My (Not So Perfect) Life – Book Club

I’m going to be honest here, it is probably ridiculously unfair for me to write this review right now.  While I enjoyed this month’s book pick, Sophie Kinsella’s My (Not So Perfect) Life, the book that came after (our next book club pick – see below) quite literally blew me away.  It’s all I can talk about.  It’s all I can think about.  If I could hand it to each and every one of you personally, I would.  That being said, I am going to try my best to give Sophie’s latest, quite adorable, book it’s due diligence.

Recently I was listening to a podcast (From the Front Porch) and they were discussing how, after reading some rather sad books (that they enjoyed, by the way) they sometimes needed a palate cleanser, if you will. These types of books are my palate cleansers.  I read just about everything – nonfiction, heavy literature, smut books, YA, etc, and when I’m done reading something rather heavy (I’m guessing, say, after I read Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life or after I read Lilac Girls a few months ago), I find myself hitting up an Emily Giffin, Jojo Moyes, Liane Moriarty or, as in the case here, Sophie Kinsella.

While most people know Sophie from the Shopaholic series, I’ve actually never read them (gasp!).  I did, however, read Remember Me? and absolutely adored it.  Those sunflowers killed me!

Anyway, I was excited when Meredith mentioned doing one of Sophie’s books.  I figured it would be fun and witty and insightful, albeit on the hokey side.  And that’s just what I got.  It is a perfect “palate cleanser” book!  Maybe “beach read” is a better way to put it? You get the point.

Katie Brenner, the main character, was not always my favorite, but I did grow to like her.  Maybe it’s because I’m 42 and I could give two craps anymore what people think of me (one of the amazing perks of getting older), but I thought it was a little ridiculous that she was trying so hard to be someone she wasn’t – down to her own voice.  But maybe I’ve been out of the twenty-something loop for too long and this actually was relatable.

What did you all think about Katie’s attempt to erase and/or hide her background?

Demeter, Katie’s boss, felt a little like Meryl Streep’s character from The Devil Wears Prada but much more scatterbrained. She was an interesting character to follow and I felt the revelations at the end of the book really transformed her character.  Honestly, I liked her.

Thoughts on Demeter?  Too stereotypical?  Too ridiculous to believe?  Would anyone have ever fallen for that nature walk Katie subjected her to?

My favorite parts of the book were when Katie was back home and then of course when Demeter shows up. Although Katie being mistaken for a homeless person comes in at a close second.  On a side note, I actually really want to go to Ansters Farm!!  It sounded amazing and I found myself googling places my husband and I could go to similar to this.

Would anyone have ever fallen for that nature walk Katie subjected Demeter to? Would Demeter REALLY not recognized her?  And, more importantly, have you ever been glamping???

I thought the love interest part (Alex) was pretty small and not overly interesting.  I always like a book with a little bit of romance, but I had a take or leave it attitude about this one.

What were your thoughts on Alex? 

Overall, I’d give the book a 3 out 5 stars.  It was a fun and amusing read, and actually had a half way decent message.  As long as you don’t take things too seriously, I think you’d enjoy it.

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So, I don’t know if you remember from a couple paragraphs ago, but I am IN LOVE with our next book club pick.  I have posted it all over social media, harassed family members to read it, and am seriously considering emailing the author just to gush. If you read no other book this year, pick up this one.

This Is How It Always Is

by Laurie Frankel

Amazon’s description (which will not do it justice!):

This is how a family keeps a secret…and how that secret ends up keeping them.

This is how a family lives happily ever after…until happily ever after becomes complicated.

This is how children change…and then change the world.

This is Claude. He’s five years old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter sandwiches. He also loves wearing a dress, and dreams of being a princess.

When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl.

Rosie and Penn want Claude to be whoever Claude wants to be. They’re just not sure they’re ready to share that with the world. Soon the entire family is keeping Claude’s secret. Until one day it explodes.

Laurie Frankel’s This Is How It Always Is is a novel about revelations, transformations, fairy tales, and family. And it’s about the ways this is how it always is: Change is always hard and miraculous and hard again, parenting is always a leap into the unknown with crossed fingers and full hearts, children grow but not always according to plan. And families with secrets don’t get to keep them forever.

As always, we are giving away a copy to one of our readers here. Enter by leaving a comment on this blog post or Meredith’s Mom of the Year blog before 4/14/17 at 5:30am EST. As long as you are 18 or older and live in the continental United States, you are eligible to win.

Grab a copy HERE and read with us! We always love hearing your thoughts!! Happy Reading!!

Book Club: Moonglow

26795307So, I think it’s time we discuss something that can be quite controversial.  I’ve certainly been grappling with this over the last month or so.  I’ve been reading about it and listening to podcasts about it and I think it’s time we finally discuss the elephant in the room.  *deep breath*

I’ve abandoned a book.

Ok, ok!  Everybody calm down!!  Don’t all speak at once!  SIMMA DOWN NOW!

I know, I know, but seriously, guys, I just could NOT get into this month’s pick, Moonglow.  I tried.  I tried really hard!  Like, 81 pages hard.  And the worst part?  It was MY pick!  In my defense, it’s been on every must read list lately and it has a 4.01 on Goodreads and a 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon!

