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Getting Rooted in New Zealand

Title: Getting Rooted in New Zealand
Author: Jamie Baywood
Publisher: Createspace
Publication Date: May 5, 2013
ISBN: 9781482601909
Number of Pages: 189
How I Got It: From author
Format: Kindle 

Goodreads Summary: 
Craving change and lacking logic, at 26, Jamie, a cute and quirky Californian, impulsively moves to New Zealand to avoid dating after reading that the country’s population has 100,000 fewer men.

In her journal, she captures a hysterically honest look at herself, her past and her new wonderfully weird world filled with curious characters and slapstick situations in unbelievably bizarre jobs.

It takes a zany jaunt to the end of the Earth and a serendipitous meeting with a fellow traveler before Jamie learns what it really means to get rooted.

My Review:
After telling multiple interviewers how much she wants to stay in New Zealand and put down roots, author Jamie Baywood learns that rooting has a different definition in New Zealand. Many more language mix-ups and dating fiascos keep a reader laughing through this fun and relatable novel. Baywood tells stories of her crazy co-workers, crappy living conditions, and puzzling temp jobs in a diary entry style of writing that will crack you up. As most twenty year olds remember, the frustration at this point in your life is that you have no idea where your life will take you. Whether talking about bugs, McBrothels, or visas, Baywood shares her hilarious stories of being a 20 something Californian trying to figure out daily life in New Zealand. This is a great silly and giggly read. 
** I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review **

Gluten-Free, Hassle Free

Title: Gluten-Free, Hassle Free
Author: Marlisa Brown, MS, RD, CDE, CDN
Publisher: Demos Health
Publication Date: February 4, 2014 (originally published in 2009)
ISBN: 9781932603798
Number of Pages: 378
How I Got It: NetGalley
Format: Kindle

NetGalley Description:

Gluten-Free, Hassle Free is a simple, friendly, easy-to-follow guide packed with everything you need to know to live gluten-free, including delicious recipes, and practical solutions, strategies, and shortcuts. A registered dietician and chef, Marlisa Brown makes going gluten-free a snap. Completely revised and updated throughout and filled with new material, this edition includes:

  • Over 150 quick and easy recipes, with nutritional information, including gluten-free holiday classics
  • How to stock a gluten-free kitchen
  • If your child is gluten-free: practical advice, nutritious meals and tasty treats
  • Quick and easy substitutions to make your favorite foods gluten-free
  • How to read and translate current labels-and how to find the hidden gluten in food
  • Tips for eating out and on the go, including fast food options
  • Gluten-free products and where to find them
  • How to eat a balanced gluten-free diet
  • Advice for dining out at home and abroad
Plus more meal plans, shopping lists, safe food lists, tips for creating your own gluten-free meals and much more.

My Review: 
I personally do not have a gluten allergy or intolerance but wanted to read this book to find out if it might be something I would recommend to some of my friends that are. When some of my dining partners claim a gluten intolerance, I see some eyes roll around the table (and honestly I've done it myself.) After reading this book I am going to ask them what sort of testing they've had and which books they've read on the topic. I've learned there is a spectrum of reactions to gluten. One can have a sensitivity, an intolerance or celiac disease. Celiac disease affects "as many as 1 in 133 in North America alone--approximately 3 million people" and "as many as 83 percent of the people living with celiac disease will go undiagnosed." I learned that the disease affects every one differently and can cause a myriad of symptoms from stomach pains to depression. 
This book is a "one stop shop" that includes everything you need to know about gluten-free diets. Marlisa Brown educates, informs and assists a reader in straightforward, easy to understand sections. This book would be a great suggestion or gift for the gluten-free friend in your life. 

**I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

What We've Lost is Nothing

Title: What We've Lost is Nothing
Author: Rachel Louise Snyder
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: January 21, 2014
ISBN: tel:9781476725178
Number of Pages: 320
How I Got It:  NetGalley
Format: Kindle

NetGalley Summary:

In her striking debut novel, Rachel Louise Snyder chronicles the twenty-four hours following a mass burglary in a Chicago suburb and the suspicions, secrets, and prejudices that surface in its wake.
Nestled on the edge of Chicago’s gritty west side, Oak Park is a suburb in flux. To the west, theaters and shops frame posh houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. To the east lies a neighborhood still recovering from urban decline. In the center of the community sits Ilios Lane, a pristine cul-de-sac dotted with quiet homes that bridge the surrounding extremes of wealth and poverty.
On the first warm day in April, Mary Elizabeth McPherson, a lifelong resident of Ilios Lane, skips school with her friend Sofia. As the two experiment with a heavy dose of ecstasy in Mary Elizabeth’s dining room, a series of home invasions rocks their neighborhood. At first the community is determined to band together, but rising suspicions soon threaten to destroy the world they were attempting to create. Filtered through a vibrant pinwheel of characters, Snyder’s tour de force evokes the heightened tension of a community on edge as it builds toward one of the most explosive conclusions in recent fiction. Incisive and panoramic, What We’ve Lost is Nothing illuminates the evolving relationship between American cities and their suburbs, the hidden prejudices that can threaten a way of life, and the redemptive power of tolerance in a community torn asunder.

