Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday (10-31-12)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Each week, you highlight an upcoming release that you are eagerly anticipating. This week, I'm looking forward to The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult (release date: February 26, 2013).

Synopsis (from Sage Singer becomes friends with an old man who’s particularly beloved in her community after they strike up a conversation at the bakery where she works. Josef Weber is everyone’s favorite retired teacher and Little League coach. One day he asks Sage for a favor: to kill him. Shocked, Sage refuses…but then he tells her he deserves to die.
Once he reveals his secret, Sage wonders if he’s right. What do you do when evil lives next door? Can someone who’s committed a truly heinous act ever redeem themselves with good behavior? Should you offer forgiveness to someone if you aren’t the party who was wronged? And most of all—if Sage even considers his request—is it murder, or justice?

So, what are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday (10-30-12)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week, 
they post a different topic, and you get to create your own top ten list. So, this week's 
topic is:

Favorite Kick-Ass Heroines

1) Hermione Granger (Harry Potter) - to me, Hermione is the ultimate in kick-ass heroines. She's smart, tough, will roll with whatever comes her way, and doesn't care what others think. Seriously, she's pretty kick-ass.

2) Jane (Jane Eyre) - forced to be on her own from a young age, Jane relies on no one but herself. She makes her own way in the world and doesn't rely on anyone to help her. She is truly a role model for girls everywhere.

3) Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games) - first off, to be clear, I'm only talking about the Katniss in the first book of this trilogy (really didn't like her by the end of the series). But in the first book, she was totally kick-ass. She wasn't taking crap from anyone and was standing up for her sister. And she was doing it on her own and didn't want help from anyone.

4) Minerva McGonagall (Harry Potter) - McGonagall is so kick-ass and is one of my favorite characters from this series. She doesn't back down from a challenge, knows how to handle herself, and always does what is right. She may be older, but she can kick-ass any day of the week.

5) Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs series) - bucking tradition for women at this time in history, Maisie lives on her own and runs her own business, solving mysteries and crimes all across England. Nothing holds her back, not even Scotland Yard.

6) Aibileen (The Help) - being on her own, her child having passed a few years ago, Aibileen stays strong for herself, the other maids that she knows, and the children that she raises. And sharing her story, knowing that it might get her killed? I think that makes her pretty kick-ass.

7) Melanie Kingston (Eighteen Acres) - Melanie is the chief of staff to the president, and I imagine anyone who is the chief of staff has to be able to kick some ass. Melanie definitely does in this political thriller.

8) Meg Koranda (Call Me Irresistible) - Meg is definiely a woman who kicks ass and doesn't care who she offends or upsets along the way. I loved how strong she was how she didn't care how she came across towards others.

9) Victoria Jones (The Language of Flowers) - Victoria has been on her own since she was a kid, not relying on her social worker or anyone else for help. Even when she discovers she is pregnant, she does whatever it takes to make the world a better place for her baby. I loved how strong she was and didn't take any crap from anyone.

10) Lacey Yeager (An Object of Beauty) - Lacey does whatever it takes to get to the top of the competitive art world in NYC. Saying she kicks ass to get there is an understatement.

There are so many great ladies that it was hard to choose just 10! So, who are your top ten heroines? Let me know!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Review: Jeneration X by Jen Lancaster

Jeneration X
Author: Jen Lancaster
Published: May 1, 2012
Genre: humorous memoir
Hardcover: 352 pages
Source: borrowed from the library

My Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): In Such a Pretty Fat, Jen Lancaster learned how to come to terms with her body. In My Fair Lazy, she expanded her mind. Now the New York Times bestselling author gives herself—and her generation—a kick in the X, by facing her greatest challenge to date: acting her age.

Jen is finally ready to put away childish things (except her Barbie Styling Head, of course) and embrace the investment-making, mortgage-carrying, life-insurance-having adult she’s become. From getting a mammogram to volunteering at a halfway house, she tackles the grown-up activities she’s resisted for years, and with each rite of passage she completes, she’ll uncover a valuable—and probably humiliating—life lesson that will ease her path to full-fledged, if reluctant, adulthood.

