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Christmas Time is Here...

It's nearly Christmas and the kiddos are on holiday break, you're frantically shopping for last minute gifts to go under the tree, wrapping up that project at work before you go on vacation, or perhaps doing some holiday baking?

When you get a moment to breathe, maybe you'd like to curl up with a cup of cocoa or coffee and just enjoy a good holiday read. I know that's what I like to do! But what to read?
I have a few suggestions!

1. For the person who loves a crazy family at Christmastime:

The Winter Street Trilogy by Elin Hilderbrand
Meet the Quinn family who spends their holidays running the Nantucket Winter Street Inn. Kelley Quinn looks forward to spending Christmas with his family, but things get complicated when he walks in on his wife kissing Santa Claus! With the kids coming home for Christmas with troubles of their own - things get pretty wild.
Read this if your favorite Christmas movie is The Family Stone
1. Winter Street
2. Winter Stroll
3. Winter Storms

2. For the person who enjoys the classics:
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
What's Christmas without the classic Dickens tale? Pick it up if you're feeling sentimental.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
I love this classic tale about the March girls - while not exclusively a Christmas novel it has everything you need for a great holiday read.

3. For the person who loves a good Hallmark Christmas movie:

Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher
A failed actress, a musician, a broken hearted woman, and a single man find themselves in a large Scotland estate during the Winter Solstice. Each battling his or her own demons, they are brought together and forever changed by unthinkable circumstances. Think Crash meets Love Actually in this heartwarming holiday story about love, loss and healing by one of my favorite authors!

The Gift by Cecelia Ahren
A modern day Scrooge story about a successful businessman who is frustrated with spending more time working than with his family. He thinks his problem may be solved when he meets a young man with an unusual ability, but will it help him to see what is truly important in life?

4. For the Kiddos:

Eloise at Christmastime by Kay Thompson
Follow Eloise around the Plaza at Christmastime, you never know what kind of mischief she'll get into during the holidays! This is one of our favorites!

How to Catch an Elf by Adam Wallace
Kids will love this fun holiday story about catching one of Santa's favorite helpers!

These are just a few of my favorites for this time of year and I hope you enjoy them. Do you have any holiday favorites? I'd love to hear what your favorite holiday books are!

From my home to yours, wishing you Happy Holidays and a very Merry Christmas filled with hot cocoa, family stories and warmth.
-Whitney the Book Gawker

Book Review: Two By Two, Nicholas Sparks

Happy Friday!

I hope you've had a wonderful week and are ready for a great weekend!

We're heading into Christmas Break here and I'm so excited for a chance to catch up on some holiday reading. I think I have a fun line up for next week's posts, so stay tuned!

Today I'm reviewing the latest Nicholas Sparks novel, Two by Two. It was released earlier this fall, so maybe you've already read it!

I've been a fan of Nicholas Sparks' work since The Notebook. I mean, really, who doesn't secretly love a great love story?! I will admit, I'm a hopeless romantic at heart and I love the way he can write about people falling in love.

Two By Two is very different from his previous novels. In fact, Sparks' newest novel is the complete opposite of his past work. Unlike his previous novels that center around two people finding each other and starting a relationship, this book is about a relationship that is falling apart.

Russell Green has everything - a great job, beautiful home, stunning wife and adorable daughter. Until suddenly, his world falls apart and he's scrambling to figure out what exactly went wrong.
The core of this novel is watching Russ figure out how he's going to handle loss and adapt to a new life - one that he never planned on.

There were elements that I liked in this book, and then there were a lot of things that I didn't like. The biggest problem was that unlike his earlier work, this novel didn't hook me (ever). I'm usually okay if it takes a few chapters to get into a book, but this never really interested me.

In fact, this is one book that I read 3/4 of and skipped to the end to read the last page because I felt it was predictable enough that I wouldn't be missing too much if I read the ending without reading the entire novel.

I just couldn't get into it and I never felt that I could relate to the characters.

The writing is the same as it usually is, Nicholas Sparks is a good writer, but I felt that this novel was lacking that little extra that hooks the reader in.
Character development was decent, but still didn't have the same effect on me as some of Nicholas Sparks' more memorable characters. Overall, I think that this book is fairly unremarkable and not memorable which was disappointing from such a well known author.

Kudos to Nicholas Sparks for trying something different though!

Have you read this? What did you think?

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Listen on Audible

Or check out your local library!

Book Review: The One that Got Away, Leigh Himes

Title: The One that Got Away, Leigh Himes
Print Length: 379 pages
Publisher: Hachette Books (May 31, 2016)
Publication Date: May 31, 2016

This was our book club pick for August and unfortunately the month got away from me. See what I did there? Hah. But really I was just giving everyone more time to finish the book…


The One that Got Away is a debut effort from author Leigh Himes. I found it to be a charming and fun – kind of an adult take on “Freaky Friday.” This fun twist on a classic tale follows Abbey Lahey – exhausted, underappreciated mother who just really wants to carry a Marc Jacobs bag and feel like she has at least some semblance of her life together. Any moms out there relate?

So when she sees a photo of a former could be flame, now a successful Philadelphia socialite, in a magazine, she wonders what it would have been like if they had ended up together.

Thanks to a freak fall off the Nordstrom elevator (while returning the above bag) she’s about to find out.

Suddenly Abbey Lahey is Abbey Van Holt – Philadelphia socialite married to congressional hopeful, Alex Van Holt (the one that got away). If there ever was a story about the age old saying, “You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone” this is it. Abbey finds herself attending black tie events, living in a lavish penthouse, married to handsome, successful and very wealthy man. But all of these things don’t make her happy and she yearns for her former life. I had fun reading along while Abbey discovered who really was “the one that got away” and how to come to terms with her issues.