My Review:
My suburban neighborhood had a string of break-ins last autumn where the burglars were knocking on front doors and when no one answered they would break into the house from a back door or window (often unlocked,) open garage from inside the house, pull car into garage and load their vehicle with whatever they wanted. So when I read the description, my interest was piqued. Add to the shock of the middle of the day burglaries finger pointing and underlying racism of a community in transition and you are set for a combustible mix. What We've Lost is Nothing is a great novel for character studies. Snyder flushes out the suspicions that lie just below the surface among neighbors. This book would be a good book club choice and I'd like to hear from anyone else who has read it because I have a couple questions myself but won't post here for fear of spoilers.

** I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review **

Someday, Someday Maybe

Title: Someday, Someday Maybe
Author: Lauren Graham
Publisher: Ballantine 
Publication Date: April 30, 2013
ISBN: 9780345532749
Number of Pages: 344
How I Got It: Library
Format: CD

Goodreads Summary: 

A charming and laugh-out-loud novel by Lauren Graham, beloved star of Parenthood and Gilmore Girls, about an aspiring actress trying to make it in mid-nineties New York City.

Franny Banks is a struggling actress in New York City, with just six months left of the three year deadline she gave herself to succeed. But so far, all she has to show for her efforts is a single line in an ad for ugly Christmas sweaters and a degrading waitressing job. She lives in Brooklyn with two roommates-Jane, her best friend from college, and Dan, a sci-fi writer, who is very definitely not boyfriend material-and is struggling with her feelings for a suspiciously charming guy in her acting class, all while trying to find a hair-product cocktail that actually works. 
Meanwhile, she dreams of doing "important" work, but only ever seems to get auditions for dishwashing liquid and peanut butter commercials. It's hard to tell if she'll run out of time or money first, but either way, failure would mean facing the fact that she has absolutely no skills to make it in the real world. Her father wants her to come home and teach, her agent won't call her back, and her classmate Penelope, who seems supportive, might just turn out to be her toughest competition yet. 
Someday, Someday, Maybe is a funny and charming debut about finding yourself, finding love, and, most difficult of all, finding an acting job.

My Review: I was interested in reading this release ever since I first heard Lauren Graham mention she had a book coming out. I was a super fan of Gilmore Girls, and now watch Parenthood. I wasn't able to score an ARC last year of Someday, Someday, Maybe so I put it on my future TBR list. Like so many others in the TBR, it was passed over quite often, so when I spied the CD version at my library, I snatched it up. I like to listen to books on CD in my car and this is the exact type I prefer: light and funny. Franny Banks is struggling to be an actress in NYC. Her misadventures at casting calls and on stage are awkwardly hilarious and comparable to Bridget Jones. Graham's narration lends an additional edge for the listener as she delivers each scene in her signature style. This novel is a great choice if you are looking for a silly read. 

While Beauty Slept

Title: While Beauty Slept
Author: Elizabeth Blackwell
Publisher: Putnam / Amy Einhorn
Publication Date: February 20, 2014
ISBN: 9780399166235
Number of Pages: 421
How I Got It: from publisher

PR Release: Elizabeth Blackwell's While Beauty Slept revisits the Sleeping Beauty story, spinning a dark and compelling tale of palace intrigue, black magic, and treachery. Putting her own twist on the childhood classic, Blackwell crafts a deeply textured story of power and empowerment, creating an unforgettable heroine whose own journey to wisdom plays out against heartache, love and betrayal. "I am not the sort of person about whom strories are told." And so begins Elise Dalriss's story. When she hears her great-granddaughter recount a minstrel's tale about a beautiful princess asleep in a tower, it pushes open a door to the past, a door Elise has long kept locked. For Elise was the companion to the real princess wo slumbered--and she is the only one left who know what actually happened so many years ago. Told with many years' hindsight by the now elderly Elise, While Beauty Slept has the narrative power of a stroy that has been passed down fo centuries but is now finally told with the truth.  