My Thoughts: This may come as a surprise to some people, but I've never read a Jen Lancaster memoir before. Sure, I read her one work of fiction (and loved it) but I never grabbed one of her many memoirs. So, when I heard that this one was coming out, I was super excited, and when I found it at the library one day, I just had to get it. While her novel was funny, this book had me laughing out loud at so many points that it's hard to list my favorite ones. While we did attend the same alma mater (Go Purdue!), there is something about her that is so relatable, even though we are from different generations and have never met (but if we did, we would totally be BFFs). Lancaster's writing seems like you are talking to one of your best friends, who happens to be slightly crazy and neurotic about most everything in her life. She's that friend that you love to hang out with because she's so honset and doesn't hold back.
While I will continue to say that it's hard for me to review a memoir because it's hard to rate someone else's life experiences, this is probably one of my favorites in the genre. She's so witty and sarcastic that you are laughing out loud (seriously, don't read this book in public place because people will stare at you while you laugh). Her experiences are things that we can relate to, from pet training to having unruly hair. She doesn't sugarcoat her life or make it seem like it's hard. She tends to mock herself and the life that she leads, which I think is one of the reasons that she's so relatable. Her essay on shopping at Whole Foods is hilarious because not only have we all been in a simiar situation, but also because she realizes how lucky she is to lead the life that she does.
While this is not groundbreaking or awe-inspiring, it is a memoir that will have you busting outloud and wishing that you and Jen could get together for some drinks and laugh about your lives. If you haven't read Jen Lancaster, don't wait another minute! Go out, right now, and read any of her books! And you can thank me later, haha!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Review: Come Home by Lisa Scottoline

Come Home
Author: Lisa Scottoline
Published: April 10, 2012
Genre: thriller
Hardcover: 384 pages
Source: borrowed from the library

My Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): Jill Farrow is a typical suburban mom who has finally gotten her and her daughter's lives back on track after a divorce. She is about to remarry, her job as a pediatrician fulfills her---though it is stressful---and her daughter, Megan, is a happily over-scheduled thirteen-year-old juggling homework and the swim team.

But Jill’s life is turned upside down when her ex-stepdaughter, Abby, shows up on her doorstep late one night and delivers shocking news: Jill’s ex-husband is dead. Abby insists that he was murdered and pleads with Jill to help find his killer. Jill reluctantly agrees to make a few inquiries and discovers that things don’t add up. As she digs deeper, her actions threaten to rip apart her new family, destroy their hard-earned happiness, and even endanger her own life. Yet Jill can’t turn her back on a child she loves and once called her own.

Come Home reads with the breakneck pacing of a thriller while also exploring the definition of motherhood, asking the questions: Do you ever stop being a mother? Can you ever have an ex-child? What are the limits to love of family?

My Thoughts: I enjoy Lisa Scottoline's books and was excited when I saw her newest novel out. Focusing on Jill Farrow, a woman who is struggling with her role as an ex-stepmother when her ex-stepdaughters are in trouble following the death of their father. It's a unique situation and the plot had me guessing the entire time. While seeing Jill struggle with her relationship with her former children, along with that of her daughter and her fiance, Jill must also try and figure out what exactly happened to her ex-husband. It's a twisting plot, one that I didn't want to walk away from and constantly found myself trying to figure out what was going to happen next.