The storyline is familiar and predictable, but with a fun new twist that I think fans of the chicklit genre will love, I know I did.

So, now that it’s December(!) did anyone read along? If you did, what did you think?
If you didn’t – go ahead and check this one out! I think you'll enjoy it!!

Buy it on Amazon
Buy it at Barnes & Noble
Listen on Audible

Or Check your local library!

Book Review: So Close by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

Title: So Close, Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus
Print Length: 248 pages
Publisher: SparkPress (June 7, 2016)
Publication Date: June 7, 2016


Amanda Beth Luker wants nothing more than to get as far away as possible from the Florida trailer park in which she was raised, her dysfunctional mother and the dead end possibilities of the small town she grew up in.

Nothing seems to be going the way she hopes. Her boyfriend ditched her to go back to South America, taking her money and belongings with him, her mother constantly calls for handouts and she’s just about to lose her job when she meets Tom Davis, a charismatic lawyer with political aspirations. While serving at a political function at the hotel where she works, Amanda overhears Tom speaking at the event. Drawn to his words and inspired by his rags to riches story, Amanda finds herself compelled to Tom and his wife Lindsay. She soon finds herself in their employ as a staffer on Tom’s political campaign for state senate and her life seems to have taken a shift for the better.

As Amanda gains in the political and social world far beyond what she could have imagined from her tiny trailer in Florida, she finds her loyalty and everything she thought she stood for tested by unforeseeable events and the people she holds dearest to her.


This book. Holy smokes.
Do you enjoy a Cinderella story with a Scandal-like political plot twist?

Super, this one’s for you.

I really enjoyed this novel and I felt it blended the coming of age theme well with the political elements of the story. This novel was fast paced, easy to read and felt relatable on a couple of levels. Amanda is shown to be a hard worker, knows the kind of future she wants and goes for it but her journey isn’t without mistakes or bumps in the road. And that plot twist at the end... wow.

The relationships in the novel were a little disjointed for me at times and there were places in the novel that I felt stretched – but overall it was a good book and I would recommend this for anyone looking for a quick, engaging read. Perfect for a weekend get away or airplane trip!


Newsweek declared McLaughlin and Kraus's The Nanny Diaries a 'phenomenon.' It is a #1 New York Times best-seller and the longest-running hardcover best seller of 2002. In 2007 it was released as a major motion picture starring Scarlett Johansson, Laura Linney and Alicia Keys. They are also the authors of three other New York Times bestsellers, Citizen Girl, Dedication and Nanny Returns. And the soon to be released Between You & Me, and Over You.

They have appeared numerous times on CNN, MSNBC, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight and The View. Their work and partnership have been covered in The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, TIME, Elle, Town & Country and Harper's Bazaar.

They have contributed to The London Times and The New York Times as well as two short story collections to benefit The War Child Fund: Big Night Out and Girls' Night Out. In addition to writing for television and film, they travel around the country speaking to young women about gender issues in American corporate culture.

Buy it at Amazon
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Listen on Audible

Thank you to BookSparks for sending a copy of this for me to review!

Book Review: The Singles Game, Lauren Weisberger

Title: The Singles Game, Lauren Weisberger
Print Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: July 12, 2016


Known for her sweet disposition and good girl image Charlie Silver is America’s sweetheart on and off the tennis court. But when an injury sidelines her she decides that the best way to get back in the game she loves is to fire her current coach and hire the notorious Todd Feltner. Known for his brutal training regimen and berating his players – but producing Grand Slam winners – Charlie quickly finds that working with Todd is more difficult than she imagined.

Suddenly Charlie finds herself doing things she’d never imagined. Wearing a tiara during a set? Hooking up with movie stars? Dating the most eligible bachelor in professional tennis? Playing on luxury yachts with U2 and Bono? It all seems amazing – but is having it all worth losing your principles and morals?

M Y  T A K E

I really enjoyed reading The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger. It was a fun and light summer read – as I would only expect from the author. While this was a fun book about a sport that I actually know very little about, I found the premise of the novel to be nothing groundbreaking. So while I did enjoy this book, I found it to be predicable and written with movie rights in mind. Which, not going to lie, I would definitely watch that movie!

If you’ve read this, who would you cast?!

Overall it’s a fun book that I would definitely recommend for vacation or an airplane.

Buy it on Amazon
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A B O U T  T H E   A U T H O R

Lauren Weisberger is the author of The Devil Wears Prada, which spent more than a year on the New York Times hardcover and paperback bestseller lists. The film version, starring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway, won a Golden Globe Award and grossed over $300 million worldwide. Her second novel, Everyone Worth Knowing, was also a New York Times bestseller. She lives in New York City with her husband.

Book Review: It Ends With Us, Colleen Hoover

Title: It Ends With Us, Colleen Hoover
Print Length: 384 pages
Publisher: Atria Books (August 2, 2016)
Publication Date: August 2, 2016
Rating: 4 Stars

M Y  T A K E

Have you ever read a book that just wrecks you?
I did over the weekend and it's called It Ends With Us.

