My Latest Summer Reads, Part II

After compiling my summer reading list back in May, I quickly decided to save those four reads for my summer vacation… at the end of this month. Putting faith in my own willpower and patience (which has proved very difficult) to wait and save the likes of “Marriage Vacation” (seriously, I’m dying to find out the contents of page 58!), “The Favorite Sister,” and “Crazy Rich Asians” (obviously before the film comes out ideally) for the moment my four-hour flight finally takes off and departs New York City.

Ugh, it felt like agony waiting (err, well, still does)… And then, I tried to reread some of my older reads on my bookshelf in the interim, but that can prove little fun, especially when you already know how the stories end. And so, I turned to a laundry list of reads from the library and my latest Amazon wish lists to tide me over, adding to my summer reading list as I attempt to save my original picks for vacation time.

“The Dirty Book Club” by Lisi Harrison

What Millennial girl doesn’t remember reading “The Clique” series growing up? I remember that the third book only in the series was on sale at my elementary school book fair, and my mom picked it up for me a few days before my class went. I devoured it in one sitting, and then insisted my mom take me right to the bookstore (RIP, Borders) to go back and get the two previous books and then the fourth one in the lineup. Well I was already four books of the series in and researching when the next one would be out, when my class finally went to the book fair, and literally every girl in my class heeded my suggestion and was ecstatic to get the Clique book #3 that was still on the shelf. Such a book trendsetter, even way back when… And then, I kept reading the entire series. Flash forward to last week at the library, when mid-browse, I came across “The Dirty Book Club” by none other than one of my favorite childhood authors! Flipped to the inside cover, and I was intrigued to open to page one and start reading this one.

In Harrison’s debut adult novel, four complete strangers together inherit a secret dirty book club that initially started in the 1960s when the original members (and lifelong besties) follow through on a long-held pact to move to Europe. As the group of unlikely friends bond over these scandalous bestsellers, each woman (book club members past and present) reveal intimate details of their own life as the book club, letters from original members, and their friendship “help each other find the courage to rewrite their own stories and risk it all for a happy ending,” Amazon summarizes. It may sound cheesy or like a copycat 50 Shades or something, but it’s truly like nothing I’ve ever read before with its wit and surprising plot points, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

“The Wedding Date” by Jasmine Guillory

After waiting weeks to scooch up the library’s hold list of 60-plus potential readers, I finally received this contemporary romance novel this weekend. And it lived up to the hype as an adorable modern happily-ever-after love story read.

What happens when protagonist Alexa meets handsome doctor Drew in a hotel elevator that gets stuck? Well, naturally, he invites her to be his wedding plus-one. What initially starts as a simple transaction so he won’t be the groomsman who RSVP’ed for two and then ends up alone soon becomes way more when feelings develop, of course. Adorable in all its romantic glory that makes it an enchanting and delightful summer read.

 

 

“When Life Gives You Lululemons” by Lauren Weisberger

Next up on my nightstand is the latest Devil Wears Prada novel, except it takes place years later with West Coast image consultant Emily (aka Emily Blunt’s character from the Meryl Streep-Anne Hathaway film).

Initially, I planned to put this book on hold at the library, but after seeing the newly released novel had almost 300 holds in front of me, I broke down and Amazon Prime’d a copy to my apartment, which actually arrived the same day a copy of “The Wedding Date” was available for me to pick up. With Guillory’s book finished, it’s now time to move on to what happens when Miranda Priestly’s former assistant turned image consultant Emily’s new opportunity takes her to the Connecticut suburbs for a comeback opportunity for a new client, a former supermodel. And yes, Miranda Priestly will be back, I’m told. And, I’m officially off to page one!

