Thursday, January 29, 2015

Kate & Alf by Carrie Stone

Kate & Alf by Carrie Stone
  • Print Length: 339 pages
  • Publisher: HarperImpulse (February 5, 2015)

What They Say.....Kate loves Alf. And Alf loves Kate… Doesn’t he?


Kate can’t wait for her long-term boyfriend Alf to propose. So he might be a bit of a control freak who’s obsessed with his career … and he also seems to have conveniently forgotten their two-year plan to get married, buy a bigger house and have children. But Kate’s sure that ring will be on her finger soon.

When her thirty-second birthday ends in humiliating, proposal-less disaster, even Kate is left wondering if Alf really is The One. Then Alf’s friend, Marcus, needs a place to stay. With his dark eyes, easygoing manner and kind concern for Kate, Marcus is everything Alf is not - and it's not long before Kate begins to wonder if there’s more to life than diamonds.

What I Say.....I can't even imagine the pride you have in a publishing a book.  I want to love all books and recommend every book I read.  But you just can't, if you want to give honest reviews.

Unfortunately, Kate & Alf was not a book that I would recommend.  Normally, if a book doesn't thrill me, I can put my finger on what I didn't like right away.  But in this case, there wasn't one thing.  I just couldn't get into the story.  I was bored.

It had all the things I normally love.  English chick lit, boring boyfriend, new romantic interest introduced and a best friend with a heart of gold.  But the boring boyfriend was truly dull as dishwater, the new romantic interest felt forced, I never understood what supposedly made Kate and Marcus interested in each other (and they didn't stay interested for long).  And the best friend, Megan, had a side story that was actually too big for the book.

It did have some sunny spots, some of the nursing home characters were fun, Kate was a sympathetic character, and the little twist of a second Alf at the end was fun.

But in the end, reading this felt like a chore, instead of a pleasure.  Cute cover, though.


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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Top Ten Books I'd Read with My Book Club (if I had one)


 This weeks Top Ten Tuesday list (weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.) is the Top Ten Books I'd Love to Read With My Book Club/If I Had A Book Club.  Do I want to belong to a book club?  Not really, I feel like all the book blogs I read are my own virtual book club, where I can participate in my pajamas - BONUS!

But what books would I like to share with a group and discuss, discuss, discuss?  Here we go:

1.  First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen.  I loved Garden Spells, and First Frost is the long awaited
sequel.  I've been waiting a long time to read this, and I would totally love to talk about it with people who loved it as much as me.

2.  It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell.  I'm not normally a big fan of biographies, but this one was just amazing.  Andie Mitchell is a blogger who has a lot to say.  I think her message speaks to anyone who has struggled with self-esteem, ie; 99.5% of women.  This would be a great book to help women start some difficult conversations.

3.  The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.  Easily one of my favorite books last year.  A truly unique love story - and the sequel, The Rosie Effect, was just as good.  Lots to talk about, the main character has Asperger's and watching him trying to navigate his feelings for Rosie is amazing.  I know that I would love discussing it, because I pretty much forced everyone I know to read it.

4.  The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll.  This book won't be published until May, but I'm going to make everyone read it.  It was amazing.  Definite page turner and a great read for parents, it makes you worry about how your kids treat their schoolmates.

5.  This One is Mine by Maria Semple,  The perfect book for a mid-life crisis book club.  It was the kind of book that made you feel too much, but made you laugh at times too.  It's definitely one I wish I could discuss with other people to see if it affected them as deeply as it did me.

6.  Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng.  I haven't had a chance to read this yet, but everyone has raved about it.  I can't wait to read it.

7.  Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin.  I loved this book, even though I didn't love the movie.  I think this would be a great book club discussion, with lots of different opinions.

8.  Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.  You never know what goes on behind closed doors.  But at least no one at my book club would be murdered.  I think.

9.  People I Want To Punch in the Throat by Jen Mann.  Yep, I could use this as a book club pick, because I wouldn't be friends with any competitive crafters.  And it's hilarious.

10.  The Precious One by Marisa de los Santos.  I would love to discuss this book and the complicated family dynamics of a father who abandons the kids from his first family, to become the perfect father to his second family. 

Anyone want to discuss these books?


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Monday, January 26, 2015

Behind Closed Doors by Susan Lewis





 Behind Closed Doors by Susan Lewis

  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (January 20, 2015)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC

What They Say....Detective Sergeant Andrea Lawrence is reluctant to take this emotionally charged
case, but she can’t help herself. In a small British seaside community, a fourteen-year-old girl has vanished. Sophie Monroe hasn’t been seen since she fought—loudly, miserably—with her stepmother and father more than a week before. But her frantic parents seem to be the only people concerned about Sophie’s disappearance. Everyone else just assumes that an angry teenager is acting out by hiding for a while.

Did someone help Sophie run away, or abduct her? Either way, Detective Andee is certain something bad has happened. As Andee investigates, two men jump to the top of the list of suspects—but neither of them can be located. And the deeper Andee delves into Sophie’s life, the more she struggles to keep her own darkest fears at bay—because Andee knows all too well what happens when young girls are lost and never found.


What I Say....Sophie was a wild teen.  Her hair is dyed purple, she is fighting with her family and partying way too much.  But when she runs away, taking her phone, clothes and computer, her father and stepmother are beside themselves with worry.  Their minds aren't eased when she texts them to tell them to stop looking for her.

Andee is a second generation detective with teenagers of her own.  She has a sister who ran away when she was young, never to return home.  Her disappearance has haunted Andee all of these years, and taking on a missing persons case stirs up a lot of old feelings.

