Blog Archives

BBC: ‘Bittersweet’.

Happy Friday/Holiday-weekend Eve! Don’t you love that Friday feeling – knowing that you’re about to do whatever the heck you want for three whole days? Yep, that’s a great feeling. I always look forward to Memorial Day weekend – it’s festive in a no-pressure kind of way, and it’s the true sign that summer is coming.

Speaking of summer, the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club – “Bittersweet” by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore – is perfect for the season! Here’s the description from Amazon.com:

Suspenseful and cinematic, Bittersweet exposes the gothic underbelly of an idyllic world of privilege and an outsider’s hunger to belong.

On scholarship at a prestigious East Coast college, ordinary Mabel Dagmar is surprised to befriend her roommate, the beautiful, wild, blue-blooded Genevra Winslow. Ev invites Mabel to spend the summer at Bittersweet, her cottage on the Vermont estate where her family has been holding court for more than a century. Mabel falls in love with midnight skinny-dipping, the wet dog smell that lingers near the yachts, and the moneyed laughter that carries across the still lake while fireworks burst overhead. Before she knows it, she has everything she’s ever wanted: friendship, a boyfriend, access to wealth, and, most of all, for the first time in her life, the sense that she belongs.

But as Mabel becomes an insider, a terrible discovery leads to shocking violence and reveals what the Winslows may have done to keep their power intact–and what they might do to anyone who threatens them. Mabel must choose: either expose the ugliness surrounding her and face expulsion from paradise, or keep the family’s dark secrets and make Ev’s world her own.

This book randomly grabbed my attention – I found it on Pinterest about a month ago. I have always liked this idea of elite families, especially the ones with old money and Vermont estates. This book has that, plus a few very dark twists that I didn’t expect. I found this book to be very visual while reading it, which is one of my favorite things about reading.

Mabel’s character is easily relatable, while Ev is that girl we all know – very slender, fashion-forward, money-rich, and looking for love in all the wrong places. I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a little bit of a mysterious escape.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Born a Crime” by Trevor Noah, from “The Daily Show”. Should be an interesting one!

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m hoping to scoot out of the office a little early and get this weekend started! My original plans of lounging by the pool all weekend have been squashed by the prediction of less than stellar weather. Instead, I made a list of indoor activities to keep me busy, including: seeing “Baywatch”, shopping, two dance classes (one is for charity and I cannot wait!), hair appointment, and of course, cooking up some new recipes! And okay… maybe I’ll add in some TV time, too.

I hope you all have a fun, safe weekend! I’m going to give myself Monday off from blogging, but I’ll be right back here on Tuesday!

BBC: ‘Rest In Power’.

I heard about this book, “Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin” when Trayvon Martin’s parents appeared as guests on a recent episode of “The Daily Show”. They’d taken their story, which started when Trayvon was born, and put it into print for all to read.

And I immediately added my name to the reserve list at the library. It took a few months for my name to be at the top of the list, but it finally happened, and I read a majority of this book in one day. Here’s the description from Amazon.com:

Trayvon Martin’s parents take readers beyond the news cycle with an account only they could give: the intimate story of a tragically foreshortened life and the rise of a movement.

On a February evening in 2012, in a small town in central Florida, seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin was walking home with candy and a can of juice in hand and talking on the phone with a friend when a fatal encounter with a gun-wielding neighborhood watchman ended his young life. The watchman was briefly detained by the police and released. Trayvon’s father—a truck driver named Tracy—tried to get answers from the police but was shut down and ignored. Trayvon’s mother, a civil servant for the city of Miami, was paralyzed by the news of her son’s death and lost in mourning, unable to leave her room for days. But in a matter of weeks, their son’s name would be spoken by President Obama, honored by professional athletes, and passionately discussed all over traditional and social media. And at the head of a growing nationwide campaign for justice were Trayvon’s parents, who—driven by their intense love for their lost son—discovered their voices, gathered allies, and launched a movement that would change the country.

Five years after his tragic death, Travyon Martin’s name is still evoked every day. He has become a symbol of social justice activism, as has his hauntingly familiar image: the photo of a child still in the process of becoming a young man, wearing a hoodie and gazing silently at the camera. But who was Trayvon Martin, before he became, in death, an icon? And how did one black child’s death on a dark, rainy street in a small Florida town become the match that lit a civil rights crusade?

Rest in Power, told through the compelling alternating narratives of Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, answers, for the first time, those questions from the most intimate of sources. It’s the story of the beautiful and complex child they lost, the cruel unresponsiveness of the police and the hostility of the legal system, and the inspiring journey they took from grief and pain to power, and from tragedy and senselessness to meaning. 

While reading this book made my heart break all over again for Trayvon, for his family, his friends, and for the live he didn’t get to live, it opened my eyes to a lot of new details I didn’t know before: like just how secretive the Sanford Police Department was to his family; and how many of the “facts” in the case simply don’t add up.

A friend of my questioned why I was reading this book. For one, I am very sensitive to racial injustice, and it is one of the topics that gets me most fired up because to me, it is very obvious that we are surrounded by institutional racism, and I feel it is my job as a woman with white privilege to speak out against what I know is wrong.

But I also know that even at his core, Trayvon is innocent. He was victim-blamed, despite not being armed at all, his school records were subpoenaed even though he was a minor, and many people talked about his past – maybe he stole this or maybe he smoked weed. But walking while black is not a crime, and he died for it.

I am very thankful for Trayvon’s parents for having the courage to write this book, along with the bravery to continue to fight for justice for their son, and for many, many others who have fallen in the name of unjustified violence. Although we still have a very long way to go, the conversation is forever changed, and I know Trayvon will never be forgotten.

I absolutely would recommend this book to anyone, especially if you didn’t pay attention to this case (or any that followed). The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “My Year With Eleanor” by Noelle Hancock.

I hope you have a fun, fantastic weekend – make it a great one, and do something good for someone else! I’ll see you all on the flipside!

BBC: ‘The Unexpected Everything’.

Hey, hey! We made it to the end of the week! I still have a busy day ahead, but I’m a big fan of the Friday energy, so I’ll take it. I’m excited to tell you about this book I read, so I’ll jump right in.

It’s a YA novel called, “The Unexpected Everything” by Morgan Matson. Here’s the book’s description from Amazon.com:

Andie must learn to embrace the beauty in chaos in this New York Times bestselling novel about friendship, finding yourself, and all the joys in life that happen while you’re busy making other plans.

Andie has a plan. And she always sticks to her plan.

