Monday, November 17, 2014

Christmas At Tiffany's: A Novel by Karen Swan

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

What do you do when the man you pledged your life to breaks your heart and shatters your dreams? You pack your bags and travel the big, wide world to find your destiny—and your true love . . .
Ten years ago, a young and na├»ve Cassie married her first serious boyfriend, believing he would be with her forever. Now her marriage is in tatters and Cassie has no career or home of her own. Though she feels betrayed and confused, Cassie isn’t giving up. She’s going to take control of her life. But first she has to find out where she belongs . . . and who she wants to be.
Over the course of one year, Cassie leaves her sheltered life in rural Scotland to stay with her best friends living in the most glamorous cities in the world: New York, Paris, and London. Exchanging comfort food and mousy hair for a low-carb diet and a gorgeous new look, Cassie tries each city on for size as she searches for the life she’s meant to have . . . and the man she’s meant to love.

my thoughts:

Christmas at Tiffany's is the funnest and most lighthearted chick lit novel I've read in ages. Its a little on the long side (nearly 600 pages!!), but the story moves at a rapid pace and soon you are so caught up in all the drama that you don't even realize its three in the morning and you are halfway through the novel.  I really loved it! And as you all know, chick lit is one of my favorite genres, so I was super excited to sink my teeth into this one.  I just love stories about starting over and rediscovering one's self.  So, I knew that Karen Swan's novel, Christmas at Tiffany's was going to be a delight to read.  After all, it had a group of best friends, NYC, London, and Paris, along with makeovers, glam lifestyles, and romance.  What more could I want in a chick lit book?!

Cassie has just found out that the love of her life has cheated on her with her new BFF.  And they have a kid together.  Ack!! Talk about a nightmare come to life!  Her best friends rush to her side and resolve to help Cassie get through this devastating time.  For four months she will live with each best friend in their respective homes and cities (NYC, London, and Paris).  She will get one year to try on their lives and see what she's been missing and just what exactly it is she wants from life.  Cassie will get to know her friends better than ever and discover things about them, their friendship, and her own life that will change her dramatically.  There will be makeovers, romance, and friendships that will prove beyond a measure of a doubt that friends do have your back.  With a cast of quirky characters, fantastic cities, and lots of drama - Swan has written a terrifically entertaining read that you will find unputdownable.  I absolutely loved Christmas at Tiffany's!!  And, I would definitely recommend this book to fans of chick lit - you will LOVE it!!

Here's the TLC Book Tour schedule for: Christmas At Tiffany's
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Bookisn and Non-Bookish Thoughts...

You guys, its already mid-November! That means that Thanksgiving is nearly round the corner - Cripes! All of this holiday rush has made me fast forward a bit - like, I've been listening to Christmas tunes in my car and baking up a storm (pumpkin muffins!).  I'm loving it!  As for my reading, I've been knocking out one book after the other.  Right now I'm in the middle of Stephen King's latest, REVIVAL.  Its about religion, special electricity, and good v. evil.  So far I am hooked, but admittedly a bit confused as to where King is going with this story.  I'm eager to find out what truth Jamie will find out about Jacobs - I'm pretty sure its not going to be good.  As for the other books I've recently read:

Not a bad mix, eh?  I'm also reading Sebastian Faulks' homage to Wodehouse, JEEVES AND THE WEDDING BELLS.  Its really good so far.  I'm even thinking of beginning a Wodehouse novel once I'm done with King.  I just love the high-jinks that Bertie always finds himself in.  Of course, I did just finish reading this great article about Hilary Mantel in my copy of Elle magazine, so I'm tempted to read her book of short stories, THE ASSASSINATION OF MARGARET THATCHER.  I just got a copy in the post and am pretty excited to dive into it, so that may trump the Wodehouse.  Then again, I have just downloaded the new VERONICA MARS book.  Blimey! There are just so many great books to read, I'm not sure where to start. Hmm....

Aside from reading, I've been watching Scandal, The Mindy Project, Gracepoint, and The Walking Dead.  I might start watching the new season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills - I can't help but love these shows (they are crazy addictive!)  Oh, I did manage to see Death Comes to Pemberley on PBS and absolutely loved it.  I found myself captivated by the country, the estate, the clothing, the story, the drama, and the characters.  I just knew that Wickham hadn't killed his friend, but wasn't surprised one bit by his role in Bidwell's life.  Such a good show!  Makes me excited for Downton Abbey's new season in January - from what I've read its been quite the year for everyone in Downton!

