Hey, hey! I am slowly, but surely making it through my stack of library books – work and my freelance clients have kept me busy lately, but I’m reading when I can. If you’re a fan of YA novels, I think you’ll love the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club, so let’s get into it!
It’s “Eleanor & Park” by Rainbow Rowell. Here is the description from Amazon.com:
Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.
So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be, she says, we’re 16.
What about Romeo and Juliet?
Shallow, confused, then dead.
I love you, Park says.
Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be.
Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits-smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love-and just how hard it pulled you under.
This one seemed like a popular choice, and I’m never one to shy away from a YA romance.
Eleanor and Park seem to come from opposite backgrounds, and while in one way it seems to pull them together, it’s also the reason they can’t have a smooth relationship.
The book doesn’t give everything away in the beginning; instead, the backgrounds of these characters slowly unfolds over the course of the book, as they are learning about each other.
Overall, it’s a bittersweet story, and was very easy to read (I read it in a single day). I really did enjoy these characters and it was fun getting to know them.
I’m recommending this book to fans of YA novels and young love, especially if you’re in the mood for a bit of a hardship twist.
The next book Blanche’s Book Club is reading is “Limelight” by Amy Poeppel.
Follow along with me on Instagram (I’m trying to post more real-time book reviews on Instagram stories) @OrangeJulius7 – talk to you guys soon!
If we’re not counting the weekend, today was officially my first day of Staycation! But, I did have a good weekend – I went to two places in town that I’ve never been – Counter Culture and Capital City Bakery (both vegan).
I also laid out at the pool, finished reading a book (and am already close to finishing a second), and went to Sprout’s Farmer’s Market for the first time.
As difficult as it is for me to admit, my mental health has been suffering lately. Sometimes, I feel like my brain is about to explode! It’s difficult for me to tell if it is grief, work stress, fatigue, or a combination of all three, but what I know is that my usual comforts haven’t been reliable, and that’s scary.
So, part of my staycation will be giving my mind and body the rest that it needs, but also moving “Find a Therapist” from the bottom of my to-do list and move it to the top.
Yesterday, I started making the vegan Banana Cream Pie that was on my Staycation list – it took awhile since the filling had to set overnight, but it was worth the wait. I finished it this morning and immediately had a slice – it was very good, very light! You can get the recipe from the Minimalist Baker.
I spent a majority of the morning on my patio, drinking lots of coffee and reading – it was really peaceful and nice.
But, it wasn’t long before I ventured to my computer, because even though I’m off at my day job – freelance work means you’re never truly on vacation. It also didn’t help that my boss from my 9-5 is also on vacation and she set me as her backup – le sigh. Communication really is key, folks.
I’ve talked some about my freelance career on here, but it’s something I’ve always done on the side to earn extra money and to keep my skills fresh. I find that no matter the day job, I am always looking for a change of plans.
Currently, I’m really lucky to have several steady jobs going at once, and they’ve really broadened my horizons because most of them are in other countries, including Switzerland and Columbia.
But it also means lots of organizing, juggling, and time management. For a few hours, I actually felt like I wasn’t on vacation at all. Then I remembered that I do have a whole week ahead of me, and even though I’m still doing work, it’s nice to be doing the work while posted up in bed, binging on MTV’s “Ex On The Beach”.
I did take a break to run to Michael’s, because I need to ship an Etsy order tomorrow! Ps. I am currently running a summer sale in the shop – get 20% off + free shipping when you order any two items!
I did get some supplies to make a few new items for the shop, so you’ll have to keep your eyes open for those.
In about an hour, I’m heading to a yoga class, and tonight I’m going to cook dinner, and probably head back out on the patio to finish reading a book!
I was gifted the LUSH sleepy shower jelly and lotion, which I have been dying to try – I’ve heard you really zonk out after using it – so I’m going to try that. Really partying hard over here!
Stay tuned for Staycation Day Two… and keep up with me on social media @OrangeJulius7 (especially if you want to see how my pie turned out)!
During my road trip to Marfa, I listened to my first Jojo Moyes’ book: “One Plus One”. I’ll be honest here, I know people love Moyes, but I have never read a description of one of her books that made me really want to read it.
So, I was excited at the sound of “One Plus One”, because I want to like her books! Here’s the description from Jojomoyes.com:
Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied, and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight in shining armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages . . . maybe ever. One Plus One is Jojo Moyes at her astounding best. You’ll laugh, you’ll weep, and when you flip the last page, you’ll want to start all over again.
…That last line is a flat-out LIE. This audio book was 12 hours long. Parts of it were interesting; like when love-interest starts to perk up between Jess and Ed. But in general, I found this really difficult to pay attention to, and I thought it was boring.
If you’re a Moyes’ fan, I’d love to know if there’s a different book I should read, or what I’m missing from her books.
So… I’m not recommending this book, but hey, at least I tried, right?
