Year of the Bookwormz: 2011

52 weeks. 2 friends. 1 challenge.

Book #25: Fabookulous July 26, 2010

Seven Year Switch by Claire Cook

Book description:

Just when Jill Murray has finally figured out how to manage on her own, her ex-husband proves that he can’t even run away reliably. After seven long years missing in action, he’s back- crashing into the man-free existence Jill and her ten-year-old daughter have built so carefully. What’s a good mother to do? To a child, even a deadbeat dad is better than no dad at all.

Jill’s life just hasn’t turned out quite the way she planned. By now, she’d hoped to be jetting around the world as a high-end cultural coach. Instead, she’s answering phones for a local travel agency and teaching cooking classes at the community center.

Enter free-spirited entrepreneur Billy, who hires Jill as a consultant for an upcoming business trip. Is their relationship veering off in a new direction? And what about her ex? Jill couldn’t possibly still have feelings for him…could she? Suddenly, her no-boys-allowed life is anything but.

They say that every seven years you become a completely new person, but Jill isn’t sure she’s ready for the big change. It takes a Costa Rican getaway to help her make a choice- not so much between the two men in her life, but between the woman she is and the one she wants to be.

If you’re looking for another fun summer read, you’ve come to the right place! Claire Cook has made two appearances on our blog this year as LibraryLove reviewed The Wildwater Walking Club last month. What surprises me most about this author is she wrote her first book in her minivan while waiting for her daughter’s swim practice to end. Now she is a bestselling author of books such as Life’s a Beach, Must Love Dogs, and Summer Blowout. Now that’s impressive! After reading my first Claire Cook novel, I can see how she’s charmed so many and I look forward to reading more of her novels.

Written with a fresh wit that has that satisfying mix of sarcasm, Claire Cook writes an entertaining read. The main character, Jill, is well versed in her culture while she teaches a Lunch Around the World Class and works for a travel agency organizing Great Girlfriend Getaways (talk about fun!) for women looking to explore, get away, or discover a new place. The variety of locales and culture will scoop you off your feet and instantly put you in daydream mode.

At 237 pages (and very short chapters),  it felt like there were too many story lines going on: Jill’s relationship with her boss and her boss’ decisions, the pesky neighbor, Jill’s single mom relationship with her ten year old, the Lunch Around the World class, the ex husband’s return, the travel agency job, and the new guy, Billy. Phew! Seems like a lot, right? And all of this is jammed into 237 pages.

That being said, I wish Cook would have elaborated more and explored more in depth to Jill and her emotions and connections to those around her (both from the past and in the present.) Without giving anything away, there were scenes that surprised me without having an understanding of why Jill did or had a desire to do some of the things she did. I guess I’ve just read a lot of novels this year (well, duh!), but a lot of novels that have made me (the reader) feel like I really know the characters. With Jill, it seemed to have a “going-through-the-motions” vibe throughout the whole book.

While still interesting and entertaining, I wish there were another 150 pages so I could hang out with Jill more without feeling rushed. Claire Cook has such a refreshing sense of humor that I know I’d enjoy another novel written by her. In the meantime, if you don’t know what to take to the beach or pool with you, grab Seven Year Switch and let yourself be whisked away to far away places, both near and far.

4/5 stars

Happy Summer Reading,
Fabookulous

Up next for Fabookulous:

The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason

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Book #37 LibraryLove July 25, 2010

Book description~ Jen, Holly, and Amanda are at a crossroads. They’re feeling the pressure to hit certain milestones—scoring a big promotion, finding a soul mate, having 2.2 kids—before they reach their early thirties. When personal challenges force them to reevaluate their lives, they decide it’s now or never to do something daring. Unable to gain perspective in fast-paced Manhattan, the three twentysomethings quit their coveted media jobs and leave behind their friends, boyfriends, and everything familiar to travel the globe. Dubbing themselves the Lost Girls, they embark on an epic yearlong search for inspiration and direction. As they journey 60,000 miles across four continents and more than a dozen countries, Jen, Holly, and Amanda step far outside of their comfort zones, embracing every adventure and experience the world has to offer—shooting blowguns with Yagua elders in the Amazon, learning capoeira on the beaches of Brazil, volunteering with preteen girls at a school in rural Kenya, hiking with Hmong villagers in Vietnam, and driving through Australia in a psychedelic camper van. Along the way, the Lost Girls find not only themselves but also a lifelong friendship. Ultimately, theirs is a story of true sisterhood—a bond forged by sharing beds and backpacks, enduring exotic illnesses, fending off aggressive street vendors, trekking across rivers and over mountains, and standing by one another through heartaches, whirlwind romances, and everything in the world in between.

