Your Perfect Life by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

perfectBest friends since childhood, Casey and Rachel couldn’t lead more different lives. While workaholic Casey rubs elbows with celebrities daily as the host of Gossip TV and comes home nightly to an empty apartment, stay-at-home mom Rachel juggles an “oops” baby, two fiery teenagers, and a husband who barely seems the man she fell in love with two decades before. After an argument at their twentieth high school reunion, Casey and Rachel throw back shots to get the night back on track. Instead, they get a life-changing hangover.

Waking up in each other’s bodies the next morning, they must figure out how to navigate their altered realities. Rachel is forced to confront the reason she gave up her broadcasting dreams when she got pregnant in college, and Casey finally steps out of the spotlight to face the truth about why she’s alone. And they soon discover that they don’t know themselves—or their best friend—nearly as well as they thought they did. – Goodreads

I was guessing by the description that this book would be easy to figure out, and it definitely was. I don’t want to disappoint anyone, but it’s just like the movies you’ve seen – take your life for granted, switch bodies with someone whose life you’re jealous of, learn why you should love your own life to switch back. I just gave away the entire plot of the book. Oops.

Really though, I was hopeful that there would be a new twist on that same old story this time. While it is cute, it’s just not… new. I will give it this though, it does have a new perspective. While we’ve seen the whole ‘mother/daughter switcharoo’ and the ‘married dude/bachelor’ one too, this one is two best friends – a stay at home mom & a career woman. I loved that part of it! It was like something that could happen to me and my friends (I actually think it would be really fun if Lauren & I had to switch… haha). The story itself is really good too, and the writing was great! I really ended up liking it, even though I predicted the entire thing. Rachel’s teenagers though, they’re enough to make someone that has always wanted girls to totally change her mind (cough, cough, me).

I gave Your Perfect Life 3/5 stars on Goodreads. I really do think that if you read this with an open mind & purely for the fun of it, you will love it. I can’t wait to read more of Fenton & Steinke‘s collaborations – I think writing with your best friend is definitely the way to do it!

 

K

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Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer

Nowhere

After Queenie Wake is dismissed from her restaurant job, she returns to North Star to cook meals for death row inmates.

Hopeful that the bad memories of her late mother and promiscuous sister (now the mother of the captain of the high school football team) have been forgotten by the locals, Queenie discovers that some people can’t be forgotten—heartbreaker Everett Coburn—her old high-school sweetheart.

When secrets from the past emerge, will Queenie be able to stick by her family or will she leave home again? – Goodreads

This book made me so hungry! Liza Palmer does such a good job with descriptions, that (almost) every time Queenie made food for any reason, I would get hungry. The chicken fried steak in this book… I want it in real life. Seriously.

Anyway, I LOVED this story. It was so different than anything I’ve read before, so refreshing and funny. There were a few darker things that they addressed (like Queenie’s mom’s antics) but overall, it was super lighthearted and exactly what i was looking for. The sense of family and history in it were really nice and while it wasn’t absolutely groundbreaking, it was a really enjoyable read for sure.

My favorite parts were with Queenie and her sister. You can feel their connection and how much they really care about each other and just want each other to be happy. I also loved all the small-town gossip in it – those Southern, small town ladies don’t know how to keep things to themselves!

Queenie’s time in the prison (cooking, not being incarcerated haha) was really interesting too – I saw a completely different side than I ever had before and I loved it. It would be so hard to cook last meals!

I gave Nowhere But Home 3/5 stars on Goodreads and I definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a quick, light read.

K

 

The Theory of Opposites by Allison Winn Scott

18382947What happens when you think you have it all, and then suddenly it’s taken away?

Willa Chandler-Golden’s father changed the world with his self-help bestseller, Is It Really Your Choice? Why Your Entire Life May Be Out of Your Control. Millions of devoted fans now find solace in his notion that everything happens for a reason. Though Willa isn’t entirely convinced of her father’s theories, she readily admits that the universe has delivered her a solid life: a reliable husband, a fast-paced career. Sure there are hiccups – negative pregnancy tests, embattled siblings – but this is what the universe has brought, and life, if she doesn’t think about it too much, is wonderful. – Goodreads

And then her husband tells her he wants them to take a two-month break. And then she is fired. And then her ex comes back into the picture.

I liked the idea of this story—after all, I’ve never read about a main character with a self-help guru for a father. Can you imagine the impact that would have on your life? That’s one of my favorite things about books—they put you in the shoes of someone different from you.

