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Book Club: 99 Percent Mine

Looking for a good read? Our virtual book club is delighting in our latest book club pick! Join us for our 99 Percent Mine Book Club discussion and chat the discussion questions with us! We're so glad you're here! Make sure to chime in for the chance to grab next month's pick for FREE!

Well, I couldn’t be happier that February is behind us! That being said, reading a fun rom com last month did help save it! I’ve been really trying to alternate my mystery/thrillers and my lighter, fun reads, but DARN those mysteries have been good lately! Have you read any good ones?? (DO NOT feed into my addiction!)

So I’m curious … how do you all feel about romance novels? I have a couple thoughts on the matter. First, I personally think they get a bad rap. There are so, so many different versions of a romance novel it’s hard to imagine that people could even group them all into one category. From Outlander to some really brilliant YA novels, these books run the gamut. Secondly, 50 Shades of Grey didn’t blow the world up on its own … people bought it. And regardless of the poor writing (my opinion) and wildly unrealistic plot lines (she only owns an old school flip phone??), people clearly liked it. Lastly, I think the rom-com sub-genre has really picked up its game the last couple years and, frankly, there are some really adorable, fun books out there labeled “romance.” And if you’ve decided it isn’t for you, you’re missing out on a ton of fantastic books!

99 Percent Mine Book Club Discussion

Looking for a good read? Our virtual book club is delighting in our latest book club pick! Join us for our 99 Percent Mine Book Club discussion and chat the discussion questions with us! We're so glad you're here! Make sure to chime in for the chance to grab next month's pick for FREE!
Grab your copy HERE!

We picked 99 Percent Mine for February for obvious reasons. Love and February go together like peanut butter and jelly (or toothpaste and orange juice if you’re single). I first stumbled upon our author, Sally Thorne, in an Amazon deep dive (do you all do this? Amazon just gets me.). Her first book, The Hating Game, had some good reviews so I figured I’d give it a shot. Fifteen rereads later (I wish I was kidding), it is one of my all time favorite books. (And I’m not alone, as shown by the private Facebook group I belong to called The Flamethrowers … I beg you not to judge.) Sally is an absolute doll! She lives in Australia, really interacts with her readers, and is adorably (and unnecessarily) insecure about her writing.

Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her second novel. 99 Percent Mine is very different from The Hating Game…not bad or good, just different. Darcy and her twin brother, Jamie, grew up with the adorable Tom Valeska. But Tom was Jamie’s best friend first and Darcy kept her distance, despite her long held attraction. Fast forward and Tom is renovating Darcy and Jamie’s grandmother’s cottage and Darcy is there to supervise. Surprise! Tom may like her too (*heart eyes*).

I thought this book had TONS of angst. And, to be honest, that’s my sweet spot. While I didn’t love it as much as The Hating Game (have I told you about The Hating Game? Just checking.), I worship Sally’s writing and her ability to convey in a funny and real way her characters’ feelings.

Looking for a good read? Our virtual book club is delighting in our latest book club pick! Join us for our 99 Percent Mine Book Club discussion and chat the discussion questions with us! We're so glad you're here! Make sure to chime in for the chance to grab next month's pick for FREE!

We would love to hear your thoughts on this one!

How do you like Sally’s writing? Any quotes in particular that you adored in 99 Percent Mine?

Here’s one of my favs:

“There’s still one solid-gold good man left out there. He’s the high tide mark in a world of inch-deep puddles.”

Ok, one more … about Tom’s hair:

“The texture is like a romance novel that’s fallen into the bath, then dried: vaguely sexual crinkle waves with the occasional curled edge and dog-ear. I want to jam my hand in it and make a gentle fist.”

OK, LAST ONE:

“I’m this filthy with you. Only you. And you’re not just ‘half-decent’. I’ve seen Michelangelo’s David in Florence. You make him look like a pin-dicked garden gnome.”

(If you asked me to quote my favorite The Hating Game quotes, I would just send you the book. Did I mention The Hating Game again??)

Pssst….! In case it wasn’t clear, this is one of Carrie’s all-time favorite books and she STRONGLY recommends you read it! Get it HERE!

As always, we are giving away a copy of next month’s pick! Just leave a comment on this post telling us you’d love to win it before 3/8/19, 5:30am ET, and as long as you are 18 or above and live in the Continental United States, you are eligible to win! We’ll randomly select a recipient from all entrants and notify the winner!

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MOVING ON TO NEXT MONTH’S PICK!

Looking for a good read? Our virtual book club is delighting in our latest book club pick! Join us for our 99 Percent Mine Book Club discussion and chat the discussion questions with us! We're so glad you're here! Make sure to chime in for the chance to grab next month's pick for FREE!
Grab your copy HERE!

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: The Washington Post, NPR, Entertainment Weekly, Real Simple, Marie Claire, New York Public Library, LibraryReads, The Skimm, Lit Hub, Lit Reactor

AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“A captivating family saga.”–The New York Times Book Review

“This literary family saga is perfect for fans of Celeste Ng and Donna Tartt.”–People Magazine (Book of the Week)

If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life?

It’s 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children–four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness–sneak out to hear their fortunes.

The prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in ’80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel struggles to maintain security as an army doctor post-9/11; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.