I did have one complaint with this book, which is why I only gave it three stars. For me, the dialogue was just too stilted. It felt forced and unorganic. The conversations between Jill and her daughter Megan were just too fake for me. I don't know many parents and children who speak to each other that way, constantly polite and saying, "I love you!" (I mean, her daughter is 13. How many 13 year olds are constantly saying that to their moms?!?) That was the only detractor for me in this novel. I loved the characters, loved the action and the thrill of the hunt as Jill attempts to solve this case. It was fast-paced and something that I was able to read in a few days. I enjoyed this one and look forward to more of Scottoline's work.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Book Blog Hop and Follow Friday (10-26-12)

Happy Friday everyone! It's hard to believe that October is just about over ... time has been flying for the past two months! I've enjoyed the few days of Indian Summer that we've been having in western Pennsylvania for the past few days, but I'm also happy to see that it will only be in the 30s next week. Well, let's get onto the Friday fun ...

Jen at Crazy For Books asks:

What are three of your favorite book blogs and/or communities?  Why do you like them?

Great question! Well, let's see ...

1) GoodReads - this is a true community of book lovers! This is how I track what I've read and how I've rated it, which helps when I think I want to read a book by an author that I've read before. I also love the recommendations that it provides! It doesn't always give great responses, but there are a few that always catch my eye!

2) Kristin at Always With a Book - I don't like her blog just because we happen to have the same first name (well, maybe a little!) But we have some similar interests in books, so if I see something that she really liked, I'm more likely to go out and get it for myself. I also really enjoy her reviews and they give me a great sense of the book.

3) Alexis at Reflections of a Bookaholic - Alexis's blog was one of the first that I stumbled upon when I started blogging and I still enjoy her reviews!

Parajunkee asks:

What writing device or trick most irritates you when reading a book? For example, if an author employs an omnipotent narrator that is sometimes considered bad form.

Another great question! I tend to be irritated by the invisible narrator, where it's an actual character narrating the story but the reader has no idea who it is. That drives me crazy! Either use an omnipotent narrator or first person, but that unknown narration drives me crazy (and tends to make me give up on the book).

So, what blogs/communities do you love? What writing device really gets under your skin? Let me know and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday (10-24-12)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Each week, you highlight an upcoming release that you are eagerly anticipating. This week, I'm looking forward to Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky (release date: November 20, 2012).

Synopsis (from Jacob Tomsky has worked in hotels for more than a decade, doing everything from valet parking to manning the front desk. He’s checked you in, checked you out, separated your white panties from the white bed sheets, parked your car, tasted your room service, cleaned your toilet, denied you a late check out, given you a wake-up call, eaten M&Ms out of your mini-bar, laughed at your jokes, and taken your money. And in Heads in Beds, he pulls back the curtain on the hospitality business, revealing the crazy yet compelling reality of an industry we thinkwe know. It is an incredibly funny, authentic, and irreverent chronicle of the highs and lows of hotel life and boy, is there a market for it: in 2010, the American lodging industry generated $127.7 billion in revenue.  Prepare to be amused, shocked, and amazed as he spills the unwritten code of the bellhops, the antics that go on the valet parking garage, and the housekeeping department’s dirty little secrets.
Prepare to be moved, too, by his insightful honesty about the profession; employees are often poorly paid and frequently abused. However, Heads in Beds is more than just a memoir. Jake explains the secrets of the industry, offering easy and legal ways to get what you need from your hotel without any hassle—from scoring late check-ins and upgrades to getting that pay-per-view charge knocked off your bill. This book will give you the knowledge you need to get the very best service from any hotel or property, from any business that makes its money from putting heads in beds. Or, at the very least, it will keep the bellhops from taking your luggage into the camera-free back office and stomping the crap out of it.

As someone who works in the hospitality industry, I always love reading these types of books, just to know that I am not alone in my experiences! So, what are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday (10-23-12)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week, 
they post a different topic, and you get to create your own top ten list. So, this week's 
topic is:

Books to Get in the Halloween Spirit
(or fall, since I am not all that into Halloween)

1) The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - there is something about this book that is just perfect to be read around Halloween. I can't put my finger on it, but just read it during October.

2) Harry Potter by JK Rowling - I mean, this a story about witches and wizards and magic. How could it not help to get you in the Halloween spirit?!?

3) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - reading this book in the spring definitely made me long for autumn. Bronte's descriptions of Jane's walks to and from Thornfield Hall just make me want to go on a long walk to see the leaves change colors.

4) Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear - reading Winspear's descrition of London in the 1920s and 30s makes me think of autumn for some reason.

5) The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson - a novel about a haunted house in France and the secrets shared between a couple. What about this doesn't make you think of Halloween?

6) These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf - something about this novel just makes me think of Halloween/autumn. I think it has to do with this huge secret that can't be shared, the intrigue just makes me think of Halloween.

7) Faith by Jennifer Haigh - the emotional aspect of this novel is so powerful that it is best enjoyed with a cup of coffee (or pumpkin spice latte), curled up under a blanket.

8) Goosebumps by RL Stine - who doesn't remember reading these books as a kid?!? And how could they not make you think of Halloween?!?

Well, that's all I could think of for this week. So, what books get you in the Halloween (or autumn) spirit? Let me know!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Audiobook Revew: Savannah Breeze by Mary Kay Andrews

Savannah Breeze
Author: Mary Kay Andrews
Narrator: Moira Driscoll
Published: April 1, 2006
Genre: chick lit
Audiobook: 12 discs (approximately 14 hours)
Source: borrowed from the library

My Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): Southern belle BeBe Loudermilk has lost all her worldly possessions, thanks to a brief but disastrous relationship with the gorgeous Reddy, an "investment counselor" who turns out to be a con man. All that's left is a ramshackle 1950s motel on Tybee Island--an eccentric beach town that calls itself a drinking village with a fishing problem.

Breeze Inn is a place where the very classy BeBe wouldn't normally be caught dead, but with no alternative, she moves into the manager's unit, vowing to make magic out of mud. The work is grueling, especially dealing with the bad-tempered caretaker, a fishing captain named Harry who's trying to earn enough dough to get his boat out of hock. With the help of Harry and her junking friend Weezie, BeBe soon has the motel spiffed up and attracting paying guests.

Then there's a sighting of Reddy in Fort Lauderdale, and BeBe decides to go after him. She puts together a posse, and with the irrepressible Granddaddy Loudermilk snoring in the backseat of the Buick, heads south. The plan is to carry out a sting that may be just a little bit outside the law but that, with any luck at all, will retrieve BeBe's fortune and put the dastardly Reddy in jail, where he belongs. And maybe Harry, who's looking more hunky every day, will finally get his boat back.

My Thoughts: I enjoy Mary Kay Andrews' novels for a few reasons. One, the location: the South (especially the way she describes it) is enchanting and you just want to pack your bags and leave. Two, the books are easy to read and don't make you think too much (which I like when listening to an audiobook). And three, they are funny; she puts her characters in these situations that are unreal but still seem like something that could actually happen. This audiobook was no different, sticking to the formula of making you laugh and fall in love with the characters and the South. This book finds us in Savannah, where Bebe Loudermilk is taken for a ride by a con man. He takes everything she owns, except this old, run-down motel. She decides to invest her time and energy into renovating the motel to try and turn a profit. She also decides that she will not let some con man get away with what he has done, so she embarks on an adventure with her best friend Wheezy, her almost-boyfriend Harry, and her 80 year old Grandad, Spencer. What ensues is hilarious and will have you laughing outloud.
As I said before, the characters are easy to like and it's hard to not like any of them. They all bring something to the table, whether it be sassiness from Bebe or humor from Grandad. Bebe was a bit pushy and shrill sometimes, but she was still a likeable character. Moira Driscoll narrated this novel and she did a great job. Her ability to distinguish her voice for all the characters was great. It was easy to tell who was speaking when so it was never confusing as to who was speaking.
Overall, I enjoyed this novel, as I have Andrews' other books. They are light and easy, perfect to listen to when driving in the car. What audiobooks do you enjoy listening to? Please let me know ... I'm looking for some great recommendations!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Review: Where We Belong by Emily Giffin

