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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Review: The Best of Enemies by Jen Lancaster

Title: The Best of Enemies
Author: Jen Lancaster
Format: Ebook
Publisher: NAL
Publish Date: August 4, 2015
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.


What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Jacqueline Jordan knows conflict. A fearless journalist, she’s spent the past decade embedded in the world’s hot spots, writing about the fall of nations and the rise of despots. But if you were to inquire about who topped Jack’s enemy list, she’d not hesitate to answer: Kitty Carricoe.

Kitty reigns supreme over the world of carpools and minivans. A SAHM, she spends her days caring for her dentist husband and three towheaded children, running the PTA, and hiding vegetables in deceptively delicious packed lunches.

Kitty and Jack haven’t a single thing in common—except for Sarabeth Chandler, their mutual bestie. Sarabeth and Jack can be tomboys with the best of them, while Sarabeth can get her girly-girl on with Kitty. In fact, the three of them were college friends until the notorious frat party incident, when Jack accidentally hooked up with Kitty’s boyfriend…

Yet both women drop everything and rush to Sarabeth’s side when they get the call that her fabulously wealthy husband has perished in a suspicious boating accident. To solve the mystery surrounding his death, Jack and Kitty must bury the hatchet and hit the road for a trip that just may bring them together—if it doesn’t kill them first."


My Two Cents:

"The Best of Enemies" is the latest by Jen Lancaster. This is a fiction book of hers. I was looking forward to reading some of her fiction as I enjoyed her nonfiction memoirs so immensely. Lancaster is absolutely hilarious in her memoirs and that carries across in her fiction as well.

This book is about Jack, Betsy, and Kitty. Jack and Betsy have been friends since they were children and Kitty and Betsy have been friends since college. All three go to the same college where Jack and Kitty have a huge falling out but both remain friends with Betsy. When Betsy's husband suddenly dies, it brings Kitty and Jack together although something seems to be a little off with the way that he died. Part mystery, part madcap adventure, part rumination on what it means to be a friend and why we stay friends with the people we stay friends with. This is a hilarious book with lots of twists and turns.

Again, I'm already a huge fan of Jen Lancaster but this is the first one of her fiction books that I've read, I believe. So many of the things I liked about her memoirs seem to be present in this book. There is sparkling dialogue and hilarious stories. There's also a lot of heart. It was so easy for me to get into the book. Lancaster has a really great way of bringing characters to life.

It was easy for me to fall for these characters because they feel really realistic. I like the way that Lancaster portrayed friendship in this book. You have the friends that you know you're going to be friends with for forever and you also have people that you just have falling outs with where you can never really figure out what went wrong.

The premise of this book is definitely off the beaten path. I'm not particularly sure how realistic it is, however it's incredibly fun. This is the kind of book that you set aside an afternoon to read because you know that you're going to be incredibly engaged laughing with and at the characters. Overall, this was a immensely fun book and I'm looking forward to reading more of Lancaster's fiction.



 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Review: Rome in Love by Anita Hughes

Title: Rome in Love
Author: Anita Hughes
Format: Paperback
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publish Date: August 4, 2015
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "When Amelia Tate is cast to play the Audrey Hepburn role in a remake of Roman Holiday, she feels as if all her dreams have come true. She has a handsome boyfriend, is portraying her idol in a major motion picture, and gets to live in beautiful Rome for the next two months.

Once there, she befriends a young woman named Sophie with whom she begins to explore the city. Together, they discover all the amazing riches that Rome has to offer. But when Amelia’s boyfriend breaks up with her over her acting career, her perfect world begins to crumble.

While moping in her hotel suite, Amelia discovers a stack of letters written by Audrey Hepburn that start to put her own life into perspective. Then, she meets Philip, a handsome journalist who is under the impression that she is a hotel maid, and it appears as if things are finally looking up. The problem is she can never find the right time to tell Philip her true identity. Not to mention that Philip has a few secrets of his own. Can Amelia finally have both the career and love that she’s always wanted, or will she be forced to choose again?"


My Two Cents:

Amelia is an up-and-coming actress who takes on the role that Audrey Hepburn had in the very famous movie, "Roman Holiday." Amelia is escaping from a horrible ex-boyfriend who doesn't seem to understand what she wants out of life. While she knows that this film is could be her big break, she is also interested in trying to mend her broken heart. Enter Philip, a journalist, that Amelia falls for. She assumes that he doesn't know who she is and she wants to keep herself anonymous so she builds a backstory about being a maid at a Roman hotel. Philip quickly realizes who she is actually and can't understand why she's trying to hide who she is. This is a fun romance in a fun city that feels like a old Hollywood movie!

