Book Review: Then Came You

Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner

Reviewed by Jessica Morgan

Synopsis-

India, Jules, and Annie are at different stages in their lives but when decisions they each make bring them into each other’s lives, they are forever changed.

India is a young wife married to Marcus, a wealthy businessman. She desires to become a mother for reasons she doesn’t want to admit. Her step daughter, Bettina, suspects that she is only in it for the money and uncovers secrets about India she was never meant to find.

Jules is a student at Princeton faced with financially supporting herself and maintaining her scholarship. When her Dad’s battle with addiction reaches a new level, she plans to sell her eggs in order to raise the money for his care.

Annie is a stay at home mom whose family is feeling the weight of their financial struggles. When she decides to carry a child for another family for the renewed sense of purpose and financial gain, she is forced to manage the outcome of her choice.

Then Came You is a story that explores the reality of our circumstances and the complexities of our choices.

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This novel is a depiction about how our presumptions, responsibilities, and desires cultivate our lives. The tale of these three women is layered and full of discoveries.

India is the great mystery. Just about the time you think you might dislike her, the motivations behind her actions are revealed calling into question your presumptions about her. Annie is the heart of the story. Throughout the entire book, I battled with my feelings about the risk she took and the impact it had on her own family. At the same time, you can’t help but to have some admiration for Annie. Jules is the character I found myself rooting for and hoping that she found a happy ending.

There are aspects of these three characters most women could relate to based on your own experiences or because of a woman you know. You will laugh, cringe and explore your own ideals of motherhood.

3.5 Stars

Interview with Dangled Carat author, Hilary Grossman

 

I was recently able to interview Hilary Grossman, author of the book Dangled Carat- One girl’s attempt to convert the ultimate commitment-phobic man into a doting husband with a lot of help from his family and friends.DangledCarat-BarnesAndNoble-1600x1000 (1)

Here’s a synopsis-

Hilary had gotten used to dating the commitment-phobic Marc, thirteen years her senior. They had a great relationship—why rush into things? She saw no need to pressure him for marriage, believing that when the time was right, he would propose. But after they had been together for four years, their friends decided to take matters into their own hands, pushing Marc to propose and making Hilary realize how much she really did want to marry the man that she loved. Unfortunately, Marc still wasn’t ready—and their friends’ meddling in the form of a faux engagement party led to a disastrous New Year’s Eve that brought their relationship to an inevitable turning point. In this relatable, lighthearted, and playful memoir, Hilary reminisces about her life before Marc—from the insecure and awkward teenage years she spent in a back brace and dealing with the loss of her father, to her early relationships and, finally, to the day she met Marc and realized that she really wanted to see him again. Through their first date—even though Hilary was technically seeing someone else at the time—and the ease of their early time together until Marc first decided that they were moving too quickly, up until that fateful New Year’s Eve, Hilary shares the details of their relationship and how Marc’s inability to commit led her to find an inner strength and confidence she didn’t know she possessed. For anyone who has ever dated a commitment-phobe, who has found their patience wearing thin with the one they love, or who has sat around wondering if he is ever going to pop the question while trying to remain the very picture of patience and grace, Hilary’s humorous and honest story will hit home.

 

How long did it take you to write Dangled Carat? How did you come up with the idea for it?

It took me about eight months (weekends only) to write the first draft of Dangled Carat. After I finished I knew it needed work so I looked for a professional editor to help me. I was fortunate to be able to work with Christina Baker Kline, New York Times and USA today bestselling author of Orphan Train.  Christina had my manuscript for a few months, and then it took me about three more months to incorporate her changes and suggestions. Unfortunately in the midst of the process my home and life was slammed by Hurricane Sandy.  In all, from start to finish, it took about two years to complete. Dangled Carat is a memoir about my attempt to convert a commitment phobic man into a doting husband with a lot of help from his family and friends.  While many of the things that happened to me (two faux engagement parties, for example) were very unique being involved in a relationship with a commitment-phobic man is a very common situation.  I felt that my story was something so many women could relate to which is what prompted me to write this book.

Is this your debut novel as an author? If not, what other books have you written?

