Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Review: "Food Whore: A Novel of Dining and Deceipt" by Jessica Tom

Tia Monroe is fresh out of college and ready to experience all that graduate school and New York have to offer. She's aware that adjusting to New York will be a challenge, but she's willing to take it on, especially with loyal college boyfriend Elliot by her side.

Tia is lusting after an internship with her long-time food idol Helen Lansky, and she will do just about anything to get it. Or so she thinks. When she is approached by New York Times food critic Michael Saltz she can't imagine what he wants from her, but she is about to find out. Michael has lost his sense of taste completely and needs a "ghost taster" of sorts- someone like Tia who knows food and would be able to help him to write his reviews. The job comes with the lure of free designer clothing, expensive meals out, and the possibility of working with her idol full-time once Michael has an experimental surgery to get his sense of taste back. Although Tia knows that it's risky she can't help but be sucked in by the lure of Michael's promises. Seeing her words in the New York Times will almost be payment enough!

As her new secret career launches, Tia finds herself losing the things that once meant the most to her including her integrity, her coveted grad school scholarship, her friendships and her boyfriend Elliot. Suddenly she finds herself needing to evaluate if it's worth it or not. After all, does anyone's career ever start out at the top?

I love food, and I love food TV, so picking up Food Whore was a no-brainer! For me, it started out slow. Michael Saltz is a despicable character so it's hard to root for him, and I found all of the elaborate food descriptions a tad pretentious. At that point in the book Tia is treating her boyfriend and friends as if they are disposable, so it was hard to like her as well.

It wasn't until about two thirds of the way through the book that Food Whore became more interesting to me. The plot certainly thickens, there are some interesting turns of events, and Tia starts to realize the person that she is allowing herself to become. I'm glad that I stuck it out that long, since reading the last third of the book was enough to make up for the slow first part. Suddenly the story had it all- romance, deception, drama. I loved it!

The conclusion of Food Whore was exactly the type that I enjoy the most! Things did not end up how I expected them to, but the ending that the author came up with was even better than the version that I had in my head! It was the perfect conclusion, an honour that I bestow on very few books. It kept me on my toes and wanting more!

Despite a slow start, Food Whore emerged a winner in the end! Even though I wanted to scream at Tia throughout much of the book she ended up being quite likable and - alas- human. The conclusion was exciting, and I found myself feeling satisfied as I turned the final pages. This novel about finding oneself in a new city while following your dreams is an admirable debut by author Jessica Tom.

My thanks to TLC Book Tours for inviting me along on this tour!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving and the Sunshine Blogger Award!

It's Thanksgiving here in Canada so a happy Thanksgiving to you all! I was already blessed with an amazing turkey dinner prepared by my mother-in-law yesterday so we are spending the holiday Monday at home getting a few things done. I have to say that it is the most relaxed that I've been in ages! In keeping with the relaxed Thanksgiving theme I thought that I would keep my blog post today light and fun! Melissa Amster, one of my very favourite bloggers, has nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award (Thank-you Melissa!). The rules are as follows:

1) Thank the person who nominated you.
2) Share 11 random facts about yourself by answering the nominating blogger's questions.
3) Nominate 11 more bloggers and ask them 11 random questions.

So here goes!

1. Which TV show just needs to be cancelled already?

Is Law and Order cancelled yet? I honestly don't have a good answer for this question- I figure you should watch whatever makes you happy! You know what, though? I miss "Friends". It ended too soon for me!

2. What is your favourite 80's song?

I used to sing "I Think We're Alone Now" by Tiffany in my bedroom along with my radio. I didn't ever have a person in mind that I was singing to, but man, did I sing passionately! LOL!!

3. What is something that never fails to make you laugh?

It's a person! My husband and I have watched Chris D'Elia's Netflix special "Incorrigible" many, many times now, and it never fails to make me laugh uncontrollably! In addition to this, my dog Kevin makes me laugh daily. He's hilarious! He does the silliest things!

4. How long could you go without Social Media access?

Sadly, I'm a social media addict. I think I could go about 24 hours without access....maybe.

5. If you were to do a TED talk, what would it be about?

What a fantastic question! I'm not there yet, but in the future I would love to do a TED talk about loving oneself despite a low self-esteem. I was bullied as a child and am still trying to overcome the effects in my 30's, so I would love to help others who are going through the same thing!

6. What is your favourite month and why?

I love July! It signals to me the promise of summer and all of the wonderful things that go with it: the beach, reading on the beach, warm weather and sunshine, and vacations! I'm always at my most positive at the beginning of the summer!

7. If you could give advice to someone who just graduated college and is ready for the real world, what would that be?

I would tell them to be positive to attract positivity into your own life. Life as an adult is hard sometimes, and there are many ups and downs, but if you try your best to be positive as much as you can maybe good things will come into your life!

8. What is something that everyone likes and you don't like at all?

The Superbowl- I could care less! And baseball- the Blue Jays are winning and I'm like "meh!". Also, pumpkin spice everything- yuck!

9. What is the last book that you read that you can't stop recommending?

"Accidents of Marriage" by Randy Susan Meyers. I read it and I had a book hangover for DAYS! It was soooooo good!

10. What is something unique about yourself?

I'm the mom to three boys and people often wonder if I wish that I had had at least one girl, but I genuinely didn't- I love being the mom to boys!

11. What is something that you do that you'd like to outsource?

Oh, man, don't get me started! Dishes and making lunches are the bane of my existence, but quite frankly if I had a maid, a personal trainer, and a person chef I would be a very happy girl!

I'm cheating a little bit on this next part by not nominating specific people, however if you would like to answer my questions, either here in my comments or on your personal blog I would love to know your answers! My questions are:

1. What is the last book that made you cry?

2. What is your favourite children's movie?

3. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?

4. If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

5. Choose from the following- what would you rather have: a maid, a personal chef, a personal trainer or a nanny?

6.  What is the last book that you've read that you just can't stop recommending?

7. What is your favourite ice cream flavour?

8. Where is your favourite place to read?

9. What is your favourite Smartphone app?

10. You've won the lottery- what's the first thing that you buy?

11. You can have any pet you want- what do you choose?

Have fun! I'd love to hear your answers!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Blog Tour: "Accidents of Marriage" by Randy Susan Meyers

Maddy and Ben have been married for many years, and they love each other in so many ways, but Maddy is beginning to feel the strain of being married to a man who is a quick to anger and who has a volatile temper. Despite the fact that they both have full-time and demanding careers it is Maddy who has to balance the children's needs, family emergencies, and the running of a household along with her day job. Often it seems as if Maddy were to drop the ball one time, everything would come crashing down around them.

It's not just Maddy who is affected by Ben's temper. Their three children have been witnesses to Ben's sudden fits of rage, and they are reacting to it. Their teenaged daughter Emma is spiraling increasingly out of control and their two younger children remain mystified and confused by their dad's outbursts.

After one particularly frustrating day, Ben rages out of control while driving with Maddy on rain-slick roads. Despite her repeated attempts to get him to slow down, Ben loses control and Maddy ends up in the hospital fighting for her life. Even if she makes it, will she be strong enough to piece together the fragments of her shattered life?

I had a "bookover" (book hangover) after finishing this one, and it lasted for days. Every book that I picked up and attempted to read paled in comparison to what I had just read. Accidents of Marriage spoke to me, moved me, and it will stay with me for quite some time. There was something about this book that really resonated with me. It was a powerful story of one marriage that was held together by a thread, and when that delicate thread snapped everything fell apart.

I admired Maddy so much. Attempting to do what was best for her children and her family she never gave up fighting, even before her accident. She tried to do what she could to be a good mom and a good wife and a good social worker. After the accident she is faced with some tough decisions, and she holds her ground with grace and dignity. I love that Meyers did not take the easy way out and wrap up the ending up in a neat bow. She left it open to interpretation and I think that was the best way that it could have ended. I liked imagining what could happen in Maddy's future.

Meyers tackles the difficult and often overlooked issue of emotional abuse in a way that is easily relatable to people in all different kinds of domestic situations. Accidents of Marriage isn't just for one type of person, but should be read by women everywhere. I, for one, am so glad that I had the opportunity to read it. It spoke to me, it taught me something, and it opened my eyes. Thank-you to TLC Book Tours for inviting me along on this tour.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Escaping to Sunny Los Angeles with "Maybe in Another Life" by Taylor Jenkins Reid

At 29, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life, and she wanders aimlessly from city to city on a whim. With her parents and sister living in London, England since before she graduated high school, Hannah only has one constant in her life, and that's her best friend Gabby. When Hannah decides to move back to her hometown of Los Angeles, Gabby's guest room is ready and waiting for her. Since Hannah's return to where she grew up warrants a homecoming according to Gabby, they meet at a bar with a bunch of old friends, including ex-boyfriend Ethan. Just after midnight Gabby asks Hannah is she's ready to go. Ethan offers to take her home later if she would prefer that and so she wonders. Should she stay with Ethan or should she leave with Gabby?

What follows are the results of both of those decisions. Told concurrently, we find out what lies in store for Hannah if she goes home with Gabby and her husband or if she stays at the bar with Ethan. These parallel universes are radically different and they raise questions about true love and fate. Are our futures predestined? Or are they a result of the small decisions that we make each day?

I  have loved each of Taylor Jenkins Reid's books, and her third release was no exception to that. Although initially I found myself hesitant about the concurrent story lines and how that aspect of the story would work, it wasn't long before I found myself immersed in both story lines and I couldn't wait to find out what would happen next in either of them. Since the stories ended up being dramatically different it was almost like getting two for the price of one! I enjoyed them both but I did find myself favoring one scenario over the other, which was fun. It was interesting to see how my personal preferences played out.

What I enjoyed most about Maybe in Another Life was how it left me questioning my beliefs about things such as soul mates and fate. In both books Hannah believes that she has found her soul mate, and they are not the same person, so that raises the question of if there is more than one person that we are meant to be with in this world and if it all comes down to dumb luck. I enjoyed discovering the parallels between the two stories, which raised the question if certain events are meant to happen regardless of the choices that we make. Perhaps some events are just inevitable.

I can't think of one thing that I didn't like about the book. The characters came to life on the page, both story lines were compelling and unique, and Taylor Jenkins Reid's writing was as great as I have come to expect. I truly enjoyed every moment that I spent with Maybe in Another Life and I can't encourage people to pick this one up enough! It's the perfect book to slip into a beach bag or to devour with a group of girlfriends. My thanks to BookSparks PR for providing me with a review copy!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Very Healthy Spiral Slicer- My Review!

Anyone who knows me knows that I am always looking to eat healthier. I have a love for foods that are not good for me, and I'm always looking for ways to improve my diet, as well as incorporate more fruits and veggies into my everyday diet. I also like it when I can find recipes that my whole family enjoys. My kids aren't opposed to veggies but the more fun they are, the more that they like them! When Varietyland offered to have me try their Very Healthy Spiral Slicer at a reduced rate, I jumped at the chance. I especially loved that the spiral slicer would be a huge asset when it came to making healthier pasta, which is something that I have been wanting to try for a while.

I ordered the slicer from Amazon.ca and it arrived quickly. The box included the slicer, the end cap (for helping to get the most spirals out of your veggie), a wire brush for cleaning and a small recipe book. Varietyland also e-mailed me a 200-page recipe eBook, a getting started guide, as well as a guide to which veggies spiral the best.

I tried the spiralizer right away! I bought some zucchini's from my local farmer's market and tried it out with the smallest of the two julienne sizes (the slicer has two options- 1/16" x 3/32" and 1/8" x 3/16"). I love the ease with which the spiralizer worked. Making the zucchini spirals was effortless! The only thing that did not work well with the zucchini was the end cap. Because zucchini is a softer vegetable, there was nothing for the end cap to grip and I ended up being able to use most of the veggie but not all of it. I found that the end cap worked much better with the sweet potato that I spiraled, however the sweet potato was much harder to julienne in the slicer. Varietyland recommends soaking harder veggies such as potatoes or sweet potatoes ahead of time in order to make them easier to do.

Overall I love this product. There are a few things that don't work perfectly (such as the end cap with a softer veggie) but overall the Very Healthy Spiral Slicer is super easy to use, and an asset to any kitchen. I love the 200-page eBook filled with recipes that I can try. I've made several of them for my family already and they have been a success! I love how easy the Very Healthy Spiral Slicer makes it to add veggies into mine and my family's diet, and I can see that this tool will definitely continue to be well-used in my kitchen! The spiralizer is easy to clean with the included brush and the lifetime money-back guarantee gives you peace-of-mind that you are buying a quality product.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Spotlight & Giveaway- "Up To I Do' by Samantha March

I'm so excited to read Samantha March's new release, Up To I Do! Today I'm thrilled to share with you some more information about the book as well as share with you the Giveaway link! You can win $40 in gift cards!

About the Book

Emerson Sinclair, twenty-seven year old hotel heiress, has said yes. With just over a year to plan her extravagant, over the top nuptials to Logan Worthington, it’s all hands on deck with the wedding plans. A Sinclair marrying into the Worthington family is the talk of their small New Hampshire town, and ideas include filming the wedding for a TV segment. But as the items get checked off the list, plans start to go ... not as planned. From not getting a designer dress to a selfish bridesmaid and unaccountable best man, Emerson is afraid her wedding will be more a joke than anything. 

When both her mother and sister seemingly begin to lose interest in her wedding plans in favor of their own personal lives, Emerson fears her big day will turn into the forgotten wedding. With the pressure to pull off a beautiful and elegant event that everyone expects from their respectable families, Emerson starts to forget the reason why she is saying I Do in the first place.

Author Bio

Samantha March is an author, editor, publisher, blogger, and all-around book lover. She runs the popular book/women’s lifestyle blog ChickLitPlus, which keeps her bookshelf stocked with the latest reads and up-to-date on all things health, fitness, fashion, and beauty related. In 2011, she launched her independent publishing company, Marching Ink, and has four published novels—Destined to Fail, The Green Ticket, A Questionable Friendship, and Up To I Do. When she isn’t reading, writing, or blogging, you can find her cheering for the Green Bay Packers. Samantha lives in Iowa with her husband and Vizsla puppy.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

"The Best of Enemies" by Jen Lancaster

Jacqueline "Jack" Jordan and Kitty Carricoe had the potential once to be best friends. Roommates in College they were opposites, but they seemed to balance one another out in the ways that mattered. When Kitty told Jack something that was hard for her to hear, and even harder for her to admit to, their friendship disinigrated into a series of petty pranks designed to hurt the other person as much as possible. Now adults, Jack and Kitty couldn't be more opposite. Kitty is the loving wife to a dentist and the mother to three children, and Jack is a journalist at the front line of danger. The only thing that they have in common is their friendship with Sarabeth Chandler, and she is the only person who can bring them together.

The two women are forced together when they receive word that Sarabeth's husband Trip has perished in a horrible plane crash. Both Jack and Kitty find the crash suspicious, especially now that the news has broken that Trip has "lost" billions of dollars. Kitty and Jack reluctantly embark on a bizarre road trip that will either save the day or kill them both.

I'm a huge Jen Lancaster fangirl and I eagerly read everything that she writes. I have to say, though, that The Best of Enemies was my favourite fictional release of hers to date! Her memoirs have a chatty, fun, hilarious vibe but with her last two fictional releases I felt that Lancaster was finding her fictional author's voice. I'm happy to say that she has definitely found it! Lancaster's fictional writing voice has sharpened and matured and The Best of Enemies was an enjoyable, fast-paced read!

I enjoyed the character development the most. When we begin reading the book we are given an initial impression of both Kitty and Jack. Kitty comes off as being sheltered and shallow, while Jack comes across as being pretentious. I didn't particularly care for either character at first, but as I got to know them both while reading the book I liked them each more and more. Lancaster does a spectacular job of peeling back the layers of each character to reveal who they really are. We, as readers, can't help but like what we find.

The mysterious aspect of the book was new to Lancaster as well, and I can say that I thought that she did a great job! Although you could still predict the twists and turns I thought that the way that the book was laid out was really fun and it made me eager to read on. I enjoyed that the book wasn't all about just one thing, but it covered several different topics, including fidelity, child abandonment, parenting and finding ones place in life.

I loved The Best of Enemies and I just can't recommend it enough. Lancaster's voice is fresh and interesting, and I truly can't wait to see what she will come up with next. If this book is any indication of what's in store then we are in for a treat! My thanks to the publisher for providing me with this review copy.