Collen Hoover has been on of my favorite contemporary female authors for quite a while. I love her books, Hopeless, Slammed, and Point of Retreat. She's the kind of author that writes steamy romance scenes, and troubled characters with emotional, heart rendering storylines. It Ends With Us is no different. It wouldn't be honest of me to say that every single part of this book is wonderful. There are some flaws and there were things that bothered me. I'm not bothered by romantic/racy scenes as long as they're well executed - for me a lot of the these types of exchanges between the characters were abrupt and hardly believable but there is an audience for this type of writing and for those people who are into it - you'll love this. That aside I absolutely loved this book for the true purpose of it - which was to explore the inner workings of abusive relationships and what it does to those who are involved. If you can get past the sexiness of this book - there's a real story to be told here and for that I loved this book and gave it a four star rating. I don't want to talk too much about the plot of this novel, I think that it's better if the reader goes in to it blind and just reads the book. It's what I did - and I am so happy that I didn't read any reviews of this novel before I read it.

But for those of you who need a synopsis this is the one I pulled from Barnes & Noble's website:

Book Review: Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America's Gutsiest Troublemakers

Title: Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers, Nick Offerman
Print Length: 416 pages
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: May 26, 2015


You may be familiar with the on screen work of comedian and actor, Nick Offerman, but have you read his books? Because if you haven’t, you really should. As a follow up to his popular autobiography, Paddle Your Own Canoe, Offerman brings us Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers. Highlighting twenty one of his favorite America heroes; Nick Offerman’s short essays focus on the people who have and continue to inspire him. As would be expected from someone like Nick Offerman, his book is humorous while being simultaneously enlightening. His essays span multiple topics; offering his views on religion, politics, woodworking, agriculture and the arts.


While readers may not agree on every single point in Offerman’s book, I believe that there’s something to be taken away from his literary offerings and find it hard not to appreciate his point of view. I actually loved this book and found it to be funny, engaging and thoughtful. I am a huge fan of Nick Offerman – and at first was a little worried that his book may detract from my view of him as a comedian and actor, but his book only made me a bigger fan.

If you’re looking for (what I believe to be) a great book about America’s history and some pretty interesting people’s lives through the lens of an equally interesting American – try this one out.

Also – if you’re not into reading check out the audiobook version, it’s read by the author himself so it’s that much more awesome. #winning.
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Listen to it from Audible


NICK OFFERMAN is an actor, humorist, and woodworker. He is married to the most beautiful and talented actress working today, Megan Mullally. They live in Los Angeles, California, with their poodles and an impressive collection of assorted wood clamps.

SRC 2016 Blog Tour: Book Review: 25 Sense, Lisa Henthorn

I'm participating in #SRC2016 #bestsummerever presented by Book Sparks
Book Sparks Summer Reading Challenge - Learn about it Here

Title: 25 Sense, Lisa Henthorn
Print Length: 177 pages
Publisher: SparkPress
Publication Date: May 24, 2016


Claire Malone is driven and smart with goals of being a successful screenwriter. But she's 25 and still hasn't got it figured out. For one thing, she never should have fallen for her boss. Not only is he entirely wrong for her - he's married. And her job as a television production assistant isn't getting her any closer to her dream career of actually writing for the shows she's working on. Soon Claire finds that life doesn't always work out the way you have it planned and that being 25 doesn't necessarily mean that she's got it figured out. 25 Sense is the story of a young woman trying to navigate the transition from girlhood into adulthood. Paying her dues in a grueling, cutthroat industry and learning from her immature mistakes both in business and in love.

M Y  T A K E

So there were some things that worked for this book - and there were a lot of things that didn't work for this book.

I'm going to go all Pollyanna for a second and focus on the good here.
Henthorn does a wonderful job illustrating the frustrations that come with a career that just won't take off the way you want it to. Claire finds herself bored, frustrated and upset that her career isn't going in the direction she wants it even though she's working her butt off. It's the typical immature expectation that success is won overnight - Henthorn very clearly spells out that it isn't. And in the majority of cases, this is true. I felt that the protagonist's struggle with her career was well written and probably fairly relatable to many 20 somethings that are just trying to make rent from month to month.

And that's where the glad game ends.

For me, a lot of this book just didn't work. I felt that the romance between Claire and her boss was too forced and contrived (this is huge because it makes up the major issue in the story). Claire was overwhelmingly insecure and emotional about the whole thing. There wasn't enough background for the reader to actually care about their doomed romance. Unfortunately she comes off as whiny, and ridiculously stupid about 95% of the time.

The relationships between Claire and the other characters were fairly predictable and shallow. The author attempts to incorporate some friendships to make the main character's life a little more interesting but I found the supporting cast of characters to be generalizations of stereotypical "friend" type characters in a chick flick. There's the gay best friend, the terrible ex boyfriend, the noble prospective boyfriend, sleazy cheating producer, wise mentor colleague and the snake in the grass that will do anything to get ahead. I wish there had been less time devoted to wallowing in self pity and more time devoted to character development.

I don't mean to roast this novel - all of these pieces could have made for a juicy novel if they had been given the right attention and been further developed. But for me, in the end, this novel couldn't get it together and I was disappointed. I feel that while the writing style was approachable and easy to read, this novel lacked development and was too scattered for my liking. I do believe there's an audience for this book - unfortunately it missed the mark for me.

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A B O U T  T H E  A U T H O R

Lisa Henthorn is a television writer who wrote on the CBS show Swingtown, the CW show The Beautiful Life, and the A&E show The Glades. She lives in Santa Monica, California with her husband.

Book Club: July's Pick is The One That Got Away by Leigh Himes

Who’s ready for the Book Gawker’s July book club pick?

This month we’ll be reading The One that Got Away by Leigh Himes!