The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “The Vanishing Year” by Kate Moretti.
Meanwhile, I participated in a Hackathon over the weekend, and it was so much fun! I met some new people, and was able to create a web-to-text chat app for my 9-5 website. I also created a guidelines and policy document that will help train the folks replying to all of the web chats… it’s amazing what can happen when people put their minds together, right?
I am working all this week (a little brutal after a mind-boggling weekend), but am rewarding myself with an ENTIRE week off afterward. I am planning some activities to celebrate my staycation and will share them here, but if you’ve got any good ideas, feel free to let me know – I’ll have 9 whole days without obligation!! #DreamBig
Hey, hey! It’s been a little while since I was here – it has been a crazy few weeks at work, and I didn’t really do any of the reading or writing I thought I was going to do on my trip to west Texas (more on that in a later post).
But, yesterday I finished reading another book from Blanche’s Book Club: “Leave Me” by Gayle Forman. Here is the description from Amazon:
Every woman who has ever fantasized about driving past her exit on the highway instead of going home to make dinner, and every woman who has ever dreamed of boarding a train to a place where no one needs constant attention–meet Maribeth Klein. A harried working mother who’s so busy taking care of her husband and twins, she doesn’t even realize she’s had a heart attack.
Surprised to discover that her recuperation seems to be an imposition on those who rely on her, Maribeth does the unthinkable: she packs a bag and leaves. But, as is often the case, once we get where we’re going we see our lives from a different perspective. Far from the demands of family and career and with the help of liberating new friendships, Maribeth is able to own up to secrets she has been keeping from herself and those she loves.
With bighearted characters–husbands, wives, friends, and lovers–who stumble and trip, grow and forgive, Leave Me is about facing the fears we’re all running from. Gayle Forman is a dazzling observer of human nature. She has written an irresistible novel that confronts the ambivalence of modern motherhood head on and asks, what happens when a grown woman runs away from home?
Funny part about this particular book is that the only copy the library had was the large print version. I really wanted to read it, so I got it anyway, and it was shockingly (and kinda embarrassingly) nice on the eyes, and I also felt like a speed reader. Ha!
Anyway… I loved the idea of this book, but it wasn’t perfect. From the start, it’s pretty obvious that our main character has a family that just seems awful. They are demanding, a little spoiled, and even when she suffers from a heart attack, they don’t understand her need to recover.
So, when she leaves them without notice, it’s nearly impossible to feel bad for them, or hope that she ever returns. I know this is probably something I harp on a lot in my book reviews, but a vital part of a great story is caring about the characters; there has to be push and pull in the book, or else what’s the point?
However, it was pretty cool to “watch” as Maribeth creates a new life for herself, and see what she tries to accomplish on her own. Because of this, I’m recommending this book to anyone who feels like they’ve lost sight of their life.
The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “One Plus One” by Jojo Moyes.
I’m hoping to have my thoughts/recap on my Marfa trip up tomorrow – or very soon!
For the past couple of weekends, I’ve had this really weird feeling of not knowing what to do with myself. I don’t know if it’s because I usually have a lot of things planned, or what, but to avoid that, I made a “weekend to-do” list hoping to avoid that lost feeling.
I think it helped – I got a lot done yesterday (some errands and some things around the apartment) and to reward myself, today I’m going to the pool with a giant grapefruit margarita (and a book).
But, I’m thrilled to tell you about the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club, because it’s such a fun one; it’s “Dumplin’” by Julie Murphy.
A few months ago, I read “Ramona Blue” by Julie Murphy and I loved it so much, I looked up all of her other books and started following her on Instagram. The library had a copy of “Dumplin'”, so I immediately added it to my reserves list. Here’s the official description:
For fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell comes this powerful novel with the most fearless heroine—self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson—from Julie Murphy, the acclaimed author of Side Effects May Vary.
With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine—Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.
Dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom, Willowdean has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American-beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . . until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.
Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does.
Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.
Before I get into it, I’ll say that I kept referring to this book in my mind as “Puddin'”; sometimes even WHILE I was reading it! And then I would think, how would someone get a nickname “Puddin'”, out of “Willowdean”? And then I just thought about how crazy it was that I couldn’t get the title of this book right.
Until I sat down to write this blog post and I see that INDEED Julie Murphy has just released a book called “Puddin'”, that is the companion to “Dumplin'”. Weird, right?
But anyway, “Dumplin'” is all stereotypical things Texas: small town, big hair, beauty pageants, Dolly Parton impersonators, and lifelong locals. I pretty much love all of these things, and Willowdean, or Dumplin’, is just as lovable. Here’s a few quotes I took note of while reading:
- We’re not off a highway or any major route, so it’s the type of place that can only be found by those who want to find it.
- For a moment, the pageant makes sense, and I get why my mom devotes half of her life to it and why most of the girls in this city dream of gowns and spotlights when the sky is heavy with stars.