Both a dazzling family love story and a sweeping novel of remarkable ambition and depth, The Immortalists probes the line between destiny and choice, reality and illusion, this world and the next. It is a deeply moving testament to the power of story, the nature of belief, and the unrelenting pull of familial bonds.

Thanks so much for reading with us and for all of your wonderful comments! We couldn’t do this without you!! xo

Looking for a good read? Our virtual book club is delighting in our latest book club pick! Join us for our 99 Percent Mine Book Club discussion and chat the discussion questions with us! We're so glad you're here! Make sure to chime in for the chance to grab next month's pick for FREE!

Thank you to Harper Collins for providing us with copies for review and giveaway for our 99 Percent Mine Book Club discussion! All opinions shared are always 100% our own!

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Book Club: Once Upon a River

Thanks so much to Meredith for our latest book review!!

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Thank you to Simon and Schuster for sending this book our way for our Once Upon a River Book Club discussion! All opinions are 100% ours–Carrie of Normal Level of Crazy and I love to receive new titles to read and share our thoughts!

Looking for a good read? Our virtual book club is delighting in our latest book club pick! Join us for our Once Upon a River Book Club discussion and chat the discussion questions with us! We're so glad you're here! Make sure to chime in for the chance to grab next month's pick for FREE!

Once Upon a River Book Club Discussion

Holy cow! After January being such a brittle, horrid month, you’d have assumed I’d have Febuary 1 (the chance for a fresh start!) marked on my brain and calendar with endless shooting stars! Sadly, the date rolled around and I found myself firing Carrie mad “I will write this book club post ASAP! So sorry!” messages. You see, the life of a book reviewer is truly orderly and glamorous 😉

Of note, my lack of remembrance of our book club date had NOTHING to do with my appreciation of our book club pick, Once Upon a River. This book fully lived up to its hype as Diane Setterfield’s post-The Thirteenth Tale release. Once Upon a River is a wicked smart new release.

Looking for a good read? Our virtual book club is delighting in our latest book club pick! Join us for our Once Upon a River Book Club discussion and chat the discussion questions with us! We're so glad you're here! Make sure to chime in for the chance to grab next month's pick for FREE!

Once Upon a River Book Club Discussion Questions

  • Holy cow! The river. THE RIVER. Take a moment (or a thousand) discuss the impact the river or THE WATER had on the plot and characters of this novel. I’ll fully admit–it wasn’t until the end I fully grasped the signicance of WATER, and am now crushing on a second read-through in hopes of latching onto all the hints and promises of the water/river Setterfield offered thoughout.
  • There were so many stories in this book! So many lovely, detailed tales explored with their characters in full, and I admired Setterfield’s artful telling of each. Which character’s world did you find yourself craving more of–a deeper digging into their world?
  • There lots characters in this book. Who did you love? Who did you hate? Who were the ones you loved? The ones you hated?
  • Setterfield is such an artful storyteller, every single character had a purpose. In that light, what was the signficance of some of the characters who had a smaller role in the tale?
  • Classify Once Upon A River: fantasy, historical fiction, sci fi, romance…there are no wrong answers! What do you think and why?
  • Let’s talk about the title. It took me until the end of the book to realize it allowed the whole book to be read as if it were one grand tale that might have been told at The Swan.
  • How do you think Jonathan fit into his world? Was he happ? I loved him. He didn’t hesitate to be his own person, and I really liked how everyone allowed him to simply be who he was.
  • Of all the human horrors in the book (abandonment, deceit, neglect, abuse, etc.), which did you find most egregious and why? I had so much trouble with the father telling his children they were no more than a waste of profits!
  • Discuss the women in this book–Lily, Margot, Rita…what did you love about them and why? What might they have done differently? I was impressed by the strength they all had, in living the lives set before them. I loved the Rita finally allowed herself to become a mother, and that Lily was able to rise out of her circumstances at the end.
  • Out of all the gorgeous messages throughout the book, what was your favorite? So hard! I think I most honor the faith in always maintaining hope…

Thank you for reading along with us! We ALWAYS love to hear your thoughts–however big or small! We want to hear from YOU!!

As always, we are giving away a copy of our next month’s pick! Just leave a comment on this post telling us you’d love to win it before 2/8/19, 5:30am ET, and as long as you are 18 or above and live in the Continental United States, you are eligible to win! We’ll randomly select a recipient from all entrants and notify the winner!

Speaking on NEXT MONTH’S PICK: hello, 99 Percent Mine!

After crushing big-time on Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game, we were super-excited for her newest release:

Readers and critics alike raved over USA Today bestselling author Sally Thorne’s smash hit debut, The Hating Game, which has sold in over 20 countries. Now she’s back with an unforgettable romantic comedy about a woman who finally has a shot at her long time crush—if she dares.

Looking for a good read? Our virtual book club is delighting in our latest book club pick! Join us for our Once Upon a River Book Club discussion and chat the discussion questions with us! We're so glad you're here! Make sure to chime in for the chance to grab next month's pick for FREE!

Crush (n.): a strong and often short-lived infatuation, particularly for someone beyond your reach…

Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend. Despite Darcy’s best efforts, Tom’s off limits and loyal to her brother, 99%. That’s the problem with finding her dream man at age eight and peaking in her photography career at age twenty—ever since, she’s had to learn to settle for good enough.

