Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Waiting On Wednesday (1-30-13)

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 LEaving Everything Most Loved by Jacqueline Winspear (release date: March 26, 2013).

Synopsis (from Amazon): In Leaving Everything Most Loved by New York Times bestselling author Jacqueline Winspear, Maisie Dobbs investigates the murder of Indian immigrants in London. The year is 1933. Maisie Dobbs is contacted by an Indian gentleman who has come to England in the hopes of finding out who killed his sister two months ago. Scotland Yard failed to make any arrest in the case, and there is reason to believe they failed to conduct a thorough investigation. The case becomes even more challenging when another Indian woman is murdered just hours before a scheduled interview. Meanwhile, unfinished business from a previous case becomes a distraction, as does a new development in Maisie's personal life. Bringing a crucial chapter in the life and times of Maisie Dobbs to a close, Leaving Everything Most Loved marks a pivotal moment in this outstanding mystery series.

I LOVE the Maisie Dobbs series and am so excited for this book to come out because that means that I will have read all the books that have come out thus far for this series! What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday (1-29-13)

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:

Most Frustrating Characters Ever

1) Severus Snape (Harry Potter series) - it was frustrating having to see the way that he treated Harry and how you kept on thinking he is a Death Eater. When you get to the seventh book and learn his story, you are frustrated with yourself for thinking so little of him.

2) Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs series) - I love Maisie Dobbs but she can be so frustrating at times! Her stubbornness in relationships and her determination can be annoying at times, but they are part of what make me love her so much.

3) Mr. Darcy (Pride & Prejudice) - how maddening it is to read about him and his antics! Yet, you can't help but love him, which makes you even more frustrated.

4) Valentine (Very Valentine) - I love Valentine because she is so focused on the family business of making shoes by hand, but my goodness, can she be frustrating! Her stubbornness can drive you up a wall, but you are cheering for her and her grandmother to keep the business going.

5) Becky Bloomwood (Shopaholic series) - at the beginning of the series, it was frustrating to see Becky dig herself into a deeper and deeper hole. At this point in the series, it's just frustrating to see her making the same mistakes over and over again.

6) Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games) - I was so frustrated with Katniss by the end of this series because she was so lethargic in her contribution to the group. I just wanted to jump through the page and scream at her at times!

Well, I could only think up six for this week! Who are the most frustrating characters for you? Let me know!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Audiobook Review: The Search by Nora Roberts

The Search
Author: Nora Roberts
Narrator: Tanya Eby
Published: January 1, 2010
Genre: chick lit, thriller
Audiobook: 13 discs (approx. 15 hours)
Source: borrowed from the library

My Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): To most people, Fiona Bristow seems to have an idyllic life-a quaint house on an island off Seattle's coast, a thriving dog-training school, and a challenging volunteer job performing canine search and rescues. Not to mention her three intensely loyal Labs. But Fiona got to this point by surviving a nightmare...

Several years ago, Fiona was the only survivor of the Red Scarf serial killer, who shot and killed Fiona's cop fiancĂ© and his K-9 partner. On Orcas Island, Fiona found the peace and solitude she needed to rebuild her life. But all that changes on the day Simon Doyle barrels up her drive, desperate for her help. He's the reluctant owner of an out-of-control puppy, foisted upon him by his mother. Jaws has eaten through Simon's house, and he's at his wit's end.

To Fiona, Jaws is nothing she can't handle. Simon, however, is another matter. A newcomer to Orcas, he's a rugged and in-tensely private artist, known for the exquisite furniture he creates from wood. Simon never wanted a puppy-and he most definitely doesn't want a woman. Besides, the lanky redhead is not his type. But tell that to his hormones. As Fiona embarks on training Jaws, and Simon begins to appreciate both dog and trainer, the past tears back into Fiona's life. A copycat killer has emerged out of the shadows, a man whose bloodlust has been channeled by a master with one motive: to reclaim the woman who slipped out of his hands...