As her investigation continues, lot of secrets come tumbling out.  Sophie has been partying with local boys (and men), her parents have a new baby with an undiagnosed medical condition, the tanning spa manager has her pedophile brother living with her, lounge singer Tomasz leaves for Poland to see his sick mother (only she's not sick), which becomes suspect after Sophie's journal reveals her crush on him, that doesn't appear to be completely unrequited.  Add this onto the fact that two other young girls have disappeared from the area, without ever being reported as missing.

One thing that I really liked was that the author didn't make Sophie some poor angel, misunderstood and with a heart of gold.  Sophie was a terribly mixed up little girl whose mother died, but that wasn't presented as get out of jail free card for the drugging, drinking, and partying she was doing.  Anyone who has ever had a teenaged daughter knows that even when they are basically good kids, they can still be perfect asshole that make you dream of the empty nest.
 
This was a book that kept you hooked, thinking you knew where it was going, but by the end, you realized you really didn't know anything.  You really don't know what goes on behind other people's closed doors.


Current Goodreads rating 3.95
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Sunday, January 25, 2015

My Weekly Book Haul.....January 25, 2015







The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer, Showcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea, Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's ReviewsThe Sunday Salon is a new facebook group I've joined and Monday Mailbox is hosted by Marcia to be Continued.

All  are book blogs or groups that give you a chance to share what your weekly book haul.  My hauls have been smaller lately, but I've been in kind of a funk, so I've been finding it hard to concentrate when I'm reading.  But hopefully the fog is either lifting, or I'll start reading some of the self-help books I've bought over the last few weeks!  I really wish I could just absorb them osmotically without having to put my fiction down to take in a self-help book.  Perhaps my lack of commitment to self-help is part of the problem?


From NetGalley

Hausfrau by Jill Alexander...Anna was a good wife, mostly. 

Anna Benz, an American in her late thirties, lives with her Swiss husband, Bruno—a banker—and their three young children in a postcard-perfect suburb of Zürich. Though she leads a comfortable, well-appointed life, Anna is falling apart inside. Adrift and increasingly unable to connect with the emotionally unavailable Bruno or even with her own thoughts and feelings, Anna tries to rouse herself with new experiences: German language classes, Jungian analysis, and a series of sexual affairs she enters with an ease that surprises even her.

But Anna can’t easily extract herself from these affairs. When she wants to end them, she finds it’s difficult. Tensions escalate, and her lies start to spin out of control. Having crossed a moral threshold, Anna will discover where a woman goes when there is no going back.

Intimate, intense, and written with the precision of a Swiss Army knife, Jill Alexander Essbaum’s debut novel is an unforgettable story of marriage, fidelity, sex, morality, and most especially self. Navigating the lines between lust and love, guilt and shame, excuses and reasons, Anna Benz is an electrifying heroine whose passions and choices readers will debate with recognition and fury. Her story reveals, with honesty and great beauty, how we create ourselves and how we lose ourselves and the sometimes disastrous choices we make to find ourselves.


Not my normal pick, but I liked the cover.

From Edelweiss

It's Not Me, It's You by Mhairi McFarlane....An achingly funny story about how to be your own hero
when life pulls the rug out from under your feet. From the author of the bestselling You Had Me At Hello.

Delia Moss isn’t quite sure where she went wrong.When she proposed and discovered her boyfriend was sleeping with someone else – she thought it was her fault.When she realised life would never be the same again – she thought it was her fault.And when he wanted her back life nothing had changed – Delia started to wonder if perhaps she was not to blame…From Newcastle to London and back again, with dodgy jobs, eccentric bosses and annoyingly handsome journalists thrown in, Delia must find out where her old self went – and if she can ever get her back. 


My theme of reinventing my life continues, even in my book choices.

Love and Miss Communication by Elyssa Friedland....Could you turn off Facebook? Tune out of
Twitter? In Elyssa Friedland’s debut novel, which combines the sophistication of J. Courtney Sullivan and the wit of Jennifer Weiner, high-powered attorney Evie Rosen does just that…and discovers that life is more than a series of updates. This is a most timely story—at turns wickedly funny and delicately poignant—that begs the question: what are we missing while our eyes are glued to our smartphones

After Evie is unceremoniously dumped from her white-shoe Manhattan law firm for overuse of social media on company hours, called out by a blind date for Googling him, and—most catastrophically of all—shocked by her ex’s wedding photos on Facebook, she decides it’s time to put down the Blackberry for good (better than stowing it in her underwear—she’s done that too!). What will life be like with no searches, no status updates, no texts, no tweets, no pins, and no posts?

What Evie discovers is a fresh start for real conversations and fewer distractions. For living in the moment, even if the moments are sometimes heartbreakingly difficult. By unplugging, Evie may just find love and a new direction when she least expects it.


This looks so cute, and I keep wanting to break up with social media - maybe this will give me the push?

Books I Bought

$1.99 right now!
The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman.... Alice Hoffman’s previous novel, The Third Angel, was hailed USA Today), "stunning" (Jodi Picoult), and "spellbinding" (Miami Herald). Her new novel, The Story Sisters, charts the lives of three sisters–Elv, Claire, and Meg. Each has a fate she must meet alone: one on a country road, one in the streets of Paris, and one in the corridors of her own imagination. Inhabiting their world are a charismatic man who cannot tell the truth, a neighbor who is not who he appears to be, a clumsy boy in Paris who falls in love and stays there, a detective who finds his heart’s desire, and a demon who will not let go.