I've also been writing a bit more, which has been great.  Not all of it is good, but at least its something.  I'm trying to keep up with my journal as well.  I've been neglecting it and its time to change that.  So, I bought the Oprah book, WHAT I KNOW FOR SURE, and have been highlighting and noting things down from it in my journal.  Its been a really interesting read - very positive and encouraging, which is exactly what I need at the moment.

And that's what I've been up to lately. How about you? Any good reads or TV shows to recommend?  Hope you all have a great weekend!! Happy reading!!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Man V. Nature: Stories by Diane Cook

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

A refreshingly imaginative, daring debut collection of stories that illuminates with audacious wit the complexity of human behavior, and the veneer of civilization over our darkest urges.
Told with perfect rhythm and unyielding brutality, these stories expose unsuspecting men and women to the realities of nature, the primal instincts of man, and the dark humor and heartbreak of our struggle to not only thrive, but survive. In “Girl on Girl,” a high school freshman goes to disturbing lengths to help an old friend. An insatiable temptress pursues the one man she can’t have in “Meteorologist Dave Santana.” And in the title story, a long-fraught friendship comes undone when three buddies get impossibly lost on a lake it is impossible to get lost on. Below the quotidian surface of Diane Cook’s worlds lurks an unexpected surreality that reveals our most curious, troubling, and bewildering behavior.
Other stories explore situations pulled directly from the wild, imposing on human lives the danger, tension, and precariousness of the natural world: a pack of “not-needed” boys takes refuge in a murky forest where they compete against one another for their next meal; an alpha male is pursued through city streets by murderous rivals and desirous women; helpless newborns are snatched from their suburban yards by a man who stalks them. Through these characters Cook asks: What is at the root of our most heartless, selfish impulses? Why are people drawn together in such messy, needful ways? When the unexpected intrudes upon the routine, what do we discover about ourselves?
As entertaining as it is dangerous, this accomplished collection explores the boundary between the wild and the civilized, where nature acts as a catalyst for human drama and lays bare our vulnerabilities, fears, and desires.

my thoughts:

Diane Cook's book of short stories, Man V. Nature, is one of the BEST book of short stories I've read this year.  The writing is fantastically sharp, witty, and imaginative.  The theme of 'man versus nature' is explored in diverse and disturbing ways that are thought-provoking and completely unforgettable.  I mean it - these stories will haunt you!  And by setting these stories in a dystopian world, Cook is able to blend society's meanings of bizarre and normal together perfectly.  She really knows how to create some truly amusing and twisted shorts with some pretty unexpected endings.  Her writing even reminded me of Vonnegut and Atwood's short stories - which I LOVE.  That's just how terrific Cook's work truly is. 

I'm still thinking about the following three stories: Moving On, Somebody's Baby, and The Mast Year.  The first one is about a woman who has just lost her husband and is packing up to leave.  Apparently society dictates that widows be immediately moved to a shelter housing other widows.  In this new home they will learn to move on from their last marriage and find a new spouse.   Isn't that just crazy?!  Talk about speeding up grief!  The next story is about a woman who has a baby.  She's so happy, but gets unnerved when she notices a man staring at her house ALL THE TIME.  Her baby gets taken by this man and she learns that he takes everyone's children.  When she has a second child and he gets taken, she decides that "enough is enough" and is determined to do something about this man.  I must admit that I wasn't so sure where this story was going at first, but found myself riveted by it.  As for the last one, this woman is having THE best luck of all - promotion at work and newly engaged.  Suddenly she finds her yard filled with people trying to mooch off her good luck and things suddenly get too overwhelming for her.  Talk about luck turned bad.  

Writing about these stories has made me think of the last one in the book, The Not-Needed Forest.  In this story a group of boys that were taken from their families are sent down a chute to die.  Fortunately for them they find a way out and wind up living in a forest.  Let's just say that it turns into Terminus (think The Walking Dead) rather quickly and winds up leaving you chilled to the bone by the end.  

Man V. Nature by Diane Cook is an amazing read that I recommend to all fans of short stories.  You are going to fall in deep with this book and love every minute of it! And to find out what other bloggers have to say, here's the TLC Book Tour schedule for: Man V. Nature
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Shopaholic To The Stars: A Novel by Sophie Kinsella

Becky Brandon is back and this time round she's moved to Hollywood!  The land of celebrities, stylists, sunshine, and wheatgrass shots.  Talk about EXCITING!!!  Becky is beyond thrilled that Luke's business has taken him to La La Land, because it means that she will get the opportunity to style celebrities, befriend celebrities, and possibly become a celebrity - yeah, FAME is where its at in Becky's mind. Of course, being famous has its price and in this latest tome by Kinsella we learn all about the ups and downs of celebrity life via shopaholic, Becky.

