Category Archives: Book Review
Most of us have experienced a feeling of queasiness before walking in to a large meeting or to speak in front of a group. Or we have had that “gut feeling” when we know something is not right.
What is that?
How does our mind connect to our gut ? Why is the gut sometimes called “the second brain?
I love this kind of stuff. I find it fascinating and I am honestly surprised that I have not thought about this before, why does my gut hurt when I have to do something that makes me nervous?
I can not even express how much I enjoyed this. I learned so much about serotonin (where your gut stores the most) and had no idea that your gut actually has control of your over all well-being.
I enjoyed reading about the connections between what we eat and how our diet affects everything for brain functionality to over all gut feelings. Literally. I know about diet and healthy habits obviously, but the connection of the mind and gut to the diet was something I liked reading more about.
Over all a thoroughly enjoyable book. It has been a busy season here for me and I honestly have not had a lot of time to sit down and read. The book did not read over my head. It is well written and easy to understand. I was glad to find out this book was interesting, informative and held my attention.
- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Harper Wave (July 5, 2016)
- Language: English
Thank you to TLC Book Tours for connecting my mind to my gut.
Eighteen year old Gia Winters really could be defined as having it all. She lives in a beautiful Hollywood home, has a movie star father and an ex-playboy bunny for a mother. Her closet is stocked with high-end clothing and shoes and she will be graduating soon from her prestige High School.
Yet when Gia’s father receives a disturbing envelope in the mail everything changes. Suddenly Gia and her brother Mike have body guards to be by their side 24/7. And while Jake, Gia’s bodyguard is in his early 20’s and is definitely easy on the eyes, he puts a large cramp in Gia’s style. On top of it all, they have to keep the whole body-guard thing a secret, so Jake is introduced at school as a family friend who has come to stay with them; something that does not sit well at all with Gia’s boyfriend Branden.
Then Gia starts receiving the mysterious texts and eventually phone calls…. someones says they are watching her and they do seem to know a lot about who she is with and where she will be. When Gia is asked to be a host at the Golden Globes she is thrilled; but is she making herself an easy target for the creepy stalker who has said in not so many words that he will be at the Globes event and that he will be getting his revenge.
This is one of those books that I don’t think I would normally pick up. It’s a little YA meets Valley girl…. it’s lite and fun and about rich kids and their families….. but what sold me on this one is the witty dialogue that runs throughout this entire book. Saba Kapur writes in a way that makes me smile and she had me from the synopsis. And just the starting paragraph of this book let me know that I was in for something a little different, but I was pretty sure I was going to like it:
There comes a point in everyone’s life where you need to step back and consider the hand you have been dealt. I’m not going to lie to you; some people have it way easier. I am not going to sit back and tell you the world is fair, because truthfully, you’s laugh your head off and throw a drink in my face. I guess it probably won’t hep to mention that I’m someone who has it fairly good in the luck department. At least I suppose that is what you would call someone who’s been born and raised in a world of glitz and glamour. Lucky. So before you go and complain about how I’ve got it all, I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
This book seriously was a joy to read. Protagonist Gia is witty and funny. The dialogue is amazing in this book and I have to hand it to author Saba Kapur who has written this book at the age of twenty and is releasing this as her first novel. I enjoyed getting to know Gia very much. The playful banter between her and Jack is a lot of fun to read…. add Milo to the mix and well…. yeah. Even better. At moments I felt a few vibes from the movies Clueless and Legally Blonde…. but also a sense of a younger Janet Evanovich series…. (I think it is the whole Jake, Milo scenario…. it felt like rooting for Morelli or Ranger)
Admittedly there are several moments that I had to suspend belief while reading this book. There were times I though “that could not happen”, but all in all I really enjoyed reading this fun lite book and reality be dammed; I enjoyed it. I read this book in two days curious about what was going to happen. I had a hard time putting it down.
I recommend giving this book a try. I for one will be curious as to what this young author comes up with next. I would not mind seeing some of these characters revisited.
A little Author Q and A
- What inspired you to write Lucky Me? Where were you when the idea came to you? When did you decide to write it?
The idea for Lucky Me actually came to me in the shower! I was in tenth grade, and had been spending a lot of time in the library. High school drama was at its peak, and I found my solace among books. I think that’s where most of my urge to write came from. This idea just popped into my head and I typed up a rough first chapter, and decided to continue from there. I never wrote it with the intention of having it published; it was initially just a hobby. The idea for the book developed from various places. I had noticed that, particularly among my generation, the focus on young celebrities was growing in Hollywood, which really intrigued me. I wanted to write something that was funny but also had an element of mystery, as those are my favorite kinds of books to read.