Although there are some moments of spiciness in this book, in a lot of ways, this feels like a throwback to some of the more innocent Hollywood romance movies of the yesteryears. You have a woman who wants her identity mistaken and a handsome gentleman who's trying to get out from under the heavy-handed of his very rich father. Another reason that it feels like the old Hollywood romance movie is because the premise is not all that believable. This isn't to say anything bad about the story but you will need a little bit of suspension of disbelief in order to follow through with the story. To me, it seemed a little unreasonable that Amelia thought that nobody would recognize her when she is a young upcoming starlet who seems to be major fodder for all of the tabloids.

I would be remiss to mention the setting. You also have a wonderful setting in Rome, one of my most favorite cities. The setting is to die for. The author did a great job of capturing the romance of Rome between the descriptions of the cobblestone streets and all of the really amazing, delicious descriptions of the various food that the characters eat throughout. The food itself could be another character, which totally makes sense for place like Rome!

Overall, I really enjoyed the romance of this book. This is a fun light read that I know what I'm going to want to go back to. It definitely seems like a good comfort read to me!


 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Behind the Scenes: Insurgent

I missed seeing Insurgent in the movie theaters due to being on bed rest with my girls! I am so excited for it to  come out on Blu Ray/ DVD! Check out the bottom of my post for access to an exclusive clip featuring a behind the scenes look at the movie!

Press Release:

Golden Globe® Nominee Shailene Woodley Delivers An Explosive Performance In The Electrifying Sequel Arriving
On Digital HD July 21st

Available on 3D Blu-RayCombo Pack, Blu-Ray, DVD And
On Demand August 4

SANTA MONICA, CA (May 19, 2015) – Shailene Woodley (The Fault in Our Stars, The Descendants) and Theo James (Underworld: Awakening) pack a powerful one-two punch in the blockbuster action-adventure, The Divergent Series: Insurgent, arriving on Digital HD July 21 and on 3-D Blu-ray™ Combo Pack (plus Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD), Blu-ray (plus Digital HD), DVD (plus Digital) and On Demand August 4 from Lionsgate’s (NYSE: LGF) Summit Entertainment label.

Based on Veronica Roth’s #1 New York Times best-selling novel Insurgent, The Divergent Series: Insurgent raises the stakes for Tris (Woodley) as she searches for answers and allies in this star-powered, action-packed second installment of the Divergent series. On the run and targeted by ruthless faction leader Jeanine (Kate Winslet), Tris fights to protect the people she loves, facing one impossible challenge after another as she and Four (James) race to unlock the truth about the past—and ultimately the future—of their world.

Joining Woodley and James, The Divergent Series: Insurgent features a superb ensemble cast including Academy Award® winner Octavia Spencer (Best Supporting Actress, The Help, 2011), Jai Courtney (upcoming Terminator: Genesis, A Good Day to Die Hard), Ray Stevenson (Thor), Zoё Kravitz (Mad Max: Fury Road), Miles Teller (The Fantastic Four, Whiplash), Ansel Elgort (The Fault in Our Stars, Carrie), Maggie Q (TV’s “Nikita,” “Stalker”), Mekhi Phifer (Showtime’s “House of Lies”), Daniel Dae Kim (TV’s “Hawaii Five-O,” “Lost”) and Ashley Judd (Double Jeopardy), with Naomi Watts (Summit Entertainment’s The Impossible, King Kong) and Academy Award® winner Kate Winslet (Best Actress, The Reader, 2008; Titanic). The film is directed by cinematic mastermind Robert Schwentke (RED) and written for the screen by Brian Duffield and Akiva Goldsman and Mark Bomback.  The first two Divergent films have grossed more than $550 million at the worldwide box office.

The 3-D Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray (both featuring distinctive lenticular covers) and Digital HD release are packed with over four hours of entertaining bonus material including “Insurgent Unlocked: The Ultimate Behind-the-Scenes Access” documentary (a feature-length, in-depth look at all aspects of the movie – for the ultimate fan), audio commentary with producers and five exclusive featurettes: “Diverging: Adapting Insurgent to the Screen,” “From Divergent to Insurgent,” “The Others: Cast and Characters,” “The Train Fight Unlocked”  and “The Peter Hayes Story.”