- To my mom, powdered iced tea is almost as bad as the possibility of being left behind in the wake of the rapture.
I started this book thinking it would revolve around the pageant. And while it does a little, it’s more about Dumplin’ growing up, and balancing being a teenager in a small town, along with her friends and crush.
This book is laugh-out-loud funny, and I’m recommending it to anyone who loves all things Texas, or YA novels.
It’s sort of funny that I read the book now, as I’m preparing to take a road trip to Marfa on Saturday! In the book, the fictional Clover City is located close to Marfa and mentions one of its draws: the Marfa lights.
Anyway, I’ll be talking ALL about Marfa basically all week right here as I prepare for my travels. The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “The Missing Hours” by Emma Kavanaugh.
Enjoy your Sunday!
Happy Humpday! It’s been such a weird week for me… Sunday night, Austin got a very unexpected storm – it was around midnight and my power kept going out and then coming back on… Probably not a big deal, but every time it would come back on, my stove would beep.
I didn’t fall asleep until at least 2am, so when I had to go to Dallas for work on Monday, I was exhausted. I am not lying when I say I was in bed asleep by 8:30 Tuesday night.
Yesterday, technology was completely against me. I was all ready to get loads of work done, when my laptop kept giving me the beach ball of death for more than two hours! I even restarted it several times and deleted lots of old files thinking that was the issue. I gave up and moved over to my iPad, and even IT was moving slow and some of my apps weren’t working. So, I worked from my phone… Ugh.
Anyway, let’s get into the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club (which I read entirely at the pool) which is “A French Wedding” by Hannah Tunnicliffe. Here is the description from Amazon:
Max is a washed-up rock star who’s about to turn forty and feeling nostalgic for his university days. All he says he wants for his birthday is to host his old friends at his house in the French countryside for a weekend of good food and reminiscing. But he has an ulterior motive: Finally ready to settle down, this is his chance to declare his undying love to his best friend, Helen.
Max’s private chef, Juliette, has just returned to her hometown after a nasty breakup and her parents’ failing health move her to sell her dream restaurant in Paris. Still reeling, Juliette throws herself into her job, hoping that the peace and quiet it offers will be the perfect cure for her broken heart.
But when Max’s friends arrive, the introverted, dreamy Juliette finds herself drawn out of her orderly kitchen and into their tumultuous relationships. A weekend thinking about the past spurs more than one emotional crisis, as the friends take stock of whether they’ve lived up to their ideals. Together for the first time in years, it’s not long before love triangles, abandoned dreams, and long-held resentments bubble over, culminating in a wedding none of them ever expected.
I’ve had this book on my list for awhile, and I finally picked it up because I needed a light break from the crime fiction I’ve been devouring. I also thought it would fulfill my craving for anything even close to the royal wedding.
This was the perfect pool book, and it offers some serious escapism in the form of beautiful scenes and very delicious-sounding food.
I will say that this book talks briefly about cancer, and if you’re anything like me, cancer is a trigger at the moment (I feel like it’s everywhere), so I’m just putting that out there, just in case.
Regardless, this was a fun summer read, and still has me craving fresh seafood dunked in clarified butter…yum!
I am recommending this book to anyone who loves romantic memories, or to anyone looking for a French escape!
The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Dumplin'” by Julie Murphy. Follow me on SnapChat @OrangeJulius7 to get up-to-date book reviews and reactions.
Rolling right on through my library reserves… If you follow me on SnapChat @OrangeJulius7 you know that I picked up two crime fiction novels two weeks ago, both about missing persons. That’s the risk you take with, what I like to call, the Russian Roulette of Reserves.
Of course, it’s like, way less risky… given that the worst thing that’s happened to me is two crime fiction novels in a row, but I’m dramatic. So, let’s get to it!
The latest read from Blanche’s Book Club is “Almost Missed You” by Jessica Strawser. Here is the official description:
Violet and Finn were “meant to be,” said everyone, always. They ended up together by the hands of fate aligning things just so. Three years into their marriage, they have a wonderful little boy, and as the three of them embark on their first vacation as a family, Violet can’t help thinking that she can’t believe her luck. Life is good.
So no one is more surprised than she when Finn leaves her at the beach―just packs up the hotel room and disappears. And takes their son with him. Violet is suddenly in her own worst nightmare, and faced with the knowledge that the man she’s shared her life with, she never really knew at all.
Caitlin and Finn have been best friends since way back when, but when Finn shows up on Caitlin’s doorstep with the son he’s wanted for kidnapping, demands that she hide them from the authorities, and threatens to reveal a secret that could destroy her own family if she doesn’t, Caitlin faces an impossible choice.
As the suspenseful events unfold through alternating viewpoints of Violet, Finn and Caitlin, Jessica Strawser’s Almost Missed You is a page turning story of a mother’s love, a husband’s betrayal, connections that maybe should have been missed, secrets that perhaps shouldn’t have been kept, and spaces between what’s meant to be and what might have been.
