Year of the Bookwormz: 2011

52 weeks. 2 friends. 1 challenge.

Book #32 LibraryLove June 10, 2010

Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin

Book description~ Tessa Russo is the mother of two young children and the wife of a renowned pediatric surgeon. Despite her mother’s warnings, Tessa has recently given up her career to focus on her family and the pursuit of domestic happiness. From the outside, she seems destined to live a charmed life. Valerie Anderson is an attorney and single mother to six-year-old Charlie—a boy who has never known his father. After too many disappointments, she has given up on romance—and even, to some degree, friendships—believing that it is always safer not to expect too much. Although both women live in the same Boston suburb, the two have relatively little in common aside from a fierce love for their children. But one night, a tragic accident causes their lives to converge in ways no one could have imagined. Emily Giffin creates a moving, luminous story of good people caught in untenable circumstances. Each being tested in ways they never thought possible. Each questioning everything they once believed. And each ultimately discovering what truly matters most.

Having read each of Emily Giffin’s previous novels, I couldn’t help but have extremely high expectations of her latest release, Heart of the Matter. I met Giffin during her summer tour with some of my best girlfriends beside me. At her event, Giffin was endearing, hilarious, and so accessible as a wife and mother of three small children.

HOM stresses the importance of life’s subtle nuances and hammers home the idea of not taking life for granted, especially for Tessa and Valerie, whose lives intertwine as a result of a tragic accident and an even more tragic circumstance. Tessa’s husband, a top surgeon, is married to his job and must leave her side when his pager beeps to go tend to another family.  Valerie is a single mother struggling to give her son the life he deserves. Early on, the book draws you in as the character development begins. I was right there with Tessa, the eternal optimist, as the daily minutiae set in of such things as what snacks to pack for her child’s classmates and gossip around the school. It is while Tessa’s friend April shares the latest town gossip, that Valerie and Tessa’s stories become interconnected. I was still 100% on board until I predicted the outcome 100 pages into the 350+ page novel. The book was not only a bit too formulaic for me, but the subject matter is one that disgusts me. If you’ve read Something Borrowed, you know exactly what I’m talking about. And although it was bad in SoBo, what unfolds about 200 pages in to HOM is despicable. Every book needs a protagonist, a villain, I get that. But the situation in SoBo didn’t involve a married couple. Nick, Tessa’s husband, is so quietly self-contained that Tessa’s mother’s frenetic ways basically give away the plot early on, picking at their marriage and creating an aire of doubt within the reader, making it tough to fully commit to connecting with Valerie and Nick’s characters, knowing what’s to come. I just couldn’t help but feel like this story was one that was told 1,000 times before. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Giffin’s writing style, so conversational. But pair the awful subject matter, which is completely unoriginal, with the way this book was constructed and it just went off the deep end for me. The story is written in Tessa’s first person POV and then switches back and forth between Valerie’s third person POV. I would have liked this book better if, as the reader, we could’ve been inside Valerie’s head too. Authors make very specific choices for a reason. The next time I get the chance to chat with Giffin, I’d like to ask her why she constructed the book this way. If you happen to know, please drop me a comment and let me know why you think it was done. I’ve seen it done before and it worked from authors like Jennifer Weiner, Jodi Picoult, and Anita Shreve; I just didn’t feel it this time. I’m sure she had a great reason and I’d love to find out what it is.  Regardless, Something Borrowed and Something Blue will still remain intact as my two favorite Giffin novels so far.

I look forward to hearing what my fellow book club babes think of HOM when we discuss next weekend.

While you’re here, make sure to enter our Second Sizzlin’ Summer Giveaway for your chance to win a copy of Beth Hoffman’s awesome novel, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt!

3/5 stars

32 down, 20 to go!

In progress- Wildwater Walking Club

Xo♥xo,

LibraryLove


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Book #18: Fabookulous May 31, 2010

Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin

Book description:

Tessa Russo is the mother of two young children and the wife of a renowned pediatric surgeon. Despite her mother’s warnings, Tessa has recently given up her career to focus on her family and the pursuit of domestic happiness. From the outside, she seems destined to live a charmed life.