“Limelight” by Amy Poeppel

This book takes place when wife and mother of three Allison decides to pack up her roots and move her family cross-country to Manhattan for the first time. Trading their suburban Texas spacious home, easy-to-get-into schools for the kids and her teaching career for a comparatively small three-bedroom apartment, three school admissions to contend with, her husband’s new and busy law practice, no job prospect for her lined up, and taking care of three kids in the city, Allison worries if moving her family was the right call. When a chance encounter gives Allison the chance to become the personal assistant to a young Hollywood pop star in town to make his Broadway debut, she finds herself balancing motherhood with a glamorous new life, showing her a glimpse of a very different side of Manhattan.

With realistic expectations of Manhattan (haha, totally relatable), Poeppel’s novel brings laughs, witty dialogue and plot points into this delightfully charming read.

“Campaign Widows” by Aimee Agresti

Admittedly, I know nothing about the inner workings of politics, but somehow this novel stuck out to me.

When the newly engaged Cady moves to DC with her  boyfriend-turned-fiance, she’s thrust into the influential world of D.C’s elite wives, a club of significant others who’s spouses are away on the campaign trail. Told in several viewpoints of a “fabulous Georgetown doyenne,” a mommy blogger, a website editor, Cady the news producer, and a First Lady hopeful who isn’t sure she wants to gig, it seems this unlikely group of friends are just what’s needed for these five to survive the campaign and election season and get exactly what it is that they do want. Call me intrigued, and I was, until the very last page.

 

 

“My Oxford Year” by Julia Whelan

Honestly, this one struck me simply by the word “Oxford” and the image of the English city on the cover. What can I say, ever since I studied abroad in London (and visited Oxford), I’ve had severe wanderlust for the UK, which makes me a sucker for any book set in London and England.

This book takes place when American Ella has the chance to pursue a Rhodes Scholarship at the legendary Oxford University. As the Amazon summary reads, “With the promise that she’ll work remotely and return to DC at the end of her Oxford year, she’s free to enjoy her Once in a Lifetime Experience. That is, until a smart-mouthed local who is too quick with his tongue and his car ruins her shirt and her first day.” She soon discovers that smart-mouthed local is the handsome English professor that teaches her first class at Oxford. Soon enough, a connection is developed between the two and with the expiration date of her Visa in sight, she soon is conflicted with “if the dreams she’s always wanted are the same ones she’s now yearning for.” Cute, adorable, and based in England? Seems it was just what I look for in a summer read.

Keep on reading, my lovely followers! ✨

My Summer 2018 Reading List

As you may know, I read a lot, like a lot. But is that necessarily a bad thing? Nope, not in my eyes! And with summer fast approaching and my vacay plans finalized that means it’s time to get my summer reads in order (preferably in time to pack in my carry on before I get on the plane). So, what am I reading this summer?

“A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out” by Sally Franson

This debut novel is describes a brilliant young woman navigating a “tricky twenty-first-century career” and who she wants to be in this “savagely wise debut novel in the tradition of The Devil Wears Prada.” The novel follows protagonist Casey, a book-loving English major now “selling out” and working for a top ad agency, finding it perplexing how quick some clients are willing to compromise their integrity, and then when Casey is faced with a situation (lol I don’t want to spoil too much),  she can “no longer ignore her own nagging doubts about the human cost of success.”

With “observations about everything from feminism, pop culture, and social media,” this novel is the “story of a young woman untangling the contradictions of our era and trying to escape the rat race– by any means necessary.” Summer read, yes please!

“Crazy Rich Asians” by Kevin Kwan

I have to admit, the trailer of the movie adaptation first peaked my interest. I mean, I always saw it on the bookstore shelves during one of my routine browses. But IDK, nothing really pulled me to the cover and the title to read the back summary or the first few pages over the thousands of other books around it. And then, when I saw the trailer, immediately I was hooked. It seemed like the perfect summer read.

So, in case you’ve ben living under a rock and missed the national bestseller or its movie trailer ads, the book chronicles New Yorker Rachel who agrees to accompany her boyfriend home to Singapore to meet his “traditional” family. But what she doesn’t know? His childhood home is a palace, they will be attending his cousin’s “wedding of the year,” he’s one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors, and his mother isn’t quite sure Rachel is the right one for her son. Dramatic? Juicy? I’m so in.