I didn’t like being in Willa’s sad, depressing, Switzerland shoes. Switzerland? Yes. At every corner she was constantly reminding the reader that she is Switzerland—the middle, mediocre, plain, nothing special…Switzerland.

The plot was very convenient. You’re in a marriage with the perfect, nerdy, hot man—but you’re beginning to pine for your ex-boyfriend, who wasn’t Switzerland. Boom. Out of the blue your husband wants a break and boom, your ex shows up.

This book just wasn’t for me. There were too many things that annoyed me. I continued on because it was a quick, brainless read—-but it wasn’t my favorite. I know a lot of people really love Scott’s work, but I’m not one of them.

I rated it a 2/5 on Goodreads.

L

Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner

25205422Rachel Blum and Andy Landis are eight years old when they meet late one night in an ER waiting room. Born with a congenital heart defect, Rachel is a veteran of hospitals, and she’s intrigued by the boy who shows up all alone with a broken arm. He tells her his name. She tells him a story. After Andy’s taken back to the emergency room and Rachel’s sent back to her bed, they think they’ll never see each other again.

Rachel, the beloved, popular, and protected daughter of two doting parents, grows up wanting for nothing in a fancy Florida suburb. Andy grows up poor in Philadelphia with a single mom and a rare talent that will let him become one of the best runners of his generation.

Over the course of three decades, through high school and college, marriages and divorces, from the pinnacles of victory and the heartbreak of defeat, Andy and Rachel will find each other again and again, until they are finally given a chance to decide whether love can surmount difference and distance and if they’ve been running toward each other all along. – Goodreads

Damn it, my emotions are still reeling. This one hit me right in the feels. Thanks for that, Jennifer.

Rachel and Andy are high school sweethearts—but their story starts long before that. Rachel has had a heart condition her entire life, and they end up meeting in the hospital when they’re young. They come from separate sides of the tracks—Rachel from a rich, Jewish family and Andy from a low-income, single parent household. This is fine, until they’re older and begin to realize that their differences are coming between them.

The storyline is fantastic and spans over many years. It switches point of view between Rachel and Andy with each chapter, and also labels the year. It was easy to understand and gave a great look at each character as they progressed through life.

Andy and Rachel have a very on again off again relationship throughout their adolescent and adult life as they realize their differences—in beliefs, backgrounds, goals, and aspirations. They both just seemed so real. Even Andy, who turned into a freaking Olympic runner.

I literally don’t even know how to put into words how much I love this book. Definitely my new favorite Weiner novel. 5/5 on Goodreads.

L

Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot

23215471For Princess Mia, the past five years since college graduation have been a whirlwind of activity, what with living in New York City, running her new teen community center, being madly in love, and attending royal engagements. And speaking of engagements. Mia’s gorgeous longtime boyfriend Michael managed to clear both their schedules just long enough for an exotic (and very private) Caribbean island interlude where he popped the question! Of course Mia didn’t need to consult her diary to know that her answer was a royal oui.

But now Mia has a scandal of majestic proportions to contend with: Her grandmother’s leaked “fake” wedding plans to the press that could cause even normally calm Michael to become a runaway groom. Worse, a scheming politico is trying to force Mia’s father from the throne, all because of a royal secret that could leave Genovia without a monarch. Can Mia prove to everyone—especially herself—that she’s not only ready to wed, but ready to rule as well? – Goodreads

Alright. Teenage me loved teenaged Mia. Is it any surprise that 20-something me loves 20-something Mia?!

It was like greeting an old friend after a while—the kind you were good friends with but never friended on Facebook, so you have no idea what’s new in their life. I was immediately hooked and was so excited to read about her and Michael, Grandmere, her father, and more. There were several plot “twists” that were easy to spot, but still enjoyable to read.

I can’t help but read this book in Anne Hathaway’s voice. And Grandmere’s extreme dislike of gingers (mixed with Harry Potter references)? Meg Cabot, you slay me.

“Despite all evidence to the contrary, Grandmere believes that Ron Weasley, not Voldemort, is the villain of the Harry Potter series.”

Overall, I loved, loved, loved this book. It was a total nostalgic trip and I really enjoyed it. If you read The Princess Diaries as a kid, I strongly recommend this! 5/5 on Goodreads.

L

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

23346496Warning: once you let books into your life, the most unexpected things can happen…

This is a book about books. All sorts of books, from Little Women and Harry Potter to Jodi Picoult and Jane Austen, from to Stieg Larsson to Joyce Carol Oates to Proust. It’s about the joy and pleasure of books, about learning from and escaping into them, and possibly even hiding behind them. It’s about whether or not books are better than real life.

