Category Archives: Books

The Perfect Mother – Aimee Molly

The Perfect Mother

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

  • Source: Library copy

A group of new mothers plan a fun night out, only to end the night with their worst nightmare come to life. On a 4th of July meant to be about freedom from motherhood, freedom to have fun, Winnie receives a call that her newborn daughter has been abducted.

This book is really more of a look at new motherhood than it is about the missing baby. Although the mystery and conspiracy around the missing baby does drive the story, the characters reveal so much more about the stereotypes and pressures put upon new parents in virtually every aspect of their lives from the personal at home to the not-so-personal in the workplace. I switched back and forth between the book and the audiobook. Both were highly enjoyable and gripping reads. The ending was fairly formulaic and the big reveal felt so cluttered with action and rushed. Otherwise, I liked this book a lot.

Advertisements

The Stylist – Rosie Nixon (Review)

The Stylist (Amber Green #1)

The Stylist by Rosie Nixon

ARC – via William Morrow

Pub Date: 9/4/2018

Despite working at a fashion boutique in London, high-end fashion is not exactly Amber Green’s passion. During a break filming a pilot show following around famed stylist to the stars Mona Armstrong, Amber finds herself mistaken for a stylist’s assistant. Within 24-hours, Amber is whisked away to Los Angeles to act as Mona’s assistant, finding the perfect looks for the red carpet runways during Awards season. Once in LA, Amber finds out that all that glitters is not gold, and the life of a stylist isn’t as well put-together and polished as she had imagined.

This books i catching a lot of comparisons to The Devil Wears Prada. What do they have in common? A girl with the job a million girls would kill for, working in fashion, bumping elbows with celebrities, working for a boss with impossible demands and unpredictable mood swings. Amber is the girl who doesn’t fit into the fashion world, yet somehow makes all the right decisions (even by accident).

Although there are a number of faults with the characters and major plot-holes throughout the book, I still found it to be a fairly enjoyable read. The romantic storylines were so baseless and hardly added anything to the plot. The book could have used more depth and exploration of specific characters. So many of the characters were caricatures and stereotypes we’ve seen before. I would have liked it more if Nixon explored Amber’s relationship with her roommate and that whole subplot of her room’s alcoholism, or even Mona’s deteriorating reputation within the celebrity circle.

If anything came from this book, its my renewed interest in watching the pre-show interviews during awards season next January!

 

Paris in July 2018

Ah, back to the one time of the year where I post regularly on my blog again.

Although I had taken a mandatory hiatus from all things Paris, I’ll go back to my obsession this month with my favorite annual reading challenge. Although I won’t be making any physical trips to France, I’ll be an armchair traveler through books, movies, music and more adventures at home.

Paris in July is an annual Paris reading/armchair traveling gathering hosted every year by Tamara at Thyme for Tea. You can sign-up through her post to join the fun!

Currently Reading: 

Paris by the Book &  Murder in the Marais (Aimee Leduc Investigations, #1)
Future Reading:
See my To-Read France Booklist on Goodreads for the entire list. There’s more than 100 books on my list so far. I’ll probably have more added to that list by the end of the month.
Planned Activities: 
french mystery night
My local independent bookstore is hosting a French Murder Mystery Author’s night next week with Cara Black, Susan C. Shea and Wendy Hornsby. I’ve only recently started Cara Black’s Aimee Ludec series, but I’m excited to learn more about all of the author’s and their books.
Other activities are to-be-determined. But they will include baking, eating and drinking French foods and drinks I’m sure.
What are you going to do this July?

March Books In Review

I’ve been horrible posting reviews this month. I started a lot of highly-hyped titles. I also abandoned a lot of those same highly-hyped titles. Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly of what I finished this month.

Mrs.

Mrs. by Caitlin Macy

  • Source: Library – Overdrive Audiobook
  • Genre: Fiction, New York, High Society, Domestic Fiction

This novel was one big disappointment. The premise seemed intriguing and I was in a “how do the 1% live” type of mood when I came across this title. This book just didn’t live up to its promise. There were far too many characters (important and not) to keep track of. There wasn’t much of a plot to follow. Lots of empty drama that wasn’t really dramatic. It was a lackluster tale that took a long, long time to set-up. The big reveal was also disappointing and didn’t add or change much to the plot. The narrator wasn’t very captivating either. Maybe it would have had more flow as text rather than audio.

Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I've Loved

Everything Happens for a Reason by Kate Bowler

  • Source: Library – Overdrive Audiobook
  • Genre: Memoir, cancer, family

After finishing Mrs., this memoir was a breath of fresh air. Bowler’s tale of studies in the prosperity gospel, her family life and her journey through her cancer diagnosis and treatment was an inspiration to read. Her views are fresh, humorous, motivational and also very touching. She has a wonderful way with words and her thoughts are so clear and concise and beautifully written. After suffering all summer with horrific stomach aches, Kate Bowlers is diagnosed with stage IV cancer. Through her journey to understand what is happening to her, she delves deep into some emotional aspects of her life, life around her and around the God that watches over the world. Her take on God in this book is what I find most interesting. She’s more analytical of other’s perceptions of God and the reasons why she has cancer than of her own interpretation. One line stayed with me the most, mostly because I am also a mother and wonder the same thing myself:

“All the time, I’m staring at my son and thinking, am I in there? Have I poured enough of myself into you?”

