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

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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!!

 

Book Club: The Lake House

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After a short hiatus that involved packing, moving, and unpacking the 5 of us from one house to another (it was so much fun that I pray I NEVER have to do it again), I am back into the swing of things with book club!!  And I’m so happy to be doing the write up for The Lake House!

 

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I have loved Kate Morton for quite awhile now.  Her books are so rich in detail, yet not overdone.  They are mysterious and compelling.  They are, in my opinion, beyond well written.  I often times feel I am watching a movie as I read her novels.

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The Lake House was no exception.  While the beginning I found to be a little slow, the book picked up speed soon enough and kept me guessing as to what could possibly have happened to the little boy, Theo.  I liked the pace with which Ms. Morton gave us clues and subtly pushed us with clever hints.  I enjoyed not knowing some key pieces until near the end.  I find it frustrating when details are revealed fairly quickly and I can make an educated guess halfway through a novel.  This was not the case with The Lake House.

What did you all think about the pacing?  Were you able to guess ahead of time anyway what happened to little Theo?  (I don’t claim to be the sharpest knife in the drawer, so maybe it was blatantly obvious and I missed it somehow)

I was fond of the two narratives – one present day and one set in the past.  I find in these types of novels, though, that one tends to outshine the other.  Not always, but certainly enough times for me to anticipate and accept it.  For me, I relished reading Alice’s perspective.  While Sadie’s got better as the novel progressed, Alice’s (as well as Eleanor’s) was always fascinating to me.  Maybe a personal preference, but the historical piece was truly enjoyable and allowed insight into a period of time that, interestingly enough, resonates with us today.  One of the subjects that I found quite interesting was the PTSD issues from the war.  It made me wonder how many families today struggle with this issue and how it has effected their home life.

Did you like the two narratives?  Or did you find it distracting?  Did you find yourself connecting the past and the present while reading about the different difficulties faced by the characters?

I found all the historical characters to be profoundly fascinating!  I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what Mr. Llewellyn’s deal was … lol!  He seemed like a “good guy”, but I was always a little leery.  And the grandmother, Constance … what a bitter, miserable woman!  I felt like the character development throughout the book was deep and compelling!

Were there any characters you favorited?  Anyone you were sure was a part of Theo’s disappearance?

I honestly would love to discuss the ending, but I really don’t want to give anything away.  Suffice it to say, I was heartbroken, relieved and bursting to talk with someone about it.  The book sat with me for days.  I thought a lot about motherhood and sacrifice.  I thought how agonizing it would be to fall in love with someone you were not supposed to fall in love with.  I thought a lot about decisions.  Decisions we make every day that will effect us for the rest of our lives.

I wish you all lived close by so we could have these discussions!!  I know you all would have some amazing things to say!  But I hope you will comment below or on Facebook or on Meredith’s Mom of the Year page.  We both love to hear from you all … even if you disagree!!

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

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Our next pick is one that I have picked up easily a dozen times at the bookstore.  I am so intrigued and cannot wait to read it!!

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

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Here is Amazon’s description:

A mysterious island.



An abandoned orphanage.



A strange collection of very curious photographs.



It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive. 

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

So join us next month for our review and discussion about Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children!!

Don’t forget to leave a comment before March 11, 2016 at 5:30am ET so you can be entered to win a copy of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.  Kelsey from Quirk Books has been gracious enough to send one to our lucky winner!!  As long as you are 18 or older and live in the continental U.S., you are eligible. The winner will be picked March 11th!

Happy Reading!!

Book Club: The Martian

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Well, I need to start off by saying that The Martian by Andy Weir, our pick for this month’s Book Club, is most definitely NOT a book I would have normally picked up.  And honestly, even as I was reading it, I kept thinking “this is sooooo not a book I would normally read” and yet … wow.

Let me step back and give you a clearer picture.  I like writing.  I like coloring in coloring books.  I don’t always stay in the lines.  I start cleaning the bathroom and then move to the family room before I’m finished cleaning the bathroom.  I have more than one junk drawer.  I may or may not care which way the toilet paper roll is put on … GASP!  Ok, you get it.  And, I know, I’m being very stereotypical, but I’m highly right brain.  Like, my left brain may not exist.  When the kids have math and science homework issues, we all take a moment of silence to pray that their father will be home early from work that day.  Even google doesn’t help me.  My search requests in relation to science and math typically end in “for dummies” or “for kindergartners”.  Have I killed this enough for you?  Ok, good.