Could you drop everything and travel the world? Who would you take along for the ride? How long would you go? More importantly, could three twenty-something friends leave their posh upper-west side lives for a year of adventure away from the “Lipstick Jungle” and survive the REAL wilderness for an entire year? Read on to find out!

I stumbled upon this book in one of the daily editions of Shelf Awareness, and I have to say, I’ve found some fantastic new indie reads out of it! The Lost Girls, will probably be one of my stand-out favorite summer read this year. This SERIOUS chunkster is 600 pages of adventure, excitement, and world discovery (which probably could be pared down to about 450), but it was a fun ride nonetheless. I really took my time wanting to savor all the excitement and wonder the girls chronicled through their encounters. Struggling to find perspective while living in Manhattan, three friends in their late 20s, Jennifer, Holly, and Amanda, embarked on an unconventional detour. A 60,000 mile round- the-world journey lead the girls across four continents and more than a dozen countries. As the title suggests, they dubbed themselves “The Lost Girls” – a term describing both their own uncertainties about the future and an emotional state they felt represented many of their peers. This book chronicled these three friends’ commitment to spending one entire year wandering the globe.

The structure of this book flowed nicely as each chapter covered about 4-6 weeks of the trip from Jennifer’s point of view , the next 4-6 weeks from Holly, and then Amanda, (then lather, rinse, repeat) the entire course of the book covering a year’s time. I’ve never seen a memoir written this way and it worked so well. As the reader, I felt like I was making three new friends and reading their journal or blog along the way. I could really pick up on their different personalities and conversation styles yet it still maintained a cohesive feel.  One quote really summed up their personalities:

“I knew Holly needed to go running daily and embark on frequent missions to the markets. Amanda would get antsy if a few days went by without going online, writing, and blogging. As for me, well I just wanted to get involved in any hedonistic pleasure that didn’t require technology. Much of the time, our interests intersected, but we were totally fine with a two-to-one group split when they didn’t.” ~ Jennifer

One of my other favorite parts of the book happened during a quick stop back in Manhattan to obtain Visas for the second leg of their journey, when Amanda crashed with college friend Sarah. Although Sarah was two years younger than Amanda, Sarah had always been the more mature friend of their circle. Giving Amanda a tour of her very own grown-up, and couple-y new place, Amanda began to realize just how divergent their lives were. While Amanda spent her early years in the city jump-starting her career, falling for (and subsequently disentangling herself from ) her first very serious boyfriend, whirling through a handful of Mr. Wrongs, and eventually abandoning city life to go traveling, Sarah had lived more deliberately. After college she’d moved to Manhattan, become an interior designer at an Upper Easter Side firm, met the love of her life and the rest is history. Meanwhile, Amanda rolled into Sarah’s apartment with a full pack of stinky laundry from two months spent in the wilderness. I love that through reading, we can re-examine our life choices and live vicariously through characters. I can relate to BOTH Amanda AND Sarah, but particularly Sarah in this scene. I knew what I wanted out of life from an early age and fought my way toward it. I never had a lackadaisical attitude toward really anything in life so the idea of just dropping everything for an entire year to go explore was never and will never be on my radar. I love the structure, yet spontaneity of my life. I would never want to walk away from it. But I can understand that if you didn’t have a sense of contentment and direction, taking a life-changing trip like this one could propel you into finding your passion. I admire Jennifer, Holly, and Amanda’s courageous spirit and adventurous nature. I embrace trying new things and traveling to new places, but long-term travel is nowhere on my list. I crave the comforts of home, bug-free sleeping quarters, my wonderful husband and our lives.

Whether  you’re a world traveler or a casual sight-seer, I recommend everyone read this book! It might even help you plan your next excursion abroad…

If nothing else, you can live vicariously through “The Lost Girls”.

Where’s the most interesting place you’ve traveled to?

4/5 stars

37 down, 15 to go!

In progress- Nineteen Minutes

xo♥xo, LibraryLove

 

Book #24: Fabookulous July 20, 2010

Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner

Book description:

When Sylvie Serfer met Richard Woodruff in law school, she had wild curls, wide hips, and lots of opinions. Decades later, Sylvie has remade herself as the ideal politician’s wife- her hair dyed and straightened, her hippie-chick wardrobe replaced by tailored knit suits. At fifty-seven, she ruefully acknowledges that her job is staying twenty pounds thinner than she was in her twenties and tending to her husband, the senator.

Lizzie, the Woodruffs’ younger daughter, is at twenty-four a recovering addict, whose mantra HALT (Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired?) helps her keep her life under control. Still, trouble always seems to find her. Her older sister, Diana, an emergency room physician, has everything Lizzie failed to achieve- a husband, a young son, the perfect home- and yet she’s trapped in a loveless marriage. With temptation waiting in one of the ER’s exam rooms, she finds herself craving more.

