ever anticipated. Then life throws James one more curveball, and he, Rob, and Lou are forced to come to terms with the unexpected ways in which love and loss are intertwined.


I could very much relate to this novel, and I'm betting that others will be able to as well ... there's always been that one person that either "got away" or that you had a mad crush on, but weren't able to do anything about it. 

What was interesting about this book was that Lou and James do end up together, at one point, albeit very briefly ... and what happens next isn't your typical "HEA" (happily ever after), but it somehow works.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Quick Pick book review: The Girl Before, by J.P. Delaney

Book Review: The Girl Before, by J.P. Delaney
  • Opening lines: It's a lovely little flat, the agent says with what could almost pass for genuine enthusiasm. Close to the amenities. And there's that private bit of roof. That could become a sun terrace, subject of course to the landlord's consent.
  • Reason I picked up the book: I was looking for a non-YA book to read (I had just read a few in succession) and this one sounded good and was on NetGalley.
  • And what's this book about?In the tradition of The Girl on the Train, The Silent Wife, and Gone Girl comes an enthralling psychological thriller that spins one woman's seemingly good fortune, and another woman's mysterious fate, through a kaleidoscope of duplicity, death, and deception.

  • Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.

    The request seems odd, even intrusive—and for the two women who answer, the consequences are devastating.

    Emma

    Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant—and it does.


    Jane

    After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street she is instantly drawn to the space—and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror, as the girl before.
  • Favorite paragraph: (Jane) "It simply isn't possible," I say flatly. "I do know Edward. He wouldn't hit anyone."

    "Not all abuse is physical," Carol says quietly. "The need for absolute control is another kind of ill treatment."

    Absolute control. The words hit me like a slap. Because I can see that, viewed a certain way, they fit. 
  • Recommended for: Anyone who likes thrillers or mystery books. 
  • Something to know: Edward, the man in the book who both Jane and Emma date (at two different times), reminded me a bit of Mr. Grey from Fifty Shades of Grey, in that he always liked to be in control. 
  • What I would have changed: Nothing I can think of.
  • Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
  • Where can I find this book? Click here to order on Amazon.

    *Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Quick Pick: The Most Dangerous Place on Earth, by Lindsey Lee Johnson

Book Review: The Most Dangerous Place on Earth, by Lindsey Lee Johnson
  • Opening lines: Cally Broderick lingered in the doorway of the resource office, waiting to be noticed. 
  • Reason I picked up the book: I like books about high school / high schoolers, and I had downloaded the book off NetGalley.
  • And what's this book about?
  • A captivating debut novel for readers of Celeste Ng's Everything I Never Told You and Curtis Sittenfeld's PrepThe Most Dangerous Place on Earth unleashes an unforgettable cast of characters into a realm known for its cruelty and peril: the American high school.

    In an idyllic community of wealthy California families, new teacher Molly Nicoll becomes intrigued by the hidden lives of her privileged students. Unknown to Molly, a middle school tragedy in which they were all complicit continues to reverberate for “her” kids: Nick, the brilliant scam artist; Emma, the gifted dancer and party girl; Dave, the B student who strives to meet his parents' expectations; Calista, the hippie outcast who hides her intelligence for reasons of her own. Theirs is a world in which every action may become public—postable, shareable, indelible. With the rare talent that transforms teenage dramas into compelling and urgent fiction, Lindsey Lee Johnson makes vivid a modern adolescence lived in the gleam of the virtual, but rich with the sorrow, passion, and beauty of life in any time, and at any age.
  • Recommended for: Anyone who likes books revolving around school-aged kids or books where the main characters have secrets.
  • Something to know: This book reminded me of the movie Men, Women, and Children, regarding online bullying and how things can quickly spiral out of control once it starts. 
  • What I would have changed: I really liked the beginning of the book, but then it changes to involve lots of different characters and their stories - while it was interesting to read about everyone, I was more invested in some characters over others. 
  • Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.
  • Where can I find this book? Click here to order on Amazon - it just released on January 10th.

    *Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Sisters One, Two, Three, by Nancy Star {ends 1/12}

Ginger Tangle had nothing against nature. She often stopped to notice the sky, clouds particularly, but also hawks circling and the dissipating puffy trails of planes. But today was different. Today, in the parking lot at the summit of Mount Washington, as she gazed at teh granite ledges perched over sheer drops only inches from where her disgruntled teenage daughter stood, what she felt was hypertension. She could hear it, her heartbeat pulsing in her ears.
...
Was Ginger worried Julia might get blown off by a sudden gale, or worse, impulsively leap? No, it wasn't like that. But an overly bold and defiant skip to the edge? An eyes-on-the-phone clumsy stumble and fall? Accidents happened. Ginger knew this better than most.

It seemed like this book took me forever to read, but I think it was mostly because I read it in installments - I started reading it before the holidays, and finished it within the first few days of 2017. It's written well, but it's a slow-paced story, so it took me a while to get in to it.

Book review and giveaway: Sisters One, Two, Three, by Nancy Star
Official synopsis:
After a tragic accident on Martha’s Vineyard, keeping secrets becomes a way of life for the Tangle family. With memories locked away, the sisters take divergent paths. Callie disappears, Mimi keeps so busy she has no time to think, and Ginger develops a lifelong aversion to risk that threatens the relationships she holds most dear.

When a whispered comment overheard by her rebellious teenage daughter forces Ginger to reveal a long-held family secret, the Tangles’ carefully constructed web of lies begins to unravel. Upon the death of Glory, the family’s colorful matriarch, and the return of long-estranged Callie, Ginger resolves to return to Martha’s Vineyard and piece together what really happened on that calamitous day when a shadow fell over four sun-kissed siblings playing at the shore. Along with Ginger’s newfound understanding come the keys to reconciliation: with her mother, with her sisters, and with her daughter.

At turns heartbreaking, humorous, and hopeful, Sisters One, Two, Three explores not only the consequences of secrets—even secrets kept out of love—but also the courage it takes to speak the truth, to forgive, and to let go.