For those of you who haven’t heard of Leigh Himes’ debut novel, here’s the synopsis from Amazon:

“Meet Abbey Lahey . . .

Overworked mom. Underappreciated publicist. Frazzled wife of an out-of-work landscaper. A woman desperately in need of a vacation from life--and who is about to get one, thanks to an unexpected tumble down a Nordstrom escalator.

Meet Abbey van Holt . . .

The woman whose life Abbey suddenly finds herself inhabiting when she wakes up. Married to handsome congressional candidate Alex van Holt. Living in a lavish penthouse. Wearing ball gowns and being feted by the crème of Philadelphia society. Luxuriating in the kind of fourteen-karat lifestyle she's only read about in the pages of Town & Country. The woman Abbey might have been . . . if she had said yes to a date with Alex van Holt all those years ago.

In the tradition of the romantic comedy Sliding Doors and Lionel Shriver's The Post-Birthday World, Leigh Himes's irresistible debut novel tells the funny and touching story of an ordinary woman offered an extraordinary opportunity to reboot her life, explore the road not taken, and ultimately, find her true self--whoever that may be.”

I’ve heard good things about this book – it appears to be light hearted and fun, which is always a plus when it comes to choosing an entertaining summer read. Hailed as a witty love story about the choices that shape the lives we lead, I’m excited to read this charming debut novel and I hope you are too.

Join the discussion of The One That Got Away on July 29th, here on the blog, Facebook and Instagram! I'm excited to know your thoughts!

Buy it on Amazon
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Visit Village Books in Lynden or Fairhaven

A B O U T  T H E  A U T H O R

Author Leigh Himes has spent fourteen years working in the public relations field. Born and raised in Greensboro, North Carolina, she now lives just outside of Philadelphia with her husband and their two children. This is her first book.
Visit her website at: www.leighhimes.com

Book Review: Euphoria, Lily King

Title Euphoria, Lily King
Print Length: 273 pages
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press
Publication Date: June 3, 2014
Rating: 5/5 Stars


Part Romeo and Juliet, part anthropological essay, Lily King's Euphoria tells the story of three anthropologists studying native tribes in New Guinea during the 1930s. Nell Stone, a controversial and famous anthropologist, and her husband Fen are fleeing a cannibalistic tribe when they run into Andrew Bankston, a British anthropologist studying river tribes on his own. Lonely and suicidal, Bankston clings to the intelligent Nell and charismatic Fen, helping them to find a new tribe for their research. Nell and Fen are introduced to the Tam - a female driven, artistic river tribe. Here Nell studies the customs and values of the Tam while Fen, desperate to emerge from beneath the shadow of his famous wife, is focused more on antiquities than anthropological research. Tensions rise between the three anthropologists as Bankston and Nell draw closer to each other and Fen plots to commit an unforgivable crime with deadly consequences. Taut, sensual and beautifully written, this critically acclaimed novel is worthy of all the praise it received.

M Y  T A K E

Lily King's novel, Euphoria, is sensual, riveting and brilliant. It was named book of the year by the New York Times, Vogue, Time and many other publications. This book truly is a stand out - but please allow me to warn you, it's not for everyone. What made this novel work for me was the beautiful language and descriptions of the native people by Nell and Bankston. Together they make the story beautiful, emotional and sensuous. Because this book is so beautifully and hypnotically written I rated it five stars - it is wonderful. Some readers may find this book slow to start, I believe that this is good. It allows for a gradual build up to the climax of the story and gives the reader a better sense of the characters. Fen is brooding and jealous, Bankston hopelessly romantic and Nell pragmatic and methodical. Euphoria is a masterfully crafted story about love, jealousy, science and the beauty that comes with understanding someone other than oneself. I found it to be uncomfortable - an emotion that I feel great literature should evoke from its reader - beautifully written and tragic. This novel isn't for the faint of heart - it is not a beach read or airplane book but it is a wonderful example of modern literature.

Buy it on Amazon
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A B O U T  T H E  A U T H O R

Lily King grew up in Massachusetts and received her B.A. in English Literature from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her M.A. in Creative Writing from Syracuse University. She has taught English and Creative Writing at several universities and high schools in this country and abroad.

Lily’s first novel, The Pleasing Hour (1999) won the Barnes and Noble Discover Award and was a New York Times Notable Book and an alternate for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her second, The English Teacher, was a Publishers Weekly Top Ten Book of the Year, a Chicago Tribune Best Book of the Year, and the winner of the Maine Fiction Award. Her third novel, Father of the Rain (2010), was a New York Times Editors Choice, a Publishers Weekly Best Novel of the Year and winner of both the New England Book Award for Fiction and the Maine Fiction Award. Lily's new novel, Euphoria, was released in June 2014. It has drawn significant acclaim so far, being named an Amazon Book of the Month, on the Indie Next List, and hitting numerous summer reading lists from The Boston Globe to O Magazine and USA Today. Reviewed on the cover of The New York Times, Emily Eakin called Euphoria, “a taut, witty, fiercely intelligent tale of competing egos and desires in a landscape of exotic menace.”

Lily is the recipient of a MacDowell Fellowship and a Whiting Writer's Award. Her short fiction has appeared in literary magazines including Ploughshares and Glimmer Train, as well as in several anthologies.