“The Favorite Sister” by Jessica Knoll

As you may remember a few months ago, I read Knoll’s debut book “Luckiest Girl Alive.” And devoured it. Well, she just released her next novel, and from the Amazon summary alone, I’m hooked. It’s a “blisteringly paced thriller starring two sisters who join the cast of a reality TV series,” where “one won’t make it out alive. So… who did it?” Now, I’m not usually a thriller or mystery-type reader, but I was hooked on her last book and the summary.

So, five “hyper-successful women” agree to appear on a NYC reality series called ‘Goal Diggers,’ where the first season ends unexpectedly ends in murder. Now, that seems a bit like Lifetime’s “UnREAL” a bit (without the dating competition part), and that had me intrigued. The novel “explores the invisible barriers that prevent women from rising up the ranks in today’s America—and offers a scathing take on the oft-lionized bonds of sisterhood, and the relentless pressure to stay young, relevant, and salable.” Added to my Amazon cart ASAP.

“Marriage Vacation” by Pauline Turner Brooks

I’m a HUGE fan of TVLand’s “Younger.” (Like OMG how is season five going to go down???) As fans will certainly remember from season 4, #TeamCharles was briefly disrupted by the arrival (or more like, return) of Charles’ ex-wife who comes back to the city, armed with a new manuscript for Liza’s attention and wanting to put her family back together in their blissful Upper East Side life. Then this spring, the powers that be annoucehed that her popular novel on the show was hitting bookstore shelves IRL! I mean, yes please! Even if only to find out what’s on page 58 for ourselves.

For those non-“Younger” fans, one: go watch the show (it’s all there on Hulu to binge, you’re welcome for tip). And two, here’s a bit about the book. Kate Carmichael has a seemingly perfect life: two adorable daughters, an Upper East Side prewar townhouse, and a devoted husband who runs a successful publishing company in NYC. But when Kate reconnects with her successful friends from school, she sees her life in a different way in the career she didn’t pursue and the dreams she hid away. And so, she flies halfway around the world for what was supposed to only be a few weeks, instead of returning to her family, to clear her head and reconnect with those former dreams. But her adventure “doesn’t go quite as planned.” Intrigued? And not just find out what TV Charles did on page 58. And onto my Amazon preorder list it goes until it’s early June release…

I’m already super pumped to start reading, although my patience is really being tested to not get carried away and start reading now, and waiting until my flight takes off and I’m officially in vacation mode to savor these new reads.

Keep on reading!

March/April 2018 Reading List

After quickly completing my January and February reading lists, once again I was on the hunt for some new reads. And so, what naturally follows? Heading to Barnes & Noble to browse through every single fiction aisle and shelf and see what strikes my fancy, naturally. And boy, did I find enough. Armed with a heavy bag of new books, I left the store ready to begin these new reading adventures.

“Bachelor Nation: Inside the World of America’s Favorite Guilty Pleasure” by Amy Kaufman

This nonfiction debut book from L.A. Times writer and self-proclaimed “Bachelor” fan, Amy Kaufman. Kaufman researched and interviewed experts to find out what really goes down in the Bachelor mansion while filming the hit reality franchise, and exploring why we all turn in week to week to watch it all unfold.

As an avid watcher of the franchise (lol could you tell from this blog??) and its fictional counterpart “UnREAL,” I was definitely as intrigued as I read the revelations from Kaufman’s original New York Post excerpt. I was curious, and so: reading list, here we go!

It wasn’t until Lifetime debuted “UnREAL,” that I even truly comprehended that something like “The Bachelor” or other reality shows were so produced. (I always knew they were scripted ala “Kardashians” but the dirty deeds of production? I was completely in the dark like most members of Bachelor Nation.) This book truly opened my eyes to how one of my ultimate guilty pleasures, so from now on (like Becca K’s ex showing up on this recent season? Come on.), in the name of media literacy, I can now comprehend what is actually going on and take the show as it is (a pleasure-filled dramatic television series) with a grain of salt. An interesting look at the psychology of a popular television franchise, how it gets made, and why we continue to enjoy watching such a trainwreck of drama.