Nothing like having a buzz on the beach and coming back to the hotel to see that your family is missing! As mentioned, this book flips between perspectives, which is sometimes confusing, but it works here.
Around the 100-page point (this has been my assessment mark lately), I started to wonder where this was going. I was into it, but I didn’t feel invested in the characters… until about 14 pages later, and my jaw was hanging. After that, I read it fairly quickly.
I’m recommending this to modern true crime lovers, and also anyone that has a fascination with Craiglist’s Missed Connections… weird, but you’ll understand why if you read it!
The next book Blanche’s Book Club is reading is “A French Wedding” by Hannah Tunnicliffe (I chose this one to read before reading my next crime fiction book) purely because I’m still on a high from the royal wedding.
This weekend, and pretty much until it gets too hot, I’m planning on being at the pool. And when it’s dark out? Parked in front of my TV – summer is here, y’all!
Memorial Day has come and gone, and that means it’s officially summer! I went through the archives from Blanche’s Book Club and was SHOCKED to see that I’ve never offered a Summer Reading Guide! Shame on me!
I always offer a Fall Reading Guide and a Holiday Reading Guide, but if you’re anything like me, I read tons of books in the summer months because I’m out by the pool or heading on beach vacations. So, I’m really excited to share 9 NEW books that are perfect, light reads for days by the pool, afternoons on the beach, or even just an hour on the patio. Let’s get into it!
Sophia of Silicon Valley by Anna Yen
I’ll be honest, I saw the cover of this book on the shelf at the library and it caught my attention enough to stop and read the back of it. Here’s the description:
During the heady years of the tech boom, incorrigibly frank Sophia Young lucks into a job that puts her directly in the path of Scott Kraft, the eccentric CEO of Treehouse, a studio whose animated films are transforming movies forever. Overnight, Sophia becomes an unlikely nerd whisperer. Whether her success is due to dumb luck, savage assertiveness, insightful finesse (learned by dealing with her irrational Chinese immigrant mother), or a combination of all three, in her rarified position she finds she can truly shine.
As Scott Kraft’s right-hand woman, whip-smart Sophia is in the eye of the storm, sometimes floundering, sometimes nearly losing relationships and her health, but ultimately learning what it means to take charge of her own future the way the men around her do. But when engineer/inventor Andre Stark hires her to run his company’s investor relations, Sophia discovers that the big paycheck and high-status career she’s created for herself may not be worth living in the toxic environment of a boys-club gone bad.
This book is already out (order it here) and is getting good reviews! I am always a fan of reading about women in tech – go figure.
When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger
I am SO excited for this one! Author Lauren Weisberger brought us “The Devil Wears Prada”, along with other goodies, including a favorite, “Last Night at Chateau Marmont”. Here’s the description:
New York Times bestselling author Lauren Weisberger returns with a novel starring one of her favorite characters from The Devil Wears Prada–Emily Charlton, first assistant to Miranda Priestly, now a highly successful image consultant who’s just landed the client of a lifetime.
Welcome to Greenwich, CT, where the lawns and the women are perfectly manicured, the Tito’s and sodas are extra strong, and everyone has something to say about the infamous new neighbor.
Let’s be clear: Emily Charlton, Miranda Priestly’s ex-assistant, does not do the suburbs. She’s working in Hollywood as an image consultant to the stars, but recently, Emily’s lost a few clients. She’s hopeless with social media. The new guard is nipping at her heels. She needs a big opportunity, and she needs it now.
Karolina Hartwell is as A-list as they come. She’s the former face of L’Oreal. A mega-supermodel recognized the world over. And now, the gorgeous wife of the newly elected senator from New York, Graham, who also has his eye on the presidency. It’s all very Kennedy-esque, right down to the public philandering and Karolina’s arrest for a DUI–with a Suburban full of other people’s children.
Miriam is the link between them. Until recently she was a partner at one of Manhattan’s most prestigious law firms. But when Miriam moves to Greenwich and takes time off to spend with her children, she never could have predicted that being stay-at-home mom in an uber-wealthy town could have more pitfalls than a stressful legal career.
Emily, Karolina, and Miriam make an unlikely trio, but they desperately need each other. Together, they’ll navigate the social landmines of life in America’s favorite suburb on steroids, revealing the truths–and the lies–that simmer just below the glittering surface. With her signature biting style, Lauren Weisberger offers a dazzling look into another sexy, over-the-top world, where nothing is as it appears.
A continuation of “The Devil Wears Prada”? YES. PLEASE. THANK YOU. This book comes out June 5, and you can pre-order it here.