What does a mother do when one of her children goes astray? How does she save one daughter without sacrificing the others? How deep can love go, and how far can it take you? These are the questions this luminous novel asks.

At once a coming-of-age tale, a family saga, and a love story of erotic longing, The Story Sisters sifts through the miraculous and the mundane as the girls become women and their choices haunt them, change them and, finally, redeem them. It confirms Alice Hoffman’s reputation as "a writer whose keen ear for the measure struck by the beat of the human heart is unparalleled" (The Chicago Tribune).


The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins....Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning.
Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut. 


Everyone has been raving about this one, so I gave up the fight!  Can't wait to read it!

Never Too Late: Your Road Map to Reinvention by Claire Cook....Claire Cook speaks to real
99 cents on Amazon today!
women—our fears and obstacles and hopes and desires—and gives us cutting edge tools to get where we want to go.
 

Bursting with inspiration, insider stories, and practical strategies. Filled with humor, heart, encouragement, and great quotes.
 

Claire Cook shares everything she's learned on her own journey— from writing her first book in her minivan at 45, to walking the red carpet at the Hollywood premiere of Must Love Dogs at 50, to becoming the international bestselling author of eleven novels and a sought after reinvention speaker.
 

You'll hop on a plane with Claire as you figure out the road to your own reinvention. You'll laugh a lot and maybe even shed a few tears as Claire tells her stories and those of other reinventors, and shares her best tips for getting a plan, staying on track, pulling together a support system, building your platform in the age of social networking, dealing with the inevitable ups and downs, overcoming perfectionism, and tuning in to your authentic self to propel you toward your goals.
 

Never Too Late: Your Roadmap to Reinvention (without getting lost along the way) is real, grounded, and just the book you need to start reinventing your life.

I'm ready for a life reinvention.  Now if I can just get around to reading it!

What I Blogged

It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell

Are You a Good Book Blogger or a Bad Book Blogger




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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Are you a Good Book Blogger or a Bad Book Blogger?

As a newer book blogger, I am still trying to learn the ropes and discover what makes a great book blog.

I have received books that I have loved, loved, loved.  And those are the easiest ones to review because I can rave and let everyone know that this is one that you MUST read.

But I've also gotten some books that I thought were not so good, some that I even struggled to finish because they were just plain BAD.

And they are hard for me to review.  For a few reasons.  One, the author has poured their heart and soul into this book (exception, Janet Evanovich, you know you are just phoning it in now, chickie), and I don't really want to publicly insult their life's work.  It just feels needlessly mean.

Two, I don't want to make publishers angry, because they are the ones kind enough to give me their books to review.  I love getting books on my Kindle and in the mail, and I'm old enough to know that you don't bite the hand that feeds you.

But I have a pretty dry sense of humor, and I usually write the same way I talk.  Snark is part of my natural language.  So holding that back can sometimes feel dishonest to me.  Plus, I think my snark may be more entertaining to readers, rather than my professional speak - which I already have to do 8 hours a day.

So what to do?  Be myself?  Or not?

My fellow bloggers, how do you handle it when you read a book that you didn't care for?  Are you honest in your review or do you just not review the book?


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Monday, January 19, 2015

Andie Mitchell's "It Was Me All Along"




What They Say.....A yet heartbreakingly honest, endearing memoir of incredible weight loss by a young food blogger who battles body image issues and overcomes food addiction to find self-acceptance.

All her life, Andie Mitchell had eaten lustily and mindlessly. Food was her babysitter, her best friend, her confidant, and it provided a refuge from her fractured family. But when she stepped on the scale on her twentieth birthday and it registered a shocking 268 pounds, she knew she had to change the way she thought about food and herself; that her life was at stake.

It Was Me All Along takes Andie from working class Boston to the romantic streets of Rome, from morbidly obese to half her size, from seeking comfort in anything that came cream-filled and two-to-a-pack to finding balance in exquisite (but modest) bowls of handmade pasta. This story is about much more than a woman who loves food and abhors her body. It is about someone who made changes when her situation seemed too far gone and how she discovered balance in an off-kilter world. More than anything, though, it is the story of her finding beauty in acceptance and learning to love all parts of herself.


What I Say....I learned something new.  There is actually a classification of books called Culinary Biographies.  And that's where Amazon places It Was Me All Along.

I think it should be filed under the classification of "Strong Women Who Change Their Own Lives"  or "Gut Wrencher".   Because that would be a much more accurate description.

Andie starts her life off in a dysfunctional household, with an alcoholic father and a loving mother who is working herself to the bone to try to keep a roof over their head and food in their mouths.  Unfortunately, the food is plentiful, cooked by her mother and Andie learns very young to equate love and security with all types of food.

Andie spends her childhood, into her early 20's very overweight girl, hitting the 260's when she is in college.  She is blessed with great friends who accept her as she is, but she still deals with the shame of her weight, the embarassment of shopping for clothes with her thin friends and not being able to find anything in her size in "normal" stores.

One of the best things about this book was having her openly admit that she is scared to think about never getting to eat her favorite foods again.  She learns to think of working out and eating well as a "one day at a time" type of commitment, acknowledging her addiction exists and has been controlling her.

This book brought me to tears quite a few times.  It's a definite must read!  But I don't want to give too much away, because I think every person who reads this will have a different takeaway, depending on what your relationship is with food.

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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Winner Announced!


My very first giveaway has ended!  Kristie Moen is the winner of brand new copy of "It Was Me All
Along" by Andie Mitchell.