“The Recipe Box” by Viola Shipman

The recently released novel explores the life of Sam, a busy sous chef for a hot New York bakery. Her life isn’t going as she planned, so she returns home to her small Michigan town to take inventory of her family’s orchard and pie shop. There, she discovers secrets and memories of her family, one recipe at a time in the heirloom recipe box. The inside cover continues, “As Sam discovers what matters most in her life, she opens her heart to a man she left behind but who now might be the key to her happiness.”

It seems intriguing, with a hint of cheesy romance often found in corny Hallmark romance movies. I’m in.

 

 

“Young Jane Young” by Gabrielle Zevin

The new novel by “The Storied Life of AJ Fikry” author illustrates the world of protagonist Aviva, a former congressional intern who was once the center of a political scandal that now may threaten her own bid for political office years later. The inside summary reads that this novel is a “smart, funny, serious, and moving novel about the myriad of ways in which roles are still circumscribed for women, whether they are young, ambitious interns; mothers attempting to steer their daughters through a male-dominated world; political wives facing an age-old knowledge that fidelity isn’t always honored; or young girls feeling bold about their many choices before they release the gender restrictions all around them.”

Seems interesting, especially as it tackles important issues that women still face everyday. Andddd… to page one we go.

“Hot Mess” by Emily Belden

In this installment of Miranda Reads Cheesy Millennial-Type Novels, Emily Belden’s “Hot Mess” seemed to intrigue me in such a way. The story centers around Allie, a twentysomething who is so infatuated by her love for sought-after, culinary genius Benji, despite storied past struggling with addiction and living an often-reckless lifestyle. When he is offered the job of a lifetime in creating a hot New York restaurant, Allie follows her love and takes a giant leap: investing her life savings in the establishment. What happens when Benji takes off on a relapse, leaving Allie alone with “nothing but a massive withdrawal slip” and an approaching opening day. She is suddenly thrust into the “world of luxury and greed, cutthroat business and sensory delight. Lost in the mess of it all, she can either crumble completely or fight like hell for the life she wants and the love she deserves.”

Seems promising and interesting to say the least, in a typical Millennial-centric novel, but let’s give it a shot.

“Needles and Pearls” by Gil McNeil

I was fascinated by Gil McNeil’s “Needles and Pearls” novel, which focuses on widow Jo, a year after her husband’s death, where she is finally getting used to being a single parent to her sons and her yarn shop is doing quite well to boot. But then, a man from her past arrives as well as a new romance with a local carpenter develops to “make life a whole lot more interesting.” The book tackles if Jo can “cope when things get complicated.”

Hm, tell me more… Guess I better read to find out?

 

 

 

Keep on reading! 💖

My February Reading List

Well, my January reading list was completed super quickly… so, new books? I think so.

“By The Book” by Julia Sonneborn

Chronicling the ordinary life of a literature professor up for tenure at a small college… until her ex-fiance shows up as the new president of the university! Our protagonist is forced to wrestle her current and former feelings while keeping her head above water at work, with her family, and with the new guy she started seeing. How will it all play out?? Hmmm…

I absolutely adored this “ode to bookish girls… and the men who love them.” Side note: for someone like moi, who isn’t too ooey-and-gooey mushy with my feelings all the time, this has hands-down one of my all-time most romantic scenes ever. And it happens twice: *cue me squealing.* (So, future whoever-you-are, take notes. Lol.) JK. Ok, back to the 2018 novel, it’s not too cheesy romantic, but feels current and realistic and keeps you turning the page (which I finished in a day lol.). Would definitely recommend to all the book lovers out there reading this! One of my February faves, for sure!

Still Me” by Jojo Moyes

Written as a sequel/follow-up of sorts to the book-turned-movie “Me Before You” (the latter which starred Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin; and the former which made me cry), “Still Me” picks up post-“Me Before You” and sees Louisa Clark as she moves to the Big Apple working as a caregiver to a Manhattan elite-type family.

