Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Woman No. 17: A Novel by Edan Lepucki

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

A sinister, sexy noir about art, motherhood, and the intensity of female friendships, set in the posh hills above Los Angeles, from the New York Times bestselling author of California

High in the Hollywood Hills, writer Lady Daniels has decided to take a break from her husband. Left alone with her children, she’s going to need a hand taking care of her young son if she’s ever going to finish her memoir. In response to a Craigslist ad, S arrives, a magnetic young artist who will live in the secluded guest house out back, care for Lady’s toddler, Devin, and keep a watchful eye on her older, teenage son, Seth. S performs her day job beautifully, quickly drawing the entire family into her orbit, and becoming a confidante for Lady.

But in the heat of the summer, S’s connection to Lady’s older son takes a disturbing, and possibly destructive, turn. And as Lady and S move closer to one another, the glossy veneer of Lady’s privileged life begins to crack, threatening to expose old secrets that she has been keeping from her family. Meanwhile, S is protecting secrets of her own, about her real motivation for taking the job. S and Lady are both playing a careful game, and every move they make endangers the things they hold most dear.

Darkly comic, twisty and tense, this mesmerizing new novel defies expectation and proves Edan Lepucki to be one of the most talented and exciting voices of her generation.

my thoughts:

Wow! What a book! Set in So Cal, this dark and twisty story is filled with eccentric characters behaving badly, very badly.  And you can't help but want to read all about them. I swear its true! I was addicted to Woman No. 17 and could not put the book down for anyone or anything.  I was hooked from the start and enjoyed every minute I spent getting to know Lady and S.  They are an odd pair that make for quite an entertaining read.

I just loved Lepucki's top notch writing - it thrummed with life.  The way she wrote so clearly and vividly about these unpredictable characters was mesmerizing. Using the dual narratives to keep the pace of the story steady was perfect in allowing secrets to slowly and shockingly be revealed.  Her exploration of the mother-daughter relationship via Lady and S was fantastic! This story was truly a thrill to read!

I absolutely LOVED Woman No. 17 and would happily recommend it to fans of Lepucki and anyone looking for their next great read.

Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for: Woman No. 17
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Friday, May 19, 2017

My Friday Five...

1.  My blog.  I feel like I can express myself with personal posts and I really appreciate that. 

2.  Books.  I just purchased these lovelies:

3.   Book culling.  Fail.  I really tried to go through all of my books and get rid of a bunch.  Why? Because I have too many and not enough space for them all. Plus, I know that I won't be reading all of them.  I won't re-read books that I liked, but didn't love. I won't read books that have been sitting on my shelves for years and I still haven't read them.   And yet, I found it so hard to get rid of any books.  I even tried Kondo-ing my books - like, picking the ones that sparked joy to keep and getting rid of the others. In the end, I did manage to get rid of six bags of books (shopping bags).  So, I guess it wasn't a complete fail.  Except, I still have piles of books.

4.  TV shows.  I'm still watching my reality shows, Better Call Saul, and Good Witch.
  • It was a "groundhog's day" episode on Good Witch - the same people having some of the same problems over and over.  Definitely a fun episode.   
  • Better Call Saul was interesting to watch.  Nacho wasn't too happy with Hector demanding that his father help move drugs across to Mexico.  I'm thinking he may be the reason Hector is sitting in that chair on Breaking Bad.  As for Jimmy, well, we finally saw the birth of Saul Goodman Productions - woo hoo!!  I'm hoping this means that by season's end he'll lose Jimmy and become Saul.   
  • Southern Charm was all about quail hunting, jealousy, and relationships.  Seems Shep is jelly over Austen and Chelsea's relationship - although it turns out that Chelsea doesn't want a relationship, she just wants to have fun.  Maybe that means Shep is still in the running.  Thomas couldn't go hunting, because he can't be near guns.  But he can still drink, so he showed up for dinner and to see Landon.  Except Landon was too busy chatting with Austen to notice. Hmm...maybe Shep #2 will become Landon's new beau instead of Thomas. 
  • On Real Housewives of NYC, Sonya is becoming even more annoyed with Tinsley.  I'm thinking Tins needs to move out ASAP.  I also think that Sonya is jelly of Tins being younger and blonder.  Its ridiculous!  Ramona is still whining over B being mad at her.  Carole keeps telling people that her relationship with Adam is never going to progress, but she loves him.  Oh, and he is living in her apartment - she keeps reminding people its her apartment, not theirs. And LuAnn is love drunk.  Apparently, she is ignoring all the gossip that her husband to be is still chatting up other women.  Yep, she'd rather get married and deal with a divorce than call off the wedding - this is according to her friend.  Some friend, eh? 
5.   Music.  
  • Pure Country soundtrack.  I found my copy of the CD in a stack of DVDs and have been listening to it all week long. I love George Strait.  His voice is bliss. 
  • Chris Cornell.  May he rest in peace. Soundgarden. Audioslave.  Temple of the Dog.  So much talent. So many amazing songs.  