2. How did your love for fashion influence the characters and story?
Fashion is something that I’ve always been interested in, and because of the setting of the novel, it was easy to incorporate it throughout the book. There is no singular definition of fashion, and I love that it’s so subjective and fluid, because it allows you so much opportunity for fun and creativity. I tried to integrate this sentiment into Gia’s personality, but of course tailored (no pun intended) to suit her lifestyle. The importance of looking good is extremely influential among my generation, especially with young celebrities as role models. I felt that Gia would be incomplete or inauthentic without including her love for fashion
3. Did you base Gia’s character off of anyone in particular?
Gia is a product of many influences. I tried to develop her as a combination of some of real-life celebrities and my favorite female characters, taking a few personality traits from each one. Gia definitely has elements of Cher Horowtiz (from one of my favorite movies, Clueless) with her love for fashion, and Blair Waldorf (from the books and TV show, Gossip Girl) who I spent most of high school pretending to be! In reality, Gia is really a heightened depiction of my own personality. We are different in so many ways (namely, I don’t make as many poor life choices and do not own a single pair of Louboutins). But we are very similar through our sarcastic and witty personalities. Gia also shares my love for Audrey Hepburn, who I have idolized ever since watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s, in seventh grade.
4. What authors do you look up to and why?
This may sound a little clichéd, but I try to learn something from every book I read. If there’s a particular writing style I like, I try to incorporate it into my own writing. I have such respect for so many authors, particularly those who write in my preferred genre, such as Meg Cabot, Janet Evanovich and Sophie Kinsella. They have completely mastered the art of mystery, humor and romance.
5. What are your favorite books? In what ways have they influenced your writing?
It’s a little ironic that I couldn’t even get through a novel without giving up out of boredom, until about sixth grade. I truly owe J.K. Rowling a lot, as Harry Potter was probably the first series of books that I decided were just too good to give up on. Janet Evanovich, Meg Cabot and Sophie Kinsella are the authors who have had most influence over shaping my writing style. Every time I read one of their novels, it really motivates me to make my writing as endearing as theirs. That being said, my favorite book of all time is The Godfather, by Mario Puzo. It’s my father’s favorite book, so it’s extra special to me that we can share our appreciation for the story.
- Paperback: 446 pages
- Publisher: Amberjack Publishing (April 5, 2016)
Peter the star basketball player for his High School works hard to keep his grades up and keep his high maintenance girlfriend happy. He is not sure if it is love, but she is the cutest girl in the school and any guy would love to be in his shoes…. but is he doing what he wants, or what everyone expects of him?
Eliza just wants to graduate and escape. Her mom left a long time ago, her father is slowly dying and she is tired of it all. Escape is the answer. Escape this town, these people, and her reputation.
Anita is the perfectly put together straight-laced student. She doesn’t party and she is on the fast track to Princeton, She has dreams but her parents have done what they can to squash them.
Andy lives to skateboard, drink, and smoke it up. He doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about planning for the future by knowing what he wants to do with his life. He has years to decide.
Or does he?
A blue star seems to have ripped its way into the atmosphere. Experts say it is an asteroid on a collision course with the earth that will have the effect of a million nuclear bombs. As the time ticks down to the asteroids arrival, for these seniors as well as the rest of the world, suddenly everything that was once important… grades, futures, statistics, college…. none of it really means anything at all. So what, when it comes down to it is really important?
This book had me from the cover.
I was in a book store looking for a different title when this one called to me. I loved that mysterious cover. What are they looking at? And I loved the title. The synopsis, a “Breakfast Club” type grouping of misfits int here own way, and an end of the world scenario. SOLD.
There was much to love about We All Looked Up. I loved that Peter is a jock with a heart and a conscience, I loved Eliza’s black and white look at the world…. nothing gray. Anita with her hidden passion, Andy who goes along with the wrong crowd even when he knows he should choose better for himself. Underneath it all… these kids have heart.
As much as I want to gush over this book…. I admit I might have been a bit started for a good sort of YA potential dystopian read. AND there was much I did love about it. Unfortunately there was so much put into this book so much happening in such a short time frame that I have to admit I don’t think it was fully flushed out. This could easily have been broke down into a three book series and dealt with the many loose ends to keep the reader engaged all throughout the countdown.
I did pass this book on to a friend and I am curious as to what she will think. I still love the book…(there are great literary references!)I just feel there could have been more to it. In the end I had questions about many things unanswered in the book. The book was still a win for me, I am just a little disappointed that it had all the makings of a home run read and I feel left between second and third base.
- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (March 24, 2015)
Jack Harris has avoided even thinking about dating ever since his wife Molly was shot and killed by a teenage boy three years ago. Yet, one early morning while jogging he comes across a bare foot beautiful woman wearing a party dress sitting in the grass drinking champagne right out of the bottle and reading a book. She holds the bottle up in a cheers motion, as he jogs by. Unable to get the image out of his head, Jack shares this experience with his best friend who posts about it on-line hoping someone would be able to know who this woman is and connect her to Jack. Days later, the mysterious woman responds to the on-line post, and a meet up with Jack is planned.
Olivia Randall is a Defense Lawyer. When she hears that her former fiance Jack Harris has been arrested for triple murder she knows there is no way that Jack could be guilty of such a crime. Clearly Jack has been set up. But by who? And why?
Olivia chooses to represent Jack to make up for the way things had ended between them so many years ago. Yet as the evidence comes out, there is more and more that looks like Jack may have committed this crime. Is Olivia able to defend Jack if she is starting to have her doubts? And if he did do it, did she ever really know him at all?
The EX was full of surprises for me. I liked the synopsis and the set up of the mystery woman in a party dress in the early morning hours. The book held my interest as it reveals the history between him and Olivia and what had happened three years before when his wife was killed. For myself, I honestly did not have a clue how it was going to end or who was the murderer. The story line was fast paced and for me, time well spent.
I recommend The EX. It was a good book to sink into. An excellent legal thriller.
- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Harper (January 26, 2016)
It is Thanksgiving weekend in New York and three 30 somethings are struggling with their past, their present, and their futures.
Clio March, avid bird watcher who has been mentioned in New York Magazine feels as though she may have found the one in Hotel Owner, Henry Kildare. Yet when things move in a direction Clio had not anticipated past trauma rushes forward and in a panicked moment she bolts. What does that mean?
Smith Anderson and Clio have been best friends since Freshman year at Yale. Smith is beautiful both inside and out and enjoys helping others. However with a recent break up that has left her reeling, her younger sisters upcoming wedding, and an irrational fear that Clio may have found the one in Henry- where does that leave Smith?
Tate Pennington is a blast from the Yale past. Dealing with a painful divorce, he relocates to New York to gather some distance and perspective. He recently has sold an app to Twitter for millions but as Tate is finding out, money does not provide happiness.
This Thanksgiving weekend the three learn what is means to really let go of the past, be present, and learn to be ok with a future that is never certain.
Can you fall in love with writing?
Of course you can. I just did. Reading The Ramblers was like opening a book that brought a rush of fresh air into my lungs. It is visually appealing from the cover, to the chapters, to the writing itself. I opened the book up to find a page with one of our protagonists names, a date, and quotes. I instantly fell in love with this visually and knew I was in for a treat.
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
I loved this story and I enjoyed how the book is broken into sections where each protagonist takes the lead. While you do get to know each of the three protagonists, it is Clio who we spend the most time with. I found this book to be a joy to read and once into it, hard to put down. The entire book takes place over Thanksgiving weekend and I found something about that to be sort of cool – everything that is happening is not drawn out but you have that feeling of NOW.
Thoroughly enjoyable, I would recommend this book to those who love a little something out of the norm. Author Aidan Donnelley Rowley brings forth a unique ride that I would gladly buy a ticket to ride once again.
Thank you to TLC Book Tours for an enjoyable weekend in New York with Clio, Smith, and Tate.
Missoula Montana is your typical college town. There are plenty of College antics to go around: studying, making friends, partying, and of course the football games. From 2008 – 2012 hundreds of students reported sexual assault. Many of the circumstances involved alcohol, or heavy flirting gone too far. The police in most of these cases gave little attention to the alleged victim believing it was a party and the girl was just feeling regrets after consenting to sex. Missoula is by no means the exception, in most states alleged rape victims are treated as thought they brought on the assault themselves. Often, due to this sad statistic, many assaults, more than we will ever know, go unreported.
In a case study, Krakauer shares what happened with 5 such cases during a four-year period in Missoula Montana. Their stories of shame, self-doubt, ridicule, nightmares, and in some – the court case that rehashes it all again. Some will win their case, some will not… but all five of the victims will carry with them forever what happened, one night, in Missoula.
Yes. I am a diverse reader. Over the years I have found myself drawn to non fiction. Certain subjects call my attention and when I found this book on Audible.com I downloaded it immediately. Rape, like bullying, is a huge problem in our world that leaves devastating life long marks on its victims.
I have read/listened to Jon Krakauer books before (Into Thin Air, Into The Wild, Under The Banner Of Heaven) and find his research to be thorough. Krakauer gets to the heart of the matter, never dragging things out unnecessarily and this book was no exception.