When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon as the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade.

Suddenly Darcy’s considering sticking around to make sure her twin doesn’t ruin the cottage’s inherent magic with his penchant for grey and chrome. She’s definitely not staying because of her new business partner’s tight t-shirts, or that perfect face that’s inspiring her to pick up her camera again. Soon sparks are flying—and it’s not the faulty wiring. It turns out one percent of Tom’s heart might not be enough for Darcy anymore. This time around, she’s switching things up. She’s going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers.

This next hilarious romance includes a special PS section with two Happily Ever Afters—one for this novel featuring Darcy and Tom and the other, an epilogue featuring fan favorites Lucy Hutton and Josh Templeman from The Hating Game!

Thanks so much for reading with us and for hopping in on this Once Upon a River Book Club–we’re so glad you are here and love reading with you!!

 

Book Club: One Day in December

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!! We made it! … looks like we maaaade iiiiiiit …! (Barry Manilow is an American treasure and not recognized enough for his gifts to humanity. Prove me wrong.) Yes, that is 100% how I’m starting this post.
My love/hate relationship with December continued down it’s long windy road again this year. No surprise. Hope yours was only love! Of course, having a sweet book to curl up with (albeit at 2am, the only time I was actually able to sit down in this insane month) made the hate part more bearable.

And what a sweet book it was! Endorsed by both Book of the Month Club and Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club, I plowed through it in a single day (as opposed to a multiple day?). Yes, I should have been wrapping; yes, I should have been baking; yes, I should have been cleaning. But when a book grabs me, a book grabs me. Plus I was tired of wrapping, baking and cleaning.

On the last page, as I closed the book, I held it to my chest and sighed. Great story, I thought!

One Day in December Book Club Discussion Questions

But wait! Now I’m writing a review of this book. And now, all I can do is find fault with it!! What’s wrong with me?! So here is me, nitpicking a little. But remember I finished it in a day.

The premise was adorable if not completely unrealistic. That’s ok, it’s a novel. I thought it worked (and was grateful my husband never saw me on a bus after work, completely exhausted … we would for sure have a different story–or no story at all!!)

And so begins the angst ridden story that kept me reading well into the night, if for nothing else then to make sure these two cuties ended up together.

So first off, who has adorable meet-cute stories? No, I mean I’m really asking. Anyone have a love at first sight situation? I never have but I know many who have talked about love at first sight (in fact, one of my friends just married from a LAFS situation … yes, I’ve officially made it an acronym).

And then to be thrown into a situation where he’s your best friend’s boyfriend?! Yikes! I honestly thought the way Laurie handled it was pretty realistic. Thoughts?

There was a definite tone of sadness throughout the book, but more of a romantic sadness and yearning. Would you agree? There were a few things though that broke my heart … Sarah not attending Laurie’s wedding being the biggest.

What are your thoughts? Do you think Sarah was justified in her reaction or over the top? I just found the whole thing devastating, especially after Laurie had just presented her with such a sentimental gift.

And was anyone else frustrated with Jack never telling Laurie that he remembered her from the bus stop?? I get his initial reaction was to play dumb, but it just seemed like after awhile he would have divulged this important detail. Maybe when he had her pressed against the outside wall of the pub kissing her??

I liked that along with the love story plot, there was a sub-plot of Laurie and Sarah’s friendship. Laurie’s conflict of what is truth and what is a lie was an obvious thread throughout the book and, whether not I (or we) agree, an interesting, thoughtful component of the book.

I would say the only real, hardcore frustration I had with the book was the ending.

**SPOILER ALERT**

They literally got together (FINALLY) on the last TWO pages!!! While I certainly appreciate the wrap-up and definitely wanted them together, I would have loved to have a little more time with them as a couple. It was a rough road for both of them, and I kind of wanted that happy ending to last just a little longer! Maybe some bedroom time? (I think I just gave away that I’m a middle-aged woman)

Honestly, it was a great book and I’m so, so glad I read it! It was a perfect December read!

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So beyond excited for our next pick!!! Who here has read The Thirteenth Tale? If not, get on that STAT! Diane Setterfield has come out with a new book and I can’t wait to dive in!

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

Amazon’s description:

From the instant #1 New York Times bestselling author of the “eerie and fascinating” (USA TODAY) The Thirteenth Tale comes a richly imagined, powerful new novel about the wrenching disappearance of three little girls and the wide-reaching effect it has on their small town.

On a dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the river Thames, an extraordinary event takes place. The regulars are telling stories to while away the dark hours, when the door bursts open on a grievously wounded stranger. In his arms is the lifeless body of a small child. Hours later, the girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life. Is it a miracle? Is it magic? Or can science provide an explanation? These questions have many answers, some of them quite dark indeed.

Those who dwell on the river bank apply all their ingenuity to solving the puzzle of the girl who died and lived again, yet as the days pass the mystery only deepens. The child herself is mute and unable to answer the essential questions: Who is she? Where did she come from? And to whom does she belong? But answers proliferate nonetheless.

Three families are keen to claim her. A wealthy young mother knows the girl is her kidnapped daughter, missing for two years. A farming family reeling from the discovery of their son’s secret liaison, stand ready to welcome their granddaughter. The parson’s housekeeper, humble and isolated, sees in the child the image of her younger sister. But the return of a lost child is not without complications and no matter how heartbreaking the past losses, no matter how precious the child herself, this girl cannot be everyone’s. Each family has mysteries of its own, and many secrets must be revealed before the girl’s identity can be known.

