Sunday, October 22, 2017

Book Review - I'll Have What She's Having: How Nora Ephron's Three Iconic Films Saved the Romantic Comedy

From Goodreads: A backstage look at the making of Nora Ephron's revered trilogy--When Harry Met Sally, You've Got Mail, and Sleepless in Seattle--which brought romantic comedies back to the fore, and an intimate portrait of the beloved writer/director who inspired a generation of Hollywood women, from Mindy Kaling to Lena Dunham.

In I'll Have What She's Having entertainment journalist Erin Carlson tells the story of the real Nora Ephron and how she reinvented the romcom through her trio of instant classics. With a cast of famous faces including Reiner, Hanks, Ryan, and Crystal, Carlson takes readers on a rollicking, revelatory trip to Ephron's New York City, where reality took a backseat to romance and Ephron--who always knew what she wanted and how she wanted it--ruled the set with an attention to detail that made her actors feel safe but sometimes exasperated crew members.

Along the way, Carlson examines how Ephron explored in the cinema answers to the questions that plagued her own romantic life and how she regained faith in love after one broken engagement and two failed marriages. Carlson also explores countless other questions Ephron's fans have wondered about: What sparked Reiner to snap out of his bachelor blues during the making of When Harry Met Sally? Why was Ryan, a gifted comedian trapped in the body of a fairytale princess, not the first choice for the role? After she and Hanks each separatel balked at playing Mail's Kathleen Kelly and Sleepless' Sam Baldwin, what changed their minds? And perhaps most importantly: What was Dave Chappelle doing ... in a turtleneck? An intimate portrait of a one of America's most iconic filmmakers and a look behind the scenes of her crowning achievements, I'll Have What She's Having is a vivid account of the days and nights when Ephron, along with assorted cynical collaborators, learned to show her heart on the screen.

My Thoughts: I loved this. As a fan of Nora Ephron I'm always eager to learn more about the wise woman who made so many laugh and love. As someone who calls You've Got Mail one of my favorite movies of all-time I was beyond thrilled to learn more about the making of this movie (and it's cousins When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle) and the two stars of the movie.

This book did not disappoint. There are so many interesting factoids and stories throughout the book and it's written in such a way that it feels like you were having coffee (or maybe lunch at a deli) with a friend who was filling you in on all the good gossip they've heard.

This book is phenomenal and I'm so glad I read it.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Book Review - Capital Gaines

From Goodreads: The most important step is taking the first one.

The funny and talented Chip Gaines is well known to millions of people as a TV star, renovation expert, bestselling author, husband to Joanna, and father of 4 in Waco, Texas. But long before the world took notice, Chip was a serial entrepreneur who was always ready for the next challenge, even if it didn’t quite work out as planned. Whether it was buying a neighborhood laundromat or talking a bank into a loan for some equipment to start a lawn-mowing service, Chip always knew that the most important thing was to take that first step.

In Capital Gaines, we walk alongside him as he relives some of his craziest antics and the lessons learned along the way. His mentors taught him to never give up and his family showed him what it meant to always have a positive attitude despite your circumstances. Throw in a natural daredevil personality and a willingness to do (or eat!) just about anything, and you have the life and daily activity of Chip Gaines.

Capital Gaines is the perfect book for anyone looking to succeed not only in business but more importantly in life.

My Thoughts: As a Fixer Upper fan and someone who enjoyed The Magnolia Story I was quite excited to read more of Chip's thoughts. This did not disappoint.

I was expecting Chip's usual silliness and maybe some family stories thrown in for good measure; I was not expecting such an inspiring sense of "you can do it, I believe in you" but that's exactly what I got.

Chip makes you laugh with his stories, never once hiding something that may make himself look slightly stupid, but also encourages you with tips, tricks, and inspiration.

Whether you're a fan of Fixer Upper or just someone looking for a fun and inspiring book I definitely recommend checking out Capital Gaines.