You know what, though?  Life’s too short (my excuse for everything lately … like eating 3 donuts and never working out).  Yes, this sounds like a total cop out, but I have 171 to-be-read books on my Goodreads account as of right this second.  By the time you finish reading this post, it will probably be up to 2,000.  And there are soooo many good books out there!  Books that are right for me.  And they may not be the same books that are right for you!  Clearly a lot of people loved Moonglow.  (And I don’t understand those people AT. ALL. … I am totally just kidding!)

I’ve been listening a lot to the Modern Mrs. Darcy podcast, What Should I Read Next, and if you are a crazy book nut like me and haven’t been over to her site, you must!  She asks people three books they love, one book they hate, and what they are currently reading.  Based on that information, she gives them specific books that she thinks they will love.  (This is why my Goodreads to-be-read is currently at 3,246 … I know, that fast!!)  Anyway, my point is that she and her guests often talk about books they’ve abandoned. There are a myriad of reasons why … the book is too long, too hard to read, it’s a busy time in the readers life, and  so on and so forth …

So back to Moonglowmoonglow

It sounded super interesting.  A deathbed confession, a grandson searching for answers, WWII, the space program, love and retirement villages, jail time and mystical cards … what’s not to love?!  But honestly, and I’m not trying to garner sympathy comments of “not true!” here … but I began to feel like I wasn’t smart enough to read this book.  Chabon’s writing is impeccable, but I found I had to really focus on what I was reading.  That sounds lame, I know.  I mean, the guy is a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist.  His stuff is good.  I actually listened to a podcast reviewing the book and the people on it were so incredibly pretentious smart that I thought, yeah, not my kind of book.  I want a book to get lost in.  A book that makes me crazy to get back to it.  A book where I keep saying “one more chapter” until I’m literally falling asleep on it.

I do think I will finish this book.  I don’t think it’s the right time for me.  (Listen to me, trying to redeem myself)  Or maybe I can read it while reading other books?  Taking a chapter here and there when I feel like it?

Have you ever abandoned any books?  Or do you feel like you need to finish what you start?  I want to hear all of your deep, dark confessions on this topic!  Because it’s so, so juicy.

I am truly curious about what you guys thought of Moonglow.  Did you enjoy it?  Did you struggle like me?  

What did you think of the fact that Chabon never named his characters (i.e. it was always “grandfather” and “grandmother”)?

Personally, I hated it.  I always struggle a little with keeping characters straight and this just added confusion for me.  (Did I mention I’m not smart?)

What did you think of the odd mix of topics?  

I’m sure by the end of the book, Chabon wrapped everything up, but I was feeling like we were all over the map between his grandmother, his grandfather’s younger days, his grandfather and the space program, and his grandfather in the retirement village.  And then that creepy encounter with the prostitute? I mean, I’ve read Fifty Shades and this was creepier.

Did you find the grandfather likable?

This was another problem for me.  I just was not connecting with the characters.  Especially the grandfather, who threw a cat out a I don’t remember how many story window when he was young just to see what would happen.  And I don’t even like cats!

Did you finish it and feel I should give it another go?

I’ll be honest, I almost gave up on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  Those first 50-75 pages were brutal, but I am so glad I listened to everyone and kept reading.  That’s one of my favorite books!

winter-booksSo now that we’ve got that off our chests (and I mean I’ve got that off my chest), let’s dive into our next book club pick!!  This time we’re going with a little YA that’s turning into a Netflix series!  Our next pick is Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher and I cannot wait to start this one!

Here’s the synopsis from Amazon:

You can’t stop the future.
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker—his classmate and crush—who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

While I’m not overly anxious to dive into teenage suicide – as I have two teens myself and enough worry on my plate to make any person both rationally and irrationally insane – I’m hoping this book provides some good insight and much needed conversation.

As always, we are giving away a copy to one of our readers here. Enter by leaving a comment on this blog post or Meredith’s Mom of the Year blog before 2/10/17 at 5:30am EST. As long as you are 18 or older and live in the continental United States, you are eligible to win.

Grab a copy HERE and read with us!  We always love hearing your thoughts!!  Happy Reading!!

Book Club: Christmas in Paris

Meredith hit the nail on the head with this one!!  Still feeling so grateful to be able to do this with her!  Read on about Christmas in Paris and check out next month’s pick!

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Welcome January! Despite the chilly temps and post-holiday slumps, I am excited for a new year and the fresh start. First on my list for 2017? Got myself tidily signed up for the Goodreads Reading Challenge–52 books this year! This may be a tad ambitious, especially considering I started reading our online book club‘s December pick, Christmas in Paris…on January 3. I LOVE Christmas, but the whole busyness thing definitely won this season, and let’s just say I got a bit behind. So, after some very late night hours cozied up with this book this week, it’s time chat thoughts about it here with all of you. And here’s hoping I can stay a bit more on track with my reading goals in 2017!

Make sure to stay tuned for our January pick announcement below and leave a comment on this post for a chance to win a copy for free!