Once Upon a River is a glorious tapestry of a book that combines folklore and science, magic and myth. Suspenseful, romantic, and richly atmospheric, the beginning of this novel will sweep you away on a powerful current of storytelling, transporting you through worlds both real and imagined, to the triumphant conclusion whose depths will continue to give up their treasures long after the last page is turned.

As always, we are giving away a copy of our book club pick to one of our readers! Enter by leaving a comment before 1/11/19 at 5:30am EST. As long as you are 18 or older and live in the continental United States, you are eligible to win!

Thank you so, so much to Atria Books for providing us with copies of Once Upon a River for review and giveaway! All opinions shared are always 100% our own!

Book Club: Bitter Orange

***Thanks so much to Carrie of Normal Level of Crazy for bringing us this Bitter Orange Orange Book Club Discussion!***

Hey, Book Clubbers!! Hope your fall is going well and you’re not buried under kids activities like I am! I’m guessing you might be though… (*groan*)

More and more lately, I’ve been finding myself torn between reading a great book or bingeing Netflix. With very little free time, it definitely feels like an either/or. I just binged Making a Murderer, Season 2 and completely forgot that I have a life to live and I should probably feed my kids. I’m noticing that my attention span is horrible lately (if a chapter is more than 3 pages I am legitimately frustrated). Everything seems to need to be a grab and go, a task I can do super quick, or something I can do when I’m half asleep.

Looking for a good read? Our virtual book club is delighting in our latest book club pick! Join us for our Bitter Orange book club discussion and chat the discussion questions with us! We're so glad you're here! Make sure to chime in for the chance to grab next month's pick for FREE!

Bitter Orange Book Club Discussion

Reading Bitter Orange for our book club this month was a definite challenge! It is a slow burn novel … emphasis on slow. Not always bad, but requires time I don’t feel like I have. Were it not for this book club, I would have definitely given up on this novel at around page 100. Honestly, though, I’m glad I didn’t.

I had heard the story is reminiscent of Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. I had read Rebecca years ago for a different book club. It’s not a book I would have picked up on my own, but I knew it was considered a classic. I was excited to read it and really enjoyed it.

Looking for a good read? Our virtual book club is delighting in our latest book club pick! Join us for our Bitter Orange book club discussion and chat the discussion questions with us! We're so glad you're here! Make sure to chime in for the chance to grab next month's pick for FREE!

Bitter Orange, the story of a couple living in the same old, grand, dilapidated house as another woman, for sure gave off a Rebecca vibe. All of the characters seemed a little off … a little odd … a little strange. The house itself was a character and itself a little off and odd, with a strange history not completely understood or explained. Let’s just say the eyes were delicately and precisely removed from all of the peacocks on the wallpaper in the library … that kind of weird.

If you love themes and symbolism, this book has plenty! Birds, cows, a fox, and obviously oranges, all have symbolic meaning and it was interesting to connect the dots. I saw some reviews where people went back and looked at various passages in the Bible to understand better. I’m not that hardcore, but I’d be curious to know if any of you did that?

The theme of guilt was a huge one with every character in the book struggling. Except maybe Frances’ mother? It was interesting to see how each character handled their guilt and how it ultimately affected their lives.

Looking for a good read? Our virtual book club is delighting in our latest book club pick! Join us for our Bitter Orange book club discussion and chat the discussion questions with us! We're so glad you're here! Make sure to chime in for the chance to grab next month's pick for FREE!

Speaking of her mother – anyone pick up on the odd repeated mention of Frances having to bathe her? I wasn’t sure if I was overanalyzing or not. Every time she brought it up (at least three times) I got the creeps. Was something else going on?

This was a great book for October – dark, gothic, mysterious, strange. While it’s not my favorite book, the second half made up for the slowness of the first half, I feel, and I found myself rushing to the end to find out what happened. And, of course, I always love a good last-minute twist!

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Our next pick is by one of our favorite authors … Liane Moriarty!!! Meredith and I feel so lucky to have received an ARC from Flatiron as they were few and far between!!

Looking for a good read? Our virtual book club is delighting in our latest book club pick! Join us for our Bitter Orange book club discussion and chat the discussion questions with us! We're so glad you're here! Make sure to chime in for the chance to grab next month's pick for FREE!

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Big Little Lies

Could ten days at a health resort really change you forever? In Liane Moriarty’s latest page-turner, nine perfect strangers are about to find out…

Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.

Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romantic novelist, arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She’s immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don’t look to be in need of a health resort at all. But the person that intrigues her most is the strange and charismatic owner/director of Tranquillum House. Could this person really have the answers Frances didn’t even know she was seeking? Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer – or should she run while she still can?

It’s not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question.

Combining all of the hallmarks that have made her writing a go-to for anyone looking for wickedly smart, page-turning fiction that will make you laugh and gasp, Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers once again shows why she is a master of her craft.

This book comes out on Tuesday! (11/6) Hope you can give us your thoughts next month! Super anxious to dive into this one!