Of course there’s love and drama, and intrigue (and plenty of all three!) to keep the pages turning. The one plus: I didn’t cry in this book, so seriously thanks Jojo Moyes, my tear ducts thank you! (Because you know, they are such a mess due to other programs and books *cough cough* “This is Us.”)

 

 

“Match Made in Manhattan” by Amanda Stauffer

This was my cheesy Manhattan Millennial read this month. (Also being a Millennial in NYC when online dating is so popular, it’s um *cough cough* accurate.) A twenty-something serial monogamist living in NYC breaks up with her serious boyfriend and tries Match dot com. Capturing a series of bad and interesting profiles, our protagonist encounters a unique batch of suitors to say the least (and as a single girl in Manhattan, I can’t say I disagree lol).

It was cute, and made me laugh-out-loud at the sheer relatability (which idk if it should be??). Definitely a modern-day beach read for sure. Fair warning: while yes our heroine gets a happily-ever-after ending, it’s not the way we all would expect– which I like, because reality isn’t all sunshines and rainbows and every other scripted scenario from “The Bachelor.”

Next up on nightstand:

“Luckiest Girl Alive” by Jessica Knoll

Soon to be adapted into a film from “Big Little Lies” star and producer Reese Witherspoon, the novel describes protagonist Ani’s “perfect life as a lie.” Hmm… After a shocking public humiliation in high school, Ani was desperate to reinvent herself; and it seems she has. Until a buried painful and private secret threatens her seemingly perfect facade and could ruin everything. With “a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming,” this has the potential to be a dramatic page-turner and I can’t wait to find out this secret and if it could destroy Ani’s life or set her free from the truth. Color me intrigued…

 

 

 

“Someday, Someday Maybe” by Lauren Graham

Well, I’m finally going to give the debut novel of everyone’s favorite TV mom (aka Lauren Graham) a chance. I wanted to read for ages, and I finally took the plunge and picked up at the bookstore post-January reads.

In her fiction debut, that slightly is reminiscent of her own experience as a young actor in New York, Graham chronicles dreamer Franny who’s Broadway goals are still unfulfilled based on her set timeline, but she’s not ready to give up yet. We follow Franny who “keeps believing that she might just get what she came for.” And I think I might just get what I wanted with this novel: an adorable read that will be hard to put down.

 

 

Keep on reading, all my lovely followers! 💖

What I’ve Been Reading: 2018 Edition

Unfortunately with a post-grad move to a new city and a new job, 2017 didn’t leave much time for recreational reading (well, other than “What Happened” by HRC). And so, with the arrival of the 2018, I knew I wanted to started my favorite pastime up again. That, and a good book can instantly relax me. Here’s a quick peek of my recent reads on my nightstand.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Literally as soon as the credits rolled on the final episode of “Big Little Lies” season one (and I blogged my thoughts thereafter, naturally), I went to Amazon and Prime-ordered the original book by Liane Moriarty.

I knew the series had hooked me. I had to keep watching. And since Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman kept discussing how inspired they were by Moriarty’s work to make the HBO show, I knew I needed to read about the Pirriwee Beach mothers and their kindergarteners.

While you may think, “Hey, I watched the series, why should I read?” It’s a gripping, page-turning story and, as with all film and television adaptations: liberties are taken.

 

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

Hailed as a “modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice,” I was intrigued by the cast of interesting characters and how despite being a modern version of a classic, it still felt new and current.

Readers meet Liz, a magazine writer (Hey, I knew I liked it already! Lol.), who lives in NYC with her big sis Jane. When the New York-living sisters return home to help their parents and sisters following their father’s health scare, it seems Mama Bennett has other plans: trying to figure out how to marry off her unwed daughters before age 40 arrives. And so, here comes handsome (and quasi-famous) doctor Chip Bingley, who happens to take an immediate interest in Jane, while his surgeon-friend Fitzwilliam Darcy “reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming… and yet, first impressions can be deceiving,” the back cover synopsis explains. Hmm, intrigued? I know I was.