New Release Tuesday: First Comes Love, Emily Giffin

Title: First Comes Love, Emily Giffin
Print Length: 401 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: June 28, 2016


Emily Giffin is a master at writing stories about matters of the heart, they’re often times messy (did you read The One and Only?), honest and emotional – First Comes Love is no different. Ms. Giffin’s newest novel tackles the complexity of sibling relationships and family dynamics in a way that is heartfelt and relatable. Josie and Meredith are two very different sisters, they have difficulty finding common ground even in their adolescent years and especially in adulthood. In the aftermath of a devastating family tragedy, the two women find their relationship strained, their only common thread being the brother they lost. As each woman matures she finds herself struggling to come to terms with past decisions, happiness and future plans. Single Josie is in her late thirties and desperately wants a family of her own, while Meredith struggles to connect with her husband and live up to the illusion of marital bliss that she’s created. As the 15th anniversary of their brother’s death looms ahead, it forces each woman to acknowledge her own heart and where her past and present lie.

First Comes Love is a story about self-love, the choices we make and how healing, grace and forgiveness first come from loving and accepting oneself.

M Y  T A K E

Emily Giffin is one of my favorite authors. I’ve read all of her novels and loved each. First Comes Love ranks as one of my favorites that she’s written. She has a way of writing about family and friends that draws the reader into her stories. Her characters are highly identifiable, flawed and heartfelt – I find reading her books similar to a coffee date with an old friend; familiar and relatable. I felt as if I could be a friend of each woman, listening to her problems and watching on as she worked them out for herself. Is it strange that I find that I could possibly be a supporting character, sitting silently off the side, in all of her books?! I think that’s why I like them so much!

Character development aside, First Comes Love, is very well written and fast paced. I flew through this book in less than two days (as is often the case with work by this author) and really enjoyed the outcome. Giffin’s writing style is approachable and easily read, which makes this book suitable to a vast audience. I was satisfied with the ending and the paths each character took in her life. The only downside to finishing the book was that it ended!

You’ll most definitely want to pick this up for your summer reading enjoyment, and I highly recommend that you do!

First Comes Love is available today, June 28!

Buy it on Amazon
Buy it at Barnes & Noble

A B O U T  T H E  A U T H O R

Emily Giffin is the author of seven internationally bestselling novels: Something Borrowed, Something Blue, Baby Proof, Love the One You’re With, Heart of the Matter, Where We Belong, and The One & Only. A graduate of Wake Forest University and the University of Virginia School of Law, she lives in Atlanta with her husband and three children.

*I was provided an advanced copy from NetGalley for an honest review.

Book Club: Modern Lovers by Emma Straub

Welcome to the first ever Book Gawker Book Club Meeting!

I am thrilled that you've joined me in reading this month's book club pick, Modern Lovers by Emma Straub and I'm dying to know what you thought!

M Y   T A K E

I absolutely loved this novel. I'm not saying this because I chose the book for my first book club post and I didn't want it to be a dud. I hope you all enjoyed it as well - and I typically don't talk up books just for the sake of a good recommendation. I can honestly tell you - I LOVED this novel. Emma Straub is magical. Her storytelling and character development is bar none and this is one of my favorite books this year.

W H A T  I  L O V E D

I felt that this story with its zany characters and quirkiness was witty and entertaining. I loved the juxtaposition of the young lovers' story with that of the older lovers in the story. The older couples each navigating their way through marital challenges and their children falling into what can only be described as a teenage whirlwind romance that is (let's face it) doomed from the start. Each character had his or her own unique struggle - and I thought that Emma Straub pulled their differences and uniqueness together beautifully in the end.
This book really was about friendship, self discovery, and love at all stages of life - whether it be during teenage or middle age years.

Emma Straub is incredibly witty. Her characters are razor sharp, smart and sassy - I loved that about this book. The only person I just wanted to give a good lecture to was Andrew (obviously) - but then it was apparent he was in definite need of some directional guidance so I'm going to throw him a bone there. One thing that I loved about this book was that it is incredibly smart but not overwritten. The prose was easy to read and enjoyable. I wasn't getting hung up on superfluous language or passages that were over my head. I found it to be to the point and funny.

W H A T  D I D N 'T  W O R K

Iggy Pop's return seemed downplayed a little to me. I mean, Elizabeth spent all that time making and hanging posters around the neighborhood, and I felt that his return was overshadowed by Ruby's cover up for Dust. I just would have liked a little more of a party for Iggy's return. What can I say, I'm an animal person.

Andrew - I'm not trying to make him out to be a bum, but he kind of was a bum! His character worked for the story and he came around in the end, but I would have liked to have seen a little more depth to him. I think behind the lost little boy looking for acceptance/distraction there were some other issues that made him more complex than he initially appeared throughout the book.


Feel free to discuss in the comments, on Instagram or over at the Book Gawker's Facebook page! You're also more than welcome to link to your own post about Modern Lovers in the comments! I'm excited to know what everyone thought of this novel!
Also, I'm taking requests for July's Book Club pick - let me know what you would like to read!
July's book will be announced on June 30 - so be sure to check back!!

What did you think of Modern Lovers? Did you enjoy this novel?
  • Loved it!
What worked for you, what didn't?
  • Writing style, character development, storyline were all wonderful!
  • I just wish that there had been some additional details added.
Who were your favorite characters?
  • Mine was Ruby. I just loved her waywardness. She pretends to be a badass but she's really just a confused girl trying to figure it all out. Her ending was one of my favorite moments in the book. Naomi was another favorite - I thought she was funny and terrible all at once.
Did the book end the way you thought it would?
  • I was actually really happy with the ending of this book. I felt that everyone found what they had been looking for which made me happy. I was a little surprised though because I feel that I'm getting used to bittersweet endings, so I fully expected a tragedy in end.
What would you ask the author about Modern Lovers?
  • What was your writing process for this book and how did it differ from your previous work? What did you want to do differently with this novel?
Would you recommend this book? Why? Why not?
  • Absolutely! This has been one of my favorite books this year.
If you haven't finished the book - are you planning to?

