Monday, March 30, 2015

Review: "Confetti Confidential: They Do, I Don't" by Susan Murphy

After finding out that her husband Peter has been cheating, marriage celebrant Viv is devastated and she decides that she no longer believes in love or in happily ever after. The problem is that she has committed to officiating at ten upcoming weddings and there is no going back on her commitment to these couples without ruining their special days. She has no choice but to soldier on through them but the fact that once she gets through these weddings she will no longer have to perform them is a comfort to her.

Complicating her already complicated life is the fact that her ex-husband is trying to make amends to her and to their three children. Is Viv ready to take her husband back or will a surprise confession from a mystery suitor change her mind about her ex-husband and about love? Viv's unique and loving sisters help her navigate the waters of being single and perhaps finding love again in this often funny and definitely thought-provoking book from new author Susan Murphy.

I have mixed feelings about Confetti Confidential: They Do, I Don't. Let me start with the parts that I enjoyed. I really loved the plot. Who doesn't love a book about crazy weddings? Susan Murphy is a marriage celebrant in her real life and she definitely brought the best of those weddings to life in this story. I enjoyed reading about the weddings- from the one that takes place in a couple's paved driveway to the one that almost resulted in a fist fight- and these parts of the book were a lot of fun to read. I also enjoyed reading about Viv and her sisters. They were all unique and far from perfect but the fact that they loved each other was evident and I appreciated the fact that they were always there for one another through thick and thin.

There were a few things that I didn't like about Confetti Confidential and one of those things was that I was often confused as to where the book was taking place. I believe that the author decided not to clarify the setting so as to make the book universally relatable, but for me that just resulted in confusion. There were a few references to things that were decidedly Australian yet I thought that the book was taking place elsewhere. It was unnecessarily confusing and I would have preferred to have known where the story was taking place.

I also had a problem with the ending of the book. *Spoiler* Throughout the book Viv is trying to decide between several men, one of whom has been her best friend forever. She is mainly worried about losing her friendship with him if things don't work out but when he leaves her for several months in order to lose weight, and returns thinner than he used to be, Viv falls for him immediately, although the day before she had doubts. That potion of the book bothered me simply because it made Viv seem shallow and I felt like it took away from the book as a whole.

There were some things that I liked about Confetti Confidential and there were some things that I did not. As a whole it was well-written and entertaining and I would be interested in giving a different book by this author a try. My thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a review copy of this book.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Sunday Post

The Sunday Post is hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer!

It's been a while since I've had the chance to post on a Sunday! It's too bad but life seems to get in the way of my blogging more often than not. I've still been busy reading but haven't had the time to actually sit down and post about the things that I've been reading. Today I hope to get caught up on my pending reviews before I get too far behind!

Due to my reduced reading and blogging time I've been very selective about the books that I am accepting for review, but I've had a few great ones make their way into my home in the past couple of weeks! Laura Dave's Eight Hundred Grapes, A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison, Dog Crazy by Meg Donohue and The Daughter by Jane Shemilt. I can't wait to read them all!

Last week I devoured My Father's Wives by Mike Greenberg (so great!) and I started Catherine Alliot's Wish You Were Here.

The past week has been busy, work wise. There is always a lot to do at work and home! My boys started their spring session of swimming lessons (all three of my boys love to swim!!) and next week I get to volunteer at my son's school for their "Scientists in the School" program. I enjoy going in to help at the school when I can, and it is great when I have the chance to because my work schedule is not always co-operative! I'm also really looking forward to Easter weekend next weekend! I am especially looking forward to spending time with both my family and my husband's family, and eating some delicious food!!

I hope that you all have a great week, and that you have a great Easter weekend next weekend!

Monday, March 16, 2015

"Blokebusters" by Sam Carlton

Matt Brown is the world's nicest husband. He may not be the most polished man, and he may not look the best in a suit, but he adores his wife Georgia and he would do absolutely anything for her. Luckily Georgia adores Matt just as much as he adores her. Even though people describe them together as "the beauty and the geek" they are devoted to making one another happy.

When Matt loses his job in IT he is devastated. Not having had the most stable of childhoods, he doesn't want to lose his beautiful home and garden, and Georgia doesn't want that for him either. She vows to work even harder to make sure that doesn't happen. One night, drunk off of dreadful homemade wine, Matt comes up with the concept of starting up a business that tests men's faithfulness. Thus, Blokebusters is born. The small business explodes seemingly overnight, with women from their area desperate to test the faithfulness of their husbands and boyfriends.