This is a great read and my review will be up this week!

Congratulations and thank you to everyone who entered.

I'm hoping to get better with Rafflecopter before my next one.
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Weekly Book Haul....January 17, 2015






The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer, Showcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea, Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's ReviewsThe Sunday Salon is a new facebook group I've joined and Monday Mailbox is hosted by Marcia to be Continued.

All  are book blogs or groups that give you a chance to share what your weekly book haul!


From NetGalley

Wait for the Rain by Maria Murnane....Daphne White is staring down the barrel of
forty—and is distraught at what she sees. Her ex-husband is getting remarried, her teenage daughter hardly needs her anymore, and the career she once dreamed about has somehow slipped from her grasp. She’s almost lost sight of the spirited and optimistic young woman she used to be.

As she heads off to a Caribbean island to mark the new decade with her best friends from college, Daphne’s in anything but the mood to celebrate. But when she meets Clay Hanson, a much younger man, she ignores her inner voice warning her that she’s too old for a fling. In fact, this tropical getaway might be the perfect opportunity to picture her future in a new sun-drenched light.

With the help of her friends, Daphne rediscovers her enthusiasm for life, as well as her love for herself—and realizes that her best years are still ahead.

I have stared down the barrel of forty and I'm hoping to find that my best years are still ahead.




Kate & Alf by Carrie Stone....Kate loves Alf. And Alf loves Kate… Doesn’t he?

Kate can’t wait for her long-term boyfriend Alf to propose. So he might be a bit of a control freak who’s obsessed with his career … and he also seems to have conveniently forgotten their two-year plan to get married, buy a bigger house and have children. But Kate’s sure that ring will be on her finger soon.

When her thirty-second birthday ends in humiliating, proposal-less disaster, even Kate is left wondering if Alf really is The One. Then Alf’s friend, Marcus, needs a place to stay. With his dark eyes, easygoing manner and kind concern for Kate, Marcus is everything Alf is not - and it's not long before Kate begins to wonder if there’s more to life than diamonds.

Sounds like a perfect chick lit and this is a new author to me.

From Edelweiss

The Unraveling of Mercy Louis by Keija Parssinen ....In this intricate novel of psychological
suspense, a fatal discovery near the high school ignites a witch hunt in a Southeast Texas refinery town, unearthing communal and family secrets that threaten the lives of the town’s girls

In Port Sabine, the air is thick with oil, superstition reigns, and dreams hang on making a winning play. All eyes are on Mercy Louis, the star of the championship girls’ basketball team. Mercy seems destined for greatness, but the road out of town is riddled with obstacles. There is her grandmother, Evelia, a strict evangelical who has visions of an imminent Rapture and sees herself as the keeper of Mercy’s virtue. There are the cryptic letters from Charmaine, the mother who abandoned Mercy at birth. And then there’s Travis, the boy who shakes the foundation of her faith.

At the periphery of Mercy’s world floats team manager Illa Stark, a lonely wallflower whose days are spent caring for a depressed mother crippled in a refinery accident. Like the rest of the town, Illa is spellbound by Mercy’s beauty and talent, but a note discovered in Mercy’s gym locker reveals that her life may not be as perfect as it appears.

The last day of school brings the disturbing discovery, and as summer unfolds and the police investigate, every girl becomes a suspect. When Mercy collapses on the opening night of the season, Evelia prophesies that she is only the first to fall, and soon, other girls are afflicted by the mysterious condition, sending the town into a tailspin, and bringing Illa and Mercy together in an unexpected way.


Evocative and unsettling, The Unraveling of Mercy Louis charts the downfall of one town’s golden girl while exploring the brutality and anxieties of girlhood in America.

I'm excited for this one.  I was happy to get approved!

What I Wrote This Week 

Nook and Kindle and Taylor Swift and Dave Grohl and Supporting Authors

The Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan





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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Nook and Kindle and Taylor Swift and Dave Grohl and Supporting Authors

Disclaimer.....*All opinions are my own.  All foul language is Dave Grohl.* 


Up until about four years ago, I swore I would never go to the e-reader.  I loved the weight of a book in my hands, the sound of cracking new pages, and the crisp feel of the paper.  I loved turning the corners down to mark my place, just like my Great uncle did whenever he was reading his Louis L'Amour books.

But about four years ago, I was doing some emotional shopping (the worst kind), and and I found myself buying a Nook on a whim.  I liked being able to read in bed without a bedside light, and I liked the ease of borrowing e-books from the library.  I began buying Nook books, and found Free Nook Fridays, and learned how to search for the sale books.  I was pleased because although my reading volume went up, my spending was going down.

Then two years ago, I got my first iPad.  And discovered the Kindle app.  It was so easy!  I could borrow books from the library without the pesky usb cable the Nook required, and downloading a book from Amazon just seemed so much easier than the Nook.  Amazon even emailed me daily list of books on sale matched to my reading preferences.  I sent my old Nook off to my sister, and got hooked on the Kindle app.  I was spending even less!

So life was feeling pretty good.  I was hooked on the e-reader, and went from buying 4-6 physical books a month to 4 physical books a year.

But I was still reading my favorite authors, and even finding some new ones via Goodreads and Amazon reviews.  Winning!

The the Taylor Swift/Spotify scandal happened (read about it here).  Taylor didn't feel she should "contribute my life's work to an experiment that I don't feel fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists, and creators of this music".  Taylor Swift thinks she needs MORE money.  Insert my eye roll here, and this Spotify subscriber went on about her day.