As always, we are giving away a copy of Nine Perfect Strangers to one of our readers! Enter by leaving a comment before 11/9/18 at 5:30am EST. As long as you are 18 or older and live in the continental United States, you are eligible to win!

Looking for a good read? Our virtual book club is delighting in our latest book club pick! Join us for our Bitter Orange book club discussion and chat the discussion questions with us! We're so glad you're here! Make sure to chime in for the chance to grab next month's pick for FREE!

Thanks so much to Flatiron for providing us with copies of Nine Perfect Strangers for review and giveaway! All opinions share are always 100% our own!

Book Club: Mr. Dickens and His Carol

Looking for a good read? Our virtual book club is delighting in our latest book club pick! Join us for our Mr. Dickens and His Carol book club discussion and chat the discussion questions with us! We're so glad you're here! Make sure to chime in for the chance to grab next month's pick for free!

Happy January!! … but for real, is it?! Happy, I mean. I read somewhere recently that January is the ‘Monday‘ of the all the months and that seems about right. I sit here writing this during our first January snowstorm which is adorable, but I’m sure will be highly annoying when we hit the 5th or 6th snowstorm of the winter. Oh, and by the way, it’s not a snowstorm anymore, but a BOMB CYLONE, in case you needed some drama in your life. Also, this weekend is supposed to be colder than Mars here. Like Mars the planet. So it’s good to know that, were we to end up on Mars (a la The Martian), we could handle the temps.

Anyhooooo …

Every December, Meredith and I try to find a cute holiday/Christmas book for the book club and, honestly, I’m always surprised at how hard it is! What about you all? Do you know any fantastic Christmas reads? Anything you read this year that put you in the spirit?

We were lucky enough to find our pick this year via my intense scrubbing of the internet with a fine tooth comb (meaning my 3am ‘why am I awake’ research). Actually, I’m finding Instagram to be a book lovers paradise. So many wonderful people posting recommendations and reviews! I could be on there all day (and I am).

So, lo and behold, I found on several sites and a few podcasts, the charming and engaging Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva.

Looking for a good read? Our virtual book club is delighting in our latest book club pick! Join us for our Mr. Dickens and His Carol book club discussion and chat the discussion questions with us! We're so glad you're here! Make sure to chime in for the chance to grab next month's pick for free!

Mr. Dickens and His Carol Book Club Discussion:

I absolutely loved Silva’s gorgeous writing style. It truly transported me into that time period in London (“Fog hovered in the hat brims of cabdrivers, rolled into stairwells to blanket snoring beggars, crept down the Thames bridge by bridge.”) and into Charles Dickens’ fascinating mind. His anxiety and frustration was palpable and I loved how Silva really immersed us in his thoughts, especially during his long late night walks. I particularly enjoyed the scene where he is walking the streets with his children and is asked for his autograph, only to find out that the person, a Jacob Marley (wink, wink), thought he was a different author. Ouch!

I also personally appreciated her description of Dickens’ struggle with the writing process. His time in his office at his desk, frustration teeming from him to the point that he throws a clock out the window. Funny and relatable!

Silva really does make all of this light and fun which, I felt, made it a great holiday read! With the craziness of December, a cute read was just what I needed.

And I adored all the Easter eggs … The Ebenezer Temperance Society, the man who wanted his autograph, Jacob Marley, and Eleanor’s young son, who of course, is named Timothy and has hurt his leg.

My only complaint would be that I did find it a little slow at times. Don’t let this deter you, though, if you haven’t read it yet! It really is a delightful read!

Looking for a good read? Our virtual book club is delighting in our latest book club pick! Join us for our Mr. Dickens and His Carol book club discussion and chat the discussion questions with us! We're so glad you're here! Make sure to chime in for the chance to grab next month's pick for free!

Grab your copy HERE!

What were your thoughts? Good holiday choice for our Mr. Dickens and His Carol book club? And on the topic of choices, what would you all like to see more of in our picks? Certain genres? Diversity? I’m putting together my New Years resolutions for my reading life (I know, hardcore nerd here!) and we’d love to hear your thoughts on what you’d like to read more of. As always, leave a comment!! We truly love hearing from you!

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Next up …

So to make your January a little more interesting, we’ve chosen a real thriller for our next pick! I am so excited to read this!!

Looking for a good read? Our virtual book club is delighting in our latest book club pick! Join us for our Mr. Dickens and His Carol book club discussion and chat the discussion questions with us! We're so glad you're here! Make sure to chime in for the chance to grab next month's pick for free!

Grab your copy HERE!

The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn

Amazon’s description:

For readers of Gillian Flynn and Tana French comes one of the decade’s most anticipated debuts, to be published in thirty-six languages around the world and already in development as a major film from Fox: a twisty, powerful Hitchcockian thriller about an agoraphobic woman who believes she witnessed a crime in a neighboring house.

It isn’t paranoia if it’s really happening . . .

Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.

Twisty and powerful, ingenious and moving, The Woman in the Window is a smart, sophisticated novel of psychological suspense that recalls the best of Hitchcock.

Sounds good, right?!

As always, we are giving away a copy of The Woman in the Window to one of our readers! Enter by leaving a comment before 1/12/18 at 5:30am EST. As long as you are 18 or older and live in the continental United States, you are eligible to win!

Happy Reading!! Thanks for joining us for this Mr. Dickens and His Carol book club discussion. And best of luck with this wicked winter season!!