We love reading and we love sharing it with fellow readers and reading fans online! Join us here for our virtual book club! The best part? No showering required. Roll in in your jammies whenever suits you and join us this month! We're glad you're here and have SO much to say about this book with the The Wonder Book Club Discussion Questions!

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I’ll be honest, the first bit of Christmas in Paris was on the annoying side. The excessive wealth, materialism, and frivolous spending was tricky to swallow, not to mention the sheer lack of responsibility the characters displayed. In trendy terms, they were horrid at adulting. The plotline filled with a series of unlikely coincidences read like a fairy tale. Yet in the midst of my grouching, I had a stunning realization…

I WAS READING A HALLMARK MOVIE.

Yes! That was exactly it! I was reading a story that was exactly like one I’d watch in one of my Hallmark Channel Christmas movies. And since I love those tales despite their shininess and lack of all realism, there was no reason not to sit back and delight in this book!

Once I switched my perspective and embraced the fantasy, I settled in with one of my favorite things–a delightful, frothy Christmas read.

Have you read Christmas in Paris? What did you think?

We love reading and we love sharing it with fellow readers and reading fans online! Join us here for our virtual book club! The best part? No showering required. Roll in in your jammies whenever suits you and join us this month! We're glad you're here and have SO much to say about Christmas in Paris!

Grab your copy to read with us HERE!

Christmas in Paris book club questions:

Should Isabel have worked harder to sort out her relationship with Neil?

No. Yes if she genuinely loved him, as all relationships are a ginormous about of work. But she did not love him, so it was smart to end it before marriage (though would have been far more convenient if they had done so sooner!).

Speaking of ending an engagement, do you know anyone who has called off their wedding so close to the date? Were their reactions and their families’ reactions similar to those of the characters?

I don’t know anyone who has called off their wedding so very last-minute, but I can’t imagine how dismayed many families are–not only at the change in plans but at the pricey loss!

What was the significance of the large focus on Isabel’s past relationship with Rory? This was a huge part of the novel.

This confuses me. I suppose character development, but it felt odd how very much the novel focused on Rory.

Do you think Alec was correct to keep his coming inheritance a secret from Isabel?

I do. I think otherwise he would never truly have known how Isabel felt. Not only was Isabel on the shallower end of the personality spectrum, she was heavily in a fantasy fog for most of the novel, so trusting her judgement would not have worked.

We love reading and we love sharing it with fellow readers and reading fans online! Join us here for our virtual book club! The best part? No showering required. Roll in in your jammies whenever suits you and join us this month! We're glad you're here and have SO much to say about Christmas in Paris book club discussion questions!

Is there a place you love as much as Isabel loves Paris? Describe why.

I am so fond of Cape May, NJ. Everything about it–the laid-back vibe, the rich history, the family-friendly atmosphere, the shops–delights me, but I can’t say I have the same enraptured magical love for it as Isabel has for Paris.

Do you know anyone who enjoys such a high level of wealth? Do you think they really live their lives as the characters in Christmas in Paris did?

As Isabel was from the Main Line, and I live on the edge of this area marked by extreme wealth, I DO know people who live this way, and from experience, I say their lifestyle of carefree spending was depicted rather accurately!

Why do you think Bettina behaved the way she did? Was her aggression justified?

I think Bettina was jealous of Alec–as a child because his mother replaced hers and as an adult because he pursued love and a career that made him happy. Whereas, I think she was unhappy with her own life, so she acted in bitterness. While the loss of her mother was no doubt painful, we all experience different hurts in this life and must choose to forgive and treat others with love.

Isabel’s visit to the fortune-teller shaped all her actions thereafter. Have you ever had your fortune told? How much stock do you put in having your future predicted?

I haven’t had my fortune told. I do believe that some people have the power to predict the future, but I also believe we aren’t meant to know it on this earth.

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We love reading and we love sharing it with fellow readers and reading fans online! Join us here for our virtual book club! The best part? No showering required. Roll in in your jammies whenever suits you and join us this month! We're glad you're here and have SO much to say about Christmas in Paris!

Grab your copy HERE!

Now that we’ve chatted about last month’s book, it’s time to introduce our next. After searching through all of the top new picks, we are very excited to dive into Moonglow by Michael Chabon!

As Amazon describes:

Following on the heels of his New York Times bestselling novel Telegraph Avenue, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon delivers another literary masterpiece: a novel of truth and lies, family legends, and existential adventure—and the forces that work to destroy us.

In 1989, fresh from the publication of his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Michael Chabon traveled to his mother’s home in Oakland, California, to visit his terminally ill grandfather. Tongue loosened by powerful painkillers, memory stirred by the imminence of death, Chabon’s grandfather shared recollections and told stories the younger man had never heard before, uncovering bits and pieces of a history long buried and forgotten. That dreamlike week of revelations forms the basis for the novel Moonglow, the latest feat of legerdemain from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon.

Moonglow unfolds as the deathbed confession of a man the narrator refers to only as “my grandfather.” It is a tale of madness, of war and adventure, of sex and marriage and desire, of existential doubt and model rocketry, of the shining aspirations and demonic underpinnings of American technological accomplishment at midcentury, and, above all, of the destructive impact—and the creative power—of keeping secrets and telling lies. It is a portrait of the difficult but passionate love between the narrator’s grandfather and his grandmother, an enigmatic woman broken by her experience growing up in war-torn France. It is also a tour de force of speculative autobiography in which Chabon devises and reveals a secret history of his own imagination.