Here’s my point: Andy Weir is a genius.  Yeah, I said it.  A total genius.  This book was littered … LITTERED … with math and science.  Complex equations and theories and science gobbledygook.  And I LOVED it!  Absolutely, read it in 2 days, ADORED it!

Here’s where Andy Weir’s real genius came in … he made the main character, Mark Watney, so amazing, and unexpected, and remarkable, and, at times, counterintuitive that I instantly fell in love with him.  Plus he’s darn funny.  Maybe that’s why I fell in love with him😉.  Either way, Mark Watney’s attitude throughout what, for the rest of us, would be the most horrifying experience one could ever imagine … left alone on Mars with nowhere near enough food and water … is downright inspiring.  In other words, the world needs more Mark Watneys.

Did you fall in love with Mark Watney?  Or am I the only crazy one who always falls in love with main male characters? (don’t answer that)  What was your favorite aspect of Mark’s character?

And, O.M.G. (channeling my inner 12 year old), how many obstacles could this guy possibly have to overcome??  I bit half my nails off worrying what was going to happen next!  Even when I reminded myself this was “just a book”.  And, by the way, all my book lovers out there know this feeling.  I actually threw up a little typing the words “just a book” … that’s easily the most horrific thing you could say to book lovers.  Well, to me anyway:)  But back to The Martian

Did you find yourself caught up in the drama?  Do you have any bad habits that come out when you’re immersed in a book – like nail biting or letting your kids raise themselves for 2 days while you all but live inside of an intense novel?  Me neither.

I’d love to know your thoughts on the book!!  Leave comments for me!  Or emojis!  Or letters in my mailbox!! (???) I love knowing when others love a book as much as I do.  And, fine, I can handle it if you had some issues with the book:) … just don’t be too hard on Mark (swoon).

BACK TO THE BOOK … jeez, Carrie!

Did you have a hard time with the science whatchamacallits and the math gibberish?  Were you able to let it go and just enjoy the book?  Or did you find yourself with a notepad and pencil scratching your head and ripping your hair out (me, circa 1992, Calculus I)?

I haven’t seen the movie yet because I have been impatiently waiting for both my 14 year old daughter and my husband to finish reading it.

Do you ever want to murder … never mind.  

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

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Cuddle-up-with-this-bestseller

Speaking of which …  I CANNOT believe we haven’t picked one of this author’s books yet!  I have a hardcore crush on this lady!  Meredith and I hope you’ll join us in reading …

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Here is Amazon’s description:

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here–it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On – The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is a ghost story, a love story and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story – but far, far more monsters.

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So there you have it! Join us next month for our review and discussion about Carry On by Rainbow Rowell!  And feel free to read all of her other amazing books as we’ll have a hard time not bringing them up!!

Wanna win a copy

Don’t forget to leave a comment so you can be entered to win a copy of Carry On! As long as you are 18 or older and live in the continental U.S., you are eligible. The winner will be picked November 13th!

Happy Reading!!

Book Club: In the Unlikely Event

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It’s pretty hard to find someone that hasn’t heard of Judy Blume.  From Superfudge to Blubber, from Freckle Juice to Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, and from the racy (at the time) Forever … to Summer Sisters, I have so many memories of Judy Blume’s amazing books.  And let us not forget Are You There God?, It’s Me Margaret that gave us the never to be forgotten jingle, “we must, we must, we must increase our bust!”

I had my kids read all of her children’s books.  Well, ok, I spared the boys Are You There God?, It’s Me Margaret.  There’s a sentimentality to them for me, and I’m guessing for a lot of others as well.  So naturally when Mom of the Year‘s Meredith, my book club partner in crime, and I discovered Ms. Blume, who hadn’t written a new adult novel in over 15 years, was releasing a new book, we … how should I describe it?  Well, we flipped out.

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And what a fascinating story she tells in In the Unlikely Event!  Based on real life events that occurred in Judy’s then hometown while she was a teenager, the novel sends us back to a different time and place.  Three plane crashes in the span of three months in Elizabeth, New Jersey in 1951/1952.  It’s true.  I looked it up.  Not so much because I didn’t believe Blume, but because I couldn’t believe I had never heard of it before.  Killing people both in the airplanes and on the ground, the town of Elizabeth was quite literally a bullseye.  It’s shocking.  It’s unbelievable.  And it’s real.

But while this is the backdrop for the story, it is the characters that will mesmerize you.  I thoroughly enjoyed Blume’s telling of the story through different characters’ eyes.  I love that through all the tragedy of the crashes, she still was able to drop some literary bombs throughout and continue to surprise us.  At times, I’ll be honest, I was a little overwhelmed by just how many characters Blume introduced but, in the end, I felt like they each played a pivotal role.