My Thoughts: This is my second Nora Roberts book that I've read and it was probably better than the first. Following a woman who was nearly murdered years ago, Roberts tells a tale of how to live with your past, building a new life, and finding love unexpectedly. Using the Pacific Northwest as her backdrop, Roberts tells a story that reels you in and doesn't let go until the end. The characters in this book are diverse, from the leading lady Fiona, who is plucky and well-grounded, to the stubborn Simon Doyle, who is sure that he does not need a woman or puppy in his life. Then of course, there are the killers. There is Perry, the man who tried to kill Fiona all those years ago but failed, making her the one that got away and put him behind bars. Unable to go out and exact his revenge on her, he convinces an instructor at the prison, Francis Eckle, to carry out the rest of his plan. The two killers are frightening to listen to and it definitely puts a chill down your spine.

This was a great story and one that I felt difficult to walk away from, but there were a few things that just sit right with me. For one, the interaction that SImon has with Fiona at the beginning is awful. He outright tells her, "I don't find you attractive." And yet they fall in love ... go figure. I also felt like they went from sleeping together to loving one another in about three days. Call me crazy, but that's just unrealistic. I realize this is part romance novel, but they didn't need to fall head-over-heels in love with each other so fast. Also, the ending was just too out there for me. Fiona is going to go out on the search for the killer because she feels that she needs to, and the FBI just lets her. Yeah, right! You know that this wouldn't happen in real life! It was just a bit too much for me. 

I felt like the narration was well paced but rushed at times. Whenever Fiona spoke, the words were spoken so quickly that it was hard to catch them sometimes. But the tone of the narrator was always spot on, darkening whenever the murderers were talking, lighter and happier whenever Fiona was with her dogs. I really enjoyed listening to this book and will be looking for more of Roberts' stand alone novels to listen to in the future.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Review: Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio

Blackberry Winter
Author: Sarah Jio
Published: September 25, 2012
Genre: chick lit
Paperback: 320 pages
Source: borrowed from the library

My Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): Seattle, 1933. Single mother Vera Ray kisses her three-year-old son, Daniel, goodnight and departs to work the night-shift at a local hotel. She emerges to discover that a May-Day snow has blanketed the city, and that her son has vanished. Outside, she finds his beloved teddy bear lying face-down on an icy street, the snow covering up any trace of his tracks, or the perpetrator's.

Seattle, 2010. Seattle Herald reporter Claire Aldridge, assigned to cover the May 1 "blackberry winter" storm and its twin, learns of the unsolved abduction and vows to unearth the truth. In the process, she finds that she and Vera may be linked in unexpected ways...

My Thoughts: So, I finally got around to reading a Sarah Jio novel! I never thought it would happen, but it finally has (I've been trying for over a year, but have never actually sat down and read one)! I was so excited to read this book and had high expectations for Jio after reading so many great reviews of her books on GoodReads and from other bloggers, and I'm happy to report that this book lived up to the hype. Jio tells the story of two women, who lived decades apart but have a link between them that can only be unearthed by some digging into the past. Vera Ray lived in the early 20th century, and she is where the story begins. She prepares to leave for work one evening at a hotel, but she is forced to leave her three year old son behind. She believes that he will be safe, but when she returns home in the morning, the city is blanketed in snow and her son has vanished. With no help from the police, Vera becomes depressed and takes some desparate measures to try and get the help that she needs. In the present day, we have Claire, a reporter who lost a child last year and is still reeling from the effects that the loss has had on her life and marriage. When she discovers this unsolved case, she makes it her mission to get to the bottom of the mystery.

Jio tells a great story, one that has you rooting for both women and hoping that they both find peace. Alternating between the past and present, Jio is able to present a complete story and one that gives the reader a greater understanding of what happened. I really did enjoy this story and read it pretty quickly, but it was just a bit too predictable. I figured that the two women would somehow be related based on the synopsis, and I wish that Jio hadn't given that information away. I think it would have had a greater impact on the story if that detail wasn't just thrown out there. Overall, it was a great read and I'm more anxious than ever to read more of Jio's work.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Follow Friday (1-25-13)

Happy Friday everyone! I hope that you are having a great week and staying warm if you are in the midst of this awfully cold weather. I can tell you that 4 degree weather is not something that I look forward to every year, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be (leaving in Indiana for four years with their brutal winters really makes anything on the East Coast wonderful by comparison). Well, let's get onto the Friday fun ...