After Richard’s extramarital affair makes headlines, the three women are drawn into the painful glare of the national spotlight. Once the press conference is over, each is forced to reconsider her life, who she is and who she is meant to be.

Written with an irresistible blend of heartbreak and hilarity, Fly Away Home is an unforgettable story of a mother and two daughters who after a lifetime of distance finally learn to find refuge in one another.

Fans of Jennifer Weiner will love her latest novel, Fly Away Home. I don’t know how she continues to do it, time and time again, but Jennifer Weiner can keep you enthralled in a story and engaged in the characters on every single page. She continues to be one of my favorites that I’ve also been fortunate enough to meet on two book tours: last summer’s Best Friends Forever tour as well as this year’s Fly Away Home tour.

As a Washington, D.C. area local, it seems all too familiar. The tale of the wandering politician. The one who thinks the rules don’t apply to him, who indulges in temptation and his selfish desires, and who ultimately ends up making a public statement of apology with his disgraced wife standing by his side. Yet it’s rare that we get an inside glimpse at the wife and family’s views. The ones who were betrayed and shamed in public. The ones who have to figure out what to do with their lives and how to protect each other from public opinion and interest.

Jennifer Weiner does just this in her newest novel. Exploring “the family side” of the typical political scandal, we follow Sylvie (the scorned wife), Diana (the over-achieving and ‘perfect’ oldest), and Lizzie (the younger, more rebellious child.) Told from all three points of views (which is one of the things I love most about Weiner’s novels- you get more than one side of the story!), other trials rise in every character’s life. From work to parenting to relationships to family, there is so much going on in Fly Away Home, I never lost interest! (Though to be fair, I’ve never lost interest in a Weiner novel.)

Written with the author’s usual humor and wit, you’ll laugh out loud with these women. You’ll root for them as individuals and as a family as they try to piece back together their lives after their world(s) are turned upside down. Each one has her own desires, her own passions, and her own relationships to reconcile. And I think this book definitely leaves some doors open for a sequel.

I can say I’m happy with the ending, however I do find myself wondering what happens next for Diana and Lizzie! Particularly Diana. Both of their stories and lives were so interesting and, a couple of times, unpredictable. (Maybe we will find out in an upcoming sequel…?) Either way, Fly Away Home, is another fantastic Jennifer Weiner novel that will leave you considering your family and appreciating them all the more. After all, isn’t family what it’s all about?

Congrats to Jen on signing a four year-four book deal with her publisher! I’m looking forward to meeting new characters and seeing you on tour again! Thanks for supporting our blog after your stop in the D.C.-area. Enjoy the rest of those cupcakes this summer! 😉

5/5 stars.

Happy Reading,
Fabookulous

Up next for Fabookulous:

Seven Year Switch by Claire Cook


 

Cupcakes, friends, and Weiner! Oh My! July 15, 2010

Rewind! As you know if you follow this blog, Jennifer Weiner (pronounced WHY-ner) is one of our most favorite authors. She’s adorable, hilarious and approachable. I owe my love for Weiner to one of my best friends, Heather, who lives out-of-town. Heather got me hooked on Jennifer Weiner’s writing a few years ago. My gal pals, Fabookulous included, were hooked too!  We had the chance to meet Weiner last summer when she toured in our area where I also sparked a new friendship with another one of my besties, Planet Books! For Heather’s birthday last year, I gifted her with a copy of Best Friends Forever (how apropos?!) signed with a special birthday message from Weiner! We vowed that next time Weiner came to our area, Heather would be in tow. As luck would have it, Heather was planning a summer visit to stay with my husband and I this July so we could celebrate her early birthday together! We booked this on the calendar about six months ago. One fine day, Fabookulous sends me the serendipitous news that Weiner’s summer book tour stop in our town fell during Heather’s visit to us!

The stars aligned and we had such an amazing evening tonight, all together!  Oh and unless you live under a rock, you know that cupcakes are the latest craze all over the place, especially on the east coast. So as a perk for going to Weiner’s author event, she’s had each city’s best cupcakery cater cupcakes for the entire audience! After a quick dinner, we settled in to an evening of cupcakes (courtesy of Georgetown Cupcake), best friends AND Jennifer Weiner!!! What more could a girl ask for? Well, one of my other favorite author friends, Sarah Pekkanen, jet-lagged and all from her whirlwind European tour came by at the end. I was so glad to introduce her to my friends who enjoyed her novel, The Opposite of Me, as well! What a two-fer!