From the Jewish slums of prewar South Philadelphia to the invasion of Germany, from a Florida retirement village to the penal utopia of New York’s Wallkill prison, from the heyday of the space program to the twilight of the “American Century,” the novel revisits an entire era through a single life and collapses a lifetime into a single week. A lie that tells the truth, a work of fictional nonfiction, an autobiography wrapped in a novel disguised as a memoir, Moonglow is Chabon at his most moving and inventive.

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Sounds captivating, no? As always, we are giving away a copy to one of our readers here. Enter by leaving a comment on this blog post before 1/13/17 at 5:30am EST. As long as you are 18 or older and live in the continental United States, you are eligible to win.

Grab a copy HERE and dig in with us, friends! Let’s kick our 2017 reading off on the right foot!

 

Book Club: Lilac Girls

Meredith’s take on our latest book … let us know what you think!!

When Carrie of Normal Level of Crazy and I met to chat up our Lilac Girls Book Club, we both immediately said the same thing: “This fall is insane!” And, friends, I am sure you know all too well that insane falls mean very little time for mommies to read. Alas! Tragic, I know, but here’s hoping that the coming cooler temps leave a little more downtime for us all to grab some quality moments with our books.

We love reading and we love sharing it with fellow readers and reading fans online! Join us here for our virtual book club! The best part? No showering required. Roll in in your jammies whenever suits you and join us this month for our Truly Madly Guilty book club! We're glad you're here and have SO much to say about this book!

In the meantime, the one book Carrie and I both managed to sneak into our busy days was Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly, and we’ve been looking forward to touching down and sharing our thoughts about the book here with you. Did you read it? What did you think? What questions do you have?

And stay tuned below–as always, a copy of our next book club pick is up for grabs! Just leave a comment on this Lilac Girls Book Club post telling us you want it and you are entered.

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Let’s get the Lilac Girls Book Club discussion rolling!

We love reading and we love sharing it with fellow readers and reading fans online! Join us here for our virtual book club! The best part? No showering required. Roll in in your jammies whenever suits you and join us this month for our Truly Madly Guilty book club! We're glad you're here and have SO much to say about this book!

Which of the three ladies could you most see yourself in?

This is a tough question for me to answer. Obviously it was far easier to relate to Caroline’s journey since I’ve never had lived in a country where war was being fought. However, Caroline possessed a selflessness, grit and simple acceptance of life that I do not. I found myself relating more to Kasia’s emotional turmoil of letting go of a bad experience, yet her perseverance in the face of horror was also foreign and awe-inspiring to me.

Discuss the role of hope in this novel. How did it’s presence or lack there of affect the experiences of the characters?

Hope was a tremendous theme throughout Lilac Girls. During the war, it served as the primary manna of so many as a means for pressing on and for survival. I think hope was most admirably seen by the ladies in the concentration camp as what they clung to so as not to give up in the face of such abject horror. Hope is also seen in other ways throughout the book; the hope of not getting caught that encouraged the underground movement to keep taking risks, hope of Caroline that Paul might still be alive, and the hope of Herta that she wouldn’t be severely punished for her deeds (to name a few examples).

How did this book compare to other books written about this era that you have read?

Carrie and I discussed how Lilac Girls was unusual in that it featured a German who did not have qualms about her actions. I don’t think I’ve ever read something from the perspective of one who so wholly placed belief in Hitler’s commands.

We also noted how it was interesting to have the story carry on after the war ended. Both immediate and long-term follow-up pieces of the story allowed for unique glimpses into how people from diverse war experiences were marked by the war, how they adjusted to and then coped with post-war life.

Did anything about the book surprise you?

The Author’s Notes at the end! I had no idea that this novel was so factually-based, that Herta and Caroline were real people, and that Kasia and Zuzanna were modeled from a true concentration camp story of two sisters. Not only was it inspiring to learn that so many elements of this story were real, it also helped explain the somewhat disjointed telling of the tale. The author (whose immense research undertaking was incredibly impressive) had the task of piecing together a story where many pieces were undoubtedly missing; the luxury of a smoothly crafted fictional story was not hers for the taking.

Were you able to feel any sympathy for Herta? What do you think appropriate punishment for her and her fellow doctors should have been?

No! And this was a surprise too. Most often, I am able to feel some sort of a connection with any character, but that Herta was so wholly un-remorseful left me sans sympathy for her. As for punishment, life in prison seems fitting as an imprisoned life is what they gave others.

We love reading and we love sharing it with fellow readers and reading fans online! Join us here for our virtual book club! The best part? No showering required. Roll in in your jammies whenever suits you and join us this month for our Truly Madly Guilty book club! We're glad you're here and have SO much to say about this book!

Grab your copy HERE!

Aside from the connection made at the end of the book, do you see any ties or similarities between the three main characters?