The Bucket List by Georgia Clark
I read Georgia Clark’s debut novel, “The Regulars” last year and loved it – so I’m excited to see how the new book reads. Here is the description:
From the author of the critically acclaimed “lively and engrossing parable for women of all generations” (Harper’s Bazaar) The Regulars comes a deeply funny and thoughtful tale of a young woman who, after discovering she has the breast cancer gene, embarks on an unforgettable bucket list adventure.
Twenty-five-old Lacey Whitman is blindsided when she’s diagnosed with the BCRA1 gene mutation: the “breast cancer” gene. Her high hereditary risk forces a decision: increased surveillance or the more radical step of a preventative double mastectomy. Lacey doesn’t want to lose her breasts. For one, she’s juggling two career paths; her work with the prestigious New York trend forecaster Hoffman House, and her role on the founding team of a sustainable fashion app with friend/mentor, Vivian Chang. Secondly, small-town Lacey’s not so in touch with her sexuality: she doesn’t want to sacrifice her breasts before she’s had the chance to give them their hey-day. To help her make her choice, she (and her friends) creates a “boob bucket list”: everything she wants do with and for her boobs before a possible surgery.
This kicks off a year of sensual exploration and sexual entertainment for the quick-witted Lacey Whitman. The Bucket List cleverly and compassionately explores Lacey’s relationship to her body and her future. Both are things Lacey thought she could control through hard work and sacrifice. But the future, it turns out, is more complicated than she could ever imagine.
Featuring the pitch-perfect “compulsively delicious” (Redbook) prose of The Regulars, The Bucket List is perfect for fans of Amy Poeppel and Sophie Kinsella.
This book is already out and you can purchase it here.
Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
After reading “Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda” and LOVING it, anything Becky Albertalli releases is going to be on my reading list. This book is a double win because it is the sequel to “Simon”. Here is the description:
In this sequel to the acclaimed Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—now a major motion picture, Love, Simon—we follow Simon’s BFF Leah as she grapples with changing friendships, first love, and senior year angst.
When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic.
She’s an anomaly in her friend group: the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.
So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high.
It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.
This book is already on shelves and you can get it here.
The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand
Elin Hilderbrand has written SO many books, and I’m behind the game having only read one (but it was really good); some book reviewers have even dubbed her the “Queen of Summer Novel” – what?! Her new book sounds vvvvery promising:
From New York Times bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand, comes a novel about the many ways family can fill our lives with love…if they don’t kill us first.
It’s Nantucket wedding season, also known as summer-the sight of a bride racing down Main Street is as common as the sun setting at Madaket Beach. The Otis-Winbury wedding promises to be an event to remember: the groom’s wealthy parents have spared no expense to host a lavish ceremony at their oceanfront estate.
All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin
So, I feel embarrassed to say that I’m 99% sure I have never read a book by Emily Giffin. Argh! I have seen the covers in bookstores over the years and I just feel like they are usually about babies? I don’t know, BUT this one sounds so good! Here’s the description:
In the riveting new novel from the #1 bestselling author of Something Borrowed andFirst Comes Love, three very different people must choose between their families and their most deeply held values. . . .
“A gripping, thought-provoking journey.”—Jodi Picoult
Nina Browning is living the good life after marrying into Nashville’s elite. More recently, her husband made a fortune selling his tech business, and their adored son has been accepted to Princeton.
Yet sometimes the middle-class small-town girl in Nina wonders if she’s strayed from the person she once was.
Tom Volpe is a single dad working multiple jobs while struggling to raise his headstrong daughter, Lyla. His road has been lonely, long, and hard, but he finally starts to relax after Lyla earns a scholarship to Windsor Academy, Nashville’s most prestigious private school.
Amid so much wealth and privilege, Lyla doesn’t always fit in—and her overprotective father doesn’t help—but in most ways, she’s a typical teenaged girl, happy and thriving.
Then, one photograph, snapped in a drunken moment at a party, changes everything. As the image spreads like wildfire, the Windsor community is instantly polarized, buzzing with controversy and assigning blame.
At the heart of the lies and scandal, Tom, Nina, and Lyla are forced together—all questioning their closest relationships, asking themselves who they really are, and searching for the courage to live a life of true meaning.
I also like the fact that it’s set in Nashville – so many of these types of books only take place in New York or Los Angeles. This book comes out June 26, but you can pre-order it here.
Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win by Jo Piazza
I haven’t read anything from Jo Piazza yet, although her books have been on my list! This one sounds fitting for the times…
From Jo Piazza, the bestselling author of The Knock Off, How to Be Married, and Fitness Junkie, comes an exciting, insightful novel about what happens when a woman wants it all—political power, a happy marriage, and happiness—but isn’t sure just how much she’s willing to sacrifice to get it.
Charlotte Walsh is running for Senate in the most important race in the country during a midterm election that will decide the balance of power in Congress. Still reeling from a presidential election that shocked and divided the country and inspired by the chance to make a difference, she’s left behind her high-powered job in Silicon Valley and returned, with her husband Max and their three young daughters, to her downtrodden Pennsylvania hometown to run in the Rust Belt state.