Book Club: Summer Reading List and Giveaway!

From my favorite Book Club buddy, Meredith!!  Hope you love this list as much as we do!!

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Friends, you know we love our books around these parts! We love sharing our latest picks and favorite finds through our monthly virtual book club, and we LOVE hearing what YOU think as we break it all down. One of the coolest parts of our book club year is partnering with blogging friends at the kick-off of summer and compiling a list of the best summer books and why we think you’ll love them. In addition to sharing our picks, we celebrate the start of summer reading in a big way–with a fantastic giveaway for a $250 Amazon gift card and EIGHT free books! So tune in below for the 20 Best Summer Books List and then make sure to enter the Rafflecopter at the end for your chance to score big. And this year we have a fun bonus–WE ARE GIVING AWAY 100 COPIES OF OUR TOP ALL-TIME PICK too! Wa-hoo!

It's here! The annual list of the 20 best summer books! All come highly recommended and are perfect reads to kick back with this summer! Plus, check out this incredible giveaway--100 copies of ONE book, a $250 Amazon giftcard and a bunch of new beach reads? Enter now!!

20 Best Summer Books:

  1. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Femme Frugality: “Psychology, philosophy and theology have a way of blending together. In this book, psychologist Viktor Frankl relates his experiences as a prisoner in Hitler’s concentration camps, using it as a way to underpin his philosophy that man can get through anything if he assigns meaning to life. Great for anyone going through a difficult time, or anyone who has detached from organized religion but is still seeking the meaning of life.”
  2. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Lindsay of See Mom Click: “If you’ve ever felt like the days are slipping by and you’re just trudging along, The Happiness Project is a must-read. Rubin’s writing really speaks to me, the perfect balance of hard facts and science combined with practical wisdom about proactively making yourself happier and living in the now.”
  3. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. Wendy of ABCs and Garden Peas: “An inspiring, food-filled story of the Kingsolver family’s adventure as they move to a farm in southern Appalachia and begin living their lives in a way that works with the local food chain. This year’s 10th Anniversary Edition also gives readers a glimpse into how their family has carried their inspiring “real food” journey with them throughout the next decade.
  4. A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline. Mikaela Fleisher of Iris and Honey: “Christina Baker Kline brings an artist and his muse to life in this novel that blends fact and fiction. Based on Andrew Wyeth’s painting, Christina’s World, Kline gives readers a truly beautiful glimpse into the life of the woman behind the painting.
  5. Red Water by Kristen Mae. Kristen Mae of Abandoning Pretense: “An Amazon best seller, Red Water will slither under your skin and stick there. Erotic, raw, and disturbing, and with deeply flawed but relatable characters, Mae’s sophomore novel is a dark, unflinching examination of the psychology of self-loathing and the secret, unspeakable lust for depravity that lies dormant within us all.”
  6. My Lame Life: Queen of the Misfits by Jen Mann. Jen Mann of People I Want to Punch in the Throat: “My Lame Life is a great summer read for teens and adults because it’s a funny and endearing book that is entirely relatable!”
  7. Famished by Meghan O’Flynn. Meghan O’Flynn: “Famished is a bestselling psychological thriller that explores the darkest parts of the human psyche. Hailed as “Thrilling, emotional and depraved,” this novel is one you won’t want to put down.”
  8. Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach. Stephanie of When Crazy Meets Exhaustion: “This one is part cookbook with fabulous, EASY recipes and part narrative by Jenny, fellow frazzled Mama juggling personal and professional responsibilities. When she realizes a family meal is the best shot at quality time with her husband and kids, so begins her journey to make it happen. Witty, relate-able, and educational (I learned how to cook things, you guys!) I went through Jenny-withdrawal when I finished the book!”
  9. So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson. Shari of Adore Them pick: “Jon Ronson is an incredible author who combines objective observations with his own take on these experiences. For this book he spent years meeting people who had been subject to public shaming. It is fascinating (& horrible) to see how one tweet could ruin someone’s life.”
  10. The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner. Kim Bongiorno of Let Me Start By Saying: “The story is told in alternating voices of three best friends as they begin their senior year: one knowing she is OUTTA THERE, one being OK with staying exactly where he is because he has his stories to escape into, and one not feeling like he can or is deserving of going anywhere but right where his father’s crimes put him. I felt so many things while I read this, but mostly that I will now read literally anything this author writes from now on.”
  11. The Most Beautiful by Mayte Garcia. Suzanne of Toulouse & Tonic: “I devoured this book about Prince by his ex-wife Mayte Garcia. At first I was afraid it would be exploitive but after reading reviews carefully, I gave it a try. It was so worth it. A great portion of the book is the story of HER life. It’s interesting and insightful. The parts of her life she shared with Prince are handled in a respectful but honest way. I feel like I actually know something about this enigmatic man now. I still miss him but 4 me, it brought a little peace.”
  12. Redemption Road by John Hart. Lydia of Cluttered Genius: “Redemption Road caught me from page one and had me guessing the entire way through. I don’t generally choose murder mysteries or thrillers, but Hart’s novel has me wanting to find the rest of his books to read more!”
  13. Everyone is Beautiful by Katherine Center. Natalie of a Turtle’s Life for Me: “Everyone is Beautiful is a heartwarming and humorous look at one woman’s journey through marriage and motherhood as she tries to find small moments of personal fulfillment. The epiphanies and insights she gains along the way are told in a light-hearted manner, but resonate deeply in a way that will have you thinking about it months later. I read this with my book club and we found we were bringing it up again even a year later, because it struck such a deep chord with us.”
  14. Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda. Dani of Meraki Lane: “I loved this book. It explores so many emotionally sensitive topics – infertility, adoption, motherhood, and interracial marriage – and the author did such an amazing job of jumping back and forth between the United States and India. She described each with such vivid detail, and the story truly encapsulated the meaning of the word ‘family.’ It was an easy, yet complex read, and the ending brought me to tears. I highly recommend this one!”
  15. The Twelves Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti. Jana of Jana Says: “I LOVED this book. Dark and twisted and violent and a thriller complimented with a father/daughter/coming of age story told between alternating POV and bouncing back and forth in time until it all catches up to itself. It’s so well done and well written and I cannot recommend it enough.”
  16. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. Kimberly of Red Shutters: “It’s the story of a family, torn apart by slavery. One branch of the family aids in the slave trade in Ghana, later becoming involved in conflict with the British, and finally finding their way to America. The other side of the family is sold into slavery and generations later experience an America of incarceration, poverty, and drug abuse. Despite its challenging subject matter, Homegoing is captivating, an extraordinary story about hope, connection, and loss. I couldn’t put it down, and when it did end, I was disappointed–I wanted more. That’s the sign of an extraordinary book!”
  17. The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles. Janine of Confessions of a Mommyaholic: “This is the beginning of a supernatural, romance YA series that struck all the right notes for me. Honestly, think it could be in the leagues of Twilight or even Harry Potter as the writing was superb. Plus, the storyline was unique, fast moving and heart tugging, as well. Therefore, recommend as the perfect summer vacation read.”
  18. The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian. Rabia of The Lieber Family: “Lianna’s mom has disappeared. The most plausible explanation is that her frequent sleepwalking took her over a bridge to her death. But on closer inspection, that doesn’t really make a lot of sense. And the good looking detective assigned to the case is trying to help, isn’t he? So what really happened? I can’t wait to find out!”
  19. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman. Anne of Once Upon a Mom: “I haven’t read this one yet but it looks amazing! It’s a story about a quirky kid with an even quirkier grandma who, after her death, leaves a a series of letters apologizing to people. I’m looking forward to finding out about all of Grandmother’s secrets!”
  20. City Mouse by Stacey Lender. Carrie of Normal Level of Crazy and Meredith of The Mom of the Year: “This defines a beach read for me! So relatable to our own lives as it is all about mom trying to find out exactly where she fits in the in the scheme of suburbia–all that goes along with it. Plus, when a book is described as ‘The Stepford Wives meets Bad Moms’, how can you go wrong?”