And now, I'm off to read the latest copy of O magazine.  Happy reading!!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

My Anxiety and Depression...

rear their ugly heads once again.  I had noticed them both creeping up on me, seeping into my daily life slowly and methodically, until they were overwhelming me once again. Ugh. I hate how I feel when I let these two get the better of me. I don't even know how it happens, it just does. And when it happens, I don't want to do anything. I don't even want to read.  I just get lost thinking about nothing or everything. My anxiety blossoms and I start second guessing myself to the point where I question everyone and everything and do absolutely nothing. Its frustrating and exhausting. And, its hard to push myself out of this funk.  But, I push and push until I slowly start to feel like myself again. 

Right now, I'm pushing and pushing. I'm going to the gym (even though I still hate to), because it makes me feel better. I'm watching old shows (Seinfeld), because they make me laugh.  I'm spending time with my family, because LOVE is the best medicine.  I'm reading daily devotionals from Joel Osteen, because they always seem to encapsulate what I'm feeling/struggling with and encourage positive thinking.  Like today, I opened my emails and this is what he wrote about:

"No matter what you are facing today, know this: you are not alone, and you are just walking through. You don’t have to stop and live in the tough times. They are only temporary. I encourage you today; don’t allow fear to paralyze you in the middle of “the valley of the shadow of death.” Remember, God is with you. He is walking beside you. He is strengthening you. He is making a way of escape for you. He is lining up people and situations to bring you out of that tough place into a place of strength and victory. Don’t give up! Press on and walk through!"

How fitting is that!?! I'm not trying to push religion, but I had to share this.  I wanted to show what I meant when I wrote that his devotionals seem to be so spot on with how I'm feeling.  After reading today's devotional I realized how right he was - my anxiety and depression are temporary; I'm not alone; and I will get out of this funk. Talk about a positive push!

And that positivity helps.  It encourages me even more.  I know that dealing with anxiety and depression isn't easy.  I know that pushing myself out of this funk is hard.  But I know that I can push myself out of it.  I know that I can beat my anxiety and depression. I know that it will take time and strength, but I know that I will do it.  These funks of mine come and go.  My doctor has suggested medications, but I've declined.  She pushes me to talk about how I feel and encourages me to work out (those endorphins will help she tells me).  So, don't worry, I am not dealing with this alone.

I just wanted to share how I've been feeling as of late, because I've been a bit absent on my blog.  And, I know that I'm not alone when it comes to anxiety and depression.  I wanted to share, so that others can feel free to share, too. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Concepción and the Baby Brokers by Deborah Clearman

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

In nine thematically linked stories set largely in Guatemala, Concepción and the Baby Brokers brings to life characters struggling with universal emotions and dilemmas in a place unfamiliar to most Americans. From the close-knit community of Todos Santos to the teeming danger of Guatemala City, to a meat-packing plant in Michigan and the gardens of Washington DC, Deborah Clearman shows us the human cost of international adoption, drug trafficking, and immigration.

A Cup of Tears, the opening novella, reveals a third-world baby farm, seen through the eyes of a desperate wet nurse, a baby broker, and an American adoptive mother. In “The Race” a young man returns to his native village to ride in a disastrous horse race. “English Lessons” tells of a Guatemalan immigrant in Washington DC who learns more than English from a public library volunteer. A teenage girl tries to trap her professor into marriage in “Saints and Sinners.”