Once the campaign gets underway, Charlotte is blindsided by just how dirty her opponent is willing to fight, how harshly she is judged by the press and her peers, and how exhausting it becomes to navigate a marriage with an increasingly ambivalent and often resentful husband. When the opposition uncovers a secret that could threaten not just her campaign but everything Charlotte holds dear, she has to decide just how badly she wants to win and at what cost.
A searing, suspenseful story of political ambition, marriage, class, sexual politics, and infidelity, Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win is an insightful portrait of what it takes for a woman to run for national office in America today. In a dramatic political moment like no other with more women running for office than ever before, Jo Piazza’s novel is timely, engrossing, and perfect for readers on both sides of the aisle.
This book comes out on July 24, and you can pre-order it here.
Playing With Matches by Hannah Orenstein
This book is about matchmaking… and it’s written by a matchmaker! It sounds fun (and funny) – here is the description:
In the tradition of Good in Bed and The Assistants comes a funny and smart comedy about a young matchmaker balancing her messy personal life and the demands of her eccentric clients.
Sasha Goldberg has a lot going for her: a recent journalism degree from NYU, an apartment with her best friend Caroline, and a relationship that would be amazing if her finance-bro boyfriend Jonathan would ever look up from his BlackBerry. But when her dream career falls through, she uses her family’s darkest secret to land a job as a matchmaker for New York City’s elite at the dating service Bliss.
Despite her inexperience, Sasha throws herself into her new career, trolling for catches on Tinder, coaching her clients through rejection, and dishing out dating advice to people twice her age. She sets up a TV exec who wanted kids five years ago, a forty-year-old baseball-loving virgin, and a consultant with a rigorous five-page checklist for her ideal match.
Sasha hopes to find her clients The One, like she did. But when Jonathan betrays her, she spirals out of control—and right into the arms of a writer with a charming Southern drawl, who she had previously set up with one of her clients. He’s strictly off-limits, but with her relationship on the rocks, all bets are off.
Fresh, sweet, and laugh-out-loud funny, Playing with Matches is the addictive story about dating in today’s swipe-heavy society, and a young woman trying to find her own place in the world.
This book will be released on June 26 and you can pre-order it here.
Ghosted by Rosie Walsh
This title sold me alone because I have been ghosted soooo many times and it’s the worst thing ever, when it comes to dating. Finally, a book on it! Here’s the description:
Seven perfect days. Then he disappeared. A love story with a secret at its heart.
When Sarah meets Eddie, they connect instantly and fall in love. To Sarah, it seems as though her life has finally begun. And it’s mutual: It’s as though Eddie has been waiting for her, too. Sarah has never been so certain of anything. So when Eddie leaves for a long-booked vacation and promises to call from the airport, she has no cause to doubt him. But he doesn’t call.
Sarah’s friends tell her to forget about him, but she can’t. She knows something’s happened–there must be an explanation.
Minutes, days, weeks go by as Sarah becomes increasingly worried. But then she discovers she’s right. There is a reason for Eddie’s disappearance, and it’s the one thing they didn’t share with each other: the truth.
This book comes out July 24, and you can pre-order it here.
There’s my round up of summer reads! I’d love to know what books you’re looking forward to, or what books you’ve recently read that I should add to my list. Happy reading!
I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday weekend! I took a dance class yesterday, did some serious outlet shopping (I got so many beauty products – ahh!), and have been working on a few new items for my Etsy store (there is currently a big sale happening, check it out here). I am about to pack a cooler and head to the pool for the afternoon, but I wanted to share the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club with you!
I actually read most of it at the pool last weekend, so if you’ve got similar plans today, this may be the one for you – it’s “The Husband’s Secret” by Liane Moriarty. Here is the official book description from Amazon:
At the heart of The Husband’s Secret is a letter that’s not meant to be read…
My darling Cecilia,
If you’re reading this, then I’ve died…
Imagine your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not only the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. And then imagine that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive…
Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. But that letter is about to change everything—and not just for her. There are other women who barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they, too, are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.
This is the 4th book by Moriarty that I’ve read, and she must have a successful formula, because all of them have been great reads (although “What Alice Forgot” remains to be my favorite).
I will admit this was a little slow to start – but once things got rolling, I read the book almost in one sitting. There are many twists and turns and my jaw was hanging!
My mom read this book and then gave it to me and once I read it, she asked if I stumbled across a letter that said “Read this when I die” but the person was still alive, would I read it? Um, heck yes I would rip it open right away, no questions asked.
What about you?
I would definitely recommend this book if you’ve read Moriarty’s other work and liked it, or if you are a fan of “suburban fiction” with a mystery twist.
