By Titles

Book Review: Navigating Life Things I Wish My Mother Had Told Me by Margaux Bergen

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Title: Navigating Life Things I Wish My Mother Had Told Me
Author: Margaux Bergen
Publisher: Penguin Press
ISBN: 9781594206290

Synopsis:

You learn a few useful things at school–the three Rs come in handy, and it’s good to know how to perform under pressure and wait your turn–but most of what matters, what makes you into a functioning human being, able to hold your own in conversation, find your path, know what to avoid in relationships and secure a meaningful job, no teacher will ever tell you.This diamond-sharp, gut-punchingly honest book of hard-earned wisdom is one mother’s effort to equip her daughter for survival in the real world.

Wise, heartbreakingly funny, and resonantly true, Navigating Life has invaluable lessons for students of life of all ages. It will challenge you to lead a more meaningful life and to tackle the bumps along the way with grace, grit, style, and ingenuity. What The Blessings of a Skinned Knee did for the early years of parenting, Navigating Life does for the next, far more perilous chapter, when new graduates are cast out on the high seas and have to learn to swim and find their way by themselves.

About the Author:

margauxbergenheadshotBorn in Paris and raised in London, educated at Edinburgh University and living in Washington D.C., Margaux Bergen is the mother of three Millennials. She has worked in international development and women’s leadership. And is still learning the extreme sports of raising three children.

My Review:

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Book Review: My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

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Title: My Not So Perfect Life
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Random House
ISBN: 9780812998269

Synopsis:

Part love story, part workplace drama, this sharply observed novel is a witty critique of the false judgments we make in a social-media-obsessed world. New York Times bestselling author Sophie Kinsella has written her most timely novel yet.

Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle—from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she’s trying to negotiate. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she’s desperate to make her dad proud.

Then, just as she’s finding her feet—not to mention a possible new romance—the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away—until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.

Sophie Kinsella is celebrated for her vibrant, relatable characters and her great storytelling gifts. Now she returns with all of the wit, warmth, and wisdom that are the hallmarks of her bestsellers to spin this fresh, modern story about presenting the perfect life when the reality is far from the truth.

My Review:

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Book Review: Sweet Southern Hearts by Susan Schild

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Title: Sweet Southern Hearts
Author: Susan Schild
Series: Willow Hill
Publisher: Lyrical Press Books – Kensington
ISBN: 978-1-60183-889-6

Synopsis:

Susan Schild welcomes you back to the offbeat Southern town of Willow Hill, North Carolina, for a humorous, heartwarming story of new beginnings, do-overs, and self-discovery…

When it comes to marriage, third time’s the charm for Linny Taylor. She’s thrilled to be on her honeymoon with Jack Avery, Willow Hill’s handsome veterinarian. But just like the hair-raising white water rafting trip Jack persuades her to take, newlywed life has plenty of dips and bumps.

Jack’s twelve-year-old son is resisting all Linny’s efforts to be the perfect stepmother, while her own mother, Dottie, begs her to tag along on the first week of a free-wheeling RV adventure. Who knew women “of a certain age” could drum up so much trouble? No sooner is Linny sighing with relief at being back home than she’s helping her frazzled sister with a new baby…and dealing with an unexpected legacy from her late ex. Life is fuller—and richer—than she ever imagined, but if there’s one thing Linny’s learned by now, it’s that there’s always room for another sweet surprise…

About the Author:

Headshot1.jpgSusan Schild has an undergraduate degree from James Madison University and a master’s degree (MSW) from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has used her professional background as a psychotherapist and corporate trainer to add authenticity to her characters. Susan

Susan is a wife, a stepmother, and a dog lover. She and her family live near Raleigh, North Carolina where she is busy finishing up the third novel in the Willow Hill Series.

My Review: (more…)

Audio Book Review: Choices by Michelle Lynn

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Title: Choices
Series: New Beginnings, Book 1
Author: Michelle Lynn
Narrator: Allyson Voller
Length: 5 hours 31 minutes (Unabridged)
ASIN: B01N0FDWIY
Publisher: Michelle Lynn

Synopsis:

Happiness is something you have to choose again and again, each day.

Michaela Matthews wants that more than anything. Standing in her way is a family pushing her down a specific path and the man she loves preventing her from choosing anything different. When she moves to the city for the next step in her parent’s plan, she starts to figure out what she wants – or more importantly, what she doesn’t want. She thinks she has to leave her old life behind to discover a new one. This throws every choice she has made into question. It isn’t until tragedy strikes that she learns that sometimes there is no choice at all. Sometimes you can have it all.

Jason Marks has had the kind of life where things have seemed to just happen to him, no choice involved at all. It’s a struggle for him to keep the past at bay while he tries to move forward. He is no longer the unwanted foster kid. He is a business owner, surrounded by people who love him. But he isn’t in love. He’s not even sure he believes in it. Not anymore. At least, not until a heartbroken girl falls apart in his arms. It’s enough to make him a believer. Make him a dreamer. Enough to force him to answer that question. Do you give all of yourself to someone who might not choose you in return?