This is the first book I have written, and it is totally a dream come true!

Who is your biggest inspiration in your life?

My mother, she is an amazing lady. She has gone through a lot of things in her life and she has always been a pillar of strength while keeping a sense of humor. My dad passed away when I was fourteen years old. It was a very difficult time for both of us, but she was selfless in helping me cope.  She also worked tirelessly to make sure that I didn’t miss out on anything because my dad was no longer alive.

                                           

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What is your all-time favorite book?

This is a hard one!  I have so manyJ!  But I have to just pick one I have to go with Bitter Is The New Black by Jen Lancaster.  Not only did I love this book, and find it hysterically funny, this book changed my life.  Before reading it I didn’t know what a blog was or what a memoir was.  Yes, I am bowing my head in shame.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose? Why?

It sounds corny but right where I am… I am very fortunate, I live in an amazing town on Long Island and my home is on the beach.  For a beach bum like me it doesn’t get any better…

Tell me about your website, feeling beachie.

I actually started the blog four years ago with Dangled Carat in mind. I wanted to “practice” writing.  Feeling Beachie is a very eclectic blog – it has a little bit of everything going on.  I write a lot of humorous daily life type stories.  I also host a weekly Wordless Wednesday blog hop as well as a weekly “Follow Friday Four Fill-In Fun Blog Hop”.  The Friday hop is blast. I always have a co-host and together we come up with 4 fill in the blank statements for all participates to answer on their own blogs. It is amazing to see how similar we all are.  Finally, I have frequent guest posts by my cat, Lucy.  She is the feline version of me and always has  a lot to say :)

I saw that you live in New York. I am a native New Yorker myself. Are you a native or a newcomer?

I am a native New Yorker. I was born in Brooklyn and moved to Long Island when I was two years old. I still live on the island, about 15 minutes from where I grew up.

Which character of your novel are you most like?

Since this is a memoir, I am exactly like me…. But the interesting thing is when you write a memoir you have to relive a lot of experiences in your life.  To accurately portray the story you have to really look inside yourself to understand your feelings and motivations which led you to do the things you did and make the choices you made.  In this process I learned a lot about myself as well as shared feelings that I never expressed anyone before.

Learn more about Hilary at her website http://www.feelingbeachie.com . You can also follow her on Twitter @feelinbeachie

Book Review: Me Before You

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

Reviewed by Jessica Morgan

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Synopsis- Me Before You is the story of two characters that unexpectedly meet when their lives are interrupted and they are forced to consider a different future for themselves.

Louisa Clark has been leading a comfortable life in her hometown. Clark has her world challenged when the cafe she has been waitressing at closes its doors. Not knowing what awaits her, she takes a job, out of desperation, as a caregiver for Will Traynor.

Will Traynor had a big life in London; the perfect job, the perfect girlfriend, and adventure at every turn. His life is interrupted by an accident which leaves him unable to care for himself.

Throughout this story, you will be wondering who these character were before each other and who they will be after.

Review:

From the moment the story began, I felt engulfed in the lives of the characters. Louisa Clark is the average girl next door, content with what she knows; unaware that life could look differently. She has a lackluster career and a mediocre boyfriend until life intervenes and she is thrust into a new way of life. Her character is endearing and you root for her as you watch her discover, rebel, and create a new life.

When Will Traynor enters the plot, intrigue and mystery direct your thoughts. He previously had an adventurous life that many would envy, but now confines himself to his home. Traynor is complex and deeply broken by the brutality life can sometimes deliver. From the beginning of the novel until the end, you are captivated by the uncertainty of this character.

Each page unveils a new piece of the story that captivates you. The character development unfolds in the most delicious way, constantly leaving you hungry for more. The intersection of these two characters and their families is spellbinding as you battle with your own sense of right and wrong. Throughout the novel, you are constantly challenged to think about what sacrifices you would make for a loved one.

Louisa and Will steal your heart, then break it, and then make you fall in love with them all over again. Neither of them were the one the other one wanted nor saw coming, yet they were exactly who they needed. I found this to be a beautiful story about the complexity of love and life. As soon as I finished the book, I wanted to start it over again.