Future? A top-tier medical school.
Dad? Avoid him as much as possible (which isn’t that hard considering he’s a Congressman and he’s never around).
Friends? Palmer, Bri, and Toby—pretty much the most awesome people on the planet, who needs anyone else?
Relationships? No one’s worth more than three weeks.

So it’s no surprise that Andie has her summer all planned out too.

Until a political scandal costs Andie her summer pre-med internship, and lands both she and Dad back in the same house together for the first time in years. Suddenly she’s doing things that aren’t Andie at all—working as a dog walker, doing an epic scavenger hunt with her dad, and maybe, just maybe, letting the super cute Clark get closer than she expected. Palmer, Bri, and Toby tell her to embrace all the chaos, but can she really let go of her control?

Dun, dun dun! I’ll be honest, I didn’t even read the description before I put myself on the reserve list at the library for this one. I stumbled across it on a reading list from Lauren Conrad, and since I L O V E her, I wanted to read it right away.

What the book ended up being was a fun, breezy ride through a summer romance amidst clouds of teenage chaos. I’ve been running down memory lane a lot lately, and this book catered to my homesick self. It was a fun read, with a well-crafted plot.

Morgan Matson is also the author of “Since You’ve Been Gone“, and I’m adding this one to my list of books that will be acceptable to read while at the pool. I certainly enjoyed “The Unexpected Everything” so much, that I think her other book would be good, too.

I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves YA novels, and especially if you liked John Green’s “Paper Towns”.

The next book the Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin“. I just started reading this book last night, and wow am I excited to get INTO it! I hope you’ll read it along with me this week.

And that’s that! I have a busy weekend planned, but I’m looking forward to some fun. I hope you’ve got some good stuff lined up, and I’ll catch you on the flip side.

BBC: ‘Two by Two’.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I almost ran out and bought a box of Lucky Charms last night so I could eat it today for good luck – but I know I legit just wanted anything sugary because sometimes you just have to treat yourself. I didn’t (I had egg whites and spinach instead), but the day isn’t over.

In other news, my latest read from Blanche’s Book Club is “Two by Two” by Nicholas Sparks! This book came out in October of last year, and I’ve pretty much been on a waiting list at the library ever since – that’s how much everyone loves Nicholas Sparks. Here’s the scoop:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Sparks returns with an emotionally powerful story of unconditional love, its challenges, its risks and most of all, its rewards.

At 32, Russell Green has it all: a stunning wife, a lovable six year-old daughter, a successful career as an advertising executive and an expansive home in Charlotte. He is living the dream, and his marriage to the bewitching Vivian is the center of that. But underneath the shiny surface of this perfect existence, fault lines are beginning to appear…and no one is more surprised than Russ when he finds every aspect of the life he took for granted turned upside down. In a matter of months, Russ finds himself without a job or wife, caring for his young daughter while struggling to adapt to a new and baffling reality. Throwing himself into the wilderness of single parenting, Russ embarks on a journey at once terrifying and rewarding-one that will test his abilities and his emotional resources beyond anything he ever imagined.

…Sounds basically like every other Nicholas Sparks’ book, right? Kinda. I’m being serious when I say I love Nicholas Sparks. He’s obviously found a formula that works, as he has published what – 20 books – or so? And I also like that I pretty much know what I’m going to get when I settle in with one of his stories.

The chances are likely that it will be the story of a man and a woman, and will involve a third-party of some sort. The main characters will be too good to be true – nice, gorgeous, hard-working, etc. The third-party will be an asshole, a drunk, a gold digger, or an abusive prick. The story will be punctuated with homemade dinners, wine, and late nights, and yes, there will be a sad part.

“Two by Two” meets this mold to a degree. But I’ll be honest, at first, the lead male was really ticking me off. He was definitely not perfect, and he painted his wife out to be a whiny, superficial B. But why?!???!

I present to you, Exhibit A: an excerpt from a People magazine article, dated January 6, 2015:

There will be no storybook ending for Nicholas Sparks and his wife Cathy – the woman who inspired so many of the best-selling author’s novels.

The king of the love story, who has penned 17 romantic novels – nine of which, including The Notebook, have been made into movies – is splitting from his wife of 25 years.

So, bitter much?! Now that Sparks is single (or, no longer married), he’s going to paint the women in his books to be greedy whores!

In all honesty, this was probably the lengthiest book in Sparks’ collection, and I read 95% of it one day. So, it still makes for a laid-back, easy read that moves quickly. And yes, it would make a great movie.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Settle for More” by Megyn Kelly (oohhh ahhhhh…). I hope you’ll read it with us!

And to all, I hope you have a happy and safe weekend. I’ll be… trying not to eat an entire box of Lucky Charms in a single sitting.

BBC: ‘The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl’.

Hello! Happy Weekend Eve! You guys… I took a new fitness class on Wednesday night, which kicked my ass so hard I thought I was going to puke… and despite being so sore yesterday, I still went to two dance classes last night. So today I basically want to die.

But, hey everything is always okay on a Friday, right? Anyway, I finished reading another book for the book club, one that I was just SO excited to read: “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” by Issa Rae. Here’s the description from Amazon:

In this universally accessible New York Times bestseller named for her wildly popular web series, Issa Rae—“a singular voice with the verve and vivacity of uncorked champagne” (Kirkus Reviews)—waxes humorously on what it’s like to be unabashedly awkward in a world that regards introverts as hapless misfits and black as cool.

I’m awkward—and black. Someone once told me those were the two worst things anyone could be. That someone was right. Where do I start?

Being an introvert (as well as “funny,” according to the Los Angeles Times) in a world that glorifies cool isn’t easy. But when Issa Rae, the creator of the Shorty Award-winning hit seriesThe Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, is that introvert—whether she’s navigating love, the workplace, friendships, or “rapping”—it sure is entertaining. Now, in this New York Timesbestselling debut collection written in her witty and self-deprecating voice, Rae covers everything from cybersexing in the early days of the Internet to deflecting unsolicited comments on weight gain, from navigating the perils of eating out alone and public displays of affection to learning to accept yourself—natural hair and all.

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl is a book no one—awkward or cool, black, white, or other—will want to miss.

I’ve basically had a girl crush on Miss Rae since the debut of her HBO series “Insecure” last fall. Little did I know that the chick was not only the lead actress in the show, but also the lead writer of it, having based the whole series on her successful YouTube show.

