December 22, 2014

12 days of reading - day 11: 'yes please'


Blogger's Note: With Christmas just around the corner, there's still plenty of time to ask Santa for a few new reads under your tree. Rather than share 12 writing tips (like in 2011 and 2012) or some favorite writers (like last year), this year we are sharing 12 notable (and potentially Christmas list-worthy) books from the past year. I have enlisted the help of my good friend (and voracious reader) Whitney to create this list. Enjoy the 12 Days of Reading.

Day 11: Yes Please
By Amy Poehler
Published October 28
Picked by Laura
Do you want to get to know the woman we first came to love on Comedy Central's Upright Citizens Brigade? Do you want to spend some time with the lady who made you howl with laughter on Saturday Night Live, and in movies like Baby Mama, Blades of Glory, and They Came Together? Do you find yourself daydreaming about hanging out with the actor behind the brilliant Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation? Did you wish you were in the audience at the last two Golden Globes ceremonies, so you could bask in the hilarity of Amy's one-liners?

If your answer to these questions is "Yes Please!" then you are in luck. In her first book, one of our most beloved funny folk delivers a smart, pointed, and ultimately inspirational read. Full of the comedic skill that makes us all love Amy, Yes Please is a rich and varied collection of stories, lists, poetry (Plastic Surgery Haiku, to be specific), photographs, mantras and advice. With chapters like "Treat Your Career Like a Bad Boyfriend," "Plain Girl Versus the Demon" and "The Robots Will Kill Us All" Yes Please will make you think as much as it will make you laugh. Honest, personal, real, and righteous, Yes Please is full of words to live by.
Amy Poehler is everything. This is an important fact to establish before gushing about how fabulously enjoyable this read was.

After once seeing an interview where Poehler said she had no plans to write a memoir--that being mentioned in memoirs by Tina Fey and Mindy Kaling was more than enough--I was basically beside myself when I learned Yes Please was coming to a bookseller near me.

As I do with most memoirs, I picked up the audio book for this one to hear the story from Poehler herself. A talented writer as evidenced by her work on Parks and Recreation, it was no surprise that her story was well-told. But more than that, I was struck by the total honesty she shared about her life. She didn't gloss over hardships, like her divorce from Will Arnett, or the great effort and hard work it took for her to achieve the success she has now. And it's a battle that is never over.

At times charming and funny, others emotional and thought-provoking, for me reading Yes Please only solidified how much I admire Poehler as a comedian, writer, actress and human being. I found myself inspired and motivated to work harder to achieve my own goals, which is no small feat for a memoir to achieve.

It also reassured me that I was totally right about dressing up as Poehler's author photo for Halloween.


Rating: 5 of 5


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December 21, 2014

grownup advent week three

My Grownup Advent Calendar continued this week (check out weeks one and two), and it required a lot of reading. This turned out to be a good thing, because I had a lot of other fun activities to participate in all week (like wrapping presents for children receiving them from an angel tree, a Facebook Christmas party and a holiday party with my co-workers).

Take a look at what my week held:

Day 14: Holiday nails (and a Hallmark movie).

Day 15: Curling up with a peppermint
cocoa and Christmas novel.

Day 16: Read from "Five Golden Rings"
(which I'm doing while checking out
the December Delights Bookish Party). 
Day 17: Make a donation to a charitable organization or cause.

Day 18: Read "The Gift of the Magi."

Day 19: Christmas cupcakes and wine.
(Sugar, I wish I knew how to quit you.)

Day 20: Christmas movie marathon and carryout.
Up first: SCROOGED. 

Only four more days of my Grownup Advent Calendar to go!

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December 20, 2014

12 days of reading - day 10: 'landline'


Blogger's Note: With Christmas just around the corner, there's still plenty of time to ask Santa for a few new reads under your tree. Rather than share 12 writing tips (like in 2011 and 2012) or some favorite writers (like last year), this year we are sharing 12 notable (and potentially Christmas list-worthy) books from the past year. I have enlisted the help of my good friend (and voracious reader) Whitney to create this list. Enjoy the 12 Days of Reading.

Day 10: Landline
By Rainbow Rowell
Published July 8
Picked by Whitney
From New York Times bestselling author of Eleanor & Park and Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell, comes a hilarious, heart-wrenching take on love, marriage, and magic phones.
Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply—but that almost seems beside the point now. 
Maybe that was always beside the point. 
Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her—Neal is always a little upset with Georgie—but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go without her. 
When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything. 
That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts. . . . 
Is that what she’s supposed to do? 
Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?
I was lucky enough to get to see Rainbow Rowell at a reading of Landline and she was lovely, hilarious, and real—she had so many thoughtful things to say about writing, being an author (I consider those two different things sometimes) and everything else. She also talked about the book, and her inspiration for it, and keeping that in mind, it was even more fun to read.

The book itself was good—I liked the magical phone element and the idea of whether you should change fate if you have the chance. But what l liked so much about Landline was the character of Georgie. I appreciate that she is a strong, successful female character, as these are sometimes hard to come by. She is well-written, three dimensional, and real, and makes Landline worth the read.