As usual, Weiner was dynamic, witty, and personable. She even gave Heather a hug and thanked her for coming from such a far distance. It was a truly magical evening getting to share so many wonderful things with so many wonderful people. When it was my turn to have my books signed, I asked Weiner how she ‘unplugs’ from all the distractions of Facebook, Twitter, email, blogging, writing…oh and being a wife and mother! She said that reading is her escape and an outlet for unwinding. I really enjoyed hearing that and could relate 100%!

Jennifer, we’re some of your biggest fans and we are so thankful that authors like you take time to connect with your fans the way you do. If you ever get the opportunity to attend one of Weiner or Pekkanen’s events, I highly recommend it! Thanks again to my wonderful friends who made the night the even yummier icing on the already delicious cupcake! I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, I have THE most wonderful friends a girl could ever ask for. Ladies, I’ll be your den mother any day of the week! *mwah*

Off to tend to my out-0f-town guests. We’re looking forward to our relaxing pool day tomorrow and Heather’s (early) birthday party Saturday! Back to your regularly scheduled programming. This bookworm is ZONKED. Over and out!

xo♥xo,

LibraryLove


 

Pardon the interruption:: Summer update 2010:: July 12, 2010

Hi! It’s me/us! Sorry we don’t have another book review quite yet. Just a few miscellaneous housekeeping items to attend to now that summer is in FULL swing!

First order of business- planning to attend any of the fantastic author events at this year’s Fall For The Book Festival? If you’ve been to their website lately, you may have noticed that our blog made the 2010 Fall For The Book Festival’s Blogroll! Whoop! Check us out! 🙂

Second order of business- many of you have been asking both Fabookulous  and I for beach/pool reads to stock up your library queue before you head out-of-town on that long-overdue vacation by the surf and sand. It is a fantastic time to soak up the rays and enjoy a good read before the hustle of the fall begins again. No, I don’t want to be all doom and gloom but when good information crosses my path, I feel compelled to share it.

Fabookulous and her family shared this important article with me about the dangers of what I found to apparently be ALL ‘convenience store’ sunscreens after hearing my continual plight about how sensitive my skin is to sun and how I burn with SPF 90 on! I love when my friends and their children join us for pool dates and want everyone to be savvy swimmers/sunbathers! Please do us bookwormz a favor and take a moment to read this article and educate you and your friends about what to look for next time you buy sunscreen. Take it for what you will, but isn’t it better to be safe than sorry with your body’s first line of defense? Sorry, I can’t help but be passionate about wanting my friends and loved ones to live long and healthy with many more summers to share with me, by the pool!

Note: As an experiment, I went to CVS, Walgreens and just for kicks, found they had not ONE product without these harsh chemicals!! I went to my neighborhood Wegmans and found the Badger brand that is named below in the article, my new favorite brand!

I bought a bottle for my pool bag and a bottle for my husband’s work bag (his career involves a lot of time spent outdoors in the elements) and cleared out their shelves. I asked the manager to order a case.

Oh and if you won’t read the whole article, please at least scroll down to see my summarized “take away” of the most important things to look for when buying sunscreen. Enough already, here’s the article:

Is Your Sunscreen Dangerous?

As we’re all diligently slathering on sunscreen to prevent cancer, out comes a new report suggesting that ingredients in many brands — including the most popular ones — may actually raise cancer risk, and that’s not the only health problem associated with them. It isn’t just a single common ingredient that new research has raised some concerns about — it’s far worse than that. Many widely available sunscreens contain potentially dangerous ingredients… provide inadequate protection… and are portrayed by their marketers as far more helpful than they actually are. The list of offenders includes leading brands that you know and trust and even some products designed just for babies. When the Environmental Working Group issued its 2010 guide to the best and worst sunscreens, the nonprofit watchdog gave its OK to just 3 9 products — which amounts to a mere 8% of the 500 sunscreens evaluated! When I saw this newest report, I immediately placed a call to EWG research analyst Nneka Leiba, MPH, to find out what’s going on and to see what she thinks we all should know about our sunscreens. According to Leiba, the FDA bears some serious responsibility for this problem — she said that the agency has had no mandatory regulations for sunscreens or their ingredients. (Regulations may be in place by October 2010, according to the most recent official estimate.) Companies have not been required to verify that sunscreens work… to test that their sun protection factor (SPF) levels are accurate… or to show that other claims, such as whether they are waterproof or protect against UVA rays, hold up. We went one by one through the various health hazards we need to know about…

Danger: Cancer-Causing Ingredients
Leiba told me that nearly half the sunscreens examined by EWG contained one or two cancer-causing ingredients. One is a hormone-disrupting chemical that penetrates the skin, disrupting the normal functioning of the body in ways
that can lead to cancer and other serious medical problems… and the other is a vitamin A derivative that when exposed to sunlight — sunlight! — may encourage skin cancer.