I received an advanced copy of this from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. I also received promotional photos and press releases, including the cover photo I used, from the publisher. All opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Book Review - Christmas in London

From Goodreads: A charming, glamourous love story set at Claridge's in London during the magical week before Christmas starring a sweet NYC baker and the Cooking Channel Producer who could change her life.

It’s a week before Christmas and Louisa Graham is working twelve hour shifts at a bakery on Manhattan's Lower East Side. When a young cooking show assistant comes in from the rain and begs to buy all the cinnamon rolls on her tray, she doesn’t know what to do. Louisa is just the baker, and they aren't hers to sell. But the show burned the rolls they were supposed to film that day, so she agrees.

The next morning, Louisa finds out that her cinnamon rolls were a hit, but the star of the show was allergic, and the whole crew is supposed to leave for London that afternoon. They want Louisa to step in for their annual Christmas Eve Dinner TV special at Claridge's. It’s a great opportunity, and Digby Bunting, Louisa’s famous baking idol, will be there. Even if he does seem more interested in her than her food.

And then there’s Kate, the show's beautiful producer. On their first day in London she runs into the skinny boy she jilted at St. Andrew's in Scotland ten years ago. Now he’s a handsome, brilliant mathematician, and newly divorced. Their familiar spark is still there, but so is the scar of how they left things. Kate and Louisa are busy preparing for the show, but old and new flames are complicating their work.

Set during London's most festive time of year and filled with delicious food, Christmas in London is about love and friendship, and the season's most important lesson: learning how to ask for and give forgiveness.

My Thoughts: There were parts of this book I really loved. I loved the London setting and the descriptions of the holiday decor. I loved the role that food played throughout the book. Additionally, I loved Kate and Trevor's story and the premise of Louisa and Noah's story. The cover of this book is also one of my favorite covers of the year.

That said, there were a few things I did not like. The characters, especially the men, seem to overreact to basic situations, they jump to conclusions, and they're too stubborn to allow the female characters to explain themselves. There were also a few instances where there was just too much dialogue and multiple sentences were used to describe the same thing but in different words. Sometimes less is more.

With all of that, this is a very cute book and it's a nice holiday read - it's the perfect thing to curl up and read while enjoying a hot beverage and a tasty treat. I'd recommend buying some cinnamon rolls before you sit down to read this; you won't be sorry.

I received an advanced copy of this from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. I also received promotional photos and press releases, including the cover photo I used, from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Banned Books Week

For the final day of Banned Books Week I'm going with a true favorite - The Great Gatsby.

I think this is honestly one of the most beautifully written books, ever. It's a book of perfectly crafted lines, beautifully set characters and locations, and concepts that will live in your head long after the story is done.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Banned Books Week

Today's featured book for Banned Book Week is one of my most recent reads - The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.

I read this a few weeks ago and loved it. This is still running around in my head, with random thoughts and themes popping up. While this book is a total slow burner it is phenomenal at hitting you in all the feels at just the right time.

Read the book and then watch the series on Hulu. While it's a painful watch at times it's completely worth it.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Banned Books Week

Today's featured book for Banned Books Week is Looking for Alaska by John Green.

While Alaska was not my first Green book (that would be TFioS) this one really got into my head and stayed there. Green kept me guessing and wanting to know not just what would happen next but why everything was happening.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Banned Books Week

Welcome to day 3 of my Banned Books Week feature. Today's book is one that I truly love and that really opened my eyes when I read it.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker is, in my opinion, a work of genius. Read the book, let it really get in your brain, and then watch the movie. You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Banned Books Week

Welcome back to my series of challenged or banned books that I really love. See day 1 here.

Today's book is To Kill a Mockingbird. This book, in my opinion, is a true classic, and something everyone should read at least once. Seriously, read this if you haven't already.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week is a week celebrating our ability to read any book we want; even (maybe especially) books that some people may not want us to read.