Then Dave Grohl weighed in on the Swift/Spotify situation.  ""You want people to f**king listen to your music? Give them your music. And then go play a show. They like hearing your music? They'll go see a show."  As usual, Grohl speaks the truth.  Taylor Swift's Red tour grossed 150 million dollars last year. 


By now, you are probably wondering how my impulse Nook purchase led to an Kindle addiction, which led to an eye roll for Taylor Swift, which led to the gospel according to Dave Grohl, and where I am going with all of this.  Welcome to the inner maze of my mind.

As I was mulling over how bad Dave Grohl burned Taylor Swift, it occurred to me that there was another form of art that was also experiencing the effect of technology.  The book.  And the artist who is really getting screwed is the author.

Writing my book blog and trying so many new authors via NetGalley has giving me a new appreciation of debut books and their authors.  I began thinking if someone like me, a avid reader, a true bookworm, has cut back so much on her book purchases, I may actually be part of the change in author compensation that makes a difference in the ability of an author to eke out a living.

For every Stephen King, Sophie Kinsella or James Patterson, there are a multitude of newer authors out there that are very talented, but can't afford to write full time, or even find a publisher that is willing to take a financial chance on them, when profits get smaller and smaller.

Even though Taylor Swift and Dave Grohl had to work to get their music out there, they have the opportunity to keep making money on an album by selling tickets and merchandise on their tours.  An author doesn't have those extra income boosters.

By this time, I had reached work, and if you have followed the twists and turns of my brain (congratulations!), you know that I came the only conclusion that I could.  I have an ethical responsibility to buy more physical books this year.  I'm making my stand for the authors and breaking out my old book light.


I feel like I'm a pioneer! I'm really making a sacrifice!  I'm sure I may find out that my logic is totally flawed, and buying ebooks is better for the authors, but so far, Google is supporting my theory.
What does everyone else think about the difference between e-books and physical books?



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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Little Beach Bakery by Jenny Colgan



What They Say....Amid the ruins of her latest relationship, Polly Waterford moves far away to the sleepy seaside resort of Polbearne, where she lives in a small, lonely flat above an abandoned shop.

To distract her from her troubles, Polly throws herself into her favorite hobby: making bread. But her relaxing weekend diversion quickly develops into a passion. As she pours her emotions into kneading and pounding the dough, each loaf becomes better than the last. Soon, Polly is working her magic with nuts and seeds, olives and chorizo, and the local honey-courtesy of a handsome local beekeeper. Drawing on reserves of determination and creativity Polly never knew she had, she bakes and bakes . . . and discovers a bright new life where she least expected it.


What I Say....Everyone knows my favorite genre is chicklit (especially love English chicklit), but I had never read Jenny Colgan before.  I'll be fixing that soon.

The Little Beach Street Bakery follows Polly's journey to a dirty, falling down apartment (the only one she can afford) after her husband puts them into bankruptcy pursuing his "dream'.  He goes home to his mother to lick his wounds, and she heads to a downtrodden island that is barely reachable by car.

She has to work just to make the apartment clean enough to live in.  She has to deal with an angry landlady who gets mad if she bakes in her own apartment.  She has to deal with an injured bird. But she shows the strength that you really only see in women, that ability to keep trying no matter what each day brings.

The things I liked best about this book were the plot twists and turns, Polly doesn't make all of the right decisions, a few times she acts like a perfect jerk (yelling at an old woman, sleeping with a married man), but through it all, she is perfectly human.

The road to her happy ending was not smooth, and I actually wondered if it was going to happen, but like all the best chick lit books, true love prevailed!   I don't know why I like this so much in my books, because I'm pretty cynical about these things in real life.  Reading is my escape......

Current Goodreads Rating 4.17

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Monday, January 12, 2015

Giveaway!

Click on the Giveaway tab at the top of the page for my first giveaway!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Weekly Book Haul....January 11, 2015



The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer, Showcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea, Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's ReviewsThe Sunday Salon is a new facebook group I've joined and Monday Mailbox is hosted by Marcia to be Continued.

All  are book blogs or groups that give you a chance to share what your weekly book haul!

I haven't taken on many new books this week, and my blog was pretty quiet too.  The first week back to work was rough, and I was pretty tired by the end of the day.

From Edelweiss

Oh! You Pretty Things! By Shanna Mahin....Jess Dunne is third-generation
Hollywood, but her star on the boulevard has yet to materialize. Sure, she’s got a Santa Monica address and a working actress roommate, but with her nowhere barista job in a town that acknowledges zeroes only as a dress size, she’s a dead girl walking.

Enter Jess’s mother—a failed actress who puts the strange in estrangement. She dives headlong into her daughter’s downward spiral, forcing Jess to muster all her spite and self-preservation to snag a career upgrade.

As a personal assistant for a famous (and secretly agoraphobic) film composer, Jess’s workdays are now filled with shopping for luxury goods and cooking in his perfectly designed kitchen. Jess kills at cooking, a talent that only serves her intensifying urge to dig in to Los Angeles’s celebrity buffet.

When her food garners the attention of an actress on the rise, well, she’s all too willing to throw it in with the composer and upgrade again, a decision that will have far-reaching ramifications that could explode all her relationships.

All the while, her mother looms ever closer, forcing Jess to confront the traumatic secrets she’s been running from all her life.

This looks good, it's a debut author (which I love), and I can never resist a book about celebrities and Hollywood.