While the initial success is wonderful for all three of them, they quickly find out the downfalls of being successful in a small business while working day jobs. Georgia and Matt find cracks in their marriage that they never imagined could exist. Fi finds herself enjoying her job immensely but unwilling to trust men given her horrible track record. When a sexy American enters onto the scene and makes a play for Georgia will she fall for it, or stay true to her loyal and flawed hubby? Will Fiona be able to open her heart up to journalist Leo, or will her cynical side win again? Is running Blokebusters all it was cracked up to be?

I found myself thoroughly enjoying Blokebusters! It kept me guessing and the story grabbed my attention. It was well-written and thoroughly edited, which is something that I look for in a book. If I receive a book for review I do appreciate when it is carefully edited and free of glaring errors, as that is my pet peeve regardless of where the review copy came from! I loved the dynamic of the relationship between Matt and Georgia. It's clear that they are two very different people and it is brought up several times that Georgia's co-workers think that she is too good for her hubby, but she remains loyal to him and she remains insistent that he is perfect for her! I loved that aspect of the story. It seems like everyone is all too quick to cheat and "upgrade" these days but these two remained loyal to one another. How refreshing! Matt was endearing as well, and he was definitely one of my favourite characters in the story. More than anything I wanted him to have a happy ending!

If I had one complaint it would be minor, and that would be that the fact that Georgia and Matt's differences are emphasized often. While I realize that it was a key plot point I thought that it was mentioned a little too often. We as readers got the point quite early on, and didn't need it drilled into our heads.

Overall Blokebusters was surprisingly funny as well as touching. There were characters that I enjoyed getting to know, and I found myself unable to put the book down while I was waiting to see what would happen next. The ending wasn't predictable, and was thoroughly enjoyable. My thanks to Netgalley for providing me with a review copy of this book!

Friday, March 13, 2015

"Heartbreak Hotel" by Deborah Moggach

Russell "Buffy" Buffery is retired from the acting profession and is sick of living in London. He's simply getting too old for the hustle and the bustle, not to mention the lack of parking available! Salvation from the busy city comes in the form of a tired B&B located in the Welsh countryside, left to him in a dear old friend's will. The only problem? The B&B is desperately in need of repairs and he hasn't any money for them, nor does he have the bookings to provide the income.

At first he manages with the help of Voda, the woman who used to clean the house. Her boyfriend is in jail and she's at a loose end so she offers to not only clean the B&B but to assist in running it as well. Quickly Buffy finds that in order to be able to keep the B&B he needs new customers- and fast! He hatches an idea to run courses on cooking and car maintenance and gardening, all with the purpose of catering to the newly divorced whose former other halves attended to these things. While the courses do prove to be quite entertaining, each for their own reasons, they all seem to have mixed results, but an idea has been born and it's enough to keep Buffy afloat for the time being- or is it?

As various people who visit the B&B struggle to find their place in the world, Buffy finds that he is where he was meant to end up all along.

Heartbreak Hotel is the first book by Deborah Moggach that I have had the pleasure of reading, and I was pleasantly surprised! The motley crew of characters provided me with no end of entertainment, and the setting was picturesque and quite fun! It came at a perfect time for me- I was looking for a read that would be both relaxing and fun, and this is exactly what this book was! There were a lot of characters who we meet, some whose heads that we get inside, and some whose we don't, but they are all endearing in their own way, and if there was one that I didn't particularly care for, chances were good that we wouldn't be spending long with them anyways! Buffy, who ties the whole book together, is fun and hard not to love, and I enjoyed getting to know a few of his children, of whom there are many!

If I had a complaint it may be that there were a lot of characters introduced to us in one book, and as such we didn't get a chance to truly get attached to any of them. I also didn't like the fact that we get inside the heads of characters when we meet them, and once they are on their way to a happy ending they are presented to us in a very distant way. No longer are we privy to their thoughts and I wish that we would be!

Heartbreak Hotel was an entertaining read, perfect for enjoying on a relaxing day in the sunshine or at the beach. While I didn't feel strongly for any one character in the novel, I did enjoy meeting them all in passing, and the B&B setting was hugely fun! This being the first book by the author that I have read, I now know that I would like the opportunity to read more from her in the future! My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy for review.