The main character is Miri, who is the foundation of the novel, carrying us in and around the many characters while helping us dissect and understand them.  Her voice was, to me, the most interesting.  A teenage girl, not only living in a town with all of this chaos, but dealing with regular teenage girl issues – first love being the biggest.  Her uncle, Henry, a newspaper reporter covering all of the crashes, helps provide the more adult and factual perspective of not only the crashes themselves, but the investigations as well.

Blume’s writing is, of course, to be admired.  Even if there were some flaws in the telling of the story, her writing makes up for any issues one would have.  She provides such a great voice for her characters and intermingles humor throughout – even during a most horrific time.

So now we’re curious …

What did you think?  Were you as shocked as I about the basis of the story?

Did you find there to be too many characters?  Did you feel they all contributed to the story or were there some that could have been left out?

How about Miri?  Did you enjoy her as a character?

Do you enjoy Blume’s writing?  This book is different from her other works.  Is that a good or a bad thing?

Let us know!  We always want to hear from you!  And, as usual, we will be giving away a free copy of our next book club pick!

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Speaking of which, our next pick is … The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler!

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Meredith has finished this one and I’m just starting!  We are anxious to hear your thoughts!  Here’s the descriptions via Amazon:

Simon Watson, a young librarian, lives alone in a house that is slowly crumbling toward the Long Island Sound. His parents are long dead. His mother, a circus mermaid who made her living by holding her breath, drowned in the very water his house overlooks. His younger sister, Enola, ran off six years ago and now reads tarot cards for a traveling carnival.

One June day, an old book arrives on Simon’s doorstep, sent by an antiquarian bookseller who purchased it on speculation. Fragile and water damaged, the book is a log from the owner of a traveling carnival in the 1700s, who reports strange and magical things, including the drowning death of a circus mermaid. Since then, generations of “mermaids” in Simon’s family have drowned–always on July 24, which is only weeks away.

As his friend Alice looks on with alarm, Simon becomes increasingly worried about his sister. Could there be a curse on Simon’s family? What does it have to do with the book, and can he get to the heart of the mystery in time to save Enola?

In the tradition of Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, and Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian, The Book of Speculation–with two-color illustrations by the author–is Erika Swyler’s moving debut novel about the power of books, family, and magic.

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So there you have it!  Join us next month for our review and discussion about The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler!  And don’t forget to leave a comment so you can be entered to win a copy of The Book of Speculation! As long as you are 18 or older and live in the continental U.S., you are eligible.  The winner will be picked September 11!

Happy Reading!!

Books, Books, Books … and a $225 Amazon Gift Card!!!

It’s Book Club time again, but Meredith and I have something extra sweet this month!! Check out Mom of Year’s post below to find out all the details!! I’m going to be honest, I wish I had the chance to win all of these books along with the amazing gift card!! And a HUGE thanks to Meredith who took my idea of “doing something fun in August for book club” and ran with it. She is truly amazing!! And to all the bloggers that participated … we are so lucky to have you!

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Are you a reader? You are in the right company! Here are 20 books from fellow gals who read that you need to grab NOW! Plus, the chance to score them all for free is a pretty sweet deal!It’s here, friends. The end of summer is upon us. I know. But that doesn’t mean you need to put your beloved books down! In fact, just the opposite. No time like the present to dig into your reading and escape the hassles and woes of Back to School prep and fuss. There is something solid to be said for hanging on to these last days of summer and making the most of them.

To embrace the end of our summer months, I teamed up with a bunch of my blogging buddies and asked the uber-important question: what book would you recommend for a last-blast at summer reading? What book would you love to share with others? Every month, The Mom of the Year and Normal Level of Crazy meet through a virtual book club* to allow moms to come together and chat about fab books while still rocking their pj pants in the cozy-comfort of their own homes. It doesn’t get any better, really.

This month, we’ve blown the skies wide open and are coming to you with an entire list of great reads that you need to check out! Even better, we are giving one of you a $225 Amazon gift card along with seven of the titles on this list to read! Use the gift card to snatch up your reading wish list and dig into the books sent to your door. In short, you will be in a reader’s heaven. It’s sweet deal!

Enter to score the gift card and the hard copies of the books before 8/14/15 at 5:30am ET through the Rafflecopter below. As long as you are resident of the continental U.S. and 18 yrs. or older, you are eligible to win!