Returning to the grit I discussed in the first question, all of the ladies, albeit for very different purposes and reasons, maintained a very firm determination to carry on with their lot in life. In our modern world, we have far more freedom to question and evaluate the hand we’ve been dealt, whereas these ladies all faced limited options (Kasia had the least freedom of the three, Caroline the most). Yet all three seemed to spend minimal time brooding over their circumstances, and rather focused more on how to best press through them.

As always, friends, we’d love to hear your thoughts and questions for this Lilac Girls Book Club meeting! Please share them and discuss below!

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What are we reading next?

After delighting in Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple, we were excited to check out her newest book, Today Will be Different. After reading the description, we were even more excited…

We love reading and we love sharing it with fellow readers and reading fans online! Join us here for our virtual book club! The best part? No showering required. Roll in in your jammies whenever suits you and join us this month for our Truly Madly Guilty book club! We're glad you're here and have SO much to say about this book!

Grab this book club pick HERE!

“A brilliant novel from the author of Where’d You Go, Bernadette, about a day in the life of Eleanor Flood, forced to abandon her small ambitions and awake to a strange, new future.

Eleanor knows she’s a mess. But today, she will tackle the little things. She will shower and get dressed. She will have her poetry and yoga lessons after dropping off her son, Timby. She won’t swear. She will initiate sex with her husband, Joe. But before she can put her modest plan into action-life happens. Today, it turns out, is the day Timby has decided to fake sick to weasel his way into his mother’s company. It’s also the day Joe has chosen to tell his office-but not Eleanor-that he’s on vacation. Just when it seems like things can’t go more awry, an encounter with a former colleague produces a graphic memoir whose dramatic tale threatens to reveal a buried family secret.

Today Will Be Different is a hilarious, heart-filled story about reinvention, sisterhood, and how sometimes it takes facing up to our former selves to truly begin living.”

Sound like a fantastic read for our mid-life mom hearts? I know! We thought so too.

Even better news? A copy of Today Will be Different is up for grabs! Just leave a comment on this Lilac Girls book club post telling us you want it before 10/14/16 at 5:30am ET and you are entered! As long as you are 18 or older and live in the continental U.S., you are eligible!

Friends, we can’t thank you enough for reading with us in our Lilac Girls Book Club and sharing our love of books. Here’s to a new month of fall reading! Enjoy!

Eligible: Book Club Review

summer book club

“You are too generous to trifle with me. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on this subject forever.”

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

*sighhhhh*  How I love me some Pride and Prejudice!  Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I will ashamedly admit that reading it in 10th grade was not the easiest.  Maybe because it was more of an academic assignment than a pleasure read.  In all fairness to me and my 16 year old classmates who were equally frustrated, it was first published in 1813!  Writing styles and speech patterns have clearly changed a lot since then.  So, luckily for us, we’ve been given the opportunity to read a modern retelling of this classically romantic tale for pleasure this time.  And what a fun read it was!

eligible meredith

I really did find myself cracking up at Curtis Sittenfeld’s version of this story … in the best possible way!  Reality TV, trangenders, CrossFit obsessions, Cincinnati bashing, hate sex!  Sittenfeld packed it all in and in such a way that it all really did seem to match up pretty closely the the original novel.

I found a definite enjoyment in comparing the two books.  I was in awe of the way Sittenfeld turned 18th century issues into 21st century issues.

What did you think about the similarities?  Did you find yourself comparing the two novels?  In a good way or a bad way?  Do you think it’s better to view it as a stand alone novel?

I needed a little time to warm up to the book, but once I got into it, I blew through it.  Liz, I thought, was a great character and Jasper, as the villainous Wickam, was perfect.

How did you feel about Jasper and the “contemporary” relationship he was in with Liz?  Did you feel like it seemed realistic or contrived?

And how about that hate sex?!  Who hasn’t wanted to read about Darcy and Liz getting it on??  I loved that they added this in!  I thought it was fitting and appropriate for the 21st century world.  Plus, Liz and Darcy together in bed?  Yes, please!

I’m curious how you all feel about the character of Ham?  I understand Sittenfeld needed to find a contemporary version of parents being upset about a marriage, but it felt a little forced and bizarre to me.  Although I did laugh a lot at some of Lydia’s comments in relation to it (i.e. the 9 inch dildo).  Thoughts?

I also got frustrated at the end when there were obvious misunderstandings and miscommunications – especially in relation to Georgie’s text.  But then that drives me crazy in general.  Did that annoy you as well?  It felt similar to a rom com movie … like, let’s find a way to keep Darcy and Liz apart a little longer even though a normal person would just have texted back to Georgie something like, “oh, are Darcy and Caroline dating now?” or some such thing.

Honestly, though, I am in complete awe of Sittenfeld for writing this book.  I could not imagine taking this on and she really did an amazing job!  Writing a contemporary version of a beloved, often sacred, novel?  NO THANKS!  Kuddos to Ms. Sittenfeld!!

Lots more I could write on this … would love to hear from you all!

And, as usual, we will be giving away a free copy of our next book club pick (see below)! Just leave a comment!

AHHHHHHH!!!!  Liane Moriarty has a new book out!!  Excitement abounds.  (Yes, I need to get a life).  But seriously, OBVIOUSLY, we picked it for our next read!