The Art of Screen Time: How Your Family Can Balance Digital Media and Real Life

The Art of Screen Time by Anya Kamentz

  • Source: Library – Print copy
  • Genre: Parenting, Digital Media, Technology

Kamentz’s take on the role of screen and technology in our lives is one that is refreshing, non-judgemental and actually provides realistic concepts and talking points that parents can apply to their lives. Or at the very least, start discussing to see if any changes need to be made. At the end of the day, her most salient points are this: If you’re going to expose your child to technology, be there with them. Explore the game, the TV show, the YouTube video with them. Talk to them about what they are seeing, feeling and thinking on the screens. Limit screen time according to your family needs and structure. Although the 1 hour marker hails supreme, Kamentz offers suggestions on how to either monitor, reduce to moderate screen time based on various parenting styles. She digs through a lot of research to back-up her opinions, supplementing occasionally with her own anecdotal stories from home.

Let Them Be Eaten By Bears: A Fearless Guide to Taking Our Kids Into the Great Outdoors

Let Them by Eaten By Bears by Peter Hoffmeister

  • Source: Library
  • Genre: Nature, Outdoors, Parenting, Adventure

This was neither a well written, nor a well-edited book. The audience the author was talking to was muddled between parent, camp counselor and outdoor woodsman. Although the gist of it was OK, go outside, its good for your kids and builds resiliency, the author’s way of getting this point across was completely lost.

Did Not Finish

AgeProof: Living Longer Without Running Out of Money or Breaking a Hip               The Immortalists

Age-Proof: Living Longer Without Running Out of Money or Breaking a Hip by Jean Chatzky and Michael Roizen, MD.

This entire book is about how your wealth and health overlap and how to improve your circumstances in both arenas. The entire book was long, repetitious and although it was inspirational and motivational, very little information in it was actual useful.

The Immoralists by Close Benjamin

Not my cup of tea. The audiobook narration was horrid. So grating on my ears. Siiiiimoooon.

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

Seven Days of Us

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

  • Source: Library – Overdrive Audio book
  • Genre: Family, Quarantine, Secrets, Siblings

Emma is elated this Christmas. Her eldest daughter Olivia is returned from Liberia and she will have her entire family together for the Christmas and New Year’s Holiday. Only, the reality of the gathering doesn’t match up to Emma’s idealistic expectations. Olivia has been treating an epidemic in Liberia and is put on a seven day quarantine to reduce the risk to transmitting the disease on British soil. No one can leave the house and no one can enter. But how well can this group keep to the basic rules? The sisters quarrel and overtime secrets not meant to be shared are revealed. Spending this time with family shouldn’t feel so lonely and detached, but everything changes for this family when someone unexpected comes knocking on their door.

Despite its slow start, the story really began to get interesting and juicy somewhere mid-way. The characters were finally fed-up enough with each other to come out of their cloistered shells. The sister sibling rivalry dynamic was so accurately portrayed. Neither sister feeling like the confident, mature adult they are when with each other, regressing to childhood habits and squabbles. Olivia trying to find her place in the family that has been circling sister Phoebe as coddled little sister. Emma, herself has a scary secret, but not wanting to upset her family, manages to keep the attention off herself. Her husband though….his secret is really what provokes the family to come to terms with their dysfunctional selves. How they overcome such obstacles in a short span of time is intriguing. The author had a wonderful way of stretching out a single day, making it feel like events took place over 2 or 3 days rather than in a morning and afternoon setting. I felt the days drag on with the family, but it didn’t feel nearly as painful for as it did for them.

My only complaint is the narrator’s American accent. Oh man…it was bad. So bad.

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

How to Stop Time

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

  • Source – Library: Overdrive Audiobook
  • Genre – Fiction, Fantasy, Immortality

Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. One that has lost him countless loved ones over the years of his life. The many years, the decades, no centuries of his life. Tom Hazard is an immortal, although he looks like an ordinary 41-year-old. Wanting an ordinary life, Tom moves back to London to become a history teacher, all the while re-living the history he lived through himself. Tom is at a crossroads in his life when the novel begins. Does he continue to live in the past, or can he move forward and enjoy his future? Moving to London to become a history teacher, Tom ends up falling in love with an enigmatic French teacher, continues his search to find his long-lost daughter and all the while trying to convert more immortals like himself to join the secret Albatross Society. It all becomes too overwhelming and dangerous as Tom is sent on one last mission in Australia compromising much of what he knows and believes.

This was easily one of my favorite reads of February. The novel was narrated by Mark Meadows, and I could just listen to him talk forever and ever. He is one of those rare British narrators that can actually do an American accent without it sounding choppy, or forced. The story itself was very captivating. Tom would constantly float back to his past lives, brought on by massive headaches as he re-lived adventures, deaths of loved ones and sad good-byes all the while trying to make a life for himself in modern times. This is a complex plot, with complex characters but it was a great story to be involved in. I love fantasy books like this. Books that are about contemporary issues (guilt, regret, family, etc) but have the smallest magical element. This is the first book I’ve read of the author, but I’m eager to start reading more.