Parajunkee asks:

What is the last book that kept you up late into the night just to finish it?

Great question! It's been awhile since I've forced myself to stay up to finish a book, but I read Arranged by Catherine McKenzie really fast. I love her work and whenever I get my hands a copy of her latest book, I devour it! She just pulls me in with her plots and characters.

What's the last book that you stayed up late to finish? Let me know and have a great weekend!

Review: All That I Am by Anna Funder

All That I Am
Author: Anna Funder
Published: February 27, 2012
Genre: historical fiction
Paperback: 363 pages
Source: received from the publisher

My Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): When eighteen-year-old Ruth Becker visits her cousin Dora in Munich in 1923, she meets the love of her life, the dashing young journalist Hans Wesemann, and eagerly joins in the heady activities of the militant political Left in Germany. Ten years later, Ruth and Hans are married and living in Weimar Berlin when Hitler is elected chancellor of Germany. Together with Dora and her lover, Ernst Toller, the celebrated poet and self-doubting revolutionary, the four become hunted outlaws overnight and are forced to flee to London. Inspired by the fearless Dora to breathtaking acts of courage, the friends risk betrayal and deceit as they dedicate themselves to a dangerous mission: to inform the British government of the very real Nazi threat to which it remains willfully blind. All That I Am is the heartbreaking story of these extraordinary people, who discover that Hitler’s reach extends much further than they had thought.

Gripping, compassionate, and inspiring, this remarkable debut novel reveals an uncommon depth of humanity and wisdom. Anna Funder has given us a searing and intimate portrait of courage and its price, of desire and ambition, and of the devastating consequences when they are thwarted.

My Thoughts: If you know me, you know how much a enjoy a good World War II novel. I love that time in history when people all over the world were committed to defeating evil and using whatever resources they had to do so. All That I Am is a perfect illustration of how people were using whatever means they had to try and thwart the Nazi regime that was gaining power in Germany. Taking place before the actual war breaks out, Anna Funder introduces us to characters who hated the direction that Germany was headed and tried everything in their means to stop it from happening, even though they were sometimes a great distance away from the action.

The characters in this book are well thought out and unique, with everyone contributing something to the cause. To me, the person who stood out as the main character was Ruth. Her chapters are the most interesting and the ones that shed the most light on the day-to-day actions of the group. Dora is also interesting, and she probably could have narrated her own book on what all she was doing. She was heavily involved in the effort to stop the Nazi regime, but you had little idea of what she was actually doing. The other thing that I really loved about this book was the writing. Funder has such a way with words that it makes you pause to think for awhile. My favorite quote from the book was this:

"When you are in love with someone you cannot see around them, you cannot get their human measure. You cannot see how someone so huge to you, so miraculous and unfathomable, can fit, complete, into that small skin." (150)

The book is filled with little gems like this that make you sit and smile or frown, depending on the emotion that Funder wants you to have at that moment. 

Now, there were somethings that I didn't like about this novel. The way that the chapters are presented as confusing at first and really jarred me. They alternate between Ruth and Toller (the famous playwright), but they are told in different time periods. So it would take some adjusting to get used to not only who was speaking, but if you are in the 1930s or present day. I also thought that the beginning of the novel was a little drawn out and it took about 100 pages to really get into the novel.

If you enjoy WWII novels or are looking for something that will make you think, then I would recommend that you check this book out. This is Funder's first novel and it's amazing how well she can craft sentences that just reach out and touch you. 

** This is novel is participating in a TLC Book Tour. I was provided a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Please make sure to check out TLC Book Tours to see others who are hosting this book.**

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday (1-22-13)

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:

Settings I'd Like to See More of

1) New York City - I just love NYC and there are so many possibilities for books set in this magnificent city.

2) Paris - another wonderful city that's full of possibilties ... and romance!

3) London - since visiting there this past summer, I've grown to have a deeper appreciation of this town and surrounding area and I love to read books that are set there.

