Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Fourteen Books You Need To Read This Fall

It's almost that time of the year again, everyone!!

And no - I don't mean it's almost pumpkin spice time (even though, well, IT IS!). And I also don't mean cooler temps, though I'm ready for those, too. Corn chowder is CALLING me, my friends. Simply calling out my name and I am here for it.

But no, that's not what I mean, either.

I mean it's almost fall, y'all. Which means another great batch of must-reads for you to add to your shelves. Or your Kindle. Or just your lists. Whatever works for you.

books, reading, goodreads, fiction, recommendations, Kindle, authors, fall releases

Now, I will be honest with you, some of these came out over the summer (this month, specifically), but I've only just been introduced to them - so they can't be summer reads - right?

As always, there are affiliate links throughout this post, because to share amazing books with you without sharing how you can get them would just be evil. And also, if you use my links you help me save my pennies towards my next book purchase. And how perfect is that?

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I have only just read my first Lisa Scottoline book in the last few months. Most Wanted was a phenomenal read. Scottoline's writing style kept me interested and focused, and guessing pretty much until the last minute. Actually - now that I think about it - the book was very similar to Jodi Picoult's writing style - which is a big compliment coming from a huge Picoult fan like myself. I know that Damaged is one book of a series, and though I haven't read any of the others, I'm hopeful it will stand on its own. And if you're concerned that it won't, I did see that you can purchase the entire series (four novels) for Kindle in a bundle purchase.

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A psychological thrilled. That's what Behind Closed Doors is being described as. The perfect couple when taken at face value. Jack is the perfect man. Grace can't believe she's found him. However, nobody ever sees Grace alone. Nobody ever talks to her on the phone. She can never meet for coffee. What's really happening in their house? Nobody ever knows exactly what goes on behind closed doors, right? Let's have a look and find out. 

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The title alone has me wanting a copy of this book. I love books about books. Did you follow that? I love reading about book clubs (likely these days because I'm not exactly involved in one - but I always have!). And I now realize what it is about this cover that has caught my eye. It reminds me of another cover. It reminds me of The Things We Keep (which I own but have not yet read!). I love the simple elegance of the ribbon tied at the center. 

Here I Am, Jonathan Safran Foer
September 6, 2016
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I've never read Foer's work before, but as this is his first novel in over a decade, that makes sense. While always an avid reader, I haven't always been open to new authors, often picking one and reading through their entire literary history. So, why this one, you might ask? Because it pulled me in with one sentence. "How can we claim our own identities when our lives are linked so closely to others?" Right? Sign me up to discuss. Also - a mention of being a Jew and an American, and the inner turmoil one sometimes feels living both of those roles has me relating a bit more than I can describe at the moment. I look forward to seeing what Foer has to say. Join me.

September 13, 2016
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I'm an Ann Patchett fan. It's been a while since I've read something by her, but Bel Canto will always remain one of my favorite books of all time. Run isn't that far behind, either. So, the description of this story - covering intertwining families as they fall apart and characters that find their way sound perfect to me. And this cover is just the perfect fall cover - isn't it? Something just makes me think, I need to read this. My fellow Patchett fans, I hope you'll let me know when you pick it up.

September 13, 2016
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Picoult is an author who is easily recognized by her writing style. I'm excited to see her next book (coming out in October) and I've included Shine because it's a short story/prequel to that novel. I figure if any of us want a teaser and to meet the characters we'll get to know better in Small Great Things, we should grab a copy of Shine.

September 20, 2016
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Fans of Room will be as excited as I am to see that Emma Donoghue has a new book coming out. Room was one of the most intense books I've ever read. It impacted me in such a way - when it ended I think I just sat there. Honestly, I think I read it in less than 24 hours, as I simply could not put it down. You'll find your friends either loved it or hated it, but there's not really a middle ground for that book. I'm so excited to see what The Wonder holds in store for us. 