The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Almost Missed You” by Jessica Strawser. Don’t forget to follow me on SnapChat for updates on books I’m reading (I have been doing 100-page updates and library hauls), Etsy shop creations, and general Blanche snaps 🙂 @OrangeJulius7
I hope you all have a great, fun and safe Memorial Day Weekend – be on the lookout for some summer reading recommendations right here later in the week! Cheers!
That’s right, I celebrated a birthday earlier this month. While I don’t like to make a big scene about my birthday, I was really excited to be surrounded by cakes, balloons, and I even got sung to, twice! Lucky, lucky girl right here.
I usually spend my birthday with reflection heavy on the brain, but this year, I lounged by the pool and sipped on a peach + wine slushee (get the recipe here). And honestly, I got some pretty cool gifts! I know, I know, that’s not what birthdays are about, but I thought I’d share some of my favorites in case you’re looking to shop for someone on your list.
Laura Geller Summer Goddess Collection – I have gotten a few Laura Geller samples in my monthly Birchbox and continue to be impressed with the quality of this makeup. So, I was pretty amped to get this four-piece collection of full-size products! It comes with Spackle Tinted Make-Up Primer in Champagne (sheer soft gold), Baked Body Frosting Face & Body Glow in Tahitian Glow (mélange of swirled tan, cream and pearly pink), Dramalash Maximum Volumizing Mascara in Black, and Fifty Kisses Lip Locking Liquid Color in Beige Bite (rich nude).
So far, I’ve used the bronzer and the lip color – both I love. The bronzer is the perfect mix of color and highlighter, and even helps to cover redness. The lip color is good for every day, and stays on ALL day with a matte finish. I love it! You can purchase this collection at Ulta.
Q&A a Day 5-Year Journal – This was such a surprise gift, and kind of just what I needed without really knowing it! I’ve always had trouble keeping up with a diary, or a journal, but I’ve read so much recently about the benefits of doing so. This journal is good for five years, and provides a simple question for you to answer each day. This means you can keep a record of your years, but with less of a hassle – I love it! I started writing in it a week ago, and I’m excited to keep it going and then look back at my entries. You can get this journal on Amazon.
Rhinestone Trinket Box – Earlier this year, I met my mom and best friend in Vegas. For my birthday, my mom surprised me with a small, sparkly trinket box in the shape of a fortune cookie, which she bought in Vegas (this isn’t the exact one, but it’s really close). It’s gold, which goes with pretty much everything I own, not to mention that I love keeping my fortunes – especially if they have my lucky numbers on them.
Girl and Dragon Malbec – As a wine lover, any occasion for gifts brings an opportunity for wine. I will always drink wine, and if you’re ever in questions as to what to get me, it’s wine. I will never get enough and I’m always look to taste something new. So, I was pumped when I got a bottle of Girl and Dragon Malbec, which had a cool label (because of course), and later, I found out they’ve won loads of awards. I drank it with homemade vegetarian lo mein and it was scrumptious. You can purchase a bottle on their website.
“The Year of Voting Dangerously” by Maureen Dowd – I don’t often ask for books or buy books because I borrow so many from the library. But this book in particular, has been on my list, and isn’t available at the library. Here’s the description from Amazon: Trapped between two candidates with the highest recorded unfavorables, Americans are plunged into The Year of Voting Dangerously. In this perilous and shocking campaign season, The New York Times columnist traces the psychologies and pathologies in one of the nastiest and most significant battles of the sexes ever. Dowd has covered Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton since the ’90s. She was with the real estate mogul when he shyly approached his first Presidential rope line in 1999, and she won a Pulitzer prize that same year for her penetrating columns on the Clinton impeachment follies. Like her bestsellers, Bushworld and Are Men Necessary?, THE YEAR OF VOTING DANGEROUSLY will feature Dowd’s trademark cocktail of wry humor and acerbic analysis in dispatches from the political madhouse. If America is on the escalator to hell, then THE YEAR OF VOTING DANGEROUSLY is the perfect guide for this surreal, insane ride. …And now I can officially add it to my reading list!
Miss Spa facial masks – Much like wine, face masks are another thing I can’t get enough of. If you’re ever wondering what I’m up to, the chances are very likely that I’m sitting in my bed, watching trashy TV, with some sort of clay, sheet, or bee venom mask on my face in hopes I’ll wakeup with radiant skin. Don’t stop believin’! When I was gifted a STACK of Miss Spa facial masks of different varieties, I was excited to add them to my stash. You can get them on Amazon.
Perhaps these awesome gifts I got can serve up some ideas for someone in your life, or heck, maybe you just need to treat yoself. Cheers!
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or on Twitter & SnapChat @OrangeJulius7.
Whoop! Blanche’s Book Club runs a tight ship! …Just kidding, the book club run by my cat is full of watermelon wine spritzers and requires pajama pants. After reading such a fun memoir by Andy Cohen, I was ready to continue down a path of simple, summer reading.