Valerie Anderson is an attorney and single mother to six-year-old Charlie—a boy who has never known his father. After too many disappointments, she has given up on romance—and even, to some degree, friendships—believing that it is always safer not to expect too much.

Although both women live in the same Boston suburb, the two have relatively little in common aside from a fierce love for their children. But one night, a tragic accident causes their lives to converge in ways no one could have imagined.

In alternating, pitch-perfect points of view, Emily Giffin creates a moving, luminous story of good people caught in untenable circumstances. Each being tested in ways they never thought possible. Each questioning everything they once believed. And each ultimately discovering what truly matters most.

I was so excited to read another Emily Giffin novel! Having met her on her Heart of the Matter book tour, I couldn’t wait to devour her latest story. And devour I did, poolside on Memorial Day weekend.

With each Giffin novel I’ve read, I’ve always said each one is better than the last. (And they are all really good!) She never disappoints, introducing you to your new best friends and making it easy to feel compassion and empathy for the characters. I love how Heart of the Matter is told from two points of views (Tessa in first person and Valerie in third person). I love getting both sides to the story!

Without giving too much away, I can say that the twists and turns, the ups and downs, and the friendships developed will have you turning the pages as fast as you can! I couldn’t put the book down and as I neared the end I was actually sad that it was almost over.

Emily Giffin novels remain some of my favorites and I love that they are not all too predictable. I like novels that keep you guessing. This one doesn’t disappoint and I recommend it for your summer TBR list!

Giffin’s first novel, Something Borrowed, is currently being made into a movie and will release next summer. While reading Heart of the Matter, I could easily imagine which celebrities would be great for the roles. So here’s hoping this one’s a movie someday too so I can see how well I did!

5/5 stars.

Happy Reading,

Fabookulous

 

Author Spotlight & Book Signing:: Emily Giffin :: May 20, 2010

No author’s work epitomizes summer reading like Emily Giffin (NOT Griffin)! Thanks to Fabookulous’ recommendation and a few credits from Paperbackswap.com, my girls and I devoured each of Giffin’s books last summer by the pool/beach. On the outside, the book covers are girly and bright. On the inside, these books will make you laugh, cry, and call your best friend. Giffin’s books cover all the bases- life’s challenges in personal growth, relationships,  marriage, friendships, motherhood and beyond. These books are written in such a fun and fresh way. To quote CoverGirl- they’re just easy, breezy!

In March, while on vacation visiting family and away from the computer, Fabookulous was bursting at the seams to tell me about Giffin’s tour dates hot off the press! With the date firmly inked on the calendar, we sent a “smoke signal” and organized a group of our gal pals from near and far. Tonight was the long awaited Girl’s Night Out to share in the excitement of meeting Giffin as she kicked off her 2010 summer book tour (thankfully with a stop in our town) promoting her latest release, Heart of the Matter. The girls and I HAD anxiously awaited this event since voraciously devouring all her books last summer. We’d been chomping at the bit for more. Turned out it was also the BabyMoon weekend I organized for one of my besties to come down to stay with us at “The Chateau” for a girly weekend of pampering and prenatal massage before her new baby arrives. She was able to arrive a day early and join us for GiffinFest2010!

Those of us who were able, met at a french cafe for dinner before the big event. We arrived in plenty of time to save prime seats for our other friends who were coming from farther away in traffic.

I don’t know how it happens, but I seem to make new friends everywhere I go.  I was complimenting the girl in front of us on her gorgeous blue/purple dress. We starting chatting books and she loved hearing about our blog. Turned out this was her VERY first book signing event! So Alyssa, if you’re reading this, I’m so glad to have met you and we hope to see you at the Jennifer Weiner event this summer 🙂

From the moment Emily walked into the room, she captivated us. She’s the kind of girl you want in (as I call it), in your “friend arsenal”; intelligent, friendly, hilarious, kind and thoughtful. It was such a fantastic opportunity to hear her talk openly about her process for writing Heart of the Matter as well as her other bestselling novels, balancing being a wife, and and mother of twin 6-year-old sons and a 3-year-old daughter.