SRC2016 Blog Tour: Book Review: One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I'm participating in #SRC2016 #bestsummerever presented by Book Sparks
Book Sparks Summer Reading Challenge - Learn about it Here

Title: One True Loves, Taylor Jenkins Reid
Print Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Publication Date: June 7, 2016


How often in life do you find your one true love?
And if you lose it - can you find it again?

Emma Blair met the love of her life when she was seventeen. Together, they left their small Massachusetts town to create a life together far away from the expectations of their families and everyone they know. Living in California the two find themselves traveling the world,  fulfilling the dreams they shared, Emma as a travel writer and Jesse's job taking him all over the globe as part of a travel film crew, they're happy and in love and nothing could be better.

Until a year after their wedding, on their first anniversary, Jesse takes a job that will change everything - when the helicopter that he's on crashes into the Pacific Ocean and the entire crew pronounced dead Emma's world is shattered.

Reeling from the devastation of losing her best friend and spouse, she moves home to be with her family. Slowly as the years go by, she begins to pick up the pieces of her life and emerge from the grief that envelops her. She begins to find happiness again, first in her job as the manager of her parent's bookstore, and then with a former high school crush, Sam. With Sam, she's able to move forward and begin anew and soon they become engaged.

And then Jesse calls.

He's been away three and a half years - and been trying to get back to Emma everyday of every year that he's been lost, now he's coming home.

Emma finds herself in the midst of one of the most heart wrenching situations of her life - choosing between the man she lost and the man she found.

M Y   T A K E

Holy smokes  can I just say one thing? Emotions!
So. Many. Emotions.

I could probably end my book review right there. But I won't.
Taylor Jenkins Reid's, One True Loves, is compelling, emotionally raw and wonderful. I really loved this book. While the premise for this novel is nothing new, the story telling is what draws you in and keeps your attention. Emma's first person narration lends an emotional authenticity that allows the reader to really empathize and connect with her. I found myself so torn for Emma - choosing between the life she had, the life she's living and the two men who represent both her past and present. 

Emma's seems an impossible situation with no forthright solution, but what I loved about this was that her decision didn't boil down to who she loved more - it couldn't have - but rather who she wanted to be. I think that Reid really hammered home the concept of self discovery, personal growth and the effects this has on the ones we love in a way that really resonates with the reader.

Reid's writing style is easy to read and fast paced - I flew through this novel in a couple of days. She's a masterful storyteller that has the ability to grab a reader by the heartstrings. The overall character development was wonderful - I thought the characters were flawed, relatable and personable.

I wouldn't hesitation to recommend this book for your summer reading list - it's been one of my favorites so far this year.

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A B O U T  T H E  A U T H O R

Taylor Jenkins Reid is an essayist and novelist living in Los Angeles and the acclaimed author of Maybe in Another Life, After I Do, and Forever, Interrupted. Before becoming a writer, she worked in entertainment and education.

Five Fictional Fathers I Love

Father's Day is just around the corner (Sunday for all you procrastinators - you're welcome for the reminder) and I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of my favorite fathers in literature. In no particular order here are five of my favorite fictional fathers:

Mr. Bennett - Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Mr. Bennett is one of my favorite literary fathers. He's patient, wise and always wants what's best for his daughters. That part when he gives Lizzie an out from marrying Mr. Collins? Priceless. He's not into fashion ("No Lace, Mrs. Bennett, NO LACE!") and often keeps out of the limelight, but he appreciates his children's varying talents - even when they have none.

Atticus Finch - To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Who doesn't love Atticus Finch!? I believe that anyone who's read Mockingbird will agree that he is one of fiction's most loved literary fathers. He taught his children to be brave, empathetic and to do the right thing even in the toughest circumstances.

William - Danny Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
One of my son's favorite books to have read to him is Roald Dahl's Danny the Champion of the World. William is Danny's father. Together they live in a gypsy wagon where there are imaginative stories and great adventures. I love the relationship that Danny has with his father, so William is obviously on this list. Their hunting adventures and scheming ways make them a dynamic duo.

Arthur Weasley - Harry Potter by JK Rowling
The patriarch of the Weasley family is a bit of a goofball - but that's why we love him. He's a great father to his own children as well as whoever may end up staying at his house. Devoted to his wife and family - he always does the right thing even if it's intimidating. His fascination with muggle (non magical human) paraphernalia only makes him that much more charming.

Jean Val Jean - Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Jean Val Jean is one of my favorite fathers in fiction. He saves Cosette from the horrible (although slightly comical) Thenardier family after making a promise to her mother as she dies. He then raises Cosette as his own, looking out for her well being. Despite a rocky start, Jean Val Jean is able to make the most of his life - improving things for those around him the best he can. I think he's a great role model - even if he is on the run from Javert.

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there, I hope you enjoy your day!

Book Review: The Unexpected Everything, Morgan Matson

Title: The Unexpected Everything, Morgan Matson
Print Length: 528 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Rating: 4/5 stars


Andie Walker’s life is exactly how she wants it.

She’s a top notch student with her sights set on Med School, she has the three best friends a girl could hope for and as far as relationships go – nothing serious or longer than three weeks is necessary.