Rating: 4 of 5


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December 19, 2014

12 days of reading - day 9: 'every time i think of you'


Blogger's Note: With Christmas just around the corner, there's still plenty of time to ask Santa for a few new reads under your tree. Rather than share 12 writing tips (like in 2011 and 2012) or some favorite writers (like last year), this year we are sharing 12 notable (and potentially Christmas list-worthy) books from the past year. I have enlisted the help of my good friend (and voracious reader) Whitney to create this list. Enjoy the 12 Days of Reading.


Day 9: Every Time I Think of You
By Tracey Garvis Graves
Published September 16
Picked by Laura
Thirty-year-old Daisy DiStefano has two people she holds dear: the grandmother who raised her, and her three-year-old son, Elliott. But when Daisy’s grandmother is killed in a seemingly random act of violence, Daisy must take steps to protect herself and her child. 

Despite a thriving career in San Francisco, thirty-six-year-old Brooks McClain has returned home to spend what little time his mother has left before she succumbs to the deadly disease that is ravaging her. The seasoned investigative reporter has taken a position with the local newspaper and been on the job less than twenty-four hours when he’s summoned to cover the death of Pauline Thorpe. 

Brooks is all business, but the more time he spends with Daisy DiStefano, the more invested he becomes; there’s something about a single mother, a defenseless child, and an unsolved crime that has stirred Brooks’s protective instincts like nothing ever has before. 

And when the unthinkable happens, Brooks will do whatever it takes to clear the name of the woman he’s fallen for and the child he’ll protect at any cost. 

Romantic and suspenseful, Every Time I Think of You shows how far two people will go to fight for the ones they love, and the life they’ve always imagined.
It's no secret Tracey Garvis Graves writes well--superbly so--and she lived up to her reputation with Every Time I Think of You. Character-driven and expertly crafted, I found myself wishing I could read and flip the next page faster to get to the end.

From the onset, I was drawn to Daisy and Brooks, the main characters who tell most of the story. They are both hard-working, family-oriented individuals who face hard times, sometimes make the wrong decisions, but make every choice with the intent of doing well. I so desperately wanted these two crazy kids to be together, because they were exactly what the other person needed to survive and live to their fullest potential.

Garvis Graves also continues to impress with the amount of research and attention to detail she gives. As a former reporter, Brooks's actions, lines of questioning and written products were spot-on. The depictions of ALS, and even meth addiction and peddling, were developed so completely I felt like if stepped into and episode of a hospital drama or Breaking Bad, which I loved.

Though not as steamy as some romances or nail-biting as some thrillers, there was enough toe-curling passion and page-turning intrigue to keep my interest piqued from page to page. This story had enough interesting and relatable elements that it didn't need gimmicks to work.

What made this book all the more exciting for me was the fact that I went to see Tracey speak while she was still in the developmental stages of working on this book. She offered a few bits about what we could expect, and I eagerly anticipated the moment I would finally get to read this story. It didn't disappoint.

Rating: 4 of 5




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December 18, 2014

12 days of reading - day 8: 'i am having so much fun here without you'


Blogger's Note: With Christmas just around the corner, there's still plenty of time to ask Santa for a few new reads under your tree. Rather than share 12 writing tips (like in 2011 and 2012) or some favorite writers (like last year), this year we are sharing 12 notable (and potentially Christmas list-worthy) books from the past year. I have enlisted the help of my good friend (and voracious reader) Whitney to create this list. Enjoy the 12 Days of Reading.


Day 8: I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You
By Courtney Maum
Published June 10
Picked by Whitney
In this reverse love story set in Paris and London, which Glamour hailed as one of the “10 Best Books to Add to Your Summer Reading List Right This Second,” a failed monogamist attempts to woo his wife back and to answer the question: Is it really possible to fall back in love with your spouse?

Despite the success of his first solo show in Paris and the support of his brilliant French wife and young daughter, thirty-four-year-old British artist Richard Haddon is too busy mourning the loss of his American mistress to a famous cutlery designer to appreciate his fortune.

But after Richard discovers that a painting he originally made for his wife, Anne—when they were first married and deeply in love—has sold, it shocks him back to reality and he resolves to reinvest wholeheartedly in his family life…just in time for his wife to learn the extent of his affair. Rudderless and remorseful, Richard embarks on a series of misguided attempts to win Anne back while focusing his creative energy on a provocative art piece to prove that he’s still the man she once loved.

Skillfully balancing biting wit with a deep emotional undercurrent, this “charming and engrossing portrait of one man’s midlife mess” (Elle) creates the perfect portrait of an imperfect family—and a heartfelt exploration of marriage, love, and fidelity.
So often we see the traditional love story of boy meets girl, they fall in love, they get married and have kids and live happily ever after. But these things are much more complicated than that, and that is what Courtney Maum explores in I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You. (Hereafter referred to as “the book,” as while I love the title it’s awfully long to type.)

The book is a compelling story with interesting characters and humor, and it felt very real to me, like the characters were people I knew instead of a character in a book. And by looking at what marriage, parenting, and creating an identity for oneseself can do to (and I would even say for) a couple, the love story is there, even if it is unexpected.


Rating: 3 of 5



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