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.

    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.


    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.


    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.

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