What not to buy: Avoid sunscreens with these dangerous ingredients…

* Oxybenzone. A hormone-disrupting chemical linked with endocrine disruption and cell damage (and low birth weight when used by pregnant women). Oxybenzone can penetrate the skin and enter your bloodstream and is
an ingredient in about half of sunscreens.
* Retinyl palmitate. A vitamin A compound associated with the accelerated growth of skin lesions and tumors. Manufacturers put vitamin A derivatives in sunscreens because they are popular antioxidants that slow
signs of aging, such as wrinkles and rough skin. But FDA data suggest that vitamin A has photo-carcinogenic properties, which means that when exposed to the sun, it may speed up cancer formation. EWG found retinyl palmitate in
41% of sunscreens.

Danger: No UVA Protection
Many sunscreens offer protection only from UVB rays — the type of ultraviolet radiation that causes sunburn — while it is known that UVA rays are also destructive and can cause skin cancer… in addition to all those other unattractive things the sun can do to our skin over time.

What to buy: EWG recommends purchasing broad-spectrum sunscreens that derive their protective properties not from chemicals that penetrate the skin, but from the metals titanium or zinc, which stay on the surface of the skin, do
their job to protect you and then can be washed off entirely.

Danger: Accidental Inhalation
Sunscreens are meant for external use only, but when you use them in the increasingly popular spray or powder forms, you are in danger of inhaling them. While inhaled particles of any size can pose a health risk, tiny nanoparticles — ultra-tiny particles used in many of these formulations — can more easily penetrate linings and tissues in your body and cause inflammation.

Advice: EWG suggests using sunscreens only in cream or lotion form and says
not to apply any type of sunscreen to broken skin.

Danger: You’ll Get Burned
The high SPF levels touted on many sunscreen labels are a growing concern at EWG. The organization says that these claims are misleading because the products may not provide more protection than sunscreens labeled with lower
SPFs — and people may therefore be misled into thinking that the higher number means that they can spend more time in the sun. It’s not widely understood that SPF applies to only one type of cancer-causing ultraviolet ray — UVB. It tells you nothing about a product’s ability to filter UVA rays. That’s a false sense of security, warns Leiba. People end up staying out in the sun longer than they can safely tolerate.

What to do: Apply safe sunscreen in lavish amounts. Studies show that most consumers use only one-quarter to two-thirds of the amount needed to reach a product’s SPF rating. Sunscreen should be applied generously (about an ounce or palmful to cover all exposed skin)… early (30 minutes before sun exposure) to allow its protective capabilities to work… and often, typically every two hours (more often when swimming or exercising enough to
make you sweat). There’s no consensus on an optimal SPF: The American Cancer Society recommends that you use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15… while the American Academy of Dermatology says 30… and the FDA says that
any SPF rating above 50 is “inherently misleading.”

HALL OF SHAME: THE WORST OFENDERS
Beware of sunscreens with SPF ratings higher than 50, especially when combined with “baby” on the label. The implication is that they are safe as can be, but the reality is that many offer little or no UVA protection and some also contain dangerous ingredients. The EWG’s “Hall of Shame” indicts…

*       Banana Boat Baby Max Protect, SPF 100: No UVA protection — and it
contains oxybenzone and vitamin A.

*       Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection, SPF 55: Label says “mild as
water,” but warns “keep out of reach of children and seek medical help from
poison control center if ingested.” Also contains oxybenzone.

*       Banana Boat Ultra Defense Sunscreen Stick, SPF 50: Misleading
advertising says “it doesn’t break down,” which might lead consumers to
think it will last all day.

*       Hawaiian Tropic Baby Crème Lotion, SPF 50: Does not have the
advanced UVA protection advertised on the label, and also contains
oxybenzone and vitamin A.

See a full list of EWG’s lowest-rated sunscreens at
<http://edhn.bottomlinesecrets.com/a/hBMMscJB74VNIB8NwDYNHDbUdAm/dhn4>
http://www.ewg.org/2010sunscreen/buyer-beware/.

HALL OF FAME: TOP-RATED SUNSCREENS

All 39 of EWG’s top-rated sunscreens contain either zinc oxide or titanium
dioxide. Top recommendations include…

*       All Terrain Aquasport Performance Sunscreen, SPF 30

*       Badger Sunscreen for Face and Body, SPF 30

*       Loving Naturals Sunscreen, SPF 30+

*       Purple Prairie Botanicals Sun Stick, SPF 30

*       Soleo Organics All Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+

See a full list at
<http://edhn.bottomlinesecrets.com/a/hBMMscJB74VNIB8NwDYNHDbUdAm/dhn5>
http://www.ewg.org/2010sunscreen/best-beach-sport-sunscreens/.