5 stars

Check out more about Jessica on her web-site My Grits and Gravy! http://mygritsandgravy.blogspot.com/

You can also follow her on Twitter at @mygritsandgravy

Review: I’m So Happy For You: A Novel About Best Friends

I’m So Happy For You: A Novel About Best Friends

By Lucinda Rosenfeld

Reviewed by Jill

 

Synopsis- What if your best friend, whom you’ve always counted on to flounder in life and love (making your own modest accomplishments look not so bad), suddenly starts to surpass you in every way? 
Wendy’s best friend, Daphne, has always been dependably prone to catastrophe.  And Wendy has always been there to help.  If Daphne veers from suicidal to madly in love, Wendy offers encouragement.  But when Daphne is suddenly engaged, pregnant, and decorating a fabulous town house in no time at all, Wendy is…not so happy for her.  Caught between wanting to be the best friend she prides herself on being and crippling jealousy of flighty Daphne, Wendy takes things to the extreme, waging a full-scale attack on her best friend-all the while wearing her best, I’m-so-happy-for-you smile-and ends up in way over her head. 
Rosenfeld has a knack for exposing the not-always-pretty side of being best friends–in writing that is glittering and diamond-sharp. I’M SO HAPPY FOR YOU is a smart, darkly humorous, and uncannily dead-on novel about female friendship.6164083

Review-

I originally read this book because I thought it would be a cute/ funny story about the complex relationship between ”frienemies”.  Not that all Chick-lit books have to be about Macarons and Manolo’s, but the book was described as an “uncannily dead-on novel about female friendship”. So I assumed some actual friendship would be involved.

Overall, the book seemed hollow and empty. I’m So Happy For You didn’t seem as if it was about friendship at all. In fact, it seemed like Wendy hated Daphne. It didn’t make sense to me why, if she felt so insecure and miserable by this person, Wendy would have continued to be friends with Daphne at all. At one point in the novel she genuinely believed that Daphne was sleeping with her husband, and continues to passive aggressively be cordial with her. Even though at the end, it turned out to be a misunderstanding (of course).

The one thing that the book did get right, is how some friendships in NYC can be either one-sided, or make it through the years strictly out of convenience, but I am sure that can happen anywhere you live.

I felt it lacked any depth or real emotion behind the characters. The book is described as “darkly-humorous”. I can agree with the first part, it definitely was dark.

 

2 stars.

Giveaway

Hey everyone! Jill here- I am hosting a giveaway of my novel, Chase on Goodreads.com for 5 lucky winners. If you are in the U.S, U.K, or Canada you are eligible to enter!

If you love Chick-lit, NYC, single girl life, love triangles, and best friends then you should enter!

Here’s the link- Good luck!

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18478999-chase

Review: The Shiksa Syndrome

The Shiksa Syndrome

By Laurie Graff

Reviewed by Jill

Synopsis- Manhattan publicist Aimee Albert knows a good spin, but she’s the one who winds up reeling when her gorgeous, goyishe boyfriend breaks up with her—on Christmas! For a stand-up comedian, you’d think he would have better timing. But Aimee’s not about to let a man who doesn’t even have a real job get her down. She dusts herself off and decides to seek companionship with a member of her own tribe. There’s just one problem: all the shiksas are snapping them up!

So when the very cute, Jewish, and gainfully employed Josh Hirsch catches Aimee’s eye at a kosher wine tasting and mistakes her for a shiksa, what’s a girl to do? Hey, her heart was broken, not her head! Unfortunately, the charade goes on longer than Aimee planned, and her life becomes more co

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mplicated than a Bergman film. To make matters worse, Josh and Aimee aren’t exactly on the same page as far as their attitudes toward Judaism go, creating tension in the relationship. But as Aimee begins to discover that her identity isn’t as easily traded as a pair of Jimmy Choos, she must decide if having the man of her dreams is worth the price of giving up so much of who she is. 

Review-

Oy, it’s so hard to find a nice Jewish boy in New York, right? At least that’s what your mother keeps saying (if you’re Jewish that is). If you’re not Jewish, I think you’ll still get a kick out of this book.