Are you a reader? You are in the right company! Here are 20 books from fellow gals who read that you need to grab NOW! Plus, the chance to score them all for free is a pretty sweet deal!

What’s on the list of recommended reads?

The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks (Jessica of Herd Management)–Possibly the best Sparks’ book I’ve ever read. Two couples in completely different time periods paths cross and the end result is amazing. Tear-jerking romance is enfolded within the pages of the characters’ captivating challenges. Plus, I can’t resist a cowboy. Read this before you see the movie!

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (Courtney of Our Small Moments)– How would you feel if the one you loved turned out to be from one of the richest families? Crazy Rich Asians shows the complexity of that situation.

The Liar by Nora Roberts (MamaRabia of The Lieber Family)–What would you do if you found out that your recently deceased husband was not only a liar and a thief, but possibly worse? Shelby Pomeroy decides to take back her life by clearing her name and fighting to make a better life for herself and her young daughter. But her dead husband still has some surprises in store for her!

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (Jennifer of Real Life Parenting)–The primary female characters in this historical fiction are strong, feisty, and full of heart and personality. The way their lives in time are so far apart, their connections are close and poignant. I loved the blending of history with modern day happenings! A quick read because you just don’t want to put it down.

Are you a reader? You are in the right company! Here are 20 books from fellow gals who read that you need to grab NOW! Plus, the chance to score them all for free is a pretty sweet deal!

Child, Please, How Mama’s Old-School Lessons Helped Me Check Myself Before I Wrecked Myself by Ylonda Gault Caviness (Stacey of One Funny Motha)–Maybe I like this book because I’m old-school myself. Or it could be the author’s funny, lively, entirely personable voice that makes reading it feel as though you’re talking to a friend. Or it could be that I write about similar issues myself and found much to agree with in the author’s perspective. Whatever the case, this memoir is a throughly enjoyable read of one woman’s straight-talking journey through motherhood and was selected by Ebony as 1 of the top 4 must-reads of the summer.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (Alyson of The Shitastrophy)–Was the most amazing read for me. After having walked away from reading for pleasure for some time due to work commitments I selected this book to read on an airplane. I couldn’t put the book down and finished it within 2 days. The story winds and weaves through three friends lives together. The ending was something I didn’t see coming and was suiting to see how justice can come to fruition, even when not done judicially. I have gone on to read the rest of her books available and none have disappointed.

Now the Hell Will Start by Brendan I. Koerner (Femme of FemmeFrugality)–Part history, part thriller, all non-fiction. Now the Hell Will Start is the story of Herman Perry, a WWII American soldier on the run in Burma after shooting his commanding officer. Not only does it expose a massive part of WWII history we never learn about in school, it also follows his incredible run from the law, including marrying into a local, headhunting tribe.

The Reluctant Tuscan by Phil Doran (Alicia of Sadler House)–Many writers have extolled the virtues of Italy’s countryside, but no other story of Italian transplants is quite like this one. This witty memoir recounts how an award-winning Hollywood comedy producer finds himself renovating a 300-year-old house in Tuscany, where escapism gives way to real-life hilarity.

The Ocean at The End of The Lane by Neil Gaiman (Janene of More than Mommies)–We all have those reader friends who we want to be like. You know . . . the ones who are always reading WAY cooler books than we are reading? Well, this book came HIGHLY recommended by my reader friend who I have reader envy of, so, I think we should ALL read it and discuss! (I’m planning on reading it in August . . . so if you pick this one to read I’d love to hear your thoughts!)

Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives by Josie Brown (Dani of Cloudy, With a Chance of Wine)–My BFF sent me Secrets of Husbands and Wives by Josie Brown for my birthday in March and I absolutely COULD NOT put it down. I only ever trust her book recommendations, and she was spot on with this one. It’s the perfect late summer / back-to-school read, and will not disappoint!

House of Mirth by Edith Wharton (Norine of Science of Parenthood)–Though it reads like a Downton Abbey-esque drawing room drama, behind the mansions and manners and horse-drawn carriages, Edith Wharton’s House of Mirth is a fierce social commentary on the proscribed roles for American women in the 1880s. Wharton is a social commentator bar none. And Lily Bart, whose story this is, is my favorite tragic heroine. Every time I read this book, I root for Lily to emerge victorious … and am heartbroken all over again when she falters.

On Borrowed Wings by Chandra Prasad (Amy of Funny is Family)–On Borrowed Wings is the story of a girl who disguises herself as a boy to attend Yale University in the 1930s, before women were allowed to enroll. It’s a fantastic read that weaves well-researched historical details and the strong desire of a girl to break away from her predetermined life path.