The 3D Blu-ray Combo Pack and Blu-ray are encoded in Dolby TrueHD and feature a Dolby Atmos® soundtrack, which delivers captivating sound that places and moves audio anywhere in the room, including overhead, to bring entertainment alive all around the audience. The Divergent Series: Insurgent 3-D Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD will be available for the suggested retail price of $39.99, $35.99 and $29.95, respectively.

DIGITAL HD/3-D BLU-RAY COMBO PACK/BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES*
  • Audio Commentary with Producers Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher
  • Insurgent Unlocked: The Ultimate Behind-the-Scenes Access” Feature-Length Documentary
  • “Diverging: Adapting Insurgent to the Screen” Featurette
  • “From Divergent to Insurgent” Featurette
  • “The Others: Cast and Characters” Featurette
  • “The Train Fight Unlocked” Featurette
  • “The Peter Hayes Story” Featurette
  • Marketing Gallery
*Subject to change

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES*
  • Audio Commentary with Producers Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher
  • “From Divergent to Insurgent” Featurette
  • Marketing Gallery
*Subject to change

*** For the trailer, clips and artwork please visit www.lionsgatepublicity.com ***

Official Site/Tumblr: http://bit.ly/1JkQqyU

PROGRAM INFORMATION
Year of Production:         2015
Title Copyright:     The Divergent Series: Insurgent © 2015, Artwork & Supplementary Materials& © 2015 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Type:                Theatrical Release
Rating:     PG-13 for Intense Violence and Action Throughout, Some Sensuality, Thematic Elements and Brief Language
Genre:                Action/Adventure
Closed Captioned:        English SDH
Subtitles:                English and Spanish
Feature Run Time:         119 minutes
3D Blu-ray Format:         3D 1080P High Definition 16x9 Widescreen (2.40:1)
Blu-ray Format:        1080P High Definition 16x9 Widescreen (2.40:1)
DVD Format:            16x9 Widescreen (2.40:1)
3D Blu-ray/Blu-ray Audio:     English Dolby TrueHD Atmos Mix, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio Optimized for Late Night Listening, English Descriptive Audio
DVD Audio:            English and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Descriptive Audio

ABOUT LIONSGATE
Lionsgate is a premier next generation global content leader with a strong and diversified presence in motion picture production and distribution, television programming and syndication, home entertainment, digital distribution, channel platforms, video games and international distribution and sales. The Company currently has more than 30 television shows on over 20 different networks spanning its primetime production, distribution and syndication businesses, including such critically-acclaimed hits as the multiple Emmy Award-winning Mad Men, the broadcast network series Nashville, the syndication success The Wendy Williams Show, the critically-acclaimed hit series Orange is the New Black and the breakout series The Royals.
Its feature film business has been fueled by such recent successes as the blockbuster first three installments of The Hunger Games franchise, the first two installments of the Divergent franchise, Age of Adaline, John Wick, Now You See Me, CBS Films/Lionsgate’s The DUFF, Roadside Attractions' A Most Wanted Man, Lionsgate/Codeblack Films' Addicted and Pantelion Films' Instructions Not Included, the highest-grossing Spanish-language film ever released in the U.S.
Lionsgate's home entertainment business is an industry leader in box office-to-DVD and box office-to-VOD revenue conversion rates. Lionsgate handles a prestigious and prolific library of approximately 16,000 motion picture and television titles that is an important source of recurring revenue and serves as the foundation for the growth of the Company's core businesses. The Lionsgate and Summit brands remain synonymous with original, daring, quality entertainment in markets around the world. www.lionsgate.com

For artwork and additional information on this release, please e-mail Marcela Kosonoy at insurgentbd@thinkjam.com

Want a look behind the scenes?:


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Review: Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal

Title: Kitchens of the Great Midwest
Author: J. Ryan Stradal
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Publish Date: July 28, 2015 (Today!)
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Kitchens of the Great Midwest, about a young woman with a once-in-a-generation palate who becomes the iconic chef behind the country’s most coveted dinner reservation, is the summer’s most hotly-anticipated debut.

When Lars Thorvald’s wife, Cynthia, falls in love with wine—and a dashing sommelier—he’s left to raise their baby, Eva, on his own. He’s determined to pass on his love of food to his daughter—starting with puréed pork shoulder. As Eva grows, she finds her solace and salvation in the flavors of her native Minnesota. From Scandinavian lutefisk to hydroponic chocolate habaneros, each ingredient represents one part of Eva’s journey as she becomes the star chef behind a legendary and secretive pop-up supper club, culminating in an opulent and emotional feast that’s a testament to her spirit and resilience."