Echoes of Family, Barbara Claypole White
September 26, 2016

I am embarrassed to admit I almost left this book off of my list. Why? Because I read it a few months ago, as the author granted me a copy of the ARC. And oh my goodness. I loved it so. If you know my reading habits by now, you'll know that Barbara Claypole White is one of my favorite authors. I'm a huge fan. Every book she writes has pulled me in and held me close until I've finished. There's no cheating on her books with any other. I'm not sure if you're a one-book-at-a-time reader, but with Claypole White you will be. Echoes of Family is a fantastic read. One of the best things about her books is that BCW includes mental health in her storylines. And it is always front and center. This novel is no exception. Our primary character Marianne is dealing with life as her mind unravels. She tries to escape it - sort of - only to bring it all with her. Her family, supporting characters, are understanding, and equally as intense. I'm hoping for a sequel for this one - and in some ways - I'm not - because I think it wrapped up exactly as it was supposed to. I'll be sharing a review of this book in the coming weeks, but I strongly suggest you pre-order now so it's on your doorstep or Kindle as soon as it's available. Trust me. And if you haven't yet read The Perfect Son, well, what are you waiting for? Go get that one, too. Now. 

September 27, 2016
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Friendship. Betrayal. Love. Loss. Grief. Starting over. It sounds like Carr's latest novel is going to give us a little bit of everything. Honestly? I think I added this to my list because I really like the cover. And yes, I sometimes DO judge books by their covers. Admit it. You do, too. The Life She Wants looks like an enjoyable read. I like watching female characters find their way, and it looks like Emma has a lot of that ahead of her. 

Today Will Be Different, Maria Semple
October 4, 2016
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Maria Semple wrote a book that many of us absolutely adored. If you haven't read Where'd You Go, Bernadette, you need to grab a copy. It's truly the kind of story that you've never read before. So, needless to say, I'm pretty excited to see that Semple has a new book coming out. Family secrets. A woman looking to turn her world on its edge? Eleanor sounds like my kind of character. Let's discuss after we both read it, shall we? 

October 4, 2016
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Catherine McKenzie has been one of my favorite authors for some time. I can say that whenever she has a book coming out I'm all over it. That's why Fractured makes my list for this fall. Because I know McKenzie will give us good reading. The story itself seems to be one of mystery and intense. The main character is an author who is being stalked. Hopefully this isn't remotely true-to-life for McKenzie ... but I know it will hold our interest just the same. 

October 11, 2016
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Shine is the prequel to this novel (scroll back up for some info!). Small Great Things, as most Picoult novels do, touches on a heavy topic. An intense topic. Relates a little too closely to current events for comfort. And yet, pulls you in in a heartbeat. And - perhaps in this story - a literal one. Ruth is a nurse in a Connecticut hospital. She's African American. She's working on her patients and the parents of one of the newborns in her care do not want her touching their baby. They're white supremacists. Only Picoult could create such a story and run with it. I look forward to seeing where she takes us. 

October 18, 2016
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It's likely that the main reason I'm drawn to this novel is because the main characters are a 59-year-old male and a 45-year-old female. The fact that the story takes place over the course of twenty-four hours also caught my eye. I love adventures like that. Described as a story about "two decent, damaged people," Serious Sweet sounds like the perfect book to pick up and never put down.  

Swing Time, Zadie Smith
November 16, 2016
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A complicated friendship of two girls who both dream of being dancers. Only one has the talent to be. Set in North-West London and West Africa, I'm mostly excited because I love when a story takes me outside of the United States - it's vicarious living for a bit - isn't that what we read for, after all? Described as "exuberant dance to the music of time," this book has already won me over. Looking forward to picking it up this fall.

So, there you have it. Fourteen books you should look into this fall. And if these aren't enough - or aren't your cup of tea - or coffee - because come on, let's get real, shall we? - here are several lists that will help you load your Kindle until the end of time. Because I got you, boo. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Don't You Cry, by Mary Kubica

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Mary Kubica is at it again with her most recent thriller, Don't You Cry.

While my favorite of her three books is still The Good Girl, I recently finished reading this one and definitely found my head twisted in several different directions.

Oh, as a small disclaimer, I received this book from NetGalley, BUT I also bought myself a copy, as I'm a big Kubica fan and love supporting her work.

And so - where was I?

Right. Don't You Cry.

In a story told from the perspective of Quinn and Alex, we learn about Quinn's missing roommate Esther, and Alex's fantasy girlfriend, Pearl.