MISSOULA is not an easy listen. Each assault is very detailed in how it happened, the circumstances, and what happened in the days, weeks, and years to follow. These girls will question themselves, wondering it they deserved what they got, if they should have been more forceful in saying no, if they should have fought harder to get away… and then you have those that did not fight at all. Instead, they gave in, afraid of what their friend or boyfriend may do if they try to stop them….
No means NO.
Narrators of this book are Mozhan Mamo and Scott Brick. While Mozhan Mamo is new to me and a narrator I look forward to hearing more from, Scott Brick is a narrator I have encountered many times and find perfect for non fiction listens. Together, the two were a perfect blend of narration for this book. Very well done.
Although there were parts of the book that were hard to listen to; often you hear her side of what happened, his side, and what the courts say so you are deep in the topic several times over having to hear about how it was done and what was said – it is a book I would recommend every woman (especially college age) to either read or listen to. While sometimes the evidence was not strong enough to call rape, I was surprised in some parts how rape goes back to the basic – no means no. Even if the girl had thought it was what she wanted and at any point decided she does not – no means no.
Incredible listen. And an important one.
Missoula is nominated by the APA for the 2016 Audie Awards in the non fiction category.
- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 11 hours and 58 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Random House Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: April 21, 2015
- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition (April 21, 2015)
The following note is a bit graphic.
Personal note: Right out of high school a group of us who all worked together liked to get together after work sometimes at someones house and have a few beers. On a particular night one of my friends who lived in the house we were partying at went up to bed pretty intoxicated late into the night. The next morning she called me and told me this,
“I was passed out on my bed when I was awakened by someone on top of me. I sort of woke up and seen it was _____________, who we worked with. I was still so out of it and I mumbled for him to get off of me, but he didn’t listen. He forced himself inside of me and I think I passed out again. When I woke up in the morning I could vaguely remember him being there and I knew he had raped me.”
I drove to her house and picked her up and brought her to the hospital. They took some samples, her clothes, even asked her to bring in the blanket off of her bed. A cop came in and took a statement while I was with her and he basically told her if drinking was a problem perhaps she should get help. By the time we left the hospital she felt sure she was some how to blame and honestly I thought maybe since she had drank so much that she had encouraged him. She decided to drop any investigation, it was too embarrassing and what if it was her fault? She never told anyone, not any other friends and for sure not her parents. We all continued to work together as though nothing had happened. Eventually she quit the job.
I share this now because after listening to this book I know that what happened to her was rape. It did not matter that she has been drinking or even if she had been flirting. I think this is the important message here. How many women live with something like this for their entire life believing that it is somehow their fault for how they dressed, how they acted, how much they drank.
No means no and without verbal consent (IE. if a person is intoxicated, sleeping, not in an awake state of mind) it is best to not do anything. Men and women alike.
Roy is not too hard on the eyes for a man in his 80’s. He can carry on a friendly conversation and he knows how to put someone at ease. When he meets Betty through an online dating service, that is exactly what Betty see’s in Roy. A nice polite older man that she would not mind spending time with. In fact, much to Betty’s family surprise, Roy is soon living with her.
There is of course more to Roy than meets the eye. Roy is a long time con artist. He has spent a lifetime of finding ways to separate people from their money and if he does say so himself, he is good at it. Betty is financially set and thankfully Roy thinks, she is not a bad looking woman for her age which is a little bonus while he works his way into her finances.
Betty is just happy to have someone to spend her golden years with. She is willing to overlook the little things, like the mess that Roy makes just about every time he uses the bathroom, or how he disappears to take long walks when ever she is cleaning up around the house, and even how her grandson has a feeling that something about Roy isn’t quite on the up and up…
Words that come to mind: Disconcerting, page turner, twisted.
Entering in to the pages of The Good Liar I felt I had an idea of what it was about and where it would go.
I was wrong.
While I encountered a story of deception and lies, I truly had no idea as to what length this would go in. Roy is one of those people that ooze dishonesty. He truly is a perfect unlikable character. He has no qualms in who he hurts to achieve his goals and is one of those people who for the most part remain emotionless. I am pretty sure there were many parts of this book I real with a scowl on my face. Boo! Bad guy! Boo!
there is more to this story.
I found the book to be engaging. I turned the pages quickly wondering where the story would go. As the story unfolds many of the chapters take you back in time to Roy in previous years, in previous scams…. some of these chapters in the way they were written I found to be a bit choppy. The time line was not always disclosed and especially in the earlier chapters as I was getting a feel for the read, I found it would take me a page or two into a chapter t get where this was taking place and when. As I tend to like a faster paced read (mostly), there were parts of this book that felt as though it was more wordy than it needed to be. That said, I still found The Good Liar to be worth my time. It is the type of story that you hear about happening in real life; however I have never read any fiction based on this story line.