But her collection of stories was published before anything happened with HBO, so it’s definitely a different side of Issa. There are some pretty funny bits in there – particularly about how she was Catfishing people online before it was a thing, and well before she could drive.

There are several stories about her childhood, her family, and in general, her observations of black culture – despite the fact that she’s never wanted to be a voice on the “black experience”.

The story that stuck out to me the most was a simple one about her being robbed – nearly all of her film and computer equipment was stolen, including lots of work she’d already accomplished for film school. It took lots of time for her to get back on her feet (it was thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment), and that’s essentially how she came up with the idea for her YouTube series – she just wanted to share the story of her life, and how awkward she felt at all times.

This is why I love Issa so much – she’s cool as hell, but thinks she so awkward or insecure. When, in reality, we basically all feel that way (right??). It’s the great equalizer… well, minus Olivia Palermo. Pretty sure she’s never felt awkward or insecure in her whole life.

If you’re a fan of Issa, or comedians, this would be a good book to check out. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for literary critics.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Goodnight Nobody” by Jennifer Weiner. Feel free to read along with me next week by giving me a shout on social media @OrangeJulius7 – I’d love to hear from you!

This weekend, I’m looking forward to tackling a few dance rehearsals (I’m performing on stage at the end of the month), and hitting up a romance reading event at a nearby library. I am also totally planning to watch the Grammy red carpet, but not the actual Grammy’s, given that no one good is performing. Yeah I said it, Bey.

Anyway – I’ll catch you all on the flipside!

BBC: ‘Today Will Be Different’.

Hellooo! With my new job, I’m actually allowed to take a lunch hour (imagine that!) and since I get off work at 5 instead of 5:30, I’ve had so much more time to read for the book club! It’s really the small things in life, isn’t it?

The latest read for the book club is one I had on my Fall Reading List, and I actually got it for Christmas! Ever since Maria Semple blew me away with her debut novel, “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” I couldn’t wait to read something else by her.

That’s why I couldn’t wait for the release of “Today Will Be Different“, although when I went to look up reviews for the book, I saw she indeed had released another book without my knowing – so that shows how on top of things I am.

PS. If you want to check out the book it’s called, “This One is Mine” and here’s the description: “Violet Parry is living the quintessential life of luxury in the Hollywood Hills with David, her rock-and-roll manager husband, and her darling toddler, Dot. She has the perfect life–except that she’s deeply unhappy. David expects the world of Violet but gives little of himself in return. When she meets Teddy, a roguish small-time bass player, Violet comes alive, and soon she’s risking everything for the chance to find herself again. Also in the picture are David’s hilariously high-strung sister, Sally, on the prowl for a successful husband, and Jeremy, the ESPN sportscaster savant who falls into her trap. For all their recklessness, Violet and Sally will discover that David and Jeremy have a few surprises of their own. THIS ONE IS MINE is a compassionate and wickedly funny satire about our need for more–and the often disastrous choices we make in the name of happiness.”

So anyway, back to “Today Will Be Different”, here’s the description from Amazon, “Eleanor knows she’s a mess. But today, she will tackle the little things. She will shower and get dressed. She will have her poetry and yoga lessons after dropping off her son, Timby. She won’t swear. She will initiate sex with her husband, Joe. But before she can put her modest plan into action-life happens. Today, it turns out, is the day Timby has decided to fake sick to weasel his way into his mother’s company. It’s also the day Joe has chosen to tell his office-but not Eleanor-that he’s on vacation. Just when it seems like things can’t go more awry, an encounter with a former colleague produces a graphic memoir whose dramatic tale threatens to reveal a buried family secret.

TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT is a hilarious, heart-filled story about reinvention, sisterhood, and how sometimes it takes facing up to our former selves to truly begin living.”

One thing I’ll say right off the bat is that Maria Semple certainly has a knack for making her characters interesting, and at times, very funny in a way I haven’t seen before.

Buuut “Today Will Be Different” is… well, different. Sure, there are some parts where I was literally LOL-ing. But there are other parts of this book that are pretty serious – serious in a way I didn’t expect. I found a book review from The New York Times that explains this perfectly – that Semple won us all over with “Bernadette”, and then got serious in “Today”.

But delivering laughs does not turn out to be her primary purpose as a novelist. Her new book, “Today Will Be Different,” can be outrageously funny. But it cuts closer to the bone than “Bernadette” did, and its main character’s problems feel more real. This time Ms. Semple delivers less satire and more soul.

Eleanor’s son, Timby, is certainly the winning character in this book, and I think you’ll like following him around on this adventure of a day. If you’re looking for something different – in terms of structure and plot twists, this is the book for you.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” by Issa Rae (!).

And one more thing before I go for the weekend, have you guys seen the commercial for the Apple Airbuds? I always see it on Comedy Central when I’m watching “The Daily Show” and I absolutely love it (even though I’m entirely against Bluetooth earbuds).

Anyway, have a great weekend everyone! I’m looking forward to staying offline and trying to relax… cheers!

BBC: ‘Big Little Lies’.

Hey, hey! We all made it to Friday! I’m actually working from home today, so the fact that I get to stay in my comfy pjs and have the TV on is basically like I’ve already made it to the weekend.

Last night, I finished reading the latest installment in Blanche’s Book Club: “Big Little Lies” by Liane Moriarty. I read “What Alice Forgot” by Moriarty last year and loved it, so I was really excited to read this book, especially before the HBO series on the book begins in mid-February.

Here’s the book’s description from “Big Little Lies”:

Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal…
A murder…a tragic accident…or just parents behaving badly?  
What’s indisputable is that someone is dead. But who did what?

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

…As you can tell, there’s a lot going on in this book! I don’t want to give anything away, but I’ll say a little about it. 1. The first chapter was a little weird to get into just because I wasn’t really sure what kind of story I was about to jump into. 2. Once things get going, it was a difficult book to put down. 3. This is going to make for a dramaaaaatic TV series!

Without being obvious about it, this book really talks a lot about society in terms of class/financial status, the behavior of children, marriage, and keeping up appearances. I would definitely recommend this book!

So, I’m not sure if this is weird or not, but I actually purchased this book (I usually get all of my books from the library), and since I’m dabbling into minimalism, I was going to put it in my donate pile. But if I’ve got a reader out there that would like my (very gently used copy) – simply become a fan of The Bitter Lemon Facebook page, and leave a comment that includes a book recommendation for me, and I’ll draw a number this weekend for the winner. Cool?