My review: I was so excited to read this book. Bracing for the second snowstorm in two weeks, I stocked up on supplies and we all planned on just hunkering down at home. I snuggled up and read the best retelling of Sleeping Beauty I could ever imagine. I'm not a fan of sweeping, sighing romances and too often fairy tale retellings are too sappy for me. The main character of While Beauty Slept is not the princess but instead a village girl who leaves her childhood farm to work in the castle. Beginning as a chambermaid and rising through the castle caste system to become the closest person to the royal family, Elise Dalriss is constantly questioning everyone's motives. This story has everything a great fairy tale should have: a castle, doting townspeople, and a loving king and queen, but also: twin sisters practicing herbal medicine and dark arts, womanizing knights, and betrayals. I compare this book to Mists of Avalon with an upstairs/downstairs theme because Elise is a servant but in direct contact with the royal family. 55 years ago, Disney adapted Grimm's Sleeping Beauty for the big screen and this year Maleficent releases in May.  Blackwell's timing for this release is perfect. I read this book in paperback version and I suggest reading it in the same format if possible because this book begs you to cuddle up with it at night for a grown up bedtime story.

**  I received this book in exchange for an honest review **

The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress

Title: The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress
Author: Ariel Lawhon
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: January 28, 2014
ISBN: 9780385537629
Number of Pages: 307
How I Got It: She Reads February Selection

A wickedly entertaining novel that reconsructs one of America's most famous unsolved mysteries-Justice Joseph Crater's disappearance in 1930-as seen through the eyes of the three women who knew him best. 
Stella Crater, the judge's wife, is the picture of propriety draped in long pearls and the latest Chanel. Ritzi, a leggy showgirl with Broadway aspirations, thinks moonlighting in the judge's bed is the quickest way off the chorus line. Maria Simon, the dutiful maid, has Judge Crater to thank for her husbnd's recent promotion to detective for the NYPD. Meanwhile, Judge Crater is equally indebted to Tammany Hall leaders and the city's most notorious gangster; Owney "The Killer" Madden. 
Then, on a sultry summer night, as rumors circulated about the judge's involvement in wide-scale political corruption, Judge Crater stepped into a cab and disappeared without a trace. Or did he?
After thirty-nine years of necessary duplicity, Stella Crater is finally ready to reveal what she knows. Sliding into a corner booth at Club Abbey, the site of many absinthe-soaked afairs and the judge's favorite watering hole back in the day, Stella begins to tell a tale--of greed, lust, and deceit. As the story unfolds, Stella, Ritzi, and Maria slyly break out of their prescribed roles, and it becomes clear that these three women know a lot more than they'd initially let on.
With a layered intensity and tipsy spins through subterranean jazz clubs, The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress is a gripping tale that will transport reader to a bygone era. But beneath the Art Deco skyline and the intoxicating smell of smoke and whiskey, the question of why Judge Crater disappeared lingers seductively until a twist in the very last pages. 

My review:
****aaaaahhhhhhh*****(Is that how you type out the Hallelujah sound?)
Ariel Lawhon transports readers to 1930's New York gatherings full of corrupt police, politicians, and showgirls. Too often movies and books depicting this era take on the masculine angle of guns and gangsters with girls on the side and while women have often been embroiled in controversies and conspiracies, the focus is generally on the men. Until now. Lawhon's three female main characters exemplify the three layers of social strata of the time: politician's wife, working class woman, and showgirl. Each of these women have problems that the other women have no concept of, but they are all linked in that they each have ties to Judge Joseph Crater. 
The three storylines are all equally interesting. Often I find myself reading a book with multiple storylines and will rush through one storyline to get to the next. While I must admit that Ritzi (the mistress) was my favorite, Maria (the maid,) and Stella (the wife) each found themselves stuck in tough situations that I found myself squirming empathetically to find out what they were going to do. As for the judge.....I haven't loved to hate a character so much in a long time! Each time I thought I had figured out what really happened to him, the story took another turn. I was flipping the final pages with a passion to know what happened next while simultaneously savoring every word. I also especially loved the author's notes at the end of the novel supplying information about the characters and settings in the story because I found myself wondering throughout my reading which parts were true and which were provided through Lawhon's imagination. 
The characters, settings, and multiple story angles made The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress the best reading vacation I have been on in a long time. So grab a copy, pour a glass of champagne, and prepare to travel back to noir 1930's New York. 

** I received this book in exchange for an honest review **

Intimates and Fools

Title: Intimates and Fools
Author: Laura Madeline Wiseman 
Artwork: Sally Deskins
Publisher: Les Femmes Folles Books
Publication Date: January 2014
ISBN: 9780615947495
 Number of Pages: 38
How I Got It:  Sally Deskins

Sally Deskins' first illustrated book, Intimates and Fools couples body art and poetry. Intimates and Fools intimates the complicating pairing of the female form and cultural notions of beauty while playfully seeking to bare and bear such burdens of their weight. Poetry by Laura Madