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.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

"The Best of Enemies" by Jen Lancaster

Summary:

Bridesmaids meets The In-Laws in a novel told from the alternating perspectives of two women who define the term frenemies—from New York Times bestselling author Jen Lancaster.

Jacqueline Jordan knows conflict. A fearless journalist, she’s spent the past decade embedded in the world’s hot spots, writing about the fall of nations and the rise of despots. But if you were to inquire about who topped Jack’s enemy list, she’d not hesitate to answer: Kitty Carricoe.

Kitty reigns supreme over the world of carpools and minivans. A SAHM, she spends her days caring for her dentist husband and three towheaded children, running the PTA, and hiding vegetables in deceptively delicious packed lunches.

Kitty and Jack haven’t a single thing in common—except for Sarabeth Chandler, their mutual bestie. Sarabeth and Jack can be tomboys with the best of them, while Sarabeth can get her girly-girl on with Kitty. In fact, the three of them were college friends until the notorious frat party incident, when Jack accidentally hooked up with Kitty’s boyfriend…

Yet both women drop everything and rush to Sarabeth’s side when they get the call that her fabulously wealthy husband has perished in a suspicious boating accident. To solve the mystery surrounding his death, Jack and Kitty must bury the hatchet and hit the road for a trip that just may bring them together—if it doesn’t kill them first.

Review: 

Full review to come! Due to other commitments (and despite the fact that I can't put this book down!) I have not yet finished The Best of Enemies, so I will be writing my full review on a different date. What I can say is that this is my favourite fictional book of Lancaster's to date! Her writing voice has sharpened and matured and I have been enjoying this story of two very different women since page one. I've been surprised by how Lancaster has made me like characters that I did not like initially. I can't wait to find out how it ends and to share my final thoughts with you!

Monday, July 27, 2015

"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!

Friday, July 24, 2015

"Pretty Baby" by Mary Kubica


"Heidi was the first one in a long time who was nice to me".

This is how the story of Willow begins. Willow is homeless with a baby bundled into her army-green jacket. Heidi, a do-gooder with a huge heart, sees Willow and her baby again and again, in various kinds of weather, and finds herself obsessing over them. Where is this girl's mother? How did she become homeless? Will she and the baby be ok? Heidi takes a huge gamble and invites Willow and the baby into the home that she shares with her husband Chris and daughter Zoe. Does Heidi truly understand what she is risking by having this girl living in her home? Is Heidi willing to risk everything- her job, her marriage, her family life- in order to save one homeless girl and her child? Pretty Baby soon takes us down a dark and winding path and asks us what we would be willing to risk in order to have everything that we ever wanted.

Pretty Baby was impossible for me to put down. As readers we are immediately sucked in to the plight of this young homeless girl and her little baby, wrapped in a pink blanket and tucked inside of her mother's coat in the pouring rain. I was drawn to the image of swaths of pink blanket peeking out of a dirty coat. I was sucked in to the image of a tiny baby being hidden within. Heidi, an intricate character with more layers than we initially expect, finds herself drawn to this girl and her baby and she finds herself almost obsessing over them, even if that's not what she thinks that she's doing. The mother to a preteen who treats everything that her mother does with disdain, Heidi finds herself suddenly needed again, needed both by this girl and also by this helpless baby who didn't ask to not have access to a warm bed or medical care. Heidi is a complex character, carefully developed and revealed to us bit by bit. Willow manages to become a sympathetic character as well. As her story is slowly revealed to us we find ourselves curious about what possible ending she could find. Even more interesting was the fact that Chris, Heidi's husband, was someone that I didn't feel sympathetic towards. I ended up feeling more compassion for the homeless Willow than I did for Chris and his wandering thoughts. Kubica knows how to develop both a plot and a character and that is evidenced multiple times in Pretty Baby.

My one disappointment in this book, and it's slight, was that I didn't find myself overly shocked by the conclusion. My expectations for this book were sky-high. Kubica's first book had me open-mouthed shocked at the end, whereas Pretty Baby kept me frantically turning pages but I did figure out the twists shortly before they happened. Regardless of the fact that I didn't find myself as surprised this time around, I still thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Haunting, chilling, and enjoyable to the last page, Pretty Baby is a story that will keep you engaged until the very last page and it will leave you begging for more from the author. My thanks to Netgalley and BookSparks PR for providing me with a copy for review.