Esther Vaughan is missing. It takes a little bit more than a short minute for Quinn to realize this, but she waits a bit before reporting it. She comes up with a dozen or so theories as to why Esther would be missing, and eventually sorts through Esther's things trying to figure it all out.

Has Esther been kidnapped? Killed? Is she on the run? Did she change her identity? Did she really run away, through the busted screen window?

Is Esther trying to replace Quinn? Kill her? None of the above? All of the above?

And what about this Pearl girl?

What IS her name, anyway?

Alex is a haunted young man with a drunk for a dad. He's helpful, smart, and supportive -- Alex, I mean -- but he's haunted. By a mom who left them. By an education he had to pass up. By this young woman who is wandering the streets.

Alex wants to know more.

So do we.

I changed my mind about the direction I thought this story was going to go a good handful of times. Kubica's talent when it comes to psychological thrillers is a phenomenal one.

Because I'm an honest reviewer, I will note that I struggled a bit with how the book wrapped up. In some ways I felt that it went too quickly, in others it was not quick enough. I'm not sure if maybe I just wanted to get answers sooner than we were allowed. I didn't find myself skimming pages, though, because I didn't want to miss anything big, so it wasn't THAT draggy. Maybe it's my anxiety that hits me when I read these kinds of stories? Maybe that's why I'm like 'come on, let's get to the reveal!!' or something?

I did re-read the last few chapters to see exactly what happened - I kind of felt like I might have been missing something, likely because it went as quickly as it did wrapping up. I can't really explain that further without giving anything away, and I'm not one to do spoilers, so you'll just have to read it for yourself.

I noticed a few people mentioning that this book came across as a young adult novel. I'm not sure I'd agree, but I can see why some might say as much. It's the age of the characters, their innocence, their lack of it - the relationship between Quinn and her best friend (not the missing roommate) had a bit of a Rainbow Rowell feel to me. And I'm a huge Rainbow Rowell fan, so that's a good thing!

All in all, I remain a fan of Mary Kubica and her writing and will be first in line for her next novel - whenever that comes out. In the meantime, check out the links below to grab yourself one of her three books - or to find some more reading recommendations from me.

If you're interested in grabbing a copy of Don't You Cry, you can do so right here on Amazon!

To order The Good Girl, click here.

To order Pretty Baby, click here.

For a list of Five Books You'll Ignore Your Kids To Finish, click here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Kim Kardashian West Keeps It Real

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I was in the same room as Kim Kardashian West last week.

Got your attention, didn't I?

I was at BlogHer this past week/weekend thanks to One2One Network. I won a giveaway and when Malia of their team emailed me I thought she was joking. But she was for real. And so I did what I could and I made it happen. And I'm glad I did. I've got a lot to share on BlogHer and my experience, but this post? Is strictly about the Kim K keynote.

If you don't know by now, Kim Kardashian West (I'm not the only one who forgets she added his last name to hers, right?) was one of the keynotes of BlogHer16.

You may have read about this and thought to yourself, huh, really? That's odd. Or maybe you were one of the people who gave a LOT of feedback. And it wasn't good. Well, good on you.

And I'm not a Keeping Up With The Kardashians fan. Or a Kim fan, really. Honestly, I often find myself wishing Kanye would just go away.

But I went to this keynote because why not?

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Why I Still Attend Blogging Conferences

blogging, conferences, connections, brainstorming, networking, sponsors, friendships, NYC

Blogging conferences mean different things to different people. Just like people have different reasons that they continue to blog. I still blog for so many reasons, but why I do may not be why you do - and that's completely okay. So we take a moment or two to recognize that people attend conferences for a number of reasons. And while I might not agree with them all, I understand they exist.

Because the Internet is interesting.

Some find benefits in conferences of all sizes.

Friday, July 29, 2016

If I Could Buy All The Dresses ... I'd Buy These.

This is the summer of dresses for me. I'm not sure if it's because I'm doing so much traveling, or because I've lost a substantial amount of weight, or because I'm just finding myself in these certain styles - but no matter what the reason these dresses are giving me life.

And so - I'm eyeing dresses everywhere. From online to in-store, from on friends to people on the street, and I kind of want them ALL.

That said, if I could buy any plus-sized dress that exists out there in the world of fashion, I am fairly certain that I would buy myself one of each of these I share with you below.

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