Where We Belong
Author: Emily Giffin
Published: July 24, 2012
Genre: chick lit
E-book: 372 pages
Source: purchased from iTunes

My Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): Marian Caldwell is a thirty-six year old television producer, living her dream in New York City. With a fulfilling career and satisfying relationship, she has convinced everyone, including herself, that her life is just as she wants it to be. But one night, Marian answers a knock on the door . . . only to find Kirby Rose, an eighteen-year-old girl with a key to a past that Marian thought she had sealed off forever. From the moment Kirby appears on her doorstep, Marian’s perfectly constructed world—and her very identity—will be shaken to its core, resurrecting ghosts and memories of a passionate young love affair that threaten everything that has come to define her.
For the precocious and determined Kirby, the encounter will spur a process of discovery that ushers her across the threshold of adulthood, forcing her to re-evaluate her family and future in a wise and bittersweet light. As the two women embark on a journey to find the one thing missing in their lives, each will come to recognize that where we belong is often where we least expect to find ourselves—a place that we may have willed ourselves to forget, but that the heart remembers forever.

My Thoughts: I am a huge fan of Emily Giffin's work and couldn't wait for her newest book to come out. I figured the 8 and a half hour flight back from England would be the perfect time to jump into this book. While a good story, it wasn't what I've come to expect from Giffin. Following a girl who was placed for adoption and her birth mother. The chapters alternate between the two women, showing you how each handles their journey to meeting one another. Marian, the birth mother, knew she couldn't provide the positive environment needed to raise a baby, so she places her for adoption. As Kirby grows, she wonders about her birth mother, and on her 18th birthday, decides that she is going to find her. 

I really liked the characters in this novel. All of them are real, people who exist in real life and aren't too zany or out there. Marian is wonderfully written and I could identify with all of her choices and feelings. Kirby is headstrong, but what 18 year old isn't? She feels like meeting her birth mother (and hopefully, father) will help her to understand who is really is. The premise of the novel is a good one, showing how adoption affects both parties. I just felt like it wasn't like Giffin's other stories. I didn't feel the need to keep on reading, to know what was going to happen next. I don't know what needed to change to make me feel that pull, since I loved the characters and the premise, but I could tell that something was missing.

While not up to Giffin's normal standard, this is good story, one that will have you rooting for Marian and Kirby. I look forward to seeing what Giffin will write next.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Book Blog Hop and Follow Friday (10-19-12)

Happy Friday, everyone! Having a great week? I hope so ... now lets have some Friday fun!

Jen at Crazy For Books asks:

How did you find out about book blogging and what made you decide to start one yourself?

Well, it's not a really cute story or anything. I loved to read and didn't have anyone to share my love of books with. So, I Googled "Book Blogs" and looked at some, then made my own. Pretty uneventful.

Parajunkee asks:

When you step out of your USUAL genre what do you like to read? Best books in that genre?

My usual genre is chick lit and contemporary fiction, but when I want to change it up, I reach for a thriller. I think I like them so much because I don't read them as often, so I don't get burned out on the intrigue.

So, how did you start your blog? What do you like to read when not in your normal genre? Let me know and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday (10-17-12)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Each week, you highlight an upcoming release that you are eagerly anticipating. This week, I'm looking forward to The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg (release date: October 23, 2012).