February Reading Recap

I’m so proud, I’ve actually kept up with my reviews this month! Three cheers for me! I’ve also been on a major reading binge, which also helps. I usually start out the year strong with good books, then by the middle, I start hating every book I pick up. Hopefully this year will be different as I’m making a stronger attempt to branch out of my regular reading routines.

What I read in February:

Into the Water  Wigs on the Green  The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store

Secrets of a Charmed Life How to Stop Time  The Music Shop

 

Total number of books: 6

Fiction – 5 Books

NonFiction – 1 Book

Audiobooks – 3 Books

Setting – England – 5 Titles

  • Into the Water
  • Music Shop
  • Secrets of a Charmed LIfe
  • How to Stop Time
  • Wigs on the Green

Setting – Canada – 1 Title

  • The year of Less

Wigs on the Green – Nancy Mitford

Wigs on the Green

Wigs on the Green by Nancy Mitford

  • Source: – My copy, bookstore purchase
  • Genre – Fiction, 1930’s, England, High Society, Humorous Fiction

Written in 1934, well into Hitler’s rise to power and popularity, Nancy’s Mitford’s novel takes a skewering and sarcastic look at the lives of the elite. Two friends escape to the countryside in search of wealthy heiresses to marry to sustain their luxurious lifestyle. At the same hotel, there is Lady Marjorie, hiding as a commoner, trying to flee from the Duke she left at the alter. At her side is her friend Poppy, who is trying to decide if she should divorce her rich husband or not. Along this troupe is a ditzy and over-the-top teen heiress living with her overly conservative and easily shocked grandparents. All of this adds up to almost a parody of the high society world of The Great Gatsby.

This was book funny, and quite shocking as well. Its understandably controversial, given Mitford’s take on Hitler. I had to keep reminding myself that this novel was written before his reign of terror and horror over Europe really took hold. Although there is humor and exaggeration in the characters Mitford gives us, it does fall flat in many areas. All in all…its very tongue-in-cheek, but much of it is based on people actually in Mitford’s life (Eugenia is based on her sister Unity Mitford). Which makes me wonder how much she was actually able to separate her sarcasm from the truth. Its no wonder Mitford worked so hard to suppress the publication of this novel for so long. Its definitely not flattering. It reminded me of Voltaire’s Candide, and some of the dialog was as fast-paced and witty as a Dashiell Hammet novel. I would definitely give the author’s other books a try, but I don’t think I’ll be revisiting this one anytime soon.

Mailbox Monday 2/26/2018

I’m a little late today, but this book came this afternoon. IMG_E8510[1]

Ten years ago, Rachael gave up the love of her life. Now, he’s marrying someone else. In Paris. Would you go?

The Paris Wedding by Charlotte Nash

  • ARC via William Morrow Publishing
  • June 2018 Publication

 

The Year of Less – Cait Flanders

The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store

The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

  • Source: Library – Hoopla Digital Audiobook
  • Genre: Nonfiction – Memoir, shopping, self-help

In her late 20’s, Cait finds herself in debt, stuck in a consumerism cycle that is becoming more and more demanding. Despite having paid off nearly $30,000 in debt, her old habits keeping reappearing, taking over the progress she’s been making. Fed up one day, Cait begins a year of less, a year of decluttering all of the toxins in her life and starting a new page in her book. In this book, she chronicles her progress, but really focuses on what brought her to this stage of having less in the first place.

* * * * * * * * * *

I found this book when I was at an impasse in my reading habits. I didn’t like any of the audiobooks I had downloaded and there wasn’t any genre in particular I wanted to find. I came across this title just browsing through my library’s Hoopla collection. I always enjoy books about decluttering so I gave it a try. It was completely not what I was expecting and it was completely refreshing, depressing and engaging. So many titles of the same topic include the after-effects of getting rid of our stuff. So many of those titles are about the wealthy who have the option to declutter and do it more for an aesthetic than a life-changing experience.

Cait spends very little of the book actually talking about her experience of having less. All of that she chronicled on her blog Blonde on a Budget prior to the book’s release. In this book, she delves into what led her into her unhealthy lifestyle and how she slowly crept her way out of debt, out of alcoholism, out of consumerism habits that were bringing her down emotionally, physically and mentally. Her story is very raw and very real and I really appreciated her honesty. Progress and change aren’t easy and they don’t happen overnight. She found that keeping a blog and reporting to the wide world kept her accountable, most of the time. Its really a book about prioritizing our values and the value of experiences versus the value of things. She personalized it to her needs and without setting particularly restrictive limits, she found herself spending less, attempting to DIY or repair when possible. But also admitting that those things are really more effort than their worth. Which is so refreshing to hear. Yes, we can all make our own candles…but do we really want to, and should we feel like we have to when we don’t want?