My Review:

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Book Review: The Sun is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon

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Book Review: Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

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Title: Hag-Seed
Author: Margaret Atwood
ISBN: 9780804141291 (hardcover)/ 9780735286580 (audio)
Length: 301 pages / 8 hours 11 minutes 52 seconds (unabridged)
Narrator: R.H. Thomson
Publisher: Hogarth (hardcover)/ Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group (audio)

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Book Review: Within Reach by Jessica Stevens

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Title: Within Reach: A Novel
Author: Jessica Stevens
ISBN: 978-1-940716-69-51
Publisher: Spark Press

Synopsis:

Dying wasn’t on seventeen-year-old Xander Hemlock’s summer to-do-list. Finding ways to spend more time with his girlfriend, Lila, was the most critical thinking he planned on doing. But that was before he found himself trapped in a realm of only darkness with thirty days to convince Lila he’s not actually dead―well, not completely, anyway.

As Xan tries to show Lila she isn’t alone, she struggles to comprehend how her life has changed so completely. Six months ago her life was perfect: she was on her way to becoming a professional dancer, her parents were still married, and her boyfriend was alive. But now, with her anorexic tendencies stronger than ever, she must decide which is the lesser of two evils: letting go to be with a boy she doesn’t love, or holding on to the unreasonable, yet overpowering, feeling that Xan is still within reach…and trying to show her something.

Within Reach is a story of two soul mates discovering that sometimes it takes more than one lifetime to get it right.  Join Lila and Xan as they struggle to find the inner strength to trust in their intuition.  It will leave you believing in the impossible-and questioning life as you have always known it.

My Review:

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Book Review: The Vegetarian by Han Kang

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Title: The Vegetarian
Author: Han Kang
Translator: Deborah Smith
ISBN: 9781101906118
Publisher: Hogarth

Synopsis:

Winner of the 2016 Man Booker International Prize
ONE OF ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY’S “BEST BOOKS OF 2016 SO FAR”
ONE OF TIME’S “BEST BOOKS OF 2016 SO FAR”

A beautiful, unsettling novel about rebellion and taboo, violence and eroticism, and the twisting metamorphosis of a soul
 
Before the nightmares began, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary, controlled life. But the dreams—invasive images of blood and brutality—torture her, driving Yeong-hye to purge her mind and renounce eating meat altogether. It’s a small act of independence, but it interrupts her marriage and sets into motion an increasingly grotesque chain of events at home. As her husband, her brother-in-law and sister each fight to reassert their control, Yeong-hye obsessively defends the choice that’s become sacred to her. Soon their attempts turn desperate, subjecting first her mind, and then her body, to ever more intrusive and perverse violations, sending Yeong-hye spiraling into a dangerous, bizarre estrangement, not only from those closest to her, but also from herself.

Celebrated by critics around the world, The Vegetarian is a darkly allegorical, Kafka-esque tale of power, obsession, and one woman’s struggle to break free from the violence both without and within her.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Han Kang was born in 1970 in South Korea. In 1993 she made her literary debut as a poet, and was first published as a novelist in 1994. A participant in the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, Han has won the Man Booker International Prize, the Yi Sang Literary Prize, the Today’s Young Artist Award, and the Manhae Prize for Literature. She currently works as a professor in the department of creative writing at the Seoul Institute of the Arts.

My Review:

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Book Review: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

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Title: Small Great Things
Author: Jodi Picoult
ISBN: 978-0-345-54495-7
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publish Date: October 2016

Synopsis:

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.

My Review:

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Audio Book Review: Love, Sex and Other Foreign Policy Goals by Jesse Armstrong

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Title: Love, Sex and Other Foreign Policy Goals
Author: Jesse Armstrong
Narrator: Chris Addison
Length: 9.5 Hours on 8 CDs (unabridged)
Publisher: HighBridge
ISBN: 978-1-6816-

Synopsis:

It’s 1994, and war rages on in Yugoslavia—Sarajevo is under siege, and Bosnia’s different ethnic groups are battling for control of the newly independent country.
Hundreds of miles away, in a posh dining room in west London, Andrew is in a similarly precarious situation: the fine balancing act of breathing, blinking, and sipping champagne at the same time. Penny, who may be the love of his life, is about to make the Great Announcement to her parents: that she, Andrew, and a handful of other young idealists are headed to Bosnia to stop the war by performing peace plays from the back of their van.
But more important than peace—does Penny like Andrew, too? Or does she like Simon, who Andrew concedes is “essentially me, only better”? Will this trip across Europe finally bring them together, or will Andrew die in a minefield? And just how long will it take the gang to figure out that Andrew does not, in fact, speak Serbo-Croat?
From one of England’s most lauded comedy writers, Love, Sex, and Other Foreign Policy Goals is a satiric, absurd, and laugh-out-loud romp about tenderhearted, misguided dilettantes traveling through war-torn Europe, with nothing but a half-written script to protect them.

About the Author:

From an Oscar-nominated screenwriter, a laugh-out-loud Waugh-like satiric novel about a band of British dilettantes who try to halt the Bosnian war by performing “peace plays” from the back of their van in Sarajevo.

Jesse Armstrong is a cocreator and writer of the BAFTA Award-winning Peep Show, as well as Fresh Meat and Babylon.  He also cowrote The Thick of It and the Oscar-nominated In the Loop.  Love, Sex and Other Foreign Policy Goals is his first novel.

My Review:

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