Synopsis (from For more than thirty years, Edie and Richard Middlestein shared a solid family life together in the suburbs of Chicago. But now things are splintering apart, for one reason, it seems: Edie's enormous girth. She's obsessed with food--thinking about it, eating it--and if she doesn't stop, she won't have much longer to live.
When Richard abandons his wife, it is up to the next generation to take control. Robin, their schoolteacher daughter, is determined that her father pay for leaving Edie. Benny, an easy-going, pot-smoking family man, just wants to smooth things over. And Rachelle-- a whippet thin perfectionist-- is intent on saving her mother-in-law's life, but this task proves even bigger than planning her twin children's spectacular b'nai mitzvah party. Through it all, they wonder: do Edie's devastating choices rest on her shoulders alone, or are others at fault, too?
With pitch-perfect prose, huge compassion, and sly humor, Jami Attenberg has given us an epic story of marriage, family, and obsession. The Middlesteins explores the hopes and heartbreaks of new and old love, the yearnings of Midwestern America, and our devastating, fascinating preoccupation with food.

So, what are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday (10-16-12)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week, 
they post a different topic, and you get to create your own top ten list. So, this week's 
topic is:

Favorite Authors in Contemporary Fiction

1) Kristin Hannah - I love her books! She is able to take everyday things (friendship, love, loss, heartache, growing pains) and write about them in a way that is so relatable to anyone reading! I have yet to find anybody else with her writing ability.

2) J. Courtney Sullivan - I loved Sullivan's first book, Commenement, because I find it incredibly difficult to find books written about women in their early to mid-20s, let alone someone as gifted and talented as Sullivan.

3) David Nicholls - I have only read One Day, but I loved it and have another one of his books in my TBR pile. There was something about this book that just pulled me in and wouldn't let go. It truly showcases what an amazing storyteller Nicholls is.

4) Jennifer Haigh - I have read two of her books and have fallen head over heels in love with Haigh. She taps into the human experience so perfectly, you almost wonder if she lived some of these experiences. If you haven't read her works, go get one. You will not be disappointed.

5) Wally Lamb - I feel like so few people have heard of Lamb, which is a shame because he is an amazing writer. His novels are quite hefty, but well worth the read (and possible carpal tunnel you get from holding it).

6) Anita Shreve - Shreve is a big hit or miss for me. Sometimes, her books are just such a chore to get through. But other are so amazing, I find myself reading slower so that I won't have to let it end.

7) Laura Harrington - while she may only have one book to her name, what a powerful book it is. Dealing with a teenage girl and the loss of her father while serving his country in Iraq, Harrington nails it in term of emotions and the struggle that all teenage girls face.

8) Chad Harbach - another author who only has one book to their name but one of the best books I have ever read. 

9) Liane Moriarty - she has written several books but I've only managed to read one of them. Her ability to build anticipation and have you rooting for every character in the book, whether good or bad, was just amazing to read and experience.

10) Elin Hilderbrand - while her books are definitely beach reads, they resonate in some way with everyone. They also cover such a wide array of characters that each book is clearly different and not something just is just "for the beach."

Definitely a fun list to make! So, what genre did you choose? Let me know!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Review: Forgotten by Catherine McKenzie

Author: Catherine McKenzie
Published: October 16, 2012
Genre: chick lit
Paperback: 448 pages
Source: received a review copy from the publisher (HarperCollins)

My Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): When everyone thinks you’re dead, how do you start your life over again?

Emma Tupper, a young lawyer with a bright future, sets out on a journey after her mother’s death: to Africa, a place her mother always wanted to visit. But her mother’s dying gift has unexpected consequences. Emma falls ill during the trip and is just recovering when a massive earthquake hits, turning her one-month vacation into a six-month ordeal. 

When Emma returns home, she’s shocked to find that her friends and colleagues believed she was dead, that her apartment has been rented to a stranger and that her life has gone on without her. Can Emma pick up where she left off? Should she? As Emma struggles to recreate her old life, everyone around her thinks she should change – her job, her relationships, and even herself. But does she really want to sacrifice everything she’s working so hard to gain?