It’s also a book about a Swedish girl called Sara, her elderly American penfriend Amy and what happens when you land a very different kind of bookshop in the middle of a town so broken it’s almost beyond repair.

Or is it? – Goodreads

I’ve never read a book about books. In fact, I was nervous—partly because of the mixed reviews, partly because, well, it’s about books. Intimate, familiar objects and adventures that would be odd to read about in, well, a book. Bookception?

Sara is a book lover from Sweden. Through an online book transaction she befriends Amy, an old book lover living in a tiny town in Iowa. They become pen pals, and after a while, decide to meet. When Sara shows up, she learns that Amy passed away days prior to her arrival. She ends up staying at Amy’s house and opening a bookstore in her honor.

Side note: I highlighted so many passages in this book. I could relate to so many things and wanted to quote so much in this blog post…so get ready for a deluge of bookish quotes from The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend.

It must have been a frightening realization: so many books she would never get to pick up, so many stories that would happen without her, so many authors she would never get to discover. That night, Sara sat in Amy’s library for hours, thinking about how tragic it was that the written word was immortal while people were not, and grieving for her, the woman she had never met.

If it wasn’t clear already, I love books with every fiber of my being. They are old friends, new friends, old adventures, new adventures, emotions, experiences…so much is wrapped up in a few hundred pages and a bound cover. I can remember where I was at in life when reading a particularly good book.

This book captures the emotion and life changing power of books. Broken Wheel is a broken, dead town with few residents with little hope for its future. Sara rolls into town, and, using books, breathes some life back into it. People begin to read, to experience new adventures. They come together. There is death, life, love, laughter, sadness. This book captures the difficulties of being a single mother, racism, homophobia, an affair between an older woman and a younger man, bisexuality, alcoholism, being alone, losing your family, religion, poverty.

Sara smiled. Hardback and paperback books smelled different from each other, but there were also differences between English and Swedish paperback editions. Classics, for example, had a smell all their own. Textbooks had their own unique aroma, and university texts were different from those used in schools. Interestingly, adult education books smelled just like schoolbooks, with that familiar scent of classrooms, restlessness and stuffiness.

It was a slow, leisurely read. In fact, I docked a half a star because it was a tad too slow in parts. I never felt like I NEEDED to pick the book up and finish it. I would pick it up, read some, set it down. It was slow and relaxed, just like the pace and feel of the story.

The characters were great—I fell in love with everyone in Broken Wheel.It’s peppered with Amy’s letters, which allows the reader to get to know her even though she’s gone. I could identify with Sara quite a bit, and loved her as a quiet, unassuming main character. She could have had a little more depth—but I truly think she lived her entire life with her nose in a book and didn’t develop other hobbies. Hell, I can identify with that.

I rated this a 4.5/5 and added it to my favorites shelf. There’s something about this sweet little read that made me fall in love with it. I know it’s not for everyone—but isn’t that the beauty of books?

lauren copy

A huge thank you to NetGalley for the chance to read this in exchange for an honest review!

Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner

Sometimes all you can do is fly away home . . .

7227174When 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. – Goodreads

Okay, I actually read this a few weeks ago…but the whole house thing hit and I never wrote my review.

Also, Kiesha and I talked today…this summer is nuts. We will probably take a break for July (except for my Netgalley and Blogging for Books reviews…so really, posting will just be very spotty).

Anyway, to the review.

I’m a big Weiner (heh) fan. Loved her Carrie Shapiro series, and several others. This one…this one was…very boring to me. I had a hard time reading it and found it very slow (Kiesha informed me I’m crazy because she loved this book—to each’s own!)

It follows three storylines: Sylvie (the mom), Lizzie (the delinquent daughter who has turned herself around) and Diana (the other daughter….the perfect one).

I couldn’t really identify with any of the characters. There was lots of cheating involved and lots of terrible decisions (ie, not wearing a condom…it was just one time!)

Some characters were more complex than others. Sylvie definitely fell flat, but Diana and Lizzie were intriguing. As always, Weiner’s writing was good. Again…I just wasn’t feeling it.

If you’re looking for romantic chick lit, this is not it. If you’re looking for an emotional story about family of the female variety, this is your ticket. I think those who liked In Her Shoes would like this one. However, it didn’t do it for me. I rated it a 2/5.

lauren copy