Here is Amazon’s description:truly madly guilty

Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong?

In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty turns her unique, razor-sharp eye towards three seemingly happy families.

Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.

Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.

Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?

In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.

Don’t forget to leave a comment before August 12, 2016 at 5:30am ET so you can be entered to win a copy of Truly Madly Guilty!! As long as you are 18 or older and live in the continental U.S., you are eligible. The winner will be picked August 12th!

Happy Reading!!

****This is not a sponsored post, but thanks to Flatiron Books for providing copies of Truly, Madly, Guilty for us to read and give away to one of our readers!***

Summer Reads … Plus an Amazon Gift Card!!

Thanks to Meredith of Mom of the Year for doing all the grunt work for this AMAZING give away!!  You can’t beat this prize … books and Amazon money?!  Sounds perfect to me!!

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What’s that, friends? You feel that gorgeous sunshine on your back and hear those birds chirping? Yup, it’s officially SUMMER! And to all the readers of the world, that means one very, very important thing: it’s time to dig into that summer reading list!

Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it! Here's to fantastic books!

Been a little too distracted by the end-of-school insanity to bone up on what all the hot summer reads are? No sweat! We’ve got you covered. Twenty of us blogging gals have teamed up with The Mom of the Year and Normal Level of Crazy virtual monthly book club to create a list of exactly what belongs on your summer reading list.

Not only do these books come highly recommended (along with the reason you need to be reading them!), we are giving eleven of them away to one of you, along with a $225 Amazon giftcard. I know, it’s insanely awesome! More details on the giveaway at the end of the post. For now, log into Goodreads, grab a notepad or settle in with however you track your to-read list and start adding these titles.
Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it! Here's to fantastic books!

20 Books that Belong on Your Summer Reading List:

Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it!