To celebrate Banned Books Week I'll be posting six of my favorite frequently challenged or banned books, one each day for the rest of this week. I hope you feel inclined to pick these up, if you haven't read them already! Feel free to share your favorite banned or challenged books too. I'm always looking for the next great read!

Today's book is actually a series - The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling.

I love these books. The imagery, the concept of building your own family and finding your own strengths, the wonderful, magical world that Rowling built. It's all amazing and I'm sadden that anyone would object to these amazing books.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: (Not) Ten Books I Put Down

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!

This week's theme focuses on books you've struggled with or have recently put down. I used to force myself to finish any book I started but this year I realized life is too short for that so one of my 2017 reading goals was to allow myself to put something down if I'm not loving it.

So, here are the three books I've marked as did-not-finish on Goodreads this year.

 1. I typically like McHale but I just couldn't handle the sarcasm in this one.

2. I'm still pretty new to graphic novels and comic books and sometimes I just can't get into it.

3. Something about this just bugged me. I think it was possibly the writer's assumption that she could just waltz into the world of wine and learn all of the little secrets so easily.,204,203,200_.jpg

Source 1, Source 2, Source 3

Friday, September 1, 2017

Book Review - Maybe I Do

From Goodreads: She doesn’t believe in fairy tales. He is married to his job. Maybe whiskey is the secret ingredient that will bring them together–and give true love a shot.

Wedding photographer Charlotte Linley loves her work –even though she hates weddings. Sure, she still holds a grudge after being left at the altar by her high-school sweetheart. But today Charlotte is just happy to have complete control over her career, which is flourishing. Especially since she joined forces with one of the three gorgeous owners of The Stag, a boutique distillery that has become Kansas City’s hottest wedding venue.

Dean Troyer, bitter after the end of his own marriage, knows that Charlotte is the real deal–beautiful, talented, and successful. He may flirt with her every time she comes to The Stag, but Dean is determined to keep his professional distance…particularly now that she’s helping him with his own sister’s wedding. The only problem? The more time Dean spends with Charlotte, the deeper their connection grows. Is this a rom-com cliche’ or could it be that these two jaded souls in the wedding business have finally found their real-life happily ever after?

My Thoughts: Welcome to the blog tour for Nicole McLaughlin's new book Maybe I Do

I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of this and was so excited to read this. The concept of a wedding photographer and a brewery owner sounded fun and like classic McLaughlin. Add in the fact that McLaughlin *is*a wedding photographer and I knew this was going to be good. It did not disappoint! 

This was very reminiscent of McLaughlin's earlier Hearts and Crafts series and her new Man Enough series: great, strong female lead, a fantastic male main character who had a great story and was more than just brain candy, fun side characters, and a great underlying story line in addition to the love story. I could not put this down, I had to know what happened with Charlotte and Dean and their friends and family. Everything about this was so good. I can't wait for the next book in the Whiskey and Weddings series; I have no doubt it will be great.

There's no maybe here, I do recommend you pick this up today! Want to read it right.this.minute? (The answer is yes, do you!) - get it on Kindle or Nook today. (I don't get anything if you use these links, I just find it handy when I'm reading blogs)

One more thing - I totally recommend following McLaughlin online. She often does giveaways for her books, she shares fun insights into her daily life, and she gives great tips on other books by authors similar to herself. Find her on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (I love her Instagram feed the most).

Review copy provided by the publisher St. Martin's Press and Netgalley. Images provided by St. Martin's Press. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Hidden Gem Books in YA

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!

For this week's list I'm going with 10 young adult books that I feel haven't gotten the attention they deserve (yet!).




All images via Goodreads. 

I'm lucky enough to consider Melissa Landers, Jessica Love, and Kelsey Macke as friends of mine thanks to the Internet bringing together strangers who share a love of reading. However, I legitimately think their books are amazing and more people need to read them and it's not at all because I'm a creepy pushy Internet friend of theirs.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Back to School Freebie

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!

