Sunday, February 1, 2015

First Frost

First Frost 
by Sarah Addison Allen

The Sequel to Garden Spells

Genre: Women's Fiction

Years ago, I enjoyed reading the unique and whimsical novel, Garden Spells. In the following years, I have read and enjoyed each of Sarah Addison Allen's books as they were released. I was happy to hear that First Frost was a follow-up to Garden Spells, returning to Bascom, NC and the Waverley family. 

Review: This novel mostly follows Bay, Sydney, and Claire. Bay is navigating her teenage years and Claire is struggling with her new business, while Sydney is hoping for a new baby. The novel is about each character's search for happiness in everyday life. The writing is simple yet elegant and the characters enoyable to spend time with, so go pick up First Frost--unless you haven't read Garden Spells first! The elements of whimsy and magic and the evocative setting Allen is known for are present in this lovely little novel.

Author website

The Happiness of Pursuit

The Happiness of Pursuit
by Chris Guillebeau

Genre: Nonfiction

Review: This was our book club pick for January and led to a thoughtful discussion to start off the year. Chris outlines criteria for what makes a "quest" and suggestions for how you can find happiness in your life through pursuing quests. 

Along the way, you can read about interesting quests people have undertaken, both at home and around the world. The book shows you how you could makeover your life and do that huge thing, like travel around the world, or that smaller thing close to home, like knitting hats for charity, both examples from the text. A fast and enjoyable read that will inspire you and make you think about how to improve your life. 

Author website: has interesting blog posts

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Shadow Year

The Shadow Year
by Hannah Richell

Genre: Women's Fiction

Review: I was engrossed in this book all last weekend, sitting on the porch for hours, reading.

 In present day, the story follows Lila, who inherits a house by a remote lake in the Peak District of England and decides to renovate the house to process her grief.

 The book also follows a group of friends who, after leaving college, decide to live off the land for a year and squat in the same cottage in the 80s. 

I loved the setting descriptions, hint of mystery, and the way the two storylines interacted. 

Now I want to read Richell's debut novel: 

Author website:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Jennifer, Gwyneth and Me

Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me: 
The Pursuit of Happiness, One Celebrity at a Time
by Rachel Bertsche

Bertsche finds herself spending too much time on the Internet, comparing herself to celebrities, but decides to use them for inspiration instead of self-loathing. 

Author of MWFSeeking BFF, also recommended--see my review. My book club of twenty-something young women loved it.

Genre: Memoir

Review: After losing her job, Rachel pursues a writing career at home, but finds herself in a rut. She studies then emulates Jennifer Aniston's steps to a sexy body, Tina Fey's work ethic, and Jessica Alba's "honest" pregnancy. She aspires to Beyonce's total package, Jennifer Garner's marriage, Julia Roberts' serenity and Gwyneth's kitchen. 

Once again, I love the author's sense of humor, approachable yet reflective writing style, and sprinkling of scientific studies with personal anecdote. Her reflections on women and perfectionism were wise, while the experiences with fertility and pregnancy deepened the memoir. 

Author Website

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Summers on Nantucket are Back: The Matchmaker

The Matchmaker
by Elin Hilderbrand

Yes, it is summertime, and that means it is time for Nantucket summer days and nights by way of Elin Hilderbrand novel!

Genre: Women's fiction, Popular Fiction

Review: What if you were semi-happily married and then the love of your life emailed you? And he was moving back to your hometown after almost 30 away? 

So begins the story of Dabney and long-lost love Clendenin, her economist husband Box, and her confused daughter Agnes. The novel follows these four perspectives, but mostly, this is Dabney's story. Got-her-life-together-but-not-what-Dabney.

The setting: great! The desciptions of food: loved 'em! Characterization: real and unique Plot: engaging and believable.

Definitely tuck this book into your beach bag! But beware, it is not fluff--get ready for suspense or even tears. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Someday, Someday, Maybe

Someday, Someday, Maybe
By Lauren Graham

Genre: Popular Fiction

Review: I am always hesitant to read a novel written by an actor or pop culture persona. However, this novel was well-written and a lot of fun to read. Individual sentences are funny and Graham captures the hope and lack of confidence and anxiety of trying to make it in acting. Anyone starting out in their career, especially creative careers, should be able to relate. This novel is fairly light with strong characters and moments of surprising depth. I loved the mid-90s period details, from scrunchies to Doc Martens. Your heart will be warmed by Franny's journey!

Other news:
The book is being developed into a pilot for the CW called Unfamous. Will it become a series?
There is also a sequel in the works

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Close My Eyes

Close My Eyes
by Sophie McKenzie

Genre: Mystery

Review: This novel had an interesting premise. An unknown woman knocks on Gen’s door to tell her that her stillborn baby Beth is still alive. The novel is compelling for awhile. There were probably 100 more pages than necessary; by the end I was skimming just to find out what happened. To create a more suspenseful novel, the writing should have been tightened. Often ideas were repeated; the main characters doubts if she should trust Art, her husband, or Lorcan, a handsome stranger, were stated and restated.

Final thoughts: The novel was hailed as similar to Gone Girl, but it was not quite there. If you are desperate for a new mystery, you might want to read it, but for me it wasn’t a true thriller. As I read, I wished I had a Laura Lippman book, with fast-paced, clean prose, in my hand.