  1. Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini (Toulouse and Tonic) is a GREAT summer read. Leah Remini doesn’t hold anything back, from her decades-long experience with Scientology to celeb encounters along the way, especially experiences within Scientology. If you want to hear all the dish on Tom Cruise, including his “Scientology arranged and groomed” girlfriend and then his marriage to Katie Holmes, get the book now. Her honesty and lack of pretense is refreshing. I couldn’t put it down!
  2. The Storied Like of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (The Not So Super Mom) This is a bit of a quirky book, but it is perfectly quirky without falling into the creepy or just plain confusing. A.J. Fikry is not the most immediately likable character but you find yourself rooting for him (and his bookstore) anyway. I appreciated that he was a bit of an oddball, because who in our lives isn’t without their own idiosyncrasies? I enjoyed the themes in this book–loss, romance, mystery–all peppered with humor and the format–each chapter moves the story forward in time and serves as an ode to one of Fikry’s favorite books–was different but enjoyable to any book lovers who try to find themselves in the stories they read.
  3. Smart Women by Judy Blume (Meraki Lane) I was a huge Judy Blume fan when I was a kid (Starring Sally J. Freedman As Herself was my favorite!), so it’s no surprise I jumped with joy when I discovered she writes novels for adults as well, and this book did NOT disappoint. If you like a light read with a little racy romance thrown in, this is the perfect summer pick!
  4. A Window Opens by Elizabeth Egan (Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms) A great novel with a fresh, funny voice guiding it, this book tackles the classic struggle of moms trying to have it all and stuck with us to the point of recommending it to others long after we turned the last page.Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it! Here's to fantastic books!
  5. Beyond the Break by Kristen Mae (Kristen Mae) Quoted from Melissa Mowry of One Mother to Another‘s review on Amazon: “This book absolutely crushed me. The writing is hauntingly beautiful and full of depth, with well-rounded characters and gorgeous imagery. As a card-carrying heterosexual, I expected to feel a little squirmy about the girl-on-girl aspect and was just reading because I love this author’s writing. I was SO WRONG. The sex was, in a word, mind-blowing. None of that lazy, euphemistic smut book language (you won’t find talk of anyone’s blossoming flower here) just seriously hot, almost artistic love scenes. Hazel is a flawed but loveable main character with a haunting past and so much dimension. Claire is absolutely magnetic; even I was attracted to her. You owe yourself the pleasure–and I do mean pleasure–of reading this book. It will change everything you thought you knew about love, sexual attraction, and chemistry.”
  6. Summer Sisters by Judy Blume (Herd Management) Summer Sisters provides a fascinating view into the inner workings and dynamics of a close female friendship over the duration of their journey from young teens into adulthood. Many women will be able to relate to the power that female friends have over one another’s hearts, and their ability to shatter them completely sometimes. Riveting, relatable, and emotional.
  7. The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews (Confessions of a Mommyaholic) This summer/beach town set book is the absolute perfect read this summer while you are sitting beach or poolside that is filled with just enough intrigue, suspense, drama, romance and more.
  8. Mud Vein by Tarryn Fisher (See Mom Click) This is one of those books that draws you in and won’t let go, even after you’ve put it down. Senna Richard wakes up on her 33rdbirthday, locked in a house in the snow in the middle of nowhere, full of clues she has to piece together to gain her freedom. Not just a mystery, but a rip-your-heart-out love story, the author keeps you guessing while you become totally wrapped up in these characters’ lives.Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it! Here's to fantastic books!
  9. Dear Mr. You by Mary-Louise Parker (Shakespeare’s Mom) In this collection of personal essays, Parker writes beautifully about her encounters and relationships with various men in her life – everyone from her grandfather to ex-boyfriends, to, in an essay that manages to be both brutal and hilarious, a male goat. I read the whole book in one day. I had to ignore my children and personal hygiene to do it, but finding myself sucked into the book’s spellbinding word-webs was totally worth it.
  10. Not Without My Father by Andra Watkins (Andra Watkins, New York Times best seller and 2015 National Book Award nominee). Sarah Cottrell of The Huffington Post calls it “one literary ride you do not want to miss!” Reader Claris explains why everyone should read Not Without My Father in her Amazon review: “Andra really made me stop and think how important each moment in life is. If we live in each moment – really LIVE – we won’t be as likely to miss making that moment an important memory. I expected to read a story about a memorable walk, but it turned into a thought-provoking quest to truly focus on the wonderful family and friends that I have and not miss making memories with them.”
  11. Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window by Tetsuko Kuroyangi (Femme Frugality) This true story of alternative education in WWII era Japan serves to inspire. If you’ve ever known a kid that doesn’t seem to fit into a traditional education system, Tetsuko Kuroyangi’s story will warm your heart and give you hope. Kuroyangi, after getting kicked out of a traditional school, grew up to be one of Japan’s media sweethearts and a great, hands-on philanthropist.
  12. A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley (The Whimsy One) will take you on a waltz between present day and the 18th century as Sara (present day) tries to decipher a journal written by Mary during the Jacobites uprising in Paris (1732) what she discovers in the handwritten pages is not at all what she was expecting.Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it! Here's to fantastic books!
  13. Summerlong by Dean Bakopoulos (Jana Says) I fell in love with this author after reading another one of his books but this one, a stunning, sad, sometimes funny, heartbreaking, (mostly) realistic portrayal of a marriage in crisis and its subsequent implosion during a summer long Midwestern heatwave, solidified him in my top 5 favorite authors.
  14. What Alice Forgot By Liane Moriarty (Tamara (Like) Camera) This book gripped me – I felt all the joys and pains. I recommended it to both of my sisters who are still postpartum.
  15. Mosquitoland by David Arnold (Kiss My List) You will not regret spending an afternoon curled up with this smart, funny, and poignant novel about a teenage girl’s bus ride back to her mom in Cleveland. Mim’s journey from Mississippi is filled with people who could be fascinating main characters in their own books.
  16. Before the Fall by Noah Hawley (The Golden Spoons) Hawley alternates between perspectives of different characters as well as switches from past to present in this story of 11 people – some connected, some seemingly out of place – whose lives are changed or lost when their private jet goes down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard on a foggy August night.Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it! Here's to fantastic books!
  17. The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (The Lieber Family) This second Cormoran Strike novel follows our detective as he investigates the disappearance and later death of a controversial, not-well liked author whose last novel didn’t have anything nice to say about…well, anyone!
  18. You: A Novel by Caroline Kepnes (Pulling Taffy) If you love a good, creepy thriller, with an occasional chuckle, this is a great summer read. By the end you will be rooting for the serial killer and hoping his intended victim dies (Please. End. Her. Incessant. Whining.)
  19. The Show by Filip Syta (Normal Level of Crazy) I’m taken by Amazon’s description of the book,Think of the greatest tech company in the world. Imagine getting a job there. Picture the perks: free gourmet food, free booze, a gym, a swimming pool, and a holiday bonus . . . every month. Brilliant coworkers. No dress code. Great parties. More money. Everyone’s admiration.” You know there are inevitably problems that will arise, but it sounds so exotic in comparison to my world, that I can’t wait to dig in!
  20. The Tulip Factory by Kacie Davis Idol (The Mom of the Year) Amazon’s description makes it sound like the perfect dreamy, fun summer book: “Before they exchange even a single word, Corrine knows that James will change everything. And sure enough, their serendipitous meeting in a North Carolina coffee shop sets off a whirlwind of desire and possibilities for the two.”

Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it! Here's to fantastic books!

Now that you’ve got the whole list, I know you’re dying to immediately lose yourself in book pages, but don’t forget to first enter the fantastic giveaway here! Eleven of these books (Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology, The Storied Like of A.J. Fikry, The Weekenders, Not Without My Father, Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window, Beyond the Break, The Tulip Factory, The Show, A Desperate Fortune, Before the Fall, You: A Novel) are up for grabs in addition to a $225 Amazon giftcard!

Delight in the books and use the giftcard to get any others that are on your summer reading list–or for this sweet amount, even snag a new Kindle for reading on-the-go! As long as you are 18 or older and live in the continental United States, you are eligible to enter the Rafflecopter below. All entries must be received before 7/8/16 at 5:30am ET.