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It's here! The annual list of the 20 best summer books! All come highly recommended and are perfect reads to kick back with this summer! Plus, check out this incredible giveaway--100 copies of ONE book, a $250 Amazon giftcard and a bunch of new beach reads? Enter now!!

And that’s it, friends! Our list of the 20 Best Summer Books you need to kick back with during all the sun-soaked days ahead of us! As promised, the giveaway for a $250 AMAZON GIFT CARD and copies of some of the titles on this list (Red Water, Famished, My Lame Life: Queen of the Misfits, The Sleepwalker, Man’s Search for Meaning, Homegoing and Redemption Road) is below! No better way to keep your reading stash well stocked and you can use the gift card to grab some other titles that are on your own wish list. Sweet!

As long as you are 18 or older, live in the continental United States, and enter before June 16, 2017 at 5:30am EST, you are eligible to win!

It's here! The annual list of the 20 best summer books! All come highly recommended and are perfect reads to kick back with this summer! Plus, check out this incredible giveaway--100 copies of ONE book, a $250 Amazon giftcard and a bunch of new beach reads? Enter now!!

Also as promised, we are tickled to be giving away 100 COPIES of the favorite title our book club has ever read, This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel! Read the whole post HERE to find out why it is such an exceptional book, and then hop over quickly to enter the giveaway! Thanks to the generosity of Flatiron Books, copies will be sent to the first 100 people who enter the giveaway* (The grand prize winner included! The same giveaway deadline and rules as above apply.) We could go on and on about This Is How It Always Is, but to put it simply: it is important, life-changing, and beautiful. This isn’t just a book you want to read, it’s a book you need to read.

*Note: remember each person can gain multiple entries, so don’t assume that all 100 copies have been claimed when the entries total goes over 100! I will be updating on social media how many copies are left if you want to check in on this as the giveaway progresses!

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Thanks for joining us in this kick-off to summer reading celebration with this list of the 20 best summer books! Happy summer and happy reading, friends!

It's here! The annual list of the 20 best summer books! All come highly recommended and are perfect reads to kick back with this summer! Plus, check out this incredible giveaway--100 copies of ONE book, a $250 Amazon giftcard and a bunch of new beach reads? Enter now!!