4) Seattle - this past year, I've read so many books that are set in Seattle and I've really enjoyed all of them. The descriptions of the town are so nice and calming that I not only want to travel there, but I want to read more books that are set in this area.

5) New England - I love Elin Hilderbrand's books, set on the island of Nantucket, but there are so many other books that I've read that are set in this grouping of states. I love to get lost in the descriptions of the area and it's people.

6) Napa Valley - a few years ago, I read a book set in the rolling hills and vineyards of Napa Valley and I really liked reading about it. It was calming and mysterious at the same time.

7) Washington, DC - I love this setting because pretty much all political thrillers are set here. It's so captiviating to read about the city and all of it's famous monuments and buildings.

8) Hill country in Texas - I've read a few books over the past two years that are set in the hill country of Texas, and it's wonderful to get lost in the Southern charm and way of life that seems to exude from the landscape.

9) Australia - I haven't really read any books set in Australia but I would love to read more ... it's my goal to make it there some day and I would love to read more about this fascinating country.

10) Los Angeles - I have no desire to visit this city in real life, but reading about the crazy lives of people that live out there? It's all the entertainment that I need!

There are so many settings that I'd love to see feature in more books, but these are the ones that popped into my mind first. So, what places did you choose? Let me know!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Review: One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper

One Last Thing Before I Go
Author: Jonathan Tropper
Published: August 21, 2012
Genre: fiction
Hardcover: 324 pages
Source: borrowed from the library

My Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): Silver has begun to accept that life isn't going to turn out as he expected. The exwife he's remained friends with is about to marry a terrific guy Silver can't quite bring himself to hate. And his Princeton-bound teenage daughter has just confided in him that she's pregnant—because he's the one she cares least about letting down. As the wedding looms and the pregnancy sinks in, this broken family struggles, bonds, and wrestles with each member's individual anxieties. Lives begin anew, change radically, or, in Silver's case—as he discovers that he could die at any moment without an operation he refuses to have—may be about to end in an instant. One Last Thing Before I Go demonstrates yet again Tropper's deft touch with the darkest of materials and his ability to make readers laugh out loud in one paragraph and move them to tears in the next.

My Thoughts: I'd heard a lot of good things about Jonathan Tropper's work, but I somehow never came across one of his novels in all of my wanderings through my library. Then, I stumbled upon this one. His latest work, telling the story of an old pop star who finds out that there is a tear in his aorta. Instead of having the operation to save him, he decides that he would rather just die than continue to live out his days the way that he has been doing for the past seven years. I mean, reading the description of this book just sounds depressing and made me wonder if I should try something a little lighter. But I decided to go for it and read this one, and it turned out to surpass my expectations for this novel.

As I said before, the synopsis of the book makes it sound very dark and bleak, as if there is no hope left in Silver's life at all. But Tropper never goes to that dark place. Instead, he shows you a man who realizes that he does not have a great, fulfilling life. And that man makes a decision to just live out the remainder of his days, trying to find the happiness that has alluded him for years now. Tropper created Silver, the main character, as someone who is flawed and makes it easy for you to see all of the flaws. Silver isn't someone who you would normally root for, but you are on his side, seeing that his life isn't much and that maybe this is the best decision for him. In all of his encounters those few days after he receives his diagnosis, Silver tries to make amends in his life, mostly with his daughter and ex-wife, who is about to remarry. Seeing Silver try (but not always knowing how to reconnect with people) really connected with me as the reader, and that's more than I can say for most main characters. Instead of having him be some overachiever in his last days, Tropper just lets Silver live. He doesn't make it a noble quest to rediscover his loved ones or search out the meaning of life. Instead, Silver just stumbles along, trying to think of the right things to say to people.