My gal pals and I coordinated outfits to match the beautiful deep purple cover of Heart of the Matter. Emily was so tickled by our gesture that she had her assistant take a photo of Emily with our group especially for her blog. I cannot wait to see it! Emily, we love you and cannot wait for you to come back around!! I would say more but I have out-of-town company to attend to. I knew you folks would want a quick recap and the night was just spectacular. Thanks to my girlfriends for making it extra special. As I say, it’s always better together!

With the most wonderful time of the year a week away, that’s right folks- pool and beach season, time to pack that beach bag, pool bag or airline carry-on with your favorite summer reading. What’s at the top of your favorite summer reads? Drop us a comment anytime, I’d love to get suggestions for my summer TBR list.

Want more Giffin? The first book, Something Borrowed, is currently being made into a major motion picture!! So far, Kate Hudson (Darcy), Ginnifer Goodwin (Rachel), Colin Egglesfield (Dex) and John Krasinski (Ethan) have been cast for the film. As can be expected, we can’t wait to make a fun night of this and go as a group to see the film when it comes out 😉 In the meantime, check out Giffin’s recent blog post as she shares her experience of visiting the set of the film, and getting to meet the cast! Giffin is also working on the screenplay for Baby Proof!


Happy reading and don’t forget the sunscreen.








xo♥xo,

LibraryLove

 

Book #16: LibraryLove March 15, 2010

Waiting for Daisy by Peggy Orenstein

Waiting for Daisy is about loss, love, anger and redemption. It’s about doing all the things you swore you’d never do to get something you hadn’t even been sure you wanted. It’s about being a woman in a confusing, contradictory time. It’s about testing the limits of a loving marriage. And it’s about trying (and trying and trying) to have a baby. Orenstein’s story begins when she tells her new husband that she’s not sure she ever wants to be a mother; it ends six years later after she’s done almost everything humanly possible to achieve that goal, from “fertility sex” to escalating infertility treatments to New Age remedies to forays into international adoption. Her saga unfolds just as professional women are warned by the media to heed the ticking of their biological clocks, and just as fertility clinics have become a boom industry, with over two million women a year seeking them out. Buffeted by one jaw-dropping obstacle after another, Orenstein seeks answers both medical and spiritual in America and Asia, along the way visiting an old flame who’s now the father of fifteen, and discovering in Japan a ritual of surprising solace. All the while she tries to hold onto a marriage threatened by cycles, appointments, procedures and disappointments. Waiting for Daisy is an honest, wryly funny report from the front, an intimate page-turner that illuminates the ambivalence, obsession, and sacrifice that characterize so many modern women’s lives.

What does it mean to be a mother? To what lengths would you go to be one? Would you sacrifice your health? Life? Marriage? Your own sense of self? And more interestingly, what are the impacts on your husband through the process of being treated for infertility? My husband and I plan to have children some day. But a couple’s personal time line is so not public information. And conversely, I wish more people would be sensitive towards couples that decide they DON’T want to raise children, whether they biologically can or not. It’s so frustrating to see and hear how ostracized a couple can be if they decide children are not part of their plans. But what if children WERE part of your plans but you waited beyond the point of healthy conception?

My knowledge and understanding of fertility/infertility are so minute. So, in my typical fashion, what better time to expand my personal horizons than during this, The Year of The Bookwormz? This year’s reading challenge is a personal goal to learn more about topics I don’t know about, through books. I also had some extra time to read as I traveled to visit my family out-of-town over the weekend. My sister’s cat especially enjoyed “helping” me read. 🙂

I also appreciated the intellectual conversation on this topic with my sister and brother-in-law, both medical doctors, who had interesting insights from a medical and scientific perspective. The topic intrigued me after reading Baby Proof by Emily Giffin over the summer (who by the way I cannot WAIT to meet during her 2010 book tour)!

Baby Proof‘s premise challenges the idea of a married couple deciding not to have children.  It begs an interesting question, are children all a woman wants?? And discusses whether some couples have kids because they genuinely want to invest in raising children, or because they feel pressure from mothers, grandmothers, and female friends because it’s just “what you do after you get married”.  I couldn’t wait to learn about the topic by reading Waiting for Daisy and was amazed at just how far one woman would go for a baby.