This week's theme is a back to school inspired freebie week which means participants are free to pick their own theme for their list. In honor of back to school time I thought I'd go with some of my favorite books from the young reader, middle grade, and young adult sections of bookstores.

Happy reading!

1. Matilda - Roald Dahl. One of my all-time favorite books ever.

2. Anna and the French Kiss - Stephanie Perkins. The whole 3 books series is amazing, really.

3. Alex, Approximately - Jenn Bennett. I read this over the summer and it instantly went on my list of favorites.

4. Open Road Summer - Emery Lord. My first Emery book and still my favorite.

5. Kristy's Great Idea - Ann M. Martin. I have no doubt that the BSC books are why I'm such a big reader to this day.

6. Sideways Stories from Wayside School - Louis Sachar. I adored these as a kid.

7. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret - Judy Blume. I seriously lost count of how many times I read this growing up.

8. Sloppy Firsts (Jessica Darling series) - Megan McCafferty. Love this series and McCafferty is so nice on social media.

9. The Truth About Forever - Sarah Dessen. Honestly it was hard to pick just one Dessen book for this list. Read them all, trust me.

10. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - J.K. Rowling. I mean, duh.

All images via Goodreads.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books You've Read in 2017 So Far

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!

Hard to believe we're at the half-way point of 2017! This year is really flying.

Here are the books that I'd say are the ten best I've read so far this year. It'll be interesting to see how this list changes by the end of the year.

1. The Names They Gave Us - Emery Lord

2. Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House - Alyssa Mastromonaco

3. Alex, Approximately - Jenn Bennett

4. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis - J.D. Vance

5. All the Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr

6. The Hating Game - Sally Thorne

7. The Princess Diarist - Carrie Fisher

8. Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything In Between

9. The Skeptics' Guide to the Mysteries of the Universe - Jessica Arden

10. All I Ask - Nicole McLaughlin

All images via Goodreads

Monday, June 26, 2017

Book Review - Along Came Us by Nicole McLaughlin

From Goodreads: He’s Mr. Wrong, she’s Miss Independent. When the two come together, sparks fly! Don’t miss Along Came Us, a sexy and heartwarming romance from Nicole McLaughlin.

National Guardsman Tyler Cavallo knows all too well what it feels like to be a volatile teenager. There was a time when it seemed like everyone—be it his father, a rival gang member, or his opponent in the MMA cage—was out to get him. These days he focuses that fight into his gym where he mentors at-risk youths. But one particular teen has Tyler more concerned than usual, and if he’s learned one thing in life, it’s to trust his instincts, and right now those instincts are telling him that this boy isn’t safe.

Lia Hanson is a woman on a mission. With bills to pay, and a younger brother to raise, and two full time jobs, she’s working her ass off and doing the best she can. But in a few months she will finally graduate from college and be able to put most of that behind her for good. Or so she thinks, until a certain overbearing and stupidly good looking gym owner acts like he knows what’s best for her brother. A man is the last thing she wants, and this man is certainly not who she pictured as a stable role model. Lia thought she had a plan, but Tyler’s support, strength and passion have her realizing that sometimes the best things in life come when they’re least expected.

My Thoughts: I received an advanced review copy of this book and was so excited to get my hands on this. This is the second book in McLaughlin's Man Enough series and I really liked the first one, All I Ask.

This story continues off of Reeve and Emily's story by focusing on one of Reeve's friends, Tyler, and the sister/caretaker of a student of Tyler's gym, Lia. Tyler and Lia are both great characters. They have flaws (stubbornness, self-doubt, moments of doing or saying the wrong thing) but they are both learning and growing and you can't help but root for them. 

McLaughlin has built such a great story with this series; the characters are all compelling, the settings come to life and make you really want to go there. I loved the references to the characters and storyline from All I Ask. It was a fun little game to catch all of these.

Overall I really recommend you pick this up when it comes out on 6/27/17, and definitely pick up All I Ask first if you haven't read that one yet.

Review copy provided by Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Photo from Goodreads.

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