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Today Will Be Different” by Maria Semple. Want to read along with us? Simply start reading and leave comments on the blog, or contact me through social media @OrangeJulius7 to get the book chatter going. The joys of non-committal book clubs!

Before I go for the weekend, I do want to say that I didn’t have enough time this week to gather my thoughts on the passing of the beloved Mary Tyler Moore. My mom has always been a big fan of hers, so I grew up knowing about her and have always loved her as Mary Richards.

Much like any pioneer woman, Mary did things before her time, and normalized the things women take for granted today – like being single, successful, independent, and confident. Here’s a bit of info I wrote about “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” in a previous blog post (read the full post here):

“The Mary Tyler Moore Show” ran for seven seasons, beginning in 1970 — a time when America was going through political change, and women were beginning to experience economic freedom. Feminism was spreading, women were granted the right to vote, and in 1973, women were granted the right to an abortion.

But as the show premiered, the idea of women having freedom was new, so a show about a girl — a single girl — moving out on her own to establish a career was a fresh idea. “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” was the “Sex and the City” of its time.

Starring Mary Tyler Moore (obviously), Valerie Harper (Rhoda), Cloris Leachman (Phyllis), Ted Knight (Ted Baxter), Edward Asner (Lou), and Gavin MacLeod (Murray), the show is centered around Mary and her adventures in working and dating.

What I love about the show is that, aside from its already shocking plot (single woman on her own!!!), the show covers issues that are relevant today, even 40 years later, including equal pay for women, premarital sex, addiction, homosexuality, divorce, infidelity, prostitution, death, adoption, infertility, and heart health.

She was a voice – in many ways – for women that would come after her. And she always will be.

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend – and don’t forget to comment on the Facebook page if you want the book! See you all Monday – xoxo!

Who can turn the world on with her smile?
Who can take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?
Well it’s you girl, and you should know it
With each glance and every little movement you show it
 
Love is all around, no need to waste it
You can never tell, why don’t you take it
You’re gonna make it after all.

BBC: “Still Life”.

Happy Friday the 13th – Mwahahahaha! It’s my last day at my current job, and on Monday I’ll be skipping to someplace new, and of course, I’ll be sharing the next leg of my journey with you.

But today, I want to talk about Blanche’s Book Club’s latest read, “Still Life” by Louise Penny. I heard lots about this book from a podcast (“What Should I Read Next?”) that I listen to each week. The host of the show recommended this book to fans of Robert Galbraith’s (AKA J.K. Rowling) Cormoran Strike series – which I love.

The Louise Penny series – which by the way, I don’t think it’s an actual series as in, I don’t think you have to read them in order (or do you?), but either way, I know you could just pick up any one of the books and read them without having read the ones before it or continuing to read the ones after it.

However, I did start with book one of the group, because I do plan on reading several of them – there are 12 in total, plus a new book that’s coming out in August. Here’s the description for “Still Life” from Amazon.com:

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surêté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montreal. Jane Neal, a local fixture in the tiny hamlet of Three Pines, just north of the U.S. border, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it’s a tragic hunting accident and nothing more, but Gamache smells something foul in these remote woods, and is soon certain that Jane Neal died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter.

Still Life introduces not only an engaging series hero in Inspector Gamache, who commands his forces–and this series–with integrity and quiet courage, but also a winning and talented new writer of traditional mysteries in the person of Louise Penny.

You can find all of the Chief Inspector Gamache series books here, and this is the order they were published in, just in case you want to tackle them in order: “Still Life”, “A Fatal Grace”, “The Cruelest Month”, “A Rule Against Murder”, “The Brutal Telling”, “Bury Your Dead”, “A Trick of the Light”, “The Beautiful Mystery”, “How the Light Gets In”, “The Long Way Home”, The Nature of the Beast”, and “A Great Reckoning” (the new book coming out in August).

All of the books take place in Three Pines, a small village in Canada. The author, Louise Penny, lives in a small Canadian village, too, so perhaps she took a lot of inspiration from her own life. If you decide to get into the books, there are lots of discussion boards and even recipes inspired by the books posted on the website!

I will admit “Still Life” was a little slow during the first two chapters, but quickly picked up and was a joy to read. I definitely see how fans of the Cormoran Strike series would also enjoy this group of books.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Scrappy Little Nobody” by Anna Kendrick. I’m so excited to read this book!

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend – if you’ve got a three-day weekend then I’m super jealous! I’m going to be cooking some more recipes from Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook, taking my second pilates class of the week (making it my 7th workout class this week), giving myself a mani and pedi as I prep for my new job, and in general just getting my life together! If you’re following me on SnapChat @OrangeJulius7, I’m certain you’ll see it all go down.

See you here on Monday!

BBC: ‘Black Heels to Tractor Wheels’.

Hey, hey! I am back at the office today, and wow is that whole come-down after Christmas ROUGH. It’s like this month-long build up for a single day and then, it’s over. It’s honestly how I imagine me meeting John Mayer for the first time, only on a 16-year scale, with devastating disappointment (don’t tell him I said that though).

The good news is, there’s another long weekend on the horizon, so there’s that to look forward to – wow, my life isn’t pathetic or anything.

But! I did get some reading done over my lil Christmas break, and I’m really excited to talk about Blanche’s Book Club’s latest read, “The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels” by Ree Drummond.

I’ve had this book on my list for awhile, but I sort of forgot about it until I stumbled upon it at the library when I was looking for something else. I couldn’t put off reading it any longer; I figured I could probably use a good (and TRUE) love story in my life. Here’s the scoop from Amazon.com:

Wildly popular award-winning blogger, accidental ranch wife, and #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Pioneer Woman Cooks, Ree Drummond (aka The Pioneer Woman) tells the true story of her storybook romance that led her from the Los Angeles glitter to a cattle ranch in rural Oklahoma, and into the arms of her real-life Marlboro Man.

I came across Ree, or “The Pioneer Woman”, for the first time on Food Network, and I came to absolutely love watching her show, “The Pioneer Woman”. She lives on a gorgeous ranch in Oklahoma, and she makes fairly simple (yet delicious) dishes for her family and friends. I’ve made her enchiladas many times, and they never fail to delight!

Her husband, Lad, makes some appearances on the show, and he is very handsome, and he seems really genuine and kind. So, I wasn’t surprised when I read this book and heard the many times she described him as such, only she referred to him as the “Marlboro Man”.