My Two Cents:

"Kitchens of the Great Midwest" is a book that has been getting a lot of buzz the summer. I was excited to read it but I always have a little bit of trepidation when it comes to books that are getting tons and tons of accolades before they even come out and seemingly come from nowhere. Is it real buzz or is it just a hot whiff of marketing air? In the case of this book, the accolades are definitely earned. I didn't quite know what to expect when I opened this book but I got a great reading experience with the story that engaged me from the very beginning. Each chapter tells the story of a recipe and an inter-related character.

It's sort of hard to describe what's going on in this book because there is so much and it covers such a wide swath of years. This is not to say that the book is disjointed at all! Most of this story focuses on Eva, a girl who is never felt like she is fit in with her family and Iowa. As a teenager she figures out that she has an incredibly palate and believes that she is destined to become a great chef. This book is filled with family, family secrets, and great food. There are recipes sprinkled throughout the book that go along with the things that are being discussed in the book.

It's really a treat to be so engaged by a story. This story is very original. I really like that the way that the author is able to make the characters, even the secondary characters feel so fullly realized and so 3-D. To me, a mark of a good book is when you like the characters so much that you want to know more about them not because the author hasn't given enough detail but because you don't want the book to end and to have to step away from the characters! I know that these characters and the storyline are going to stick  with me for a very long time.


 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Truth or Dare Blog Tour: The S Word by Paolina Milana

Title: The S Word
Author: Paolina Milana
Format: Ebook
Publisher: She Writes Press
Publish Date: May 5, 2015
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "In accordance with her Sicilian Catholic family’s unspoken code, Paolina Milana learned at an early age to keep her secrets locked away where no one could find them. Nobody outside the family needed to know about the voices her Mamma battled in her head; or about how Paolina forged her birth certificate at thirteen so she could get a job at The Donut Shop; or about the police officer twenty-six years her senior whose promise to her Papà to “keep an eye on her” quickly translated into something sinister. And perhaps that’s why no one saw it coming when—on the eve of her sweet sixteen, pushed to edge—Paolina attempted to take her own mother’s life."


My Two Cents:

"The S Word" is a memoir covers the mostly teenage years of Paolina, the daughter of Italian immigrants who is facing a lot of difficulties. Her mother is schizophrenic but due to her not wanting medical attention and her father not being able to navigate the American medical system, she never really gets help. She threatens her family, including Paolina and none of the children nor her husband know what to do about it. Aside from the difficulties with her mother, Paolina is also facing difficulties at work. After laying her way to a job at a donut shop she comes into contact with a 40 something year old police officer, Gunner, who is anything but kind and takes advantage of her. This is a powerful memoir that is often difficult to read because of the subject matter but hard to put down.

I love memoirs when they cover extraordinary circumstances. Paolina definitely for better or for worse has an extraordinarily difficult time during her teenage years. She gives an unflinching account as to what it's like growing up in a household where your parent's mental stability is in question and nobody seems to know what to do about it. The tribulations that she faces by herself are incredibly difficult and she doesn't always deal with them in the most healthy way because she doesn't really have a great support system. Her father tries that he has his hands full with Palena's mother.

I really enjoyed this book because it is so raw and unflinching. I liked how the author gave us a first row seat to some really difficult subjects. Overall, I think this book would appeal to anyone who enjoys memoirs but doesn't mind really tough stuff.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Review and Giveaway: Movie Star by Lizzie Pepper by Hilary Liftin

Title: Movie Star by Lizzie Pepper
Author: Hilary Liftin
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Viking
Publish Date: July 21, 2015 (Today!)
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.



What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Actress Lizzie Pepper was America’s Girl Next Door and her marriage to Hollywood mega-star Rob Mars was tabloid gold—a whirlwind romance and an elaborate celebrity-studded wedding landed them on the cover of every celebrity weekly. But fame, beauty, and wealth weren’t enough to keep their marriage together. Hollywood’s “It” couple are over—and now Lizzie is going to tell her side of the story.