With searing humanity, Clearman exposes the consequences of American exceptionalism, and the daily magic and peril that inform and shape ordinary lives.

my thoughts:

A solid collection of short stories that focus on Guatemala and immigrants from Guatemala in the U.S..  The writing is clear and precise in its rich, vivid descriptions of the country, its people, and their culture.  We befriend characters from all walks of life struggling to survive and thrive.  Their life experiences shape them and provide us with an idea of how they've gotten to where they are.  The stories explore a variety of issues: race, class, economic, and social.  It was chock full of fascinating characters and their interesting stories.  The one story that stuck out the most was about selling babies - yes, selling babies.  Babies are treated as a commodity, because they are in high demand.  They are stolen, they are sold, they are "adopted" -  its horrifying, sad, and real.  I appreciated this story the most, because it was so well developed and provided us with all of the different perspectives from everyone participating in this baby scheme.  From the young girl charged with caring for the babies to the couple whose baby was stolen to the "baby brokers" to the couple "adopting" the baby - you get to find out what everyone's role is and how they feel about it all.  Its absolutely riveting! I definitely enjoyed getting to know these characters and their country though this well written collection of short stories - it was definitely a treat to read.

Concepción and the Baby Brokers is a book I would happily recommend to fans of short stories - you will definitely find these stories to be compelling and worthwhile.  To find out what other bloggers have to say, here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for: Concepción and the Baby Brokers
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Friday, May 5, 2017

My Friday Five...

1.  Just finished reading:

The Auster was AMAZING! Literature at its finest.  I loved the way he wrote about the same character, but split that character up into different stories.  The idea that one event can alter someone's life completely, which is precisely how we were able to read four different stories about the same person.  It was cool to see the different trajectories the character's life took.  And, I loved how the peripheral characters were in his life, but in such different ways due to the different paths he took.  So cool!  As for the Jenny Han trilogy, I had to find out what would happen to LJ and Peter! Plus, I wanted something light and fun to read after the Auster. 

2. Just Received:

I've heard nothing but great things about the Ellwood, so I can't wait to dive right in.  As for the Carlino, I've always enjoyed her books and know this should be a fun read.

3. I bought:
You know my love of all things Paris, which means you'll understand why I had to buy a copy of this new book.  I've only flipped through the book so far, but from what I've seen I just know I'm going to enjoy reading it so much. I plan to savor this one - maybe I'll wait til the Paris In July challenge to read it. 

4.  TV shows.  So many reality shows to love/hate and two actual TV shows to enjoy. 
  • The Good Witch.  The citizens of Middleton are back and I'm so excited.  I just love this Hallmark series about Cassie, her family, and friends.  From the trailer alone, I can already tell that this is going to be a fun and drama filled season - hurrah!  So far, we've found out that Cassie and Sam are indeed dating - hurrah! And, there is a magical plant that only blooms once in a blue moon, but when it does all of Middleton is showered with good luck for the year.  How awesome does that sound!?  Except, someone has cut off a stem from the magical plant and now Cassie isn't feeling up to her usual magical self.  Hmm... seems the plant and Cassie are linked - this spells trouble!
  • Better Call Saul.  Gus Fring, the cartel, Hector, and Trout - woo hoo! I loved this ep and all its "Breaking Bad" glory! As for Jimmy, he signed a confession and Chuck got what he wanted - ugh!  Except, Jimmy and Kim seem to have a plan - my fingers are crossed it works out for them both!
  • Southern Charm.  Shep gets mad that Austen is going out with a woman that Shep went on one date with. Apparently, Austen broke "bro code".  Hmm...the only trouble with that notion, is that Shep has repeatedly broken "bro code" before and admitted that when it comes to love, all is fair in love and war.  So, he's basically being jelly over a woman that he now only likes because his friend is dating her.  Crazy!  As for Craig, his MBA gf is getting tired of his life of leisure.  Either study for the bar and pass it, or get a job! So much petty drama - I love it!
  • Real Housewives of NYC.  Its election time (or it was when they filmed) and Carole is out canvassing the streets of PA with her mother.  She's also hosting an election night party.  Ramona's been dis-invited because she doesn't give an "eff" about HC.  The night is long and as we all know the results are not good - no one is partying at Carole's party.  Dorinda has planned a huge party to celebrate Ramona's 60th birthday - in fact, she's even planned a decoy party to throw Ramona off.  Of course Ramona being Ramona has double booked herself for the night.  Everyone's worried that she's not going to make it to her own surprise party.  In the end, she shows up and gets yelled "Surprise!" at.  Another great ep of reality TV.
5.  Gregory Alan Isakov.  Where has this man been!?! I stumbled upon the song Amsterdam thanks to the GIRLS TV show and couldn't get it out of my head.  So, I looked up the song and singer and now I'm hooked!  Folk music FTW!!

And now, I'm off to visit with my sister. Hope everyone has a great weekend!! Happy reading!!