This was my first Tropper novel, but it won't be my last. In this novel, he tackled such hard topics with such a light-hearted way that it endeared me to him as an author. If you are looking for something with substance but not a slog to get through, then you need to read this novel! It has substance, but Tropper writes in such an effortless way that you are never overwhelmed.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Review: The Making of Us by Lisa Jewell

The Making of Us
Author: Lisa Jewell
Published: May 12, 2011
Genre: chick lit
Paperback: 416 pages
Source: borrowed from the library

My Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): Lydia, Dean and Robyn don’t know one another. Yet. Each is facing difficult challenges. Lydia is still wearing the scars from her traumatic childhood. Wealthy and successful, she leads a lonely and disjointed existence. Dean is a young, unemployed, single dad whose life is going nowhere. Robyn is eighteen. Gorgeous, popular and intelligent, she entered her first year of college confident of her dream to become a pediatrician. Now she’s failing her classes. Now she’s falling in love for the first time.

Lydia, Dean and Robyn live very different lives, but each of them, independently, has always felt that something was missing. What they don’t know is that a letter is about to arrive that will turn their lives upside down. It is a letter containing a secret—one that will bind them together and show them what love and family and friendship really mean.

My Thoughts: I've heard some great reviews of Lisa Jewell's books, so when I stumbled across this one in the library, I figured it was time to give her a try. Examining how a sperm donor father can bring three complete strangers together, Jewell examines how family defines us while we struggle to define ourselves, regardless of age. Following Lydia (late twenties), Dean (early twenties), and Robyn (late teens), Jewell tells the story of three people, all at different stages in their lives who are brought together by the Donor Sibling Registry. Each has different reasons for joining the site, but they all seek out people who are like them in some way.

The plot and story of this novel are compelling, but for me, it just took forever to read. I felt like Jewell was always one paragraph away from having an amazing story, but she didn't let it go there. Instead, she just let the story simmer away and never build up to that great moment that should have happened. For example, when the three siblings are about to meet for the first time, it seemed like she just threw the moment away. She told it from the point of view of Robyn (each chapter is told from a different character's perspective), who isn't emotionally mature enough to appreciate such a moment.

As I said, this was a great premise, but never reached fruition. After finishing the book, I went to GoodReads and read some of the reviews on there, and many people said that this was a departure from her other books and wasn't nearly as good. So, I will have to try out one of her older novels to see how it is. Have you read any of Jewell's work? Let me know what you think of her!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Follow Friday (1-18-13)

Happy Friday everyone! How are you handling the cold, cold winter? I can tell you one thing, if spring comes a little early this year, I wouldn't mind it one bit! For some reason, I'm just not into winter this year, and it's typically my favorite season, so I don't know what's going on! Well, let's jump into the Friday fun ...

Parajunkee asks:


The villian that comes to mind instantly is Voldemort. I mean, reading about him just gives me the shivers! I don't think anyone can compete with him!

Unfortunately, Jen at Crazy For Books has retired the Book Blogger Hop. I really enjoyed participating in it and am sad to see it end. So, who is your favorite villian from a book? Let me know and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (1-16-13)

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 Ambassador's Daughter by Pam Jenoff (release date: January 29, 2013).

Synopsis (from GoodReads): Paris, 1919.The world's leaders have gathered to rebuild from the ashes of the Great War. But for one woman, the City of Light harbors dark secrets and dangerous liaisons, for which many could pay dearly.

Brought to the peace conference by her father, a German diplomat, Margot Rosenthal initially resents being trapped in the congested French capital, where she is still looked upon as the enemy. But as she contemplates returning to Berlin and a life with Stefan, the wounded fiancĂ© she hardly knows anymore, she decides that being in Paris is not so bad after all.Bored and torn between duty and the desire to be free, Margot strikes up unlikely alliances: with Krysia, an accomplished musician with radical acquaintances and a secret to protect; and with Georg, the handsome, damaged naval officer who gives Margot a job—and also a reason to question everything she thought she knew about where her true loyalties should lie.Against the backdrop of one of the most significant events of the century, a delicate web of lies obscures the line between the casualties of war and of the heart, making trust a luxury that no one can afford.

I really enjoy Pam Jenoff's novels because they are great works of historical fiction, so I'm really looking forward to this one. So, what are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday (1-15-13)

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:

2013 Debuts I'm Looking Forward to

1) Kristin Hannah - I love her stories and characters and I'm sure her newest one won't be any different!

2) Jennifer Haigh - I've read two of her books and have loved them, and her newest one, a follow-up to Baker Towers, is due out soon, so I cannot wait to read it.