I had a great time reading this book. It was well written, funny, and at times extremely relatable. For those of you who may not know, a shiksa is a non-jewish woman. In the novel, the main character Aimee gets an impromptu make over- which includes making her hair a little lighter, and getting green contact lenses. She meets a well-to-do attractive Jewish man who mistakes her for a non-Jewish woman. The Jewish guy, wants a shiksa girl. She goes on pretending for a little bit too long until she gets herself into a situation where the truth come out. 

So I have to say, I loved this book… up until the end. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I feel like through out the entire book, the character was fun, smart, and independent. At the end, she makes a choice that I do not agree with, and I felt like it erased any progress she made through out the novel. She appeared weak and needy to me, and I felt like the book really could have used a sequel to tie some loose ends up.

My over-all assessment, is that this book is a fun read, I wouldn’t skip it just because the ending could be better.

 

3 stars

The Lying Game

Hey everyone!

Jill here, giving you my first book review as the new administrator of this site. The first book I am going to be reviewing is the first installment of a series called The Lying Game, by Sara Shepard. Firstly, here’s the synopsis from the book-

The Lying Game

 

I had a life anyone would kill for.

Then someone did.

The worst part of being dead is that there’s nothing left to live for. No more kisses. No more secrets. No more gossip. It’s enough to kill a girl all over again. But I’m about to get something no one else does–an encore performance, thanks to Emma, the long-lost twin sister I never even got to meet.

Now Emma’s desperate to know what happened to me. And the only way to figure it out is to be me–to slip into my old life and piece it all together. But can she laugh at inside jokes with my best friends? Convince my boyfriend she’s the girl he fell in love with? Pretend to be a happy, care-free daughter when she hugs my parents goodnight? And can she keep up the charade, even after she realizes my murderer is watching her every move?

From Sara Shepard, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Pretty Little Liars books, comes a riveting new series about secrets, lies, and killer consequences.
Let the lying game begin

 

 

 

My review-

This book is nothing like the television show, so even if you were a fan of the show while it was on, you can still enjoy this book series.

The first thing I really liked about this book, is that know Sutton is dead immediately. That fact alone reminded me briefly of the show Twin Peaks which aired a long time ago, but had a cult following. Although the two stories are very much unalike, finding out a pivotal character is dead immediately always makes for an interesting introduction. At least for me.

This book was a quick and easy read, I finished it in two days. Whenever I wasn’t doing my own writing, or out of the house, this book was glued to my side.

The book is told from two perspectives. One, is dead Sutton Mercer. Is she a ghost? We don’t know. She can see, hear, feel and think about everything her twin sister can, but she can’t be seen or heard herself. Oh, and she also has no memory of what happened to her, including why or how she died.

The second perspective is from her twin sister, Emma. Emma is, for all intents and purposes, the main character of the book. However, he character is told in the third person from her sister’s experiences with her. Emma is from Nevada and was abandoned by her birth mother at an early age. After being bounced around the foster system for years, she is finally thrown out of her latest foster mother’s care after her foster brother accuses her of stealing. Before she leaves, her foster brother makes accusations about Emma not being who she says she is, and shows her an internet video of another girl who looks identical to her.

After leaving her foster mother’s home Emma is led to Arizona under the false pretense that Sutton is still alive. After seeing the video of Sutton on the internet, Emma tracks her down on Facebook and sends her a private message, asking her vague questions about her life. “Sutton” writes back, explaining she was adopted that it’s very possible the two were separated at birth. The next thing you know, Emma hops  on a bus to Arizona to find her long lost twin only to discover she died before ever sending the message. Only no one knows she’s dead, and now everyone is assuming that she is Sutton.

It’s a classic prince and pauper story. Emma gets to see what she missed out on by living in foster care, while Sutton had been fortunate enough to be adopted into a well-off family.

Crazy-ness ensues when Emma finds out more information about her friends and sister Laurel, and most importantly The Lying Game.

I was very happy with this book and would highly recommend it!

4 stars.

 

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