That, I found refreshing.
- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Harper (February 2, 2016)
Thank you to TLC Book Tours for allowing me to
spend time in a bit of a twisty turny world of Roy and Betty.
Thea Slavin from Bulgaria is about to enter Princeton. Although she has an incredible talent for music, she has an alternative motive for attending. Years earlier her sister Elza had also attended Princeton and was mysteriously killed and her body disappeared. While Thea’s parents fear for her safety they trust their daughter to make good decisions.
While Thea finds herself alone in an atmosphere she is unfamiliar with she meets two brothers, Rhyas and Jake, who both find they are drawn to her. (Picture the way Edward was drawn to Bella in Twilight). While Thea finds she too has an attraction to the brothers, one of them holds the answers to what happened all of those years ago and Thea is walking a very dangerous path.
WILDALONE had many of the elements that I enjoy in a good paranormal read. Thea was a likable protagonist and the Bulgarian background was a nice change. While this is a paranormal title, it took quite a while to get there. In fact for the majority of the book you really don’t know what the paranormal part is. I kept waiting to find out what it was, knowing what it must have to do with… but not sure. There was also a couple of small parts in the book that did not flow right…a character would be with someone and then suddenly wasn’t. I actually went back pages to see if I had missed something.
That said, I did enjoy WILDALONE. There is much to like about the book and the things I mentioned above were not deal breakers. As this is a first in a trilogy, I do believe I would continue to see where this story goes.
- Series: Wildalone Sagas (Book 1)
- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (October 13, 2015)
- Language: English
11-year-old Mira Able leads a hard life in Brooklyn. Her father is absent, her mother may as well be. She takes her frustrations out in ballet class where this fueled anger works in her favor. When her skills get the attention and praise from an older gentleman Maurice, who frequents the ballet, Mira blossoms under the attention and his desire to improve her future as a ballerina. Soon Mira is doing everything Maurice asks of her despite the warnings she receives.
Years later, Mira now goes by the name of Kate, a young woman still battling the demons of her past. Kate is up for review in her teaching job for sleeping with a student. Kate starts to question decisions she has made in her life and feels the answers lie in her past, in that early world of ballet.
Does anyone remember the short-lived tv show Bunheads? A fun show about a group of ballet students? Yeah?
Well this is nothing like that.
Girl Through Glass has a delicious darkness to it. It is well written, beautifully actually at times, but this is not a lighthearted story. Told in alternating chapters, as the reader we are slowly let into the what happened then…. that lead to the happenings now. The journey unravels as the two stories work their towards one another.
As I often do when books are told in alternating perspectives… I find myself leaning to one story line over the other. In this case it was young Mira’s story that drew me in the most wanting me to know what happens to this young girl and how our life decisions play out into our futures.
I found this book to be unique in its telling, definitely a book that will give you plenty to think about.
- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Harper (January 26, 2016)
- Language: English
I found my way into this world of ballet thanks to TLC Book Tours
All Lucy Wakefield has ever wanted was to have a child to call her own. When her marriage dissolves she sees this dream slipping farther and farther away. When shopping at a store Lucy finds a baby girl lest in a cart while her mother is a short distance away. Without even realizing what she is doing Lucy takes the baby and leaves the store.
Lucy wants to believe she will give the child back, but as her love for this child grows, she justifies her actions with the fact that the girl was left unattended. She ignores the TV news with the pretty and devastated young mother pleading for her babies return and fabricated a story to her boss about having to leave the state to work through an adoption of a baby girl that she names Mia.
And so it goes. Now over two decades later, the truth begins to come out. As Lucy scrambles as to what to tell her daughter about what happened, she knows that time is running out.
Helen Klein Ross writes about every parents nightmare. When I read this synopsis I wanted to know more. What Was Mine is a devastating story that feels as thought it could have been ripped form the headlines. It is one of those stories where you get to hear both sides with watching Mia grow up with Lucy and Lcy’s love for her, and at the same time watching Mia’s real mother trying to hold it together all the while believing that her daughter is alive and out there somewhere.
I enjoyed this fast pace read on audio. There is a winning cast of narrators:
The book is not without it’s bumps in the road. There are things that if you really think about them become a little hard to believe. You need to read this one as one of those books that you don’t think too hard about. Just enjoy the wild and scary ride. And yes I think it is worth it.
- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 8 hours and 44 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: January 5, 2016
- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Gallery Books (January 5, 2016)