My Thoughts: I read Catherine McKenzie's Spin a few months ago (review here) and really enjoyed it. So when I was offered the chance to review her newest novel before it was published here in the States, I jumped at the chance. Spin was pure chick lit and I gobbled up everything about it. It was something light that didn't bog me down and take me days to read, but the characters were so real that it had something more to offer than the normal chick lit fare. Her newest novel is just as good as the last one that I read. It's light enough that I was able to finish it in less than two days, but the main character, Emma, was substanial enough that I wasn't rolling my eyes at her all the time. McKenzie explores that age-old question, if you could start your life over again, would you? And what would you do differently? Emma Tupper is given that opportunity when she basically disappears in the African bush for six months and returns to find her old life completely changed. 

Emma struggles with her return to society and must start from scratch. Her apartment has been rented out to someone else, she doesn't have a job, her boyfriend has changed is number, and she cannot get in touch with her best friend. Add on top of this that the reason Emma took this trip in the first place was to deal with the death of her mother. It's a bit of a doozy, but McKenzie paces everything so that it makes sense and nothing is out of place. There is a cast of characters, some who I thought could have been featured more (like Sunshine: seriously, we could have had whole chapters with her in it!). This novel was just perfect to read after finished a long, long biography.

I have Catherine McKenzie's other novel, Arranged, already checked out from the library, so I cannot wait to finish that one soon. I am already looking forward to the next book that she publishes and would love to see it feature Emily, Dominic's cheating fiance (I'm thinking of what Emily Giffin did with Darcy in Something Blue). If you haven't read anything by McKenzie, don't wait a second longer! Go to your local library or bookstore and get one of her books! You will not be disappointed!

PS - this book will be available in the US starting October 16, so keep an eye out for it!

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review. It in no way affected my review of this novel.*

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Review: That Book About Harvard by Eric Kester

That Book About Harvard
Author: Eric Kester
Published: July 1, 2012
Genre: memoir
Paperback: 334 pages
Source: borrowed from the library

My Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): One of the most thrilling and terrifying days of your life is the first day of college, when you step onto campus filled with the excitement of all the possibilities ahead--and panic about if you'll make it and how you'll fit in.

Now imagine that same feeling, but you're in the middle of the lawn at the world's most prestigious university.

In your underwear.

Thus begins one of the craziest years ever at Harvard, in which Eric Kester finds himself in a cheating scheme, trying to join a prestigious Finals Club, and falling for a stunning type-A brunette...who happened to be standing there in shock that first day when he made his red-faced stroll across the Harvard Yard.

That Book about Harvard is the hilarious and heartwarming story of trying to find your place in a new world, the unending quest to fit in, and how the moments that change your life often happen in the most unexpected ways.

My Thoughts: I found this book while wandering around the library one day and after reading the description, thought it sounded pretty funny. So I decided, "What the heck? I'll give it a try." And thank goodness I did; this was one of the funniest books I've ever read. Eric Kester takes you on trip through his freshman year at the most famous university in the world, Harvard. He plays football and has decent SAT scores, so he is accepted into the university to play on their football team. Kester takes you on a journey from receiving his acceptance letter in the mail to the spring Primal Scream (when students streak through Harvard Yard during finals.) It's a hilarious tale and one that makes you realize that not everyone who attends this university is an egghead. They are normal people who are trying to make it through the world's toughest school and (hopefully) receive a degree.

I find it hard to review memoir's because it's hard to judge someone's life experiences. Kester's freshman year wasn't like mine, but I could identify with his struggles. Trying to fit in a new place, feeling like you don't belong, struggling with the workload. It's difficult for any college student and the pressure that Kester feels he is under being at such a prestigious school is understandable. He is able to find the humor in his stuggles and realize that he doesn't need to take everything so seriously. The only fault I can find in this memoir is the ending. I felt like the ending was a bit abrupt without any closure. I wish that Kester had put an epilogue in, explaining how his Harvard experience wound up. It just kind of ended, unsure if he was coming back for a second semester or if he ended up with a certain girl. Maybe he will make this a four part series and devote each book to one year of college (I can hope!) If you are looking for a hilarious memoir, then make sure to check this one out. Kester will have you laughing out loud!