So, I was really excited to pull “Girls In White Dresses” by Jennifer Close off my shelf – because it’s been there for awhile, admittedly! A description of the book from Amazon.com:
Isabella, Mary, and Lauren feel like everyone they know is getting married. On Sunday after Sunday, at bridal shower after bridal shower, they coo over toasters, collect ribbons and wrapping paper, eat minuscule sandwiches and cakes. They wear pastel dresses and drink champagne by the case, but amid the celebration these women have their own lives to contend with: Isabella is working a dead-end job, Mary is dating a nice guy with an awful mother, and Lauren is waitressing at a midtown bar and wondering why she’s attracted to the sleazy bartender.
With a wry sense of humor, Jennifer Close brings us through those thrilling, bewildering years of early adulthood as she pulls us inside the circle of these friends, perfectly capturing the wild frustrations and soaring joys of modern life.
It’s been awhile since I’ve been to a wedding, but there was a section of my life where it seemed like I was either in, or going to, a lot of marital-related events – I’m sure many of us have been there! Weddings, I’m sure at any age, bring about a mix of emotions: of course there’s happiness for the couple of the day, and there’s all the people there to celebrate (new friends and old), and then there’s the introspection. For me, I am always at a wedding wondering if that is ever going to happen to me – so if you see me crying at a wedding, you know why!
But all of these reasons made me really excited to read this book, as it seemed to touch on that interesting point in all our lives when we’re celebrating the future of our friends, while feeling the pressure to sort out our own.
I liked the fact that this book didn’t have too many characters, and they were all different enough to keep the story entertaining. I could relate the most to Isabella with her job woes, and also Lauren, as I’ve dated many a sleazy bartender. Yuck.
After I read a book, I’ve started getting into the habit of checking it out on Good Reads to see what other people thought of it. This book had VERY mixed reviews – the people that hated it said it had no plot, and it shined a light on everything women “today” do to sabotage relationships.
In a way, I can see how these readers felt this way – but, I also think that’s why the book is so relatable. We’ve all messed up in dating, or made mistakes as we learned the way, or hell, dated the wrong person for years.
One thing many of the reviewers on Good Reads could agree on, was that Jennifer Close has a voice that’s very readable. And I will say, YES – I read this book quickly – it seemed to fly by without much of a notice.
While I’d hate to recommend a book with such mixed reviews, I will say this may not be the book you fall in love with, but it’s full of these little moments that are very illustrated, and I just love that.
One of those moments is with Lauren and her friend Shannon, and she’s dating a man who is very, very into politics. In fact, he’s so into politics that he quits his job and volunteers to help the current presidential candidate and his campaign (which is never named, but it seems blatantly to be President Obama).
Anyway, Close creates a fantastic dialogue and scene when Lauren is out walking with Shannon one night, and a boy with a clipboard stops them and asks them if they have a minute for the candidate:
“I have given the Candidate weeks-no, months-of my life. No, I don’t have a minute for him. You want to know why? My boyfriend has left to travel around with him. He quit his job to work for the campaign, and I haven’t seen him in a month. A month! I’m not sure if he’s ever coming back, and the thing is, he doesn’t even care! He doesn’t care because all he wants is to work on this godforsaken campaign that is just so important. More important than anything else, including me!”
…The rant continues for nearly two pages, and it’s equally sad and hilarious, and it was one of my favorite parts of the book. The cool thing is, when I looked up other books by Close, I found that her other one has a premise that seems to be based off this very idea! The book is “The Hopefuls“:
A brilliantly funny novel about ambition and marriage from the best-selling author of Girls in White Dresses, The Hopefuls tells the story of a young wife who follows her husband and his political dreams to Washington, DC, a city of idealism, gossip, and complicated friendships among the young aspiring elite.
When Beth arrives in DC, she hates everything about it: the confusing traffic circles, the ubiquitous Ann Taylor suits, the humidity that descends each summer. At dinner parties, guests compare their security clearance levels. They leave their BlackBerrys on the table. They speak in acronyms. And once they realize Beth doesn’t work in politics, they smile blandly and turn away. Soon Beth and her husband, Matt, meet a charismatic White House staffer named Jimmy, and his wife, Ashleigh, and the four become inseparable, coordinating brunches, birthdays, and long weekends away. But as Jimmy’s star rises higher and higher, the couples’ friendship—and Beth’s relationship with Matt—is threatened by jealousy, competition, and rumors. A glorious send-up of young DC and a blazingly honest portrait of a marriage, this is the finest work yet by one of our most beloved writers.
I am definitely adding that book to my list! However, the next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “The Friday Night Knitting Club” by Kate Jacobs, which is my first check-out from my local library! 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 (email@example.com) or on Twitter & SnapChat @OrangeJulius7.
Love Blanche’s Book Club? Me too! You can keep up with all of our past reads right here, or by clicking on Blanche’s selfie in the right-hand column of the screen. Happy reading!