In fact, the book reflected what I assume to be her real-life personality, because it was just how she acts on the show. However, true fans of this Pioneer Woman may have been just as surprised as I was to learn that she was once a big city gal, living in Los Angeles, working in corporate America, drooling over high-end designer clothes, and spending her nights out guzzling martinis. Who would have thought?!

But she did, until her life took an unexpected turn and she ran into this Marlboro Man one night in her home town. A month later, they went on a date… and they’ve basically been inseparable ever since. This is really a love story that touched my heart; one that I really needed to read.

One theme that’s brought up a lot in this book is something I’m still learning and trying to understand about love: that it doesn’t matter how much you embarrass yourself, how silly you are, whether or not your mascara is perfect, or in Ree’s case, just how much you sweat through a gorgeous suit, the one you’re meant to be with is still going to LOVE you.

I’m really glad I got to read this lesson in this way – because Ree’s story is really beautiful, and the way she tells it is sometimes laugh-out-loud funny.

Another cool part about the book is that, of course, Ree talks a lot about food! While it doesn’t quite explain how she got involved in her cooking blog and her show, she discusses the meals she made for Lad when they were dating – many of which she flubbed due to nerves, or simply because she wasn’t an experienced home cook yet.

The back of the book contains recipes for most of the recipes she mentioned, but one stuck out to me the most – the Tagliarini Quattro Formaggi from Intermezzo in West Hollywood. Since angel hair is my FAVORITE form of pasta, I knew I was going to have to replicate this dish… so don’t be shocked if you see it on my social media feed in the near future. But, just in case you want to make it, too, here’s the recipe:

INGREDIENTS: 1 cup of heavy cream, 1 pound of tagliarini or angel hair pasta, 2 tablespoons of butter, 1/2 cup of grated fontina cheese, 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of grated romano cheese,  4 ounces of goat cheese, salt and pepper to taste, 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg, and 1 garlic cloved, halved.

DIRECTIONS: warm the cream in a saucepan over low heat. Prepare the pasta according to package direction, but undercook it just a little so it’s al dente. Drain the pasta and return to the pot and add butter. Next, add the warm cream, and all of the cheeses. Stire gently, allowing the cheese to melt and coat the noodles. Add salt and pepper to taste, and add the nutmeg. Stir to combine. Rub the bowls you’re serving in with the garlic, before scooping the pasta into the bowls. Yum!

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman. Read it with us by following and chatting right here on the blog or on social media @OrangeJulius7. Happy reading, y’all!

BBC: Holiday Reading Guide.

Nothing like reading by the fire.

Nothing like reading by the fire.

I’ve always thought it would be so cool to be reading a book with a holiday or Christmas plot, during the ACTUAL season. But that would involve planning, and actually being on top of things, right?

Well, this year! This year, I put my tree up much earlier, started watching seasonal movies much sooner, and hey, I might just be on top of it this year!

So, I’ve created a list of books that have a plot surrounding the holidays, in case you’re looking for something festive, aside from children’s books or the classic, “Skipping Christmas” by John Grisham (but if you haven’t read it, you should).

If holiday reading isn’t your style, feel free to hop over to my Fall Reading Guide – where there’s still some pretty cool reads waiting for you.

“Christmas Letters” by Debbie Macomber – Of course, Debbie Macomber has several books circling around the holidays, but I picked “Christmas Letters” because I thought it sounded a little different. Here’s the book’s description:

Katherine O’Connor often spends her days at a cozy café on Blossom Street in Seattle—where she writes Christmas letters for other people. She’s good at making their everyday lives sound more interesting. More humorous. More dramatic.

But for Dr. Wynn Jeffries, who also frequents the café, Christmas means lies and deception. In fact, the renowned child psychologist recommends that parents “bury Santa under the sleigh.” Katherine, however, feels that his parenting philosophy is one big mistake—at least, based on her five-year-old twin nieces, who are being raised according to his “Free Child” methods.

She argues with Wynn about his theories, while he argues that her letters are nothing but lies. They disagree about practically everything—and yet, somehow, they don’t really want to stop arguing. As the days—and nights—move closer to Christmas, Katherine and Wynn both discover that love means accepting your differences. And Christmas is about the things you share….

Let it Snow: Three Holiday Romances by John Green, Lauren Myracle, & Maureen Johnson – I’m kind of really disappointed in myself for not reading this one yet – but I had no clue John Green had any sort of part in a holiday book! Here’s the scoop on “Let it Snow“:

Three interconnected stories from three bestselling authors: John Green (Paper Towns, The Fault in our Stars), Maureen Johnson (The Name of the Star), and Lauren Myracle (The Internet Girls series.)

Major motion picture in the works!

A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks. Thanks to three of today’s bestselling teen authors—John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle—the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and breathtaking kisses.

“Winter Street” by Elin Hilderbrand – I saw this on a list on GoodReads and thought it sounded most like the holidays – because what’s the holiday season without a story of family dysfunction? Here’s the description for “Winter Street“:

Kelley Quinn is the owner of Nantucket’s Winter Street Inn and the proud father of four grown children: Patrick, a hedge fund manager; Kevin, a bartender; Ava, a school teacher; and Bart, who has recently shocked everyone by joining the Marines. As Christmas approaches, Kelley looks forward to spending the holidays with his family at the inn. But when he walks in on his wife Mitzi kissing another man, utter chaos descends, and things only get more interesting when Kelley’s ex-wife, news anchor Margaret Quinn, arrives on the scene.

Before the mulled cider is gone, the delightfully dysfunctional Quinn family will survive a love triangle, an unplanned pregnancy, a federal crime, and endless rounds of Christmas caroling in this heart-warming novel about coming home for the holidays.

“Christmas Jars” by Jason F. Wright – I’ll admit, I saw the cover of this online and it got me to click for the description, which sold me. Here’s the scoop on “Christmas Jars“:

Rising newspaper reporter Hope Jensen uncovers the secret behind the “Christmas Jars” glass jars filled with coins and bills anonymously given to people in need. But Hope discovers much more than she bargained for when some unexpected news sets off a chain reaction of kindness and brings above a Christmas Eve wish come true.

“The Christmas Train” by David Baldacci – I pretty much cannot pass up a story about a journalist, but this one really had me with the added train ride. I took a train from New Orleans to Chicago a few years ago, and it was so much fun! I’m always down for a good story, especially when it includes a “ridiculous cast of characters”! Here’s the description for “The Christmas Train“:

Tom Langdon, a weary and cash-strapped journalist, is banned from flying when a particularly thorough airport security search causes him to lose his cool. Now, he must take the train if he has any chance of arriving in Los Angeles in time for Christmas with his girlfriend.