Always the planner, she has her perfect summer vacation laid out – attending a highly competitive Summer Medical program that will look amazing on her college applications, finding a summer crush (nothing serious of course), avoiding her dad, and enjoying some downtime with her girlfriends. But when a political scandal involving her Congressman father costs Andie her summer internship she finds herself stuck at home for the summer. Worst of all she’s stuck sharing the house with her dad – whom she hasn’t spent a whole lot of time with over the past five years.

With her summer plans completely askew, Andie finds herself doing things she never thought she would - a job as a dog walker? Never would have dreamed of it. Actually enjoying spending time with her dad? Nope, didn’t see that one coming. Cute crush that could actually last longer than three weeks?! You’re kidding right?

As the summer progresses Andie begins to find that maybe life is less about the perfect plan and more about embracing the unexpected – but can she really stop trying to control everything?

M Y  T A K E

Morgan Matson’s book about a teenager who seems to have it all together was entertaining and sweet. Sometimes after you’ve spent quite a bit of time reading darker material you need some light in your book life. This YA novel about a girl and her friends the summer before their senior year in high school was exactly what I needed. Andie and her friends were a relatable group – I enjoyed their group text message chains and the interaction between them, I could see my youngest sister interacting with her friends in the same manner. While tight knit, they weren’t without a little bit of the drama that naturally occurs between friends and I found them overall to be a fun group.

One of my favorite character relationships in this book was the one between Andie and her Dad. From the beginning of the novel, the two of them are not close. Andie has been living as she pleases without much, if any, parental supervision – her dad’s near constant attention to his job as a member of Congress taking away from any relationship they may have. As they begin to spend more time together they’re able to work through some of their issues and ultimately start healing some of the hurt they’ve both experienced.

But probably one of my favorite things about this book is how Andie matures. She learns to be flexible with life – one of the hardest life lessons to learn especially when you strive to control your surroundings. As the novel progresses Andie find that doing what she actually likes is better than what other people would expect from her. There’s a self-exploration element to the story – which I think young adult readers will like. Plus if you like a little romance with your novels – this one has a really cute romantic relationship too.

If you’re looking for a really cute summer read that’s quick and not fantasy – you’ll probably like this.

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A B O U T  T H E  A U T H O R

Hi! I'm Morgan. (I've always found the third-person biography thing pretty weird.)

I write YA novels, usually about a girl, a summer, a boy, sometimes a dog, and always lots of coffee and ice cream. I love road trips and traveling, old black & white movies filled with repartee, summers, Starbucks, and fountain diet coke.

I'm originally from the East Coast, but I now live in Los Angeles with my dog Murphy, in a house I wish was closer to the beach

New Release Tuesday: 3 Books to Add to Your Summer Reading List

Happy Tuesday!

One of the best things about Tuesday is that it's a popular day of the week for new books to be released - and today is no exception. This Tuesday is especially fantastic because there are some really great books being released today. You'll be hearing about these books all summer long - now's your chance to get a jump on that poolside, park side reading list and read them before everyone else!

1. The Girls, Emma Cline

Emma Cline's novel, The Girls, is one of the most anticipated novels of the summer. Its generating a ton of buzz in the print world as well as the interwebs. You're not going to want to miss this Manson Family inspired coming of age novel.

I scored it a 4 out of 5 stars - you can see my review here.

2. Here's to Us, Elin Hilderbrand

Elin Hilderbrand is back and she's bringing us one of summer's best beach reads. This novel about three different women who all share the same ex-husband. When his sudden death brings them together in honor of his final wish - chaos ensues. Hilderbrand is the queen of the summer beach read - so I'm super excited to pick this one up.

*Also, if you're a fan of Elin Hilderbrand and you live in the Whatcom County area, Village Books is hosting her on June 22 at 7:00pm at the Jansen Art Center in Lynden. You're not going to want to miss this opportunity to see Elin live and have your book signed! Believe me when I say, I'll be there! More details here.

Hailed as "One of the most anticipated books of 2016" by The Millions and "Aggressively Imaginative" by the New York Times, Ramona Ausubel's story of a wealthy family who in the midst of lavish summer holidays and party planning realizes that their fortune has run out is sure to be one of the summer's most talked about reads. I'm excited to pick this one up.

If you've read any of these - I'd love to know what you thought! I'll be sharing my thoughts on 2 & 3 as soon as I've read them.

Happy reading everyone!

SRC2016 Blog Tour: Book Review: Saving Abby by Steena Holmes

I'm participating in #SRC2016 #bestsummerever presented by Book Sparks
Book Sparks Summer Reading Challenge - Learn about it Here

Title: Saving Abby, Steena Holmes
Print Length: 274 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: May 31, 2016
Rating: 3/5 Stars


Claire Turner has always wanted to be a mother. Together with her husband, they make up a children's book author/illustrator duo - so after all they'd make the perfect parents. Except that Claire can't seem to get pregnant. Plagued by the regret of putting her first born up for adoption when she was a teenager, Claire now feels that she'll never have the opportunity to have the one thing she's always wanted - a child of her own.

When a miracle pregnancy occurs, Claire and Josh are overjoyed. Until Claire's health begins to deteriorate and they're faced with the heartbreaking dilemma of saving Claire's life or saving their unborn child's.

M Y  T A K E

Steena Holmes' heartbreaking story of a mother who will do anything to save her unborn child is sweet and touching. If you've ever been a parent, you know the lengths you'll go to protect your children from harm. For Claire, that meant enduring incredible pain to protect her unborn baby and the effects of her choice on her husband, family and friends. I think this is a book that many women could relate to and Claire is the type of character that is easily empathized with.

