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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Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Sunday Post

The Sunday Post is hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer! Please stop by her blog and check out all of the Sunday Posts by other bloggers!

I'm cheating a little this week- I'm writing my post on Saturday night instead of Sunday! I had a long week at work this week, despite Monday being a holiday, and since when I got home from work today is was snowing considerably the hubby and I decided to stay in tonight and relax a little. I'm relieved! Sometimes it's nice to not have anywhere to go! The winter weather is definitely taking its toll on me. It has been very cold this week (our high yesterday was -15 degrees C!) and the bitter cold is making me long for bright summer days and for reading books on the beach! I know that if I'm patient the good weather will come eventually but I want to stamp my foot on the floor like a small child having a temper tantrum and demand warmer weather now! While we are spending tonight at home as a family tomorrow will be a busy day. My youngest has a birthday party to go to and my husband plays music with his dad on Sundays so I drive him there and usually have a visit with my mother-in-law!

This past week I finished reading Sarah Pekkanen's upcoming novel Things You Won't Say. It reflected on two of my favourite topics, marriage and motherhood, and is a worthy read! I am currently devouring It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell. This book is resonating with me in such a personal way that I just can't put it down! I plan to review it later this week.

A few new books made their way into my inbox this week. I can't wait to read The Status of All Things by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke. They are my favourite writing duo and I have not been disappointed by one of their books yet! I also added You'll Be Thinking of Me by Denise Webb, Save Me by Kristyn Kusek Lewis (love the cover!), and Two For the Heart by Etka R. Garg to my TBR pile!

I reviewed two books this week- Walking on Trampolines by Frances Whiting (LOVED it!) and New Uses for Old Boyfriends by Beth Kendrick (if you haven't already, enter my giveaway!!).

This past week I have been focusing on my fitness as well as on reading! I am trying very hard to shed some excess pounds that continue to haunt me and I asked the hubby for a FitBit Charge for Valentines Day! He kindly obliged and we chose one in Slate Blue. I have been wearing it religiously for a week now and have been fascinated by the breakdown of my daily activities. The FitBit tracks my sleep patterns as well as my steps per day, stairs climbed, calories burned and miles walked. I have been meeting my goal of 10, 000 steps per day every day so far (I work in manufacturing and I walk a lot in one day! Some days are recording over 20, 000 steps!) but this week I plan to start tracking my food intake. Tracking all of the food I eat is a pain in the butt (I've attempted it before) but I think that it is essential in finding out why I can't shed these pounds despite daily visits to the gym and fairly healthy eating. I am also not going to eat chocolate for 30 days! My oldest son (15) is such a sweetheart that he has decided to forgo chocolate along with me despite the fact that he is as skinny as a rail!

I hope that you have a great Sunday and a great week next week!

Friday, February 20, 2015

"New Uses For Old Boyfriends" by Beth Kendrick- Review and Giveaway!

Lila Alders, a home shopping network darling, is used to having money and enjoying all of the privileges that come with it. Her father always made sure to provide only the best for his girls and her husband was wealthy as well. Her carefully constructed world has come tumbling down around her, though. Her father has recently passed away leaving her pampered mother a widow, and Lila is going through a divorce. It's hard to go home, but even harder to go home when nothing seems to have gone right lately.

Lila does return to her home in Black Dog Bay because her mother seems unable to do the simplest things without assistance, and quite frankly Lila has no place else to go. Once arrived she finds herself reconnecting with an ex-boyfriend as well as a mysterious suitor from her past. However as she reunites with her first love she comes to find out that what she wanted as a teenager is no longer what she wants as an adult. Struggling to open a vintage clothing store and hopefully save her childhood home from being sold, Lila Alders finally comes to terms with what it's like to stand on her own two feet and become the person that she was destined to be.

New Uses For Old Boyfriends was a fun read that I sailed through. I was done before I realized it! It is one in the series of books that takes place in Black Dog Bay but it can be read as a stand-alone if you wish. Since a few of the characters from the previous books do reappear you may want to read the earlier books first, though! Speaking about characters, this was where New Uses for Old Boyfriends excelled. The characters were fun and fleshed out in a way that made me want to be friends with them! I love Jenna in the Whinery as well as Summer and Hattie and it was great that they were such a presence in this book. Equally fun was meeting the men in Lila's life. The romantic scenes were full of chemistry!

This lighthearted romance was a fun read, and it concluded that perhaps you can go home again! The ending was not predictable at all, which I liked, but I did find it a bit abrupt and perhaps a little rushed. I did enjoy it, though, and I liked where the author left things for the most part. I'm looking forward to the next book set in Black Dog Bay- that little town has certainly won my heart! If you're looking for a stress-free read to use as a fun escape, New Uses for Old Boyfriends certainly fits the bill! My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy of this book. Fill out the Rafflecopter below to win your own copy! US addresses only please!

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

"Walking on Trampolines" by Frances Whiting

Tallulah de Longland is coping with more at home than a girl her age should have to when the glamorous and worldly Annabelle Andrews barges into her classroom and into her life. From that moment on Tallulah and Annabelle are inseparable. For some reason unknown to Tallulah, Annabelle has chosen her to be her best friend and when Annabelle makes up her mind about something, nothing will stand in her way.

Annabelle's parents are glamorous and eccentric artists, best known for their quirks and for the drama that always seems to follow one step behind them. Tallulah's dad is a plumber, his motto being that he "plumbs the depths of excellence". Tallulah's mom has struggled with crippling depression for all of Tallulah's life. When her mother is feeling well their house is full of baked goods and cheer, and when she is not feeling well her mother is a shell of herself. The two friends navigate the tricky waters of their home life together and somehow it just makes things easier to handle.

Everything changes when Josh enters on to the scene. Josh is a free-spirited surfer boy, practically ignored by his chain-smoking mother, who walks into the corner store one day when Tallulah happens to be there and suddenly she finds herself with a beautiful and attentive boyfriend. Annabelle is not about to be ignored, though, and Annabelle, Josh, and Tallulah find themselves making up a tight-knit threesome. When an unspeakable betrayal happens and breaks their group up for good, Tallulah finds herself with emotional scars that last well into adulthood and one day she is faced with a choice- does she continue to do what is expected of her, or should she do something that is quite possibly unforgivable?

Walking on Trampolines was nothing like I expected and everything that I hoped for. It was a compelling story about first friendships, first loves, and first betrayals. The story was set in Australia but the themes were universal and they carried themselves well across the pages. I was sucked in from the beginning. I loved the characters- each vibrant and unique- and I loved how the story changed and deepened from page to page. It was one of those stories that I found myself thinking about even when I wasn't reading. Not only did I want to know what happened next, but I wanted to get into the character's heads!

More than just a coming of age tale, Walking on Trampolines is a tender exploration of how the events from our childhood continue to shape our adulthood. It is a story that examines family dynamics and childhood friendships and first loves and how they shape who we are to become later in life. This book was sad and funny and larger-than-life and I won't hesitate to recommend it to absolutely everyone since I had such a hard time putting it down myself. I am already looking forward to this authors next book! My thanks to Simon and Schuster Canada and Netgalley for providing me with a review copy of this book.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Sunday Post (On a Monday!)

The Sunday Post is hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

It's a long weekend here in Ontario (yay, Family Day!) so we spent our Sunday doing things that we usually don't, because we didn't have to work today! It was great to be out and about- we visited my in-laws as well as friends of ours- but that does mean that my Sunday post is a day late!

Happy Valentine's Day Weekend to everyone who celebrated with a friend or a loved one! Jay and I went out shopping after he was done work and he bought me the FitBit that I've been desiring! It wasn't so much a Valentine's Day Gift as it was a "I Know You've Been Wanting This" gift. So sweet! I don't have it set up yet but I plan to do so later on this afternoon after I've done a little housework. I'm excited to start using it, and I plan to use the stats that it provides to up my game at the gym! After we went shopping we went out for drinks and wings at our favourite local pub. It was a fantastic evening!

Today the kids and I celebrated Family Day by going for a family swim at our local indoor pool. It is absolutely freezing out but the pool was nice and warm! The county provided a free lunch afterwards and the kids and I enjoyed some together time! This afternoon is all about relaxing- I will be doing some necessary housework and cooking spaghetti for dinner (hubby's choice). After I've done those things I plan to read a little (my current read is Sarah Pekkanen's Things You Won't Say), perhaps write up some future blog posts and set up my FitBit.

I didn't do any posts this past week, other than my Sunday post. I do have one scheduled for tomorrow for Walking on Trampolines by Frances Whiting (hint: it was fabulous!) so make sure you come back and check it out!

Only two books came into my house last week- Jane Green's upcoming Summer Secrets and Nick Hornby's Funny Girl.

That's it from me! I hope that everyone has a great week and for all those who are off today, enjoy your bonus day off!