I Bought


52 Small Changes: One Year to a Happier Healthier You by Brett Blumenthal....Whether as New
Year’s resolutions, birthday wishes, or daily promises, most everyone vows at some point to make a major life change. 

But change is easier said than done, especially when it comes to better managing our wellness amidst the chaos of everyday living. 

Fortunately, wellness coach and award-winning writer Brett Blumenthal has devised a way to inspire and motivate her readers to live healthier and make positive changes in their lives. 

Although Blumenthal’s method is not a quick fix, it is a surprisingly simple one: make one small change per week, for fifty-two weeks, and at the end of a year, you’ll be happier and healthier. After all, it is the small changes that are the most realistic, instead of trying to overhaul your lifestyle all at once. 

52 Small Changes addresses all areas of wellbeing, including nutrition, exercise, stress management, mental wellness, and even the health of one’s home environment. By guiding readers through these changes at an easy, manageable pace, Blumenthal provides an engaging roadmap to lasting results and “a happier, healthier you.”

I bought this book as part of my New Year's resolutions - and haven't opened it yet.  Sigh.  I suck at resolutions.

An Untamed State by Roxanne Gay....Roxane Gay is a powerful new literary voice whose short
stories and essays have already earned her an enthusiastic audience. In An Untamed State, she delivers an assured debut about a woman kidnapped for ransom, her captivity as her father refuses to pay and her husband fights for her release over thirteen days, and her struggle to come to terms with the ordeal in its aftermath.

Mireille Duval Jameson is living a fairy tale. The strong-willed youngest daughter of one of Haiti’s richest sons, she has an adoring husband, a precocious infant son, by all appearances a perfect life. The fairy tale ends one day when Mireille is kidnapped in broad daylight by a gang of heavily armed men, in front of her father’s Port au Prince estate. Held captive by a man who calls himself The Commander, Mireille waits for her father to pay her ransom. As it becomes clear her father intends to resist the kidnappers, Mireille must endure the torments of a man who resents everything she represents.

An Untamed State is a novel of privilege in the face of crushing poverty, and of the lawless anger that corrupt governments produce. It is the story of a willful woman attempting to find her way back to the person she once was, and of how redemption is found in the most unexpected of places. An Untamed State establishes Roxane Gay as a writer of prodigious, arresting talent. 


Highly recommended by a fellow reader - not something I would normally choose, but she gave it 5 stars.



What I Wrote

Lost & Found by Brooke Davis

Top Ten Most Anticipated Debut Novels of 2015

A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison




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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.



Print Length: 336 pages 
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks (January 20, 2015)


What They Say.... A Small Indiscretion fixes an unflinching eye on the power of desire and the danger of obsession as it unfolds the story of one woman’s reckoning with a youthful mistake.

At nineteen, Annie Black trades a bleak future in her washed-out hometown for a London winter of drinking to oblivion and yearning for deliverance. Some two decades later, she is married to a good man and settled in San Francisco, with a son and two daughters and a successful career designing artistic interior lights. One June morning, a photograph arrives in her mailbox, igniting an old longing and setting off a chain of events that rock the foundations of her marriage and threaten to overturn her family’s hard-won happiness.

The novel moves back and forth across time between San Francisco in the present and that distant winter in Europe. The two worlds converge and explode when the adult Annie returns to London seeking answers, her indiscretions come to light, and the phone rings with shocking news about her son. Now Annie must fight to save her family by piecing together the mystery of her past—the fateful collision of liberation and abandon and sexual desire that drew an invisible map of her future.

A Small Indiscretion is a riveting debut novel about a woman’s search for understanding and forgiveness, a taut exploration of a modern marriage, and of love—the kind that destroys, and the kind that redeems.

What I Say....One thing I love about writing this blog is that I get the chance to try out some debut authors that I probably otherwise would never have seen.
This book was one of those gems.  A Small Indiscretion tells the story of one woman's emotional life as a narrative to her son.

For the first part of the book, Annie tells the story of her youth in England.  She struggles with an absent father and an overworked mother, and for some reason, decides to move to England with very little money.

She falls into a job with Malcolm, an older, wealthy man who falls in love with her.  She is torn between feelings of gratitude for his care and concern and feelings of not being attracted to him.  These feelings are escalated when she meets Patrick, the man who is involved with her boss's wife (they enjoy somewhat of an open marriage).

Annie begins an affair with Patrick, which causes growing feelings of distaste for her boss.  The only problem is that Patrick doesn't seem to have any true romantic interest in Annie, it's more of an available body situation to him.  But his disinterest only fuels Annie's desire.

As we follow Annie, we discover that she has been married for twenty plus years, but her marriage is currently in trouble, her son has been involved in a serious car accident and is now either missing or no longer alive, and she is writing her life story to try to make sense of her situation.

I don't want to give any spoilers, but for the first 3/4 of the book, I could not put it down.  I was so anxious to know what happened to ruin her marriage, where her son was, how the affair of her youth ended.  

But in the last quarter of the book, it kind of fell apart for me.  (I can't explain why without a spoiler - so spoiler alert)  The thought that Annie would seek Patrick out, and then come to the realization that she no longer needed love from him, but would still sleep with him was a little unbelievable.  And that as soon as she returned home, she would just blurt this news out to her husband.

The letter from Emme's uncle felt like a cheap fix to finish that storyline off, as did the business card in the hatbox.  

I also didn't like that as Annie looked at the pictures of herself with Malcolm, she suddenly saw love in her face for him, when we had previously been privy to her private feelings of feeling disgusted by him and his clingy behavior.  But now she suddenly decided that based on these pictures, she must have loved him.  I couldn't decide whether she was trying to convince herself of this new truth or if she really just was that delusional.