Source(s):
Nneka Leiba, MPH, research analyst, Environmental Working Group

In summary:

1) Don’t buy sunscreen with oxybenzone or retinyl parmitate

2) Don’t buy sunscreen above SPF 30

3) Don’t buy aerosol sunscreen

4) Buy sunscreen with high concentrations of Zinc Oxide and/or Titanium Oxide

5) Be aware of sun exposure!

xo♥xo,

LibraryLove & Fabookulous



 

Book #23: Fabookulous & Book #36: LibraryLove July 11, 2010

uncharted terriTORI by Tori Spelling

Book description: It’s not every Hollywood starlet whose name greets you on a Virgin Airways flight into la-la land. But Tori Spelling has come to accept that her life is a spectacle. Her name is her brand, and business is booming. Too bad when your job is to be yourself, you can’t exactly take a break.

Tori finally has everything she thought she wanted- a loving family and a successful career- but trying to live a normal life in Hollywood is a little weird. With the irresistible wit, attitude, and humor that fans have come to love, the New York Times best selling author of sTORI telling and Mommywood is back with more hilarious, heartwarming, and candid stories of juggling work, marriage, motherhood, and reality television cameras.

Tori comes clean about doing her time on jury duty, stalking herself on Twitter, discovering her former 90210 castmates’ “I Hate Tori” club, contracting swine flu, and contacting Farrah Fawcett from the dead. Like many mothers, she struggles to find balance (Stars, they’re just like us!)- only most women don’t have to battle it out with the paparazzi at the grocery store. She talks openly about the darker side of life in the spotlight: media scrutiny over her weight and her marriage to Dean McDermott, her controversial relationship with Dean’s ex-wife, and her unfolding reconciliation with her mother.

Having it all isn’t always easy- especially when you’re a perfectionist- but with the help of her unconventional family and friends, an underwear-clad spiritual cleansing or two, and faith in herself, she’s learning to find her happy ending. Because when you’re Tori Spelling, every day brings uncharted terriTORI.

FABOOKULOUS’ REVIEW (BOOK #23)

It took me a while to hop on the Tori Spelling bandwagon. I was never a fan of hers during 90210 and didn’t care to see her movies or give her a second thought, really. Then her reality show came out and two of my girlfriends (LibraryLove being one of them) talked about how much they loved her and how funny she was on her show with her family. So I sighed heavily and watched an episode of the show. I was surprised to find I actually liked her! Tori’s wit and humor cracked me up and her sweet relationship with Dean was endearing and cute to watch.

So naturally I stayed on the bandwagon and read (and loved) both of her first two books, sTORI telling and Mommywood. I loved how candid she was and how much she shared. My mouth dropped while reading of her mothers’ neuroses at her first wedding, and I couldn’t imagine having a mother as neurotic as Candy Spelling.

While the show has fallen down my favorite list, I still wanted to read the newest Tori book. But I was so disappointed with this one. More than one chapter detailed events that have aired on the show (stale material, anyone?) and I felt like the book makes Tori Spelling look like a freak-show. I mean, really. The woman is afraid of EVERYTHING and quite frankly, that’s exhausting to read about over and over. She (admittedly) lives her life in fear of anything and everything that could happen in a given day. I rolled my eyes more than once, thinking “Get a hold of yourself, woman.”

Tori’s obsession with other world mediums is out there. She consults psychics (even gifting visits with them for loved ones) and has voodoos performed in her home and on her person. Feeling she had an evil spirit within her, “Mama Lola…combined cornmeal, dried beans, vegetables, and chopped-up yams. She added gin and Florida water, a cologne from the nineteenth century that’s still popular in South American and Caribbean cultures…chanted…slashed my clothing into strips.” She goes on for an entire chapter about this experience and it leaves me (the reader) wondering why this wasn’t a “private” event that she refrained from publishing?

Reading about her going to her mother’s for a Christmas party convinced me she is JUST like her mother. Once portrayed to be a loony tune, Candy Spelling raised a daughter just like her. Communicating through Candy’s assistant, Tori plans to attend a Christmas party at “The Manor”, the obscene Spelling private residence. Reading about Tori getting ready for this was unreal. She went to Papyrus to get their fanciest gift wrap paper for the hostess gift she was giving her mother.  When curling her hair, she writes, “How would my mother react? Would she think I was too old for long, loose curls? Would wearing it up be more lady-like?” While picking out her outfit, she writes “I started with red…but then I got nervous about wearing red because I didn’t want my mother or anyone else to think I was trying to steal the show. I must have tried on a total of eight dresses.” I mean, listen, I get that there are perfectionists out there, but this is exhausting. No wonder Tori winds up in the hospital, literally sick to her stomach with stress and migraines on more than one occasion. She drives herself crazy!