To finance the trip, he sells a story about a train ride taken during the Christmas season. Thereupon begins one of the most hilarious-and heartwarming-journeys ever told. Along the way, Tom encounters a ridiculous cast of characters, unexpected romance, and an avalanche that changes everyone’s Christmas plans. As the mighty Southwest Chief chugs along, Tom learns what really makes the holiday special in a remarkable novel that will charm all who read it.

“Dashing Through the Snow” by Mary & Carol Higgins Clark – This one’s for the mystery lovers! I couldn’t make my holiday reading guide complete without a little secret adventure to tackle, right? Here’s the scoop on “Dashing Through the Snow“:

From beloved mother-daughter duo Mary Higgins Clark, America’s Queen of Suspense, and Carol Higgins Clark, author of the hugely popular Regan Reilly mystery series, comes Dashing Through the Snow, a holiday treat you won’t want to miss.

In the picturesque village of Branscombe, New Hampshire, the townsfolk are all pitching in to prepare for the first (and many hope annual) Festival of Joy. The night before the festival begins, a group of employees at the local market learn that they have won $160 million in the lottery. One of their co-workers, Duncan, decided at the last minute, on the advice of a pair of crooks masquerading as financial advisers, not to play. Then he goes missing. A second winning lottery ticket was purchased in the next town, but the winner hasn’t come forward. Could Duncan have secretly bought it?

The Clarks’ endearing heroes — Alvirah Meehan, the amateur sleuth, and private investigator Regan Reilly — have arrived in Branscombe for the festival. They are just the people to find out what is amiss. As they dig beneath the surface, they find that life in Branscombe is not as tranquil as it appears. So much for an old-fashioned weekend in the country. This fast-paced holiday caper will keep you dashing through the pages!

And there you have it, Blache’s Book Club’s Holiday Reading Guide. Of course, there are tons of novels that have Christmas at the centerpoint of the plot; these are just a few. Got a favorite? I’d love to hear it! Happy Reading!

BBC: ‘Orange is the New Black’.

It should come as NO surprise that I haven’t watched “Orange is the New Black” yet, because 1. I am always behind on the cool stuff, and 2. I don’t have Netflix. And yes, I know it’s cheap – it’s not even about that, so spare me.

I really wanted to read the book before I watched any of the series, because it’s a true story, and the series is based on the book. So, this has been on my list for awhile, and I’m so happy it’s finally a part of the Book Club!

Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison” was written by Piper Kerman and published in 2010. Here’s the book’s description from Amazon.com:

With a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the reckless young woman who delivered a suitcase of drug money ten years before. But that past has caught up with her. Convicted and sentenced to fifteen months at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, the well-heeled Smith College alumna is now inmate #11187–424—one of the millions of people who disappear “down the rabbit hole” of the American penal system. From her first strip search to her final release, Kerman learns to navigate this strange world with its strictly enforced codes of behavior and arbitrary rules. She meets women from all walks of life, who surprise her with small tokens of generosity, hard words of wisdom, and simple acts of acceptance. Heartbreaking, hilarious, and at times enraging, Kerman’s story offers a rare look into the lives of women in prison—why it is we lock so many away and what happens to them when they’re there.

ke_all-new_associate_300x250For starters, I’ll say I was shocked for what Kerman was jailed for. I know it’s not necessarily “normal” for people to stumble upon friendships with drug dealers, but she seemed fairly innocent in the entire ordeal. Once she gets to prison, some of the things her fellow inmates are locked up for was also a shock to me – I know it’s a minimum security prison, so the crimes are non-violent, but still. I had no idea people went to jail for eBay fraud, and I had to Google “Check Kiting” as I’d never heard of it.

Since the book was written by Kerman, she skates over just how privileged she is. She talks about how she has money on the outside and she has people that care for her, but it’s much more than that. Who, out there, could honestly go to jail for 15 months and have a job waiting for them? Her friends even set up a website for her while she was in the slammer to get mail while inside. She also had visitors every single weekend – her fiance sometimes leaving work early or even flying from New York to Chicago to see her for a few hours. Like daaamn girl.

Other than that, though, I really enjoyed – I’ll nearly say I loved – reading this book. I read it in just two days; I was hooked! Of course, the subject matter is interesting; a look inside a world most of us have never seen.

But it’s also about the characters – the women she meets in Danbury; their stories, the work they do, their families, and what they have to look forward to (if anything) once they get out. I loved all of the detail Kerman put into this book and wondered if she wrote these stories while in prison.

Her talk about all of the little things that got her through the day – yoga class, learning how to make “prison cheesecake”, getting mail, and finally being able to purchase a radio so she could listen to the local college station. My favorite scene of the entire book was when an inmate treats her to a rootbeer float from the commissary when her account money hadn’t cleared yet. It was so simple and sweet; I just loved it.

Despite the heavy topic of the book, things remained fairly sunny, and that’s probably because Kerman knew she was getting out, she had a job, and she had family and a fiance waiting for her return. I’m sure if we read something from someone with a much harsher sentence, the tone would have been different.

I’m really excited to watch the series now, and see how the show treats these characters and how they take on the issue of time. There’s at least four seasons of the show (right?), and Kerman is only in for 13 months of her sentence. We’ll see! I was at the library over the weekend and season one was checked out, so I might have to add it to my list of reserves.

If you’ve read the book, I’d love to know what you think about it and how it compares to the Netflix series. The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “The Nest” by Cynthia D. Sweeney. We’d love for you to read it with us, just find us on social media @OrangeJulius7.

Have a fantastic, safe, and fun weekend everyone! I’ll see you right back here on Monday, and hey, it’ll almost be Thanksgiving time!

BBC: ‘Adnan’s Story’.

I am so excited to share the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club with you all! I’ll preface this by saying that the month of October was SO, so busy that sometimes reading felt like a chore to me, and that is a feeling I hate.

But, after this weekend, my schedule is clearing up more, and I’m looking forward to more leisurely reading time like I was used to during the summer months. I went to the library last weekend and spent a few minutes wandering through the stacks, instead of just running to the shelf of reserves and running back out – and I saw so many NEW, good-looking books that I immediately added to my list of bookmarks on my account. Having a full reading list makes me so happy; it’s unexplainable.

Anyway, the latest read is for all of my “Serial” podcast lovers – it’s “Adnan’s Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial” by Rabia Chaudry. If you recognize Chaudry’s name, it’s because she’s the co-host on the “Undisclosed” podcast, which started shortly after “Serial” and also shared details surrounding Anan Syed’s case during its first season.