But overall, this book was a page turner, and this author has so much talent, I can't wait to see what she does next.

Thank you NetGalley and Random House for the chance to read and review this book!


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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Top Ten Most Anticipated Debut Novels For 2015


Top Ten Most Anticipated Debut Novels for 2015.

 Kicking off 2015 with another top ten list.  In my case, I have a top nine list.  This is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This blog round up gives me some of the best ideas for my TBR pile!

One thing I love about blogging is that I am getting first crack at some amazing debut authors. 

1.  The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll.   In a riveting debut novel that reads like Prep meets Gone Girl, a young woman is determined to create the perfect life and husband, home, and career until a violent incident from her past threatens to unravel everything and expose her most shocking secret of all.  Publish date May 12, 2015.

2.  A Small Indiscretion by Jan EllisonA Small Indiscretion fixes an unflinching eye on the power of desire and the danger of obsession as it unfolds the story of one woman’s reckoning with a youthful mistake.  Publish date January 20, 2015.

3.  It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell.   A young food blogger shares her inspiring story of incredible weight loss-a journey from nearly 300 pounds to losing more than half her size-and establishing a healthy and confident relationship with food.  Publish date January 6, 2015.

4.  Single, Carefree, Mellow by Katherine Heiny.   Single, Carefree, Mellow is that rare and wonderful thing: a debut that is superbly accomplished, endlessly entertaining, and laugh-out-loud funny.  Publish date February 3, 2015.

5.  I Take You by Eliza KennedyBrilliantly executed and endlessly funny, this page-turning debut showcases one of the most winning, irrepressible voices since Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones. Publish date May 5, 2015.

6.  Oh, You Pretty Things! by Shanna MahinFrom a PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Fellow comes a charming and disarming tale of Los Angeles that navigates the fringe of celebrity excess from the other side of Sunset Boulevard.  Publish date April 15, 2015.

7.  The Cake House by Latifah Salom.   Part mystery, part compelling coming-of-age tale, The Cake House is a riveting debut novel about a girl struggling to deal with her father's death in a California house filled with secrets and half-truths.  Publish date March 3, 2015.

8.  The Lost Child by Suzanne McCourt.   It's hard to keep secrets in small towns. When her older brother goes missing, Sylvie believes she is to blame.  Publish date February 23, 2015.

9.  Hyacinth Girls by Lauren FrankelA stunning debut about a young teenager on the brink and a parent desperate to find the truth before it's too late.

Someday I hope that I can easily get to ten on any of these lists!

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Monday, January 5, 2015

Lost & Found by Brooke Davis



What They Say....Millie Bird, seven years old and ever hopeful, always wears red gumboots to match her curly hair. Her struggling mother, grieving the death of Millie’s father, leaves her in the big ladies’ underwear department of a local store and never returns.

Agatha Pantha, eighty-two, has not left her house—or spoken to another human being—since she was widowed seven years ago. She fills the silence by yelling at passersby, watching loud static on TV, and maintaining a strict daily schedule.

Karl the Touch Typist, eighty-seven, once used his fingers to type out love notes on his wife’s skin. Now that she’s gone, he types his words out into the air as he speaks. Karl’s been committed to a nursing home, but in a moment of clarity and joy, he escapes. Now he’s on the lam.

Brought together at a fateful moment, the three embark upon a road trip across Western Australia to find Millie’s mother. Along the way, Karl wants to find out how to be a man again; Agatha just wants everything to go back to how it was.

Together they will discover that old age is not the same as death, that the young can be wise, and that letting yourself feel sad once in a while just might be the key to a happy life. 


What I Say....This book reminded me a lot of "Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple.  It's a quirky little story about a family in crisis, and the full of wild characters.

Millie is deserted in a department story by her grieving mother.  She is a pretty resourceful little girl and manages to stay hidden for a few nights, but during the day she meets Karl, a recent nursing home runaway.

The two of them team up with Agatha, an agoraphobic widow and the this motley crew takes off across Australia to try to reunite Millie with her mom.  Along the way, they meet an assortment of characters that either help them or delay them. 

The ones that delay them actually give them the greatest gift, because it's the hardships that help them realize that they are still strong, still capable, and still able to care about others.

At times, the story was a little hard to follow, particularly with Agatha's yelling, but you ended up finding yourself invested in the characters, so it was easy to finish.

Thank you NetGalley and Penguin Group Dutton for the ARC to read and review.

Current Goodreads rating 3.62


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Sunday, January 4, 2015

My Week in Review, January 4, 2015



 

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer, Showcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea, Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews, and Monday Mailbox by Marcia to be Continued.

All four are blog roundups giving you a chance to share what your weekly book haul!


From Netgalley

I Take You by Eliza Kennedy....Meet Lily Wilder—New Yorker, lawyer and the luckiest woman in the world. She has a dream job, friends who adore her, a family full of charismatic and loving women, and a total catch of a fiancé. 

Also? She has no business getting married.
 

Lily’s fiancé Will is a brilliant, handsome archaeologist. Lily is sassy, impulsive, fond of a good drink (or five) and completely incapable of being faithful to just one man. Lily likes Will, but does she love him? Will loves Lily, but does he really know her? 

As the wedding approaches, Lily’s nights—and mornings, and afternoons—of booze, laughter and questionable decisions become a growing reminder that the happiest day of her life might turn out to be her worst mistake yet.
 