All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner (Meredith of Meredith to Mommy)–This book really struck me. Well-off, suburban, mom blogger who is trying to do it all winds up addicted to pain meds. This constant monologue of “I can fix this myself. I have a plan. I don’t REALLY have a problem.” as she falls deeper and deeper into addiction made me choke up at how easy it is to lose control and wind up in a hole that you have no hope of clawing yourself out of alone, while still keeping up a strong facade as someone who has it all. I’ve read it multiple times, and find myself just as drawn in as I was the first.

Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe (Kimberly of Red Shutters)–Did you love Rob Lowe in “The Outsiders” and “St. Elmo’s Fire” as much as I did? Then, you’d love this memoir in which Lowe pulls back the curtain on his life in Hollywood, from 19-year-old heartthrob to award-winning actor, sharing life wisdom along the way. I enjoyed the audio version of this book, which Lowe narrates himself, complete with impressions of Christopher Walken, Francis Ford Coppola, and other film industry luminaries.

The Martian by Andy Weir (Kim of Let Me Start By Saying)–A man gets left on Mars by accident and his personality, smarts, creativity, and sense of humor carve a place in your heart for him as he tries to figure a way to survive–and eventually leave–his new home in space. What is happening back on Earth and in the ship that left him will have you cranking through the pages, itching to know what will happen next, because this book is full of surprises, laughs, details that make you feel right there.

We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver (Stephanie of When Crazy Meets Exhaustion)–A thought-provoking punch to the gut that, unfortunately, mimics reality a little too closely. I read it before I had kids, then again after I had my three, and I think a parent’s perspective is far more frightening. In the novel, a sociopath “kid” commits the darkest of sins and turns a town–and his family–upside down. *Shivers*

Finding Zoe by Brandi Rarus (Stephanie of Binkies and Briefcases)–the story of a deaf mother and how she came to find herself raising an adopted daughter who is also deaf, as well as her biological children. As an adoptive mom myself, it can be hard to find other stories that relate to my own journey mothering a child with special needs who joined us out of foster care, and this book certainly does that. More than that, Finding Zoe also gave me a glimpse into deaf culture (which was neat for me because before my grandmother passed away she volunteered as a sign language interpreter) and was full of cool trivia, like the author being cast as Marlee Matlin’s understudy in a play, but it was also real and relatable on a human level. I think any mom will be able to relate to this memoir.

Are you a reader? You are in the right company! Here are 20 books from fellow gals who read that you need to grab NOW! Plus, the chance to score them all for free is a pretty sweet deal!

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty (Melanie of Not So Super Mom)– I like it for summer reading because it’s not too heavy of a story but it does make us think a bit about our own lives, the expectations we had when we were younger and how changing priorities can set our lives on a different course than we imagined. What a difference a decade makes, right?

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn (Ellen and Erin of Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms)–Stop looking to other authors to give you the next Gone Girl and just read Flynn’s earlier work. Dark Places is told in a captivating flashback format, with Libby–complicated and damaged from a horrific tragedy in her childhood–narrating the present-day chapters in first person, while the flashback chapters, told in third person, describe the actions of several key characters on that one winter’s day in 1985.
The plot is gripping and complex enough to have you guessing how the puzzle really fits together until the very end. I only wish the story had been longer because it was the type of read you just want to binge on, but are sorry when it’s over.

Cutting Teeth by Julia Fierro (Carrie of Normal Level of Crazy and Meredith of The Mom of the Year)–With raw and heartwarming honesty, Fierro’s debut captures the sacrifices we make in order to seek understanding, compassion, and love.

Now that you have the whole list of fav recommendations, it’s time to get reading, friends! Grab up these titles and make sure to enter in the Rafflecopter below for a super sweet $225 Amazon gift card and seven of these books for your very own!

We are thrilled to have you reading with us in this last blast to summertime!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A huge thank you to the publishing houses that offered copies of the books included in our giveaway! All the books were chosen because we genuinely think they are fantastic. We love reading and we so appreciate working with you, Grand Central Publishing, St. Martin’s Press, Penguin Random House, BenBella Books, The Crown Publishing Group, and Penguin Press.

* Note to our dedicated book club fans: We WILL be discussing Judy Blume’s In the Unlikely Event as promised, but in the interest of this ginormous giveaway and recommendation list post, we’ve decided to table this discussion until September. Check in on the first Friday of the month, 9/4/15 to catch our thoughts on this book and snag our pick for the next month! We love having you read with us!

 

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