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***Thank you to Flatiron Books, Jen Mann, Kristen Mae, Meghan O’Flynn, Macmillan Publishers, Anchor Books, Beacon Press and Vintage Books for providing copies of the books for the giveaway. All opinions are entirely our own.***

Book photo in second graphic: depositphotos.com, Image ID:9056658, Copyright:belchonock

Last image credit: depositphotos.com, Image ID:13362963, Copyright:coolfonk

 

This Is How It Always Is – Book Club

Meredith so generously offered to let me write this review since I have gushed like a teenager consumed with her first crush raved about this book incessantly!  This book just “got me” (to keep the embarrassing comparison going) and even though I’ve not dealt with the particular issue this family dealt with, I sense that I probably would have felt and done a lot of the same things.

Oh, did I not mention the name of this book??  It is This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel and while I feel like no one can ever remember this title (I may have told a few hundred people about it), it is definitely far better than her original title, And.  Can you imagine googling that??  I’ll get back to the title in a minute, but in case you haven’t read this book (GET ON IT!), it is about a family that tries to protect one of it’s own and ends up keeping a very large, very life altering secret.

What struck me most about this book were the parents, Rosie and Penn.  I could not count the amount of times I nodded “YES!” to some of the parenting dilemmas they faced.  I particularly loved when Rosie or Penn would think about where a particular problem or issue with one of their kids would fall on the “list”.  For example, my son hasn’t been wearing deodorant for a week, but, honestly, that’s 10th on the list this morning of stuff I’m worried about or dealing with in relation to my kids.  So while I may think about it, I might not say anything.  Or I may say something in passing, but not follow up.  Does this make sense?  Because this was so on target with me, that I felt a true relief reading it.

And then there was Penn’s gorgeous attempt at explaining all the fun that is parenting (I may frame this and hang it in my bathroom for reference and reassurance).  It is also where the title of the book comes from.

‘When was the last time something was bothering one of the kids or he was acting strange or he wasn’t sleeping or doing well in math or sharing nicely during free-choice time, and we knew why?’

‘Knew why?’ Rosie said.

‘Knew why.  Absolutely knew what was wrong and what should be done to fix it and how to make that happen.’

‘As a parent?’

‘As a parent.’

‘Never?’

‘Never,’ Penn agreed.  ‘ Not ever. Not once.  You never know. You only guess.  This is how it always is.  You have to make these huge decisions on behalf of your kid, this tiny human whose fate and future is entirely in your hands, who trusts you to know what’s good and right and then to be able to make that happen.  You never have enough information.  You don’t get to see the future.  And if you screw up, if with your incomplete, contradictory information you make the wrong call, well, nothing less than your child’s entire future and happiness is at stake.  It’s impossible.  It’s heartbreaking.  It’s maddening.  But there’s no alternative.’

PREACH!!!  This is why I’m in therapy, people!

I found the growth of both the parents and Poppy to be realistic and inspiring.  Near the end, Rosie, who, to me, seemed to have the hardest time, presented this sweet, little nugget to her daughter.  And frankly, I think we all can benefit from it!  Poppy (Claude) starts …

‘There are only two choices, and they aren’t even choices, at least not ones you get to choose.  If you only tell some of the truth, that’s a lie.  If only one tiny stupid part of you is a boy, you can never be a girl.’

‘All of that seems true.  It does.’ His mother reached across the water and took his hands. ‘But it’s not.  I think the middle way is right.’

‘Why?’

‘Because it’s invisible.’

‘Like in a fairy tale?’

‘No,’ his mother said to the fish, then looked up at him.  ‘Actually, yes, sort of like a fairy tale.  There’s a fork in the road.  It seems like there are only two choices.  It seems like the task is to figure out which way to go, left or right, forward or back, deeper or safer, but in fact any of those choices is easy compared to the real trick.  The real trick is you have to forge your way straight ahead through the trees where there is no path.'”

Wow.

I could talk all day about this book!  I would love to know your thoughts and feelings!

Did you feel it was realistic?

What about the therapist, Mr. Tongo?!  (Meredith and I adored him!)

Do you think moving across the country was the right decision?

What about Thailand? (I was afraid I was going to hate it, but then actually loved it.)

The ending was tied up fairly neat and tidy- did you like that?  Or would you have preferred something different?

Now is the time I wish we were all able to sit in a big room and discuss!!  But, alas!, at least we have the internet.

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So even though I feel I will never read a book as fantastic as This Is How It Always Is again (#drama), we are running a book club here!  I thought it would be best to completely switch it up.  I went on the hunt for a page-turning thriller.  What better way to throw ourselves into summer?  And maybe if I’m consumed with a book, I’ll forget that I have to wear a bathing suit soon.

Our next pick is …

I Let You Go by Claire Mackintosh

Amazon’s description:

On a rainy afternoon, a mother’s life is shattered as her son slips from her grip and runs into the street . . .

I Let You Go follows Jenna Gray as she moves to a ramshackle cottage on the remote Welsh coast, trying to escape the memory of the car accident that plays again and again in her mind and desperate to heal from the loss of her child and the rest of her painful past.

At the same time, the novel tracks the pair of Bristol police investigators trying to get to the bottom of this hit-and-run. As they chase down one hopeless lead after another, they find themselves as drawn to each other as they are to the frustrating, twist-filled case before them.

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 5/12/17 at 5:30am EST. As long as you are 18 or older and live in the continental United States, you are eligible to win!

*Thank you to Penguin Random House for providing copies!!*

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

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