Luke, Minnie, and Becky settle into their new digs and begin to adjust to life in Los Angeles.  Minnie's attending the top school in town.  Luke's working like mad to fulfill his contract.  And Becky is shopping, daydreaming, and scheming to become THE stylist to the stars.  All she wants is the chance to show everyone what she can do - which is create an unforgettable red carpet look.  However, things are going that well and Becky finds herself homesick and rather lonely.  Luckily, her BFF, Suze, has decided that her family needs a trip to the States in order to check on their businesses in California.  Soon enough Becky is surrounded by familiar faces and begins to enjoy her new life in L.A..  Except everything falls apart when Tarkie gets involved with a cult, Becky's father suddenly appears in L.A. to finish some unfinished business, Luke finds out that Becky lied to him (again); and Becky realizes just how false the celebrity life is in Hollywood.  Yeah, FAME is not where its at, but it just might be too late for Becky when she finally accepts this fact.  Or is it?

Yep, Kinsella has left this story with a cliffhanger - can you believe it?!  I was so engrossed in the novel that it took me a minute to realize that I had reached the end and that I wouldn't be able to find out what Becky's father's secret was. ACK!!  Talk about disappointment!  Of course, I'm still excited to find out where Kinsella will take this story next.   I can't wait for the next installment in the Shopaholic series -it is going to be FANTASTIC!!

And now, I'm off to read more about Bertie and Jeeves.  Happy Reading!!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

GIVEAWAY & REVIEW: The Red Book of Primrose House: A Potting Shed Mystery by Marty Wingate

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

In Marty Wingate’s charming new Potting Shed Mystery, Texas transplant Pru Parke’s restoration of a historic landscape in England is uprooted by an ax murderer.

Pru Parke has her dream job: head gardener at an eighteenth-century manor house in Sussex. The landscape for Primrose House was laid out in 1806 by renowned designer Humphry Repton in one of his meticulously illustrated Red Books, and the new owners want Pru to restore the estate to its former glory—quickly, as they’re planning to showcase it in less than a year at a summer party.

But life gets in the way of the best laid plans: When not being happily distracted by the romantic attentions of the handsome Inspector Christopher Pearse, Pru is digging into the mystery of her own British roots. Still, she manages to make considerable progress on the vast grounds—until vandals wreak havoc on each of her projects. Then, to her horror, one of her workers is found murdered among the yews. The police have a suspect, but Pru is certain they’re wrong. Once again, Pru finds herself entangled in a thicket of evil intentions—and her, without a hatchet.

my thoughts:

Marty Wingate's Potting Shed Mystery series is becoming my new favorite.  Its got all the charms of a cozy mystery that I adore - romance, a bit of danger, gardening history, and the English countryside.  Plus, the writing is top notch, the characters are fun and relatable, and the story itself is an entertaining read.  I absolutely loved The Red Book of Primrose House!

Picking up where the last story left off, Pru Parke has settled in to her new role as head gardener of Primrose House.  She' still dating DCI Christopher Pearse - the only quibble in that relationship is the long distance.  Of course they get in a fair number of weekends together, which added a romantic element to the story.  As usual, Pru is working on creating the BEST garden ever when she gets involved in a bit of drama - think jealous gardener, unruly employees, and an unrealistic boss who leaves her notes asking he to climb towering trees.  However, nothing matters after Ned is found brutally murdered in the garden - he was THE man to talk about the history of Primrose House and Pru's top worker.  As she manages to get more and more involved with the investigation surrounding Ned's death, Pru finds herself the victim of several dangerous attacks.  Seems like someone isn't too happy with Pru working at Primrose House.  Oh, and to add even more drama to the mix, Pru finds out some secrets from her past that truly shatter the last remaining images she had of her mother.  Whoa! Talk about a suspenseful and engaging read!  And that is all I will write about the book.  I don't want to give away any more details than necessary to pique your interest - which I'm hoping I did.  Just know that Marty Wingate knows how to write a cozy mystery very well and that you will be hooked from page one.

Check out the TLC Book Tour schedule for: The Red Book of Primrose House

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Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tour for providing me with a copy of this book!