Monday, March 2, 2015

"It Was Me All Along" by Andie Mitchell

Andie Mitchell's childhood was less than ideal. With an alcoholic, depressed father prone to rages, and a mother who carried the household on her back while working four jobs to pay the bills, food became Andie Mitchell's best friend, baby-sitter, and companion. Most of all, it helped her to deal with how hard things were at home and how alone she felt. Coming to terms with being "the fat girl" in high school, Andie seemed to progress into adulthood with minimal scars. She had boyfriends and best friends and a college acceptance.

However stepping on the scale when she was twenty led to the shocking realization that she weighed 268 pounds. Well on the way to morbid obesity and numerous health problems, Andie was forced into the realization that she needs to find a way to lose weight. What follows is her journey- raw and emotional and real. Andie is not someone who wishes to present herself as the perfect person, or as someone who dropped the weight effortlessly. She presents herself as someone flawed and human and wanting acceptance and love more than anything. This is her story- her story of finding beauty within herself, of overcoming a difficult childhood and an eating disorder, and of finding out that inside it was really her all along.

I truly can't convey to you simply using words how deeply It Was Me All Along touched me. I related to it on such an intensely personal level and I couldn't bear to put it down for long! I read at the gym, at work on my breaks, and at home. Not only is her writing exceptional (I would read anything that she's written, whether it be fiction or non-fiction, based on the beauty of her writing alone), but Andie's story is one that I saw myself in many, many times while reading the book. If you've ever looked in the mirror and hated what you saw, if you have ever wondered how the whole sleeve of cookies disappeared in one sitting, if you have ever examined the excess flesh on your body and absolutely despised it, then Andie understands. If you'd rather read than exercise, then she gets it. I had a wonderful childhood, while Andie's was tumultuous, but I still found so many similarities between our thought patterns and bad habits. Perhaps the reason that I loved this book so much is because while I was reading it I kept thinking to myself "She really gets the pain of being overweight. She truly understands the struggle". Not only does she understand the plight of the overweight person so well, she manages to put things about being overweight into words that have only been shadows of thoughts in my own mind.

Andie shares her journey towards weight loss with us in such an honest way, chronicling her ups and downs, her missteps and her triumphs. Through it all, and with a lot of hard work and trial and error, Andie seems to find a balance between being thin and being fat, with being obsessed and not caring at all. While her story is far from preachy, I even found a few tips in there that I can easily apply to my own life when it comes to moderation and eating healthfully.

If you've ever been overweight, read this book. If you struggle with your relationship to food, read this book. If you've ever felt so alone that you think that no one could possibly understand how you feel, read this book. It Was Me All Along is one of my favourite books of the year so far and I won't stop recommending it until everyone I know has given it a chance.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

"Maybe in Another Life" by Taylor Jenkins Reid Cover Reveal!

I am ridiculously excited for Taylor Jenkins Reid's upcoming novel, Maybe in Another Life. I loved her books Forever, Interrupted and After I Do so much that they remain two of my absolutely favourite books! I am so excited to be able to share the cover for her upcoming read here today!

Isn't it gorgeous???

About the Book:

From the acclaimed author of Forever, Interrupted and After I Do comes a breathtaking new novel about a young woman whose fate hinges on the choice she makes after bumping into an old flame; in alternating chapters, we see two possible scenarios unfold—with stunningly different results.

At the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college. On the heels of leaving yet another city, Hannah moves back to her hometown of Los Angeles and takes up residence in her best friend Gabby’s guestroom. Shortly after getting back to town, Hannah goes out to a bar one night with Gabby and meets up with her high school boyfriend, Ethan.

Just after midnight, Gabby asks Hannah if she’s ready to go. A moment later, Ethan offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay. Hannah hesitates. What happens if she leaves with Gabby? What happens if she leaves with Ethan?

In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision. Quickly, these parallel universes develop into radically different stories with large-scale consequences for Hannah, as well as the people around her. As the two alternate realities run their course, Maybe in Another Life raises questions about fate and true love: Is anything meant to be? How much in our life is determined by chance? And perhaps, most compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate?

Hannah believes there is. And, in both worlds, she believes she’s found him.

About Taylor Jenkins Reid:

Taylor Jenkins Reid is an author and essayist from Acton, Massachusetts. She is the author of Forever, Interrupted and After I Do. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Alex, and her dog, Rabbit. You can follow her on Twitter @TJenkinsReid.