Chaudry is a close, family friend to the Syeds, and much like the rest of the community, was shocked when Anan was arrested and charged for murder. As an attorney (though not Adnan’s), Chaudry has always worked to seek Adnan’s justice and finally see him live a free life. Here’s the book’s description from Amazon:

In early 2000, Adnan Syed was convicted and sentenced to life plus thirty years for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, a high school senior in Baltimore, Maryland. Syed has maintained his innocence, and Rabia Chaudry, a family friend, has always believed him. By 2013, after almost all appeals had been exhausted, Rabia contacted Sarah Koenig, a producer at This American Life, in hopes of finding a journalist who could shed light on Adnan’s story. In 2014, Koenig’s investigation turned into Serial, a Peabody Award-winning podcast with more than 500 million international listeners

But Serial did not tell the whole story. In this compelling narrative, Rabia Chaudry presents new key evidence that she maintains dismantles the State’s case: a potential new suspect, forensics indicating Hae was killed and kept somewhere for almost half a day, and documentation withheld by the State that destroys the cell phone evidence — among many other points — and she shows how fans of Serialjoined a crowd-sourced investigation into a case riddled with errors and strange twists. Adnan’s Story also shares Adnan’s life in prison, and weaves in his personal reflections, including never-before-seen letters. Chaudry, who is committed to exonerating Adnan, makes it clear that justice is yet to be achieved in this much examined case.

I don’t want to give anything away, but if you listened to “Serial”, this book presents that evidence and much, much more. In fact, the evidence in this case is compelling, and really makes me feel like this is a man that should not be behind bars.

And I’ll also say that I’m not someone who thinks everyone should be exonerated. Amanda Knox, Steven Avery? I’m not so much on their sides. But this case, Adnan’s case – it’s incredible the very small amount of evidence that was used against him, which was debunked from every angle.

This book also shows handwritten letters, scanned files, and the infamous cell phone records. All for you to see with your own eyes. Even though I knew how the story ended this time, I was hooked.

Currently, Adnan has served 16 years in prison, and is awaiting his retrial, which was granted in June of this year – big thanks to “Serial”. You can read the update here.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “The Regulars” by Georgia Clark. Want to read it with us? Contact me on social media @OrangeJulius7 and chat it up! There really are no rules in our tiny, non-committal bookclub.

As always, I hope you all have a great weekend planned. I’m performing in two shows on Sunday, so I’ll be practicing and weaving in hair extensions on Saturday, hosting a ladies’ night for my fellow stiletto performers, and rehearsing all day on Sunday prior to curtain call.

I took Monday off work to recover and give my brain a much-needed break. But don’t worry, I’ll still be blogging – you know I’d miss it too much not to. See y’all on Monday!

BBC: ‘Modern Romance’.

I know I say this every Friday, but seriously, this time I mean it: I’m SO glad I’ve made it to Friday! Between my blog class, the film festival, prepping for the dance showcase next weekend, and general business at the office, it has been a CRAZY month that has not allowed much time for rest. Whew!

Although I do have a few things to accomplish this weekend (hair cut and color, scheduling a spray tan, dance rehearsal, and general errands), I am planning on setting aside some quality chunks of time to lay in bed – and watch some “House of Cards” and catch up on some HBO goodies.

But anyway, we’re here to talk about books! I am so excited to share with you the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club, because it’s by funny guy Aziz Ansari, his book, “Modern Romance“. I had this book on reserve at the library for several weeks and I was ecstatic when I got the text saying it was ready for pickup. Here’s the scoop:

At some point, every one of us embarks on a journey to find love. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with the hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection. This seems standard now, but it’s wildly different from what people did even just decades ago. Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history. With technology, our abilities to connect with and sort through these options are staggering. So why are so many people frustrated?

Some of our problems are unique to our time. “Why did this guy just text me an emoji of a pizza?” “Should I go out with this girl even though she listed Combos as one of her favorite snack foods? Combos?!” “My girlfriend just got a message from some dude named Nathan. Who’s Nathan? Did he just send her a photo of his penis? Should I check just to be sure?” 

But the transformation of our romantic lives can’t be explained by technology alone. In a short period of time, the whole culture of finding love has changed dramatically. A few decades ago, people would find a decent person who lived in their neighborhood. Their families would meet and, after deciding neither party seemed like a murderer, they would get married and soon have a kid, all by the time they were twenty-four. Today, people marry later than ever and spend years of their lives on a quest to find the perfect person, a soul mate.

For years, Aziz Ansari has been aiming his comic insight at modern romance, but for Modern Romance, the book, he decided he needed to take things to another level. He teamed up with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg and designed a massive research project, including hundreds of interviews and focus groups conducted everywhere from Tokyo to Buenos Aires to Wichita. They analyzed behavioral data and surveys and created their own online research forum on Reddit, which drew thousands of messages. They enlisted the world’s leading social scientists, including Andrew Cherlin, Eli Finkel, Helen Fisher, Sheena Iyengar, Barry Schwartz, Sherry Turkle, and Robb Willer. The result is unlike any social science or humor book we’ve seen before.

In Modern Romance, Ansari combines his irreverent humor with cutting-edge social science to give us an unforgettable tour of our new romantic world.

I know it’s long, but I wanted you to have all the details. This book is pretty genius in that it combines Ansari’s humorous tone, with actual facts and experiences. And while reading the book doesn’t change the current dating landscape for us singletons, it does explain WHY we go through what we do, and more importantly, that we’re not alone in this.

While I loved reading this whole book, there were two takeaways I found really interesting. The first was the research done about how dating was before technology came along. The book provides charts and graphs to show just how many people dated and married those within their neighborhood – and most people did.

Why? Well, because marriage was seen as a way out. People, especially women, weren’t moving out of their parents’ homes just because – they moved out once they were married. And, many times, women weren’t pursuing educations or careers – so it was marriage and then creating a family.

Once people started going to school and focusing on their careers, marriage started happening later and later in life, and it placed people further apart, physically, which is why less people marry within their hometowns.

FASCINATING.

Interesting takeaway two: Straightwhiteboystexting.org

Thank you, Aziz, for sharing this with me, as I didn’t know it existed prior. And it is a gift from the universe, in the same way that @Textsfromyourex on Instagram is. It is glorious.