Celebrity ghostwriter Hilary Liftin chronicles the tabloids’ favorite marriage as Lizzie Pepper realizes that, when the curtain falls, her romance isn’t what she and everyone else thought. From her lonely holidays in sumptuous villas to her husband’s deep commitment to a disconcertingly repressive mind-body group, Lizzie reveals a side of fame that her fans never get to see. Full of twists and turns, Movie Star by Lizzie Pepper is a breathless journey to the heights of Hollywood power and royalty and a life in the spotlight that is nearly impossible to escape."


My Two Cents:

"Movie star by Lizzie Pepper" by Hilary Liftin is a faux celebrity memoir that has flavors of so many of those celebrity couples whose faces and combined names (TomKat, Brangelina, etc.) grace the likes of People and US Weekly. I've definitely been fascinated by that world and so I was looking forward to reading this book. It's fascinating to me that the author decided to write a faux celebrity memoir but what makes it even more interesting is that the author partially started her writing career as a ghostwriter for celebrity memoirs so she knows where she's going. As she put it, Lizzie Pepper would be her dream client!

Lizzie Pepper is a middle-of-the-road actress until she meets Rob Mars, one of the most eligible bachelors in Hollywood. Lizzie falls for Rob quickly and thinks that what they have is real but she slowly starts to realize that their fairytale is anything but a fairytale and all the things she loved about their relationship have a really cheap veneer. The book is written from Lizzy's perspective which I really liked because it allowed me to get into her head and to understand what she was going through.

This book is for those who are intrigued by the world of celebrity like I am. I love reading serious books but you can also find me scanning the tabloids in the grocery store checkout line. I loved the Hollywood insider flavor of this novel. The cool thing about this book is that because it is a faux celebrity memoir, we get closer to the elusive Hollywood world more than any other real celebrity memoir would allow us to get. Overall, this is a fun read that engaged me from the very beginning.




Giveaway:

This book is already exciting a lot of people! Thanks to the publisher, I am giving away a prize pack to one lucky winner (U.S. only!). Included in the giveaway is a copy of the book, a pair of branded sunglasses with a Lizzie Pepper hangtag, and popcorn all packaged in a gold envelope.





Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 20, 2015

Truth or Dare Blog Tour: Fire Season by Hollye Dexter

Title: Fire Season
Author: Hollye Dexter
Format: Ebook
Publisher: She Writes Press
Publish Date: April 14, 2015
Source: I received a copy as a part of BookSparks' Truth or Dare Blog Tour; however, this did not affect my review.






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Hollye Dexter and her husband Troy woke one night to find their house ablaze. To escape the fire, they had to jump from their second-story window with their toddler son—and then watch their house and home-based businesses burn to the ground. Over the next two years, the family went bankrupt, lost their cars and another home, and got dropped by their best friends. As the outer layers of her life were stripped away, Dexter began to unravel emotionally; but then she found herself on the brink of losing her marriage, and she realized that if she was going to save her family, she would have to pull herself back together somehow.

As she fought to reassemble the pieces of the life she’d had, Dexter discovered that a shattered heart has the ability to regenerate in a mighty way; that even in the midst of disaster, you can find your place; and that when everything you identify with is gone, you are free to discover who you really are. Poignant and inspiring, Fire Season is a story for anyone who has ever lost hope—and found it again."


My Two Cents:

 After Hollye Dexter and her family wake up to discover their houses on fire, all of their belongings are destroyed and they feel like they're losing all hope. This book is about the family trying to find hope again and trying to get back on their feet after it seems like their life has totally been destroyed. This is a memoir that is about family and about what it means to lose hope and to, more importantly, regain it.

The Dexter family not only loses their house in a fire but their social circle is shaken as the friends that they thought would be there and the family that they thought cared for them weren't necessarily there. This book meanders from event to event after the fire that takes their house to show how the family copes and how they try to rebuild their life. The part that really hit home for me is how the Dexter's family and friends acted after they lose their house. I've always heard that it's the most difficult circumstances that show you who your true friends are. It's those life changes where friends or family either rally together or fall away. It shows you who's going to be with you when the going gets tough and who is simply a fair weather friend.

Like I said this book meanders quite a bit and it covers a lot of ground, not just the fallout from the fire. I did find myself wishing that the book covered a little bit less and was a little bit tighter because they've meandering takes away from the story actually and makes some of the events feel unrelated to each other.

The writing is very honest and because the narrative meanders so much, the book almost feels like stream of consciousness. You really feel like you are getting into the authors head and we are getting a front row for everything that she and her family go through. Overall, this book is for those two cars that give you a front row seat to be unimaginable.



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