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

This novel stuck out to me upon first glance and first read-through of the back cover summary. Dave describes how Georgia Ford returns home to her family vineyard in Sonoma County just one week before her wedding to her seemingly-perfect fiance once she learns an “explosive” secret that could change everything. Upon arriving home, she learns that her fiance is not the only one keeping secrets. Hmm, a twist.

This gripping novel tells the dramatic story of family, love and how secrets can tear or bring people together.

 

 

 

You Had Me at Hello by Mhairi McFarlane

This U.K.-set book seemed like an immediate rom-com type book from first glance. And then I flipped over the back cover. McFarlane tells the story of Rachel and Ben, two university best friends and partners in crime from their first “Hello.” However, a decade later, Rachel’s One Who Got Away comes right back and it seems like “the years melt away.”

The back cover reads, “But life has changed. Ben is married. Rachel is not.yet in that split second, Rachel feels the old friendship return. And along with it, the broken heart she’s never been able to mend.” And just like that, I was willing to follow along their journey.

Sort of spoiler, sort of warning: fans of a Happily Ever After, won’t be disappointed in this one.

 

Single State of Mind by Andi Dorfman

On a lighter note for all my single ladies out there, former Bachelorette Andi Dorfman‘s second memoir-type book chronicles her new life as a Manhattanite and attempting the crazy world of NYC dating. It had me laughing at the sheer reliability (which, should I be laughing? Whoops.) and perhaps wondering if that could be a future blog topic on here? We’ll see on that front…

Dorfman’s book picks up where her last left off (post-TV engagement and heartbreak) as she impulsively books a one-way flight to New York City to start a new chapter. She first must deal with the awful situation that is Manhattan apartment hunting and then beginning her life in the city. And what comes next once you get settled, figuring (or attempting to) out the *shudder* dating and dating app scene. She perfectly captures relatable New Yorker life for the single New York girls. A perfect light read to make fun of this crazy life we’ve chosen from living in the crowded little island of Manhattan.

And a preview of what’s next for me on my bookshelf?

From Notting Hill with Love… Actually by Ali McNamara

One: it’s literally named for some of the biggest (British) rom-coms in existence. So, McNamara has that going for her novel.

Two: it takes place in England. Which is one of my favorite places in the world, so that’s a plus.

Also, while it seems like a quintessential romance-type story, the back cover alludes that romantic story is far from easy, which makes it more realistic and something I can appreciate. Color me intrigued to continue reading!

 

 

Nine Women, One Dress by Jane L. Rosen

The back cover includes quotes such as, “A love letter to New York,” and “Love Actually meets Sex and the City,” and “A story for dreamers, the hopeless in love, or any woman or man in search of a new lease on life.” Sounds like a perfect, easygoing read for this fashion-obsessed Manhattanite.

The Heiresses by Sara Shepara

Hailed as a Pretty Little Liars for adults — I knew this was a must-read for me, especially in a PLL-less TV schedule.

Cut to the Seybrook sisters, a family of heiresses, clocked in mystery in intrigue as they wrestle with their feelings to uncover the truth about the their family before it’s too late. Sounds like the perfect read for all of us that miss the weekly six-season drama of PLL.

 

 

 

 

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

Because all the rom-com-esque novels can get basic after awhile, this family drama seemed equally enticing, especially considering I can relate (cheers to my crazy family back home in the Midwest– love you all).

The inside cover explains how “only the most extraordinary circumstances can reunite the Birch family for the holidays.” While the large family spends their first full family holiday together in years, they all have their own lives. I want to know all the dramatic details when  they are “locked down, cut off from the rest of humanity – and even decent Wi-Fi- and forced into each other’s orbits.” I can only imagine what secrets and drama will unfold. Time to start reading!

 

 

May 2018 inspire you all to keep on reading! 💖