3) Sophie Kinsella - she typically has a new book come out every year, so I'm looking forward to listening to it (I listen to all of her books).

4) Adriana Trigiani - I discovered Trigiani last year and fell in love with her writing, and I'm really hoping that the final novel in the Valentine trilogy will come out this year!

5) Jacqueline Winspear - the next Maisie Dobbs novel, Leaving Everything Most Loved, comes out in March, and I cannot wait to read it! Maisie has become one of my favorite characters and I love reading this series.

Well, this is all I could come up with right now. I know there are so many books I want to read this year, but I can't think of them right now! Well, what books are you looking forward to this year? Let me know!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Audiobook Review: Shopaholic and Sister by Sophie Kinsella

Shopaholic and Sister (Shopaholic #4)
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Narrator: Josephine Bailey
Published: September 28, 2004
Genre: chick lit
Audiobook: 10 discs, approx. 12 hours
Source: borrowed from the library

My Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): What’s a round-the-world honeymoon if you can’t buy the odd souvenir to ship back home? Like the twenty silk dressing gowns Becky found in Hong Kong…the hand-carved dining table (and ten chairs) from Sri Lanka…the, um, huge wooden giraffes from Malawi (that her husband Luke expressly forbade her to buy)… Only now Becky and Luke have returned home to London and Luke is furious. Two truckloads of those souvenirs have cluttered up their loft, and the bills for them are outrageous. Luke insists Becky go on a budget. And worse: her beloved best friend Suze has found a new best friend while Becky was away. Becky’s feeling rather blue—when her parents deliver some incredible news. She has a long-lost sister! Becky is thrilled! She’s convinced her sister will be a true soulmate. They’ll go shopping together, have manicures together.…Until she meets Jessica for the first time and gets the shock of her life. Surely Becky Bloomwood’s sister can’t…hate shopping? 

My Thoughts: As you may (or may not) have realized by now, I love Sophie Kinsella's audiobooks. They are light and funny and easy to get through during my commute to and from work. So, I was anxious to read this fourth book in her Shopaholic series. The description of the novel left me nervous that this wouldn't be the Becky Bloomwood I was used to and that it might not live up to those other novels. I should have listened to by instincts more because about a third of the way through the book, I realized that I was right. This one is unlike the other books in the series, and I don't mean that in a good way. Discovering she has a long lost half sister, Becky decides that they will be great friends and do everything together, even before they have met. It's obvious that everything will not work out as Becky has envisioned, but of course, Becky never realizes that. 

I've always liked Becky and how she was written. However, this story is a huge departure for her as a character. She seems to be regressing, going backwards in her development. When returning from her honeymoon and realizing that she doesn't have a job, she just decides to work for her husband, Luke. She's shocked when he says no and pouts because she is upset by his decision. It was just too childish! Actually, all of Becky's behavior through this book was childish, from the way she spent her money to get the "it" bag of the moment, to her climbing a mountain in kitten heels. It was just too much fluff and not enough story. Becky just became dumber as the novel went on, which was frustrating for someone who has enjoyed the other novels in this series.

Now, it was still a funny read. I mean, Becky taking Jess shopping for the first time was pretty funny. And her discovery of eBay was also a good laugh. There were redeeming qualities in this book, but it's definitely my least favorite one in the series (so far). But, now that Becky is pregnant, I can't wait to see what trouble she gets into. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Review: The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner

The Next Best Thing
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Published: July 3, 2012
Genre: chick lit
Hardcover: 400 pages
Source: borrowed from the library

My Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): At twenty-three, Ruth Saunders headed west with her seventy-year-old grandma in tow, hoping to be hired as a television writer. Four years later, she’s hit the jackpot when she gets The Call: the sitcom she wrote, The Next Best Thing, has gotten the green light, and Ruthie’s going to be the show-runner. But her dreams of Hollywood happiness are threatened by demanding actors, number-crunching executives, an unrequited crush on a boss, and her grandmother’s impending nuptials. 