In Waiting For Daisy, Peggy so candidly, shares her six-year struggle toward motherhood. Peggy and her supportive husband Steven, try every medical possibility to conceive a child.   As a woman over 35, she experiences major difficulty every step of the way. Despite her struggles, I loved this book and felt like I was watching Peggy and Steven’s life as a fly on the wall, traveling between two continents. Peggy, a well-known journalist so  forthcoming with her heart wrenching experiences, had me in awe. I cannot image wanting a baby so badly that I’d have gone to the great lengths Peggy goes through. She puts her health, well-being, mental stability, financial stability, marriage, and career on the line.

I have some very strong opinions on the topic of fertility treatments. As this is a public forum, won’t do it here, because those feelings and views belong to my husband and I in privacy. What saddened me the most in reading this book, was how unregulated the cash cow fertility industry is!! I was horrified to read how things went from bad to worse for Peggy and Steven. Below is a brief excerpt from Peggy’s book that I felt extremely apropos:

“I felt like the high roller whose new friends disappeared when his stake was gone. The caring brochures, the chummy smiles, the warm affect of the clinic “team” seemed abruptly stripped away, revealing nothing more than a cold-blooded business. We had wanted so desperately to believe that we had ignored the sales pitch in the compassion, the coercion in the photographs of babies and sunflowers. But I finally got it- these guys may have been doctors, but they were also salesmen. I may have been a patient, but I was also a consumer. I was undergoing a procedure, but I was also making a deal- and they were making a buck”. ~ Peggy Orenstein

I give Peggy so much credit for writing this book. What a strong woman for enduring those most difficult 6 years and basically throwing away the second half of her 30s. I don’t want to give away too much, but this book will be a testament to Peggy’s strength. This book will be a truly amazing gift for Daisy to look back and reflect upon, as her earliest scrapbook.

Such a thought-provoking topic. I wish more people took the time to learn about the political, societal, and social impacts of the fertility industry, even if it doesn’t apply to them!

~5/5 stars~

16 down, 36 to go!

In progress: The Opposite of Me and Testimony (Audiobook)

Xoxo,

LibraryLove


 

Breakout Author’s Spotlight:: Sarah Pekkanen:: February 20, 2010

Are you a fan of authors like Jennifer Weiner and Emily Giffin?

Do you love quick whitted and down to earth authors?

If the answer is yes to any of the above, you will ADORE Sarah Pekkanen! Major congratulations are in order for my friend’s brand new breakout novel, The Opposite of Me, in stores March 9th, 2010.

Please check out Sarah’s Website for more information on her book, tour dates, and to sign up for her hysterical monthly newsletter. Oh, and email Lorne Michels and tell him you want to see Sarah on Saturday Night Live 😉

Sarah Pekkanen’s work has been published in People, The Washington Post, USA Today, The New Republic, The Baltimore Sun, Reader’s Digest, and Washingtonian, among others. She writes a monthly Erma Bombeck type column for Bethesda Magazine, and has been an on-air contributor to NPR and E! Entertainment’s “Gossip Show.” She is the winner of a Dateline award and the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship. Sarah lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland with her husband and three young sons. ~Simon & Schuster

Other Sarah Pekkanen News:

Publisher’s Weekly Deals, 07/21/08
http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6579803.html?industryid=47146
A first novel by Sarah Pekkanen titled The Opposite of Me; Victoria Sanders sold world English rights. Pekkanen, a monthly columnist for Bethesda magazine, will, tongue in cheek, explore low self-esteem, the hunger to succeed and have it all, and the grueling but rewarding bond of sisterhood. Pekannen’s work has been published in a host of newspapers and magazines. Pub date is early 2010.

Bethesda Magazine

Other clippings

“Rookie reporter scoops the big guys on Collins,” Detroit Journal
http://www.forensic-intelligence.org/corrupt/10rookie14.htm

Xoxo, LibraryLove

PS- Special thanks to my dear friend PlanetBooks for introducing me to

Sarah, who is so whitty, our facebook conversations crack me up everytime!