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 #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


 

Second Sizzlin’ Summer Giveaway:: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt:: **WINNER JUST ANNOUNCED**! June 9, 2010

Twice is nice!  This summer is on fire already with more exciting news and another chance for you to win free stuff! Who doesn’t love free stuff?! Thanks to the kindness of Beth Hoffman, one of our biggest supporters,  favorite authors, and one of the sweetest ladies we know, I’m thrilled to announce our second super exciting sizzlin’ summer giveaway…

Enter now to win your very own FREE autographed first edition hardcover copy of Beth Hoffman’s New York Times Best Selling novel, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, packed with a ‘CeeCee slug-slingin’ pancake flipper and yummy bag of Wonka’s sluggles!

If you don’t get the joke, it means you need to enter this contest to win Beth’s laugh-out-loud pee-your-pants novel about the life-changing summer CeeCee spends in Savannah to hear what all the buzz is about.

How can you win this fantastic booty? It’s SUPER EASY!

Just leave a comment  below telling us your favorite summer memory, favorite summer getaway or favorite summer treat.

The contest will remain open until midnight on Tuesday June 22nd. Using Random.org, a lucky winner will be selected and announced here on Wednesday June 23rd. Don’t be shy if you’ve never commented before – now is your chance to win!!

Click here to read my review and click here to read Fabookulous’ review if you’ve not already done so. Our reviews of Beth’s novel received a record number of hits here at Year of the Bookwormz. With Beth’s paperback tour heading our way in early 2011, we’re keeping the buzz going about CeeCee’s story and spreading the word about Hoffman’s debut Southern Fiction masterpiece. Bookmark Beth’s beautifully designed webpage;  you will NOT want to miss her on tour in your city! If you loved books like The Help and/or Secret Life of Bees, you will LOVE CeeCee’s story!

We look forward to reading all your entries!

Good luck 🙂

Xo♥xo,

LibraryLove

PS- my favorite summer memory is hanging by the pool feeling like I’m on a deserted tropical escape with no baseboards to clean, dog hair to vacuum, or laundry piling up! My favorite summer getaway is heading w/friends to my neighborhood “quiet pool” every weekend, and my favorite summer treat is frozen lemonade!

***WINNER JUST ANNOUNCED*** Check the comments to see if it’s you!

 

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