Bridget Jones’s Diary meets Where’d You Go, Bernadette in this joyous and ribald debut, introducing a fabulously self-assured protagonist whose choices raise fresh questions about gender politics, monogamy and the true meaning of fidelity.

 It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell....A yet heartbreakingly honest, endearing memoir of incredible weight loss by a young food blogger who battles body image issues and overcomes food
addiction to find self-acceptance.

All her life, Andie Mitchell had eaten lustily and mindlessly. Food was her babysitter, her best friend, her confidant, and it provided a refuge from her fractured family. But when she stepped on the scale on her twentieth birthday and it registered a shocking 268 pounds, she knew she had to change the way she thought about food and herself; that her life was at stake.

It Was Me All Along takes Andie from working class Boston to the romantic streets of Rome, from morbidly obese to half her size, from seeking comfort in anything that came cream-filled and two-to-a-pack to finding balance in exquisite (but modest) bowls of handmade pasta. This story is about much more than a woman who loves food and abhors her body. It is about someone who made changes when her situation seemed too far gone and how she discovered balance in an off-kilter world. More than anything, though, it is the story of her finding beauty in acceptance and learning to love all parts of herself. 


What I Wrote This Week:

 The Knockoff - or how I learned I was too old to function

Food: A Love Story - or how I learned someone loved food as much as me 

Revival - or how my ex got Stephen King in the divorce 

Skating at Somerset House - or how I learned that a short story is a palate cleanser

Lots of goals for my reading this year.  One is to start listening to audiobooks more.  It has always been hard for me to stay focused on listening while doing other things.  Is this something that you get used to?










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Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza or "I'm 42 and a Dinosaur"

What They Say.....An outrageously stylish, wickedly funny novel of fashion in the digital age, The
Knockoff is the story of Imogen Tate, editor in chief of Glossy magazine, who finds her twentysomething former assistant Eve Morton plotting to knock Imogen off her pedestal, take over her job, and reduce the magazine, famous for its lavish 768-page September issue, into an app.

When Imogen returns to work at Glossy after six months away, she can barely recognize her own magazine. Eve, fresh out of Harvard Business School, has fired "the gray hairs," put the managing editor in a supply closet, stopped using the landlines, and hired a bevy of manicured and questionably attired underlings who text and tweet their way through meetings. Imogen, darling of the fashion world, may have Alexander Wang and Diane von Furstenberg on speed dial, but she can't tell Facebook from Foursquare and once got her iPhone stuck in Japanese for two days. Under Eve's reign, Glossy is rapidly becoming a digital sweatshop-hackathons rage all night, girls who sleep get fired, and "fun" means mandatory, company-wide coordinated dances to Beyoncé. Wildly out of her depth, Imogen faces a choice-pack up her Smythson notebooks and quit, or channel her inner geek and take on Eve to save both the magazine and her career. A glittering, uproarious, sharply drawn story filled with thinly veiled fashion personalities, The Knockoff is an insider's look at the ever-changing world of fashion and a fabulous romp for our Internet-addicted age.



What I Say....This book started out slow.  I understand that the authors were trying to make the point that the heroine, Imogen, is supposed to be so old and outdated (she was 42!!!  If you didn't know that, you would have thought she was 85 or slightly slow) that she is in danger of becoming irrelevant.  But the initial build up for this was so over the top that it was embarrassing.  It's hard to
Oh, Imogen......
believe that a 42 year old editor in chief of a national fashion magazine (who also has a pre-teen daughter) has never been on Twitter, Instagram, and never had an app or a website for her popular magazine.  Honestly, my 70 year old retired father has a new Ipad and Apple TV, and is quite adept with both.  The lack of ANY tech awareness by Imogen was a little hard to swallow.

She didn't know how to use her computer or really even check her email.  She keeps lamenting the loss of her Blackberry (the iPhone is beyond her too), but all it did was make me wonder what the hell she was doing on it?  They make it seem like composing an email was completely beyond her.

About a quarter of the way in, the story started to pick up.  There definitely is a gap between the emerging workforce of Millennials and the Gen X'ers, and that was an interesting storyline.  In the beginning, Imogen seemed to believe the whole new workforce would be unwelcoming to her.  But as the story progressed, she found that many of the younger crowd were respectful of what she brought to the table, and wanted to help her learn to adapt.  Eve wasn't horrible because she was a Millennial, Eve was just a horrible person.

Don't go to Harvard Business School
Eve was really kind of a one note character.  And the one note was not good.  Sometimes, it's nice when the villain has a little more backstory of what made them morph into evil, but there wasn't that detail here - she went away to Harvard Business school a crying mouse, and came back as evil wrapped in a bandage dress.


There were two sideswipes of the story that seemed unnecessary, one was the kiss between Imogen and Eve's fiance (Imogen's ex-boyfriend).  I kept thinking Eve would find out, her husband would find out, or there would be some later development, but there wasn't. It was just nothing.  And it's hard to believe that Imogen would join him for a drink, this made no sense, given what we knew about her character.
The second was the phantom breast pain.  I thought it was a tool to make Imogen consider quitting, or changing jobs, a way to remind her what was most important in her life.  But it was really just an aside, and wasn't mentioned again.

But all in all, this was a very enjoyable read and I liked Imogen a lot as a character.  There were quite a few places where I laughed out loud, and I applaud Imogen's restraint when she discovered the secret of "Candy Cool", because I might have been tempted to reach out and touch someone in Herve Lager.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Doubleday for this ARC and the chance to review "The Knockoff".

Current Goodreads rating 3.71


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