Find Taylor Online:

Pre-Order the Book:

Monday, February 23, 2015

Guest Post by Laura Chapman, Author of "The Marrying Type"

An Irregular Routine
By Laura Chapman

When people ask me about my writing routine, I wish I had a good answer. Something like, “I wake up every morning at 4:30 am, at my computer by 5, and write ten pages before I go to the office at 8.” Despite my best intentions, like going to the gym every day, I’ve never been disciplined enough to make myself follow a schedule that lasts long-term.

I can’t even give a proper answer about where I write. My first novel, Hard Hats and Doormats, was written partially on airplanes and in airports and dodgy motels. My new book, The Marrying Type, was written primarily in coffee shops and cafes during National Novel Writing Month 2011 and in the months following. (Book 3, which is in editing, was written in bars or staring at the view of a bar visible outside the window of my home office.)

I’m still learning how to be the best writer--heck the best person--I can be, which means my process is adapting and evolving as I develop my craft. Still, in the past few years, I have developed a list of a few things I must have with me during my big, productive spurts of writing.

1. Coffee. It almost feels like a cliche to be a writer talking about her need of coffee, but what can I say? It’s a standard association for a reason. When I’m at home doing my early morning writing, I set my coffee timer to brew a fragrant hazelnut, cinnamon, or vanilla blend. I like flavored coffees that aren’t too dark. Once a week, I’ll venture to Starbucks and/or Panera, where I get the blonde roast and hazelnut respectively. There really is something about taking that first whiff and then sip of coffee that stirs my creative juices (and helps me stay awake despite the early hour).

2. Headphones. Back in the days when I traveled frequently, I learned to be able to write wherever I went. In a busy airport or a crowded coffee shop, that meant putting in headphones and listening to music to drown out the sound around me. Even now when I’m writing at home in the quiet, I almost always put my earbuds in before I write. While I don’t always listen to music while I work, just the motion of putting on my headphones and sitting with them in helps me feel like I’m in my writing world.

3. A gameplan. I’m a plotter by nature, which means I need to have at least a basic outline of my story and where I’m going when I write. My outlines aren’t super extensive (sometimes the only words on a point will be something like, “Elliot joins the bridal party for some bachelorette fun”), but I like having the prompt. In addition, I’m a listmaker, so I’ll frequently jot down some goals before a writing session, such as “write 1,000 words” or “finish the dress-fitting scene.”

4. A timer. This is a relatively new addition to my writing team, but this fall I invested in an egg-timer to give the Pomodoro Technique the old college try. If you haven’t heard of this before, basically you put 25 minutes on the clock and commit to doing that task for the full 25 minutes. That means no Facebook breaks, no giving the kittens a scratch behind the ears, no refilling your coffee mug. All of that can wait until after the timer rings. I had a lot of success using this to finish the first draft of my third book, and I’m sure it will be useful as I finish the first draft of my fourth book sometime this spring.

5. Frequent cat breaks. I try my best to focus on writing during the times I designate for it, but I also recognize that I’m human and need to take care of myself and those that depend on me. That means taking breaks to stretch, play with my cats (Jane and Bingley), and just living life. I always feel so much better after taking some time for myself, and I think it makes my writing that much stronger--or at least I don’t whine so much.

Thanks so much to Jonita for having me here, today, and thanks to all of you for letting me share a little bit about my writing world.

About the Book

Always the wedding planner, never a bride, Elliot Lynch is famous for orchestrating the splashiest
weddings in Charleston, South Carolina. When her father’s sloppy management practices leave them on the brink of bankruptcy, Elliot will do whatever it takes to save the family business. When asked to appear on “The Marrying Type,” a reality TV show about the people behind the scenes as couples exchange I dos, she says yes to the invasion of privacy (and the hefty paycheck that comes with it).

With a camera crew capturing every detail of her life, Elliot faces her most challenging contract yet: planning a wedding where her ex is involved in every part of the process. Add in a lazy assistant, liquor-loving bridesmaid, and rival planner encroaching on her turf, and Elliot’s wedding season goes from high-end to high-stress.

Forced to confront her past, Elliot must live out her troubled present on national TV if she has any hope of saving her future.

About the Author

Laura Chapman is the author of The Marrying Type, Hard Hats and Doormats and the Autumn and Tuck series, which appear in Merry & Bright and A Kind of Mad Courage. A native Nebraskan, she loves football, Netflix marathons, and her cats, Jane and Bingley. Until she fulfills her dream of landing a British husband or becoming a Disney princess, you can find her in a bar penning her next novel.

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