Set against the fascinating backdrop of Los Angeles show business culture, with an insider’s ear and eye for writer’s rooms, bad behavior backstage and set politics, Jennifer Weiner’s new novel is a rollicking ride on the Hollywood rollercoaster and a heartfelt story about what it’s like for a young woman to love, and lose, in the land where dreams come true.

My Thoughts: I read the short story, Swim, upon which this novel is based and just knew that I would have to read this novel. I mean, I've read Jennifer Weiner in the past and liked it, but there was something different from the get go with this story. Telling the story of a struggling writer in Hollywood, living with her grandmother, who has raised her since her parents died in a tragic car accident when she was a little girl, Weiner tells the story of trying to make it work and seeing how twisted our visions can become when we let others take the reins. 

For me, the best part of this novel was the characters. There were a lot of them, but they were all so real, it almost felt like I was reading a tell-all memoir and not a work of fiction. Ruth is so well crafted, so multi-faceted, that it's impossible not to like her. She was in the car with her parents when they got into that horrific car accident, and Ruth's body was badly burned in places. Since the accident took place in the 1980s, the medical prowess that we have today was not available back then, so multiple surgeries to try and heal her skin have left her scarred on her face and part of her body. Your heart breaks hearing about how she dresses to cover up those burn marks. Realizing how that's the first thing people see when they look at her, Ruth is constantly trying to have people focus on other things about her, whether it be the hat that she pulls down low to try and cover the scars, or her quick wit. Her self-esteem issues are issues that all women have grappled with, but those burn marks make it so much more. Weiner crafted such an amazing leading lady for this novel and Ruth is probably one of my favorite main characters ever!

Now, the bad news about this book: there seems to be little to no editing in the story. There was one point where Ruth arrives to a party wearing pants, a few paragraphs later, she is talking about the skirt she's wearing, and by the end of the night, she's taking off her dress at home. I mean, come on! Little things like that could have been avoided. It didn't ruin the novel for me, but it did take away my attention sometimes because I was so focused on the bad editing. If you are looking for some chick lit that's a bit heavier, then you should look for this book. It was a great, quick read, and one that I will be sure to recommend to people looking for something light to read.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Book Blog Hop and Follow Friday (1-11-13)

Happy Friday everyone! How is your New Year going? I feel like NYE was years ago, but it was just a week and a half since we rang in the new year! Hard to believe that time flies by so quickly! Well, let's get onto the Friday fun ...

Parajunkee asks:


Well, I have never really thought about this before, but I guess something from Harry Potter. I would say dragons, just because it would be cool to go on vacation to see them in person. I don't want them roaming about, haha!

Well, Jen hasn't posted her Book Blog Hop question, but when she does, I will make sure to update with my answer!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Waiting On Wednesday (1-9-13)

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 News from Heaven by Jennifer Haigh (release date: January 29, 2013).

Synopsis (from GoodReads): When her iconic novel Baker Towers was published in 2005, it was hailed as a modern classic--"compassionate and powerful . . . a song of praise for a too-little-praised part of America, for the working families whose toils and constancy have done so much to make the country great" (Chicago Tribune). Its young author, Jennifer Haigh, was "an expert natural storyteller with an acute sense of her characters' humanity" (New York Times).

Now, in this collection of interconnected short stories, Jennifer Haigh returns to the vividly imagined world of Bakerton, Pennsylvania, a coal-mining town rocked by decades of painful transition. From its heyday during two world wars through its slow decline, Bakerton is a town that refuses to give up gracefully, binding--sometimes cruelly--succeeding generations to the place that made them. A young woman glimpses a world both strange and familiar when she becomes a live-in maid for a Jewish family in New York City. A long-absent brother makes a sudden and tragic homecoming. A solitary middle-aged woman tastes unexpected love when a young man returns to town. With a revolving cast of characters--many familiar to fans of Baker Towers--these stories explore how our roots, the families and places in which we are raised, shape the people we eventually become.News from Heaven looks unflinchingly at the conflicting human desires for escape and for connection, and explores the enduring hold of home.

I loved Baker Towers so I cannot wait to get my hands on this one! I love Haigh's writing and look forward to curling up with this one. So, what are you waiting on this Wednesday?