Straight White Boys Texting is a submission-based website that captures and publishes the agony that is being a woman having to deal with dudes in today’s dating world. We get gems like:

emisonislifeok

…And there’s many more where that came from on the site.

Modern romance at its finest! You’ve got to read this book if you’re dating today, or if you’ve been dating within the last ten years. It’ll all start to make a little more sense (and keep us all inside for eternity).

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Adnan’s Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial” by Rabia Chaudry. We’d love for you to read it with us! Simply start reading and reach out for discussion at your leisure – after all, it’s the non-committal book club.

Have a fantastic weekend everyone!

BBC: ‘The Admissions’.

Wahoooo! It’s Friiiiday! That first week back to work after a relaxing week off is sure a doozy, but I made it – my fellow vacationers made it, and I’m so ready for an awesome weekend ahead. I have still been reading a ton, and am really relishing my time spent at the library (I go at least twice per week) – I think the employees are starting to recognize me.

My latest read was one I stumbled upon, although I’ve read another book by this author before – it’s “The Admissions” by Meg Mitchell Moore. Here’s the scoop from Amazon.com:

The Hawthorne family has it all. Great jobs, a beautiful house in one of the most affluent areas of Northern California, and three charming kids whose sunny futures are all but assured. And then comes their eldest daughter’s senior year of high school . . .

Firstborn Angela Hawthorne is a straight-A student and star athlete, with extracurricular activities coming out of her ears and a college application that’s not going to write itself. She’s set her sights on Harvard, her father’s alma mater, and like a dog with a chew toy, Angela won’t let up until she’s basking in crimson-colored glory. Except her class rank as valedictorian is under attack, she’s suddenly losing her edge at cross-country, and she can’t help but daydream about a cute baseball player. Of course Angela knows the time put into her schoolgirl crush would be better spent coming up with a subject for her English term paper—which, along with her college essay, has a rapidly approaching deadline.

Angela’s mother, Nora, is similarly stretched to the limit, juggling parent-teacher meetings, carpool, and a real estate career where she caters to the mega-rich and super-picky buyers and sellers of the Bay Area. The youngest daughter, second-grader Maya, still can’t read; the middle child, Cecily, is no longer the happy-go-lucky kid she once was; and their dad, Gabe, seems oblivious to the mounting pressures at home because a devastating secret of his own might be exposed. A few ill-advised moves put the Hawthorne family on a collision course that’s equal parts achingly real and delightfully screwball—and they learn that whatever it cost to get their lucky lives it may cost far more to keep them.

Sharp, topical, and wildly entertaining, The Admissions shows that if you pull at a loose thread, even the sturdiest lives start to unravel at the seams of high achievement.

At first, the plot seems like the one we’ve all seen before: well-to-do family puts too much pressure on their children to do well in school and in life that the kids hate themselves and are tired of living vicariously through their parents. Right?

That’s how things start out in this book, but I’ll hand it to the author – there’s a few really unexpected twists that kept this story rolling for me. Plus, the characters are easily likable; especially the dad and daughter. I’d recommend this book if you’re looking for something semi-lite; you know, something to ease you into your fall reading.

The other book I’ve read from Meg Mitchell Moore is “The Arrivals“, which is another story based around a tightly-knit family… and just when it seems like there’s going to be an empty nest, everyone comes back for their own reasons. I really enjoyed this book, which is why I was pretty excited to come across “The Arrivals” at the library.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Modern Lovers” by Emma Straub – it took weeks for me to get my hands on this one at the library! If you’d like to read along with us, feel free to chat it up on Twitter, SnapChat or Instagram @OrangeJulius7, post in the comments, or shoot me an email at Holly@thebitterlemon.com. The more, the merrier!

I hope you all have some fun weekends planned! I am definitely going to rest some, but I’m also planning on doing some serious cooking and baking, going to do a little clothes shopping, and I’ve got a season of E.R. I’ve been itching to watch. Catch it all on SnapChat and I’ll see you right back here on Monday!

BBC: ‘Who Do You Love’.

Truth be told, my interest in author Jennifer Weiner piqued when I saw her on an episode of “Rich Kids of Beverly Hills”. I’ve read one of her books before (Best Friends Forever) and absolutely loved it, and even bought another one (The Guy Not Taken) but haven’t read it yet. Why hadn’t I added her to my reading this this summer?

When I ventured to the library, as I do at least once a week, I was pleasantly surprised to see that she’s written lots of books, and the library has most of them, including her latest: “Who Do You Love“, so I swiped it right up. Here’s the description from Barnes & Noble:

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

Yet, over the next three decades, Andy and Rachel will meet again and again—linked by chance, history, and the memory of the first time they met, a night that changed both of their lives.

A sweeping, warmhearted, and intimate tale, Who Do You Love is an extraordinary novel about the passage of time, the way people change and change each other, and how the measure of a life is who you love.

I thought the description sounded interesting enough, but was going to read it regardless. One thing it doesn’t mention is just how different Rachel and Andy are. They come from completely different worlds, which adds to their relationship, but also brings challenges.

Let me just say, I really loved this book! It was easy to read, the characters were interesting, and I was always really excited to see exactly HOW they were going to meet next. When the book begins, Rachel is a mom in her 40s, and then the entire book is a flashback of her entire life, taking us then to present day and linking everything together.

Now, let’s take a look at Jennifer Weiner. Here’s her “About” info from her website:

A #1 New York Times bestselling author, Jennifer Weiner’s books have spent over five years on the New York Times bestseller list with over 11 million copies in print in 36 countries.

She is the author of the novels Good in Bed (2001); In Her Shoes (2002), which was turned into a major motion picture starring Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette and Shirley MacLaine; Little Earthquakes (2004); Goodnight Nobody (2005); the short story collection The Guy Not Taken (2006); Certain Girls (2008); Best Friends Forever (2009); Fly Away Home (2010); Then Came You (2011); The Next Best Thing (2012); All Fall Down (2014) and Who Do You Love (August 2015).

Jennifer Weiner grew up in Connecticut and graduated with a degree in English literature from Princeton University. She worked as a newspaper reporter in central Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Philadelphia, where she wrote a series of popular columns for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

What, a journalist turned novelist? There IS hope! I’d also like to note that Ms. Weiner has a memoir, Hungry Heart, coming out in October.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “If I Forget You” by Thomas Christopher Greene. Want to read it with us? We’d love to have you! Share your thoughts on the book with us via the blog comments, email (holly@thebitterlemon.com) or on Twitter & SnapChat @OrangeJulius7.