I am disappointed to post a negative review because I’ve been a fan for a while. But this book paints Tori Spelling as a self-obsessed, neurotic, spoiled and materialistic wack-a-doodle. Definitely not my favorite of her books. Though she was still funny in her writing, the craziness far outweighed the comedy. Maybe next time?

2.5/5 stars

Happy Reading,
Fabookulous

LIBRARYLOVE’S REVIEW (BOOK #36)

Note: In order to properly review this book, I have not read Fabookulous’ review and will do so only after I hit ‘publish’. We’ve never done a simultaneous read/review before. One of my besties, Planet Books, is also reading this book as we speak. Can’t wait to hear everyone’s thoughts…here goes.

Driven, Type-A, quirky multitasker who loves her busy life and to entertain with flair while surrounded by family and friends. These are a few personality traits that Tori and I both share. She is so misunderstood and I wish more people would stop judging her solely on her role as Donna Martin on 90210. Despite the fact that we have VERY different views on a LOT of things, I’ve found common ground with her just in reading her 3 novels, let alone watching her show Tori & Dean which chronicles she and her husband’s lives. uncharted terriTORI is her best book so far, in my humble opinion. In uncharted terriTORI, Spelling’s 3rd and latest installment of her autobiography series, she continues to allow the public in to her life with no holds barred. Spelling’s most endearing quality? She is literally and figuratively an open book. You’d think after dealing with all the media scrutiny, failed marriage, unsuccessful pilots , movies and business ventures, she’d become a hermit and keep a life outside the public eye. But instead, she takes her reputation seriously and wanted a chance to show the public the real Tori, crazy VooDoo cleanses and all.

In her first novel, sTori Telling, Spelling opened up mostly about her childhood, family struggles, and about her show so noTORIous. Her second novel, Mommywood, was mostly about how to balance the ever-dynamic terrain of being a new mother, when she didn’t have a positive one to model her ‘motherliness’ after. In uncharted terriTORI, Spelling is learning how to juggle TWO children, a husband who wants her attention, more successful businesses than I can count on my hands and toes, AND executive producing a hugely successful reality show on the Oxygen network. I’ve been Team Tori from the beginning and couldn’t care less whether you like her or not. I couldn’t care less about who saw me reading this book at the pool and judging me thinking I’m shallow, vapid or any of the other words you may be thinking. If you know me, or have been following along with this blog, you know I have depth and I guarantee you if you read any one of her books, you will change your opinion of her. What makes uncharted terriTORI such a great ‘palette- cleansing’ read,  is that being a loyal Tori fan, I’ve watched Tori & Dean since the first season when she was pregnant with first son, Liam while The McDermott’s managed to open a Bed & Breakfast. I’ve watched her grow on so many levels right before my, and America’s, eyes.  Her books basically summarize her life events that unfold on the shows, but it’s like we’re getting to read her commentary from each episode in the book. I do think she has a serious anxiety disorder (cluster C) that she needs assistance and counseling to offer her better coping mechanisms, none of us are perfect. This past season, she really struggled to find a balance between all the hats she wears in her life and most of all, to keep the passion alive in her marriage, keeping Dean a priority which, to her credit, she is shockingly candid about. It’s refreshing to see how Tori’s communication style continues to grow and mature. She’s finally getting to a place where she can openly confront issues rather than harboring them and blowing a gasket…although she does that too QUITE a few times and sending herself straight into the hospital all year-long because of the stress during last season’s taping of Tori & Dean.

Bottom line, if you need a fun and quick read (I read this book in two days), I recommend you pick up uncharted terriTORI or at least one of her other books.

4/5 stars

36 down, 16 to go!

In progress-The Lost Girls and the Wander Year: Three Friends. Four Continents. One Unconventional Detour Around the World.

xo♥xo,

LibraryLove

 

Book #35: LibraryLove July 9, 2010

The Blue Notebook by James Levine

Book description~ A haunting yet hopeful story of a young Indian prostitute who uses writing and imagination to transcend her reality. An unforgettable, deeply affecting tribute to the powers of imagination and the resilience of childhood, The Blue Notebook tells the story of Batuk, a precocious 15-year-old girl from rural India who was sold into sexual slavery by her father when she was nine. As she navigates the grim realities of the Common Street–a street of prostitution in Mumbai where children are kept in cages as they wait for customers to pay for sex–Batuk manages to put pen to paper, recording her private thoughts and stories in a diary. The novel is powerfully told in Batuk’s voice, through the words she writes in her journal, where she finds hope and beauty in the bleakest circumstances. Beautifully crafted and deeply human, The Blue Notebook explores how people, in the most difficult of situations, can use storytelling to make sense of and give meaning to their lives.