The supporting cast is a somewhat typical display of small town citizens, which lends to the charm of this book. It's not heavy literary fiction - and although it tackles some moral issues, it wouldn't really be classified as anything other than your average run of the mill general fiction. But despite its predictability I found Saving Abby to be a charming little book. It's a quick read, so perfect for a leisurely afternoon or weekend.

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A B O U T  T H E  A U T H O R

After writing her first novel while working as a receptionist, Steena Holmes made her dream of being a full-time writer a reality. She won the National Indie Excellence Book Award in 2012 for her bestselling novel Finding Emma. Now both a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Steena continues to write stories that touch every parent’s heart in one way or another. To find out more about her books and her love for traveling, you can visit her website at www.steenaholmes.com or follow her journeys over on Instagram @steenaholmes.

Book Review: The Assistants, Camille Perri

Title: The Assistants, Camille Perri
Print Length: 283 pages
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Rating: 4/5 Stars


What do you do when you're drowning in student loan debt, working your a$$ off for a communications billionaire whose lunch expenses account for the sum of your annual salary?
You redistribute his wealth, obviously.

Tina Fontana has an NYU degree, a job as the personal assistant to Titan Corporation's CEO billionaire Robert Barlow, measly apartment that she can barley afford and is drowning in student loan debt. Obviously she's living the American dream. But when an accounting error produces a check in an amount that would pay off her student loan debt in full - she is faced with the moral dilemma of a lifetime; pay off her student loans and start living her life, or do the right thing and return the check?

So what does she do? She cashes it.

M Y  T A K E

Ya'll - this book is fun! For anyone out there who went to college with dreams of financial and social success only to find that not all college degrees equal champagne brunches and summers yachting through the south of France - this is for you! Robin Hood meets The Devil Wears Prada in this hilarious novel about a rag tag group of women who "redistribute" their boss's wealth in order to make the world of the average working class female just a little bit better.

I loved this novel - it was quick, sharp and chock full of pop culture references. What's not to love? Camille Perri's debut novel is hilarious. I thought her characters were well developed and her writing light and fun. In my opinion, it's everything that I would want in a beach read. If you're a fan of chicklit or just looking for a fun book after you've slogged your way through The Vegetarian then this one's for you.

A B O U T  T H E  A U T H O R

Camille Perri is the author of The Assistants. She has worked as a books editor for Cosmopolitan and Esquire. She has also been a ghostwriter of young-adult novels and a reference librarian. She holds a bachelor of arts degree from New York University and a master of library science degree from Queens College. Perri wrote the first draft of The Assistants while working as the assistant to the editor-in-chief of Esquire.

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Book Review: Don't You Cry, Mary Kubica

Title: Don't You Cry, Mary Kubica
Print Length: 320 pages
Publisher: MIRA
Publication Date: May 17, 2016
Rating: 3.5/5 stars


Quinn's roommate Esther is missing. Rudely roused from sleep on a Sunday morning by her roommate's errant alarm clock - Quinn stumbles into Esther's room to find that she's not there. Window flung wide open and cold air striking her into wakefulness she thinks perhaps Esther just left the window open and forgot her alarm. But when Sunday turns to Monday and still Esther hasn't returned she begins to worry - where has Esther gone? Is she coming back?

Miles away from Chicago in a small depressed Michigan town, Alex Gallo is at the diner where he works as a dishwasher when he encounters a mysterious young woman. Drawn by her good looks and mysterious origin he attempts to befriend the nameless girl - whom he affectionately dubs Pearl.

While Quinn attempts to locate her roommate she begins to wonder how well she knew the girl she was living with and Alex, miles away, finds himself befriending a stranger who may be more dangerous than he can imagine.

M Y  T A K E

In her latest novel, Don't You Cry, Mary Kubica showcases exactly the type of storyteller she is. Methodical and detailed, Kubica creates dynamic characters and intricate storylines that keep the reader engaged and engrossed throughout. Truly a page turner, Don't you Cry will keep you guessing all the way to its conclusion.

I'm typically critical of the suspense/psychological thriller genre (it's not my favorite) but Mary Kubica is my go to author when I need a good mystery (The Good Girl was one of my favorites last year - that ending?! #OMG #didntseethatcoming). Like her other novels, there is varying point of view which serves to enhance the storyline and give life to the details that are critical to the plot. I like this type of narrative and really found myself drawn to Alex's experience as he befriends the new girl in town, trying to figure her out. Kubica's characters are usually relatable - and the characters in this book are no exception. Quinn is flawed and insecure with herself, Alex is frustrated with his small town life and bleak opportunities. I imagine that there are many readers who could identify with both narrators. My one criticism is that the ending of the book felt a little rushed to me. There was a lot of plot build up throughout the beginning and middle of the book - so much that as I neared the end I was wondering if the story could actually be wrapped up in forty pages. So while the ending did answer my questions - I wish there had been a little more "umph" to it.

Overall I found the book to be well written and suitable for any type of reader. I enjoyed it and believe that other fans of Mary Kubica will enjoy this as well as her other novels.
It's a fast paced, fun read for anyone's summer book list.

A B O U T  T H E  A U T H O R

Mary Kubica is the New York Times bestselling author of THE GOOD GIRL and PRETTY BABY. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in History and American Literature. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and two children and enjoys photography, gardening and caring for the animals at a local shelter. Her third novel, DON'T YOU CRY, was released in May of 2016.

Visit Mary at http://www.marykubica.com/

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