Here’s to a summer of fab books, friends! And as always, happy reading!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

****This post is not sponsored or compensated in any way. We are grateful to the following publishers for providing copies of the books for our giveaway: Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Grand Central Publishing, Kristen Mae, Algonquin Books, Sourcebooks, Andra Watkins, St. Martin’s Press, Kodansha, and Inkshares. We bloggers have all chipped in together to provide the Amazon giftcard–because we love Amazon and we love you 😉 ****

Second graphic credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:18594985, copyright:peshkova

Horizontal line of books in last graphic: depositphotos, image ID:6984753, copyright:aboikis

Book Club: Take Me With You

spring

I love the title of our latest book club pick mainly because I’ve said it so many times.  To my friends going on vacation, to my husband going to work, to our mailman as he’s leaving the latest Athleta catalogue that will ultimately send me into a tailspin of body hatred … well, you get it.  But, alas, this book has nothing to do with my desperate pleas for help.  School is almost over, chickies, and I don’t know about you, but I’m torn between being SO done with homework and doing things like forgetting to send flowers in for Teacher Appreciation Day and being in a sheer panic that MY KIDS WILL BE HOME ALL DAY.

One of my saving graces is my reading and my love for all things Meredith!  Our monthly walks and talks provide a level of sanity that, frankly, I need more than monthly.  She always makes me feel like I’m doing a good job as a mom.  I don’t know how because I can turn just about anything I do into something horrible, but she waves her wand and I feel like maybe I am doing ok.  I guess we’ll find out in a couple of years when all the therapy bills start coming in.  For right now, though, I truly am grateful for the gift that is our friendship.

take me with you

Now onto the good stuff!!  Take Me With You by Catherine Ryan Hyde … what did you think??

Apparently Ms. Hyde has written quite the array of books that are all rated quite highly on Amazon.  She is also the mastermind behind the book Pay It Forward … did anyone see this movie?  It slipped past my radar, but now I’m kind of interested to see it.

I approached Take Me With You preparing to be a mess in regards to the main character, August, having lost his son.  Instead, I found it interesting just how much of the book focused on alcoholism.

Were any of you surprised by the focus of alcoholism in the book?

I don’t know anyone that doesn’t know someone who is an alcoholic.  My family has quite a few.  I have seen it ruin people’s lives and I have seen people in recovery who take the steps everyday to stay sober.  I appreciated how Ms. Hyde approached this subject and I enjoyed reading about August going to meetings and eventually bringing Seth along.

This was a truly character driven novel.  Which character did you like best?

Personally, I think Henry was my favorite.  His desire not to speak gave him a sort of mystery while also making you root for him.  I was a little disappointed that Ms. Hyde never addressed what had happened to the boys when they had been in foster care the last time their father had been in jail.  This seemed to be the catalyst for Henry’s decision not to speak and I wondered if she would ever explain it.

And how about the adorable dog, Charlie!!

Loved that he knew just where to go to find Henry.  Ok, maybe he was my favorite character!

How about August’s reaction to Seth’s desire to do the extreme rock climbing?  Over the top?  Appropriate?

I really attributed it to August having fears because he had already lost one child and the boys were like sons to him.  I think there could have been a little more depth given to that, but it was a good conflict to show in regards to letting things go … especially as a parent.  Seth was a grown adult and had an intense passion.  A good reminder that as parents we can’t choose our children’s paths or their passions, even if they scare the crap out of us!

This quote from the book really resonated with me and fits in with this whole letting go theme within the book:

“All I know is, it’s what makes me … you know … me.  You know how when you’re working, or going to school, and you just keep repeating the same days?  Got to work, come home, eat.  Do the laundry.  Go to sleep.  And then you notice the days are going by really fast.  And they’re all starting to look alike.  And then you start to feel like this can’t be it.  This can’t be all.  This can’t be … you know … a whole life.  There has to be more.  That’s what the climbing is to me.  It’s the more.  That’s the thing that makes me feel like life is enough.  Come on.  You know what I mean, August.  What makes your life feel like enough?”

Wow!  I just loved that.

Your thoughts?

Also, were you surprised that August didn’t put two and two together that the boys would be taking him every summer on the trip?

I felt like it was kind of obvious, but sweet just the same.  And the boys surprising him with Niagara Falls was truly touching.

All in all, a very sweet, touching novel that was an easy read with some fairly deep content.  I will definitely be picking up more of her books!

And, as usual, we will be giving away a free copy of our next book club pick (see below)! Just leave a comment!

So excited about this next pick because Meredith has absolutely raved about it!!  (No pressure, Meredith!)

Crazy, Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

crazy rich asians

Here’s is Amazon’s description:

When New Yorker Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and quality time with the man she hopes to marry. But Nick has failed to give his girlfriend a few key details. One, that his childhood home looks like a palace; two, that he grew up riding in more private planes than cars; and three, that he just happens to be the country’s most eligible bachelor.

On Nick’s arm, Rachel may as well have a target on her back the second she steps off the plane, and soon, her relaxed vacation turns into an obstacle course of old money, new money, nosy relatives, and scheming social climbers.

Don’t forget to leave a comment before May 13, 2016 at 5:30am ET so you can be entered to win a copy of Crazy, Rich Asians!! As long as you are 18 or older and live in the continental U.S., you are eligible. The winner will be picked May 13th!

Happy Reading!!

 

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