So I did it. Yep. What’s done is done. I broke my book buying ban. BUT with good reason, I promise. If you’ve been following this blog, you know that Fabookulous and I get our books for this challenge from the library, Paperbackswap or from friends on loan. The only time we buy new books (with a coupon I assure you) is for author friends of ours who come to our area for book signings. Even then, many of those books are gifted to our friends or family.  The Blue Notebook was just released in paperback on July 6th and I read it in preparation for my book club’s July discussion. What made me more than happy to buy this book, was knowing the author’s royalties from U.S. book sales are all being donated to the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The beauty of this challenge is in books like The Blue Notebook. This book captivated me, saddened me,  and hooked me from the first sentence. I’ve been so sleep deprived, preoccupied, in the midst of catching up with family and friends, being out-of-town two weekends straight, trying to get things ready to entertain the entire month of July preparing for our guests. Are you exhausted yet?? Great- now you can understand that by the time my head hit the pillow, I’d read a page or two and my eyelids closed. I actually think I’ve mastered the art of sleeping w/ my eyes open. Yes, I have many quirks! I digress…

I picked up two “light reads” that I’d been waiting for from the library and I just couldn’t get into them. I have a rule that if by 50 pages in, I’m not invested in the story or the characters, I simply move on. This year is flying by and there’s no time to waste on mediocre books.  I jumped into reading this month’s book club selection as soon as it hit bookstores in paperback and I was glad to have gotten into a GOOD, albeit sad book!

“When clay dries in an oven, it is changed from a soft, malleable form to a solid, defined one; once baked, the hardened clay can never be molded again, only broken. A few hours earlier I had entered Gahil’s house as a soft glob of warm clay. I would leave there a hardened, useful vessel.”~ Batuk

I’m very much looking forward to our book club get together in a few weeks to hear what my fellow book babes think of Batuk’s story. It’s pretty impossible not to feel changed and with a new perspective on your own life after reading about Batuk’s daily struggles. She somehow maintains an optimistic outlook and generally happy existence. How on earth she does this is definitely worth reading. You will not be able to put this book down. This quick read shares the power of the written word and crosses culture, race and geography. Using pencil or pen, her blue notebook (or whatever blank paper is accessible) as her diary, and her vivid imagination, Batuk finds escapism in using her gift of imagination. The artistry, imagery and metaphors used to describe Batuk’s circumstances are amazing. They also become her coping mechanism in putting her mind elsewhere than feel the pain inflicted by men like Uncle Nir and Master Iftikar.  The author’s ability to evoke naiveté yet worldliness at the same time, as if we were truly inside the head of a 15-year-old , is breathtaking, captivating and emotional. If you liked Memoirs of a Geisha, I think you will understand how socially important this novel is.

“True regret is a veil, and like all human emotions it serves to soften the impact of reality. It is a failed belief that we cannot experience the true brilliance to the light, but it is through fear that we veil ourselves from that brilliance. We cloak ourselves in layers upon layers of regret, dishonesty, cruelty, and pride.”~ Batuk

In reading The Blue Notebook, my eyes are open wider to a topic that is near to me already. This novel is based on a real girl, who doctor-turned-author James Levine encountered in Mumbai.  Batuk’s story is a testament to human strength. We simply cannot close our minds, or ignore the inadequacies in our society and abroad.  One of my best friends is affiliated with Made By Survivors, an organization part of the Emancipation Network. The Network is managed by a woman who advocates against human trafficking. They give survivors of human trafficking an outlet for making their own income so they can escape the persecution and poverty they once knew. Their mission is to “improve the lives of slavery survivors through empowerment and education, to assist rescue shelters by offering job programs and funding, to improve rehabilitation and reintegration, and to prevent trafficking in high risk communities”. Made By Survivors programs are supported not only by donations, but also by the efforts of survivors themselves, who design and create unique fair trade jewelry, bags and gifts. 100% of profits are donated to survivors and shelters.

I hope you will buy this book and read Batuk’s story in The Blue Notebook. I hope it raises your awareness about the horrors of human trafficking. I hope you will re-evaluate the minutiae you complain about on a regular basis because let’s face it- if you’re reading this blog, you’ll agree we have it pretty damn good here!!

For more information on this book, please visit www. BatukFoundation.org.

5/5 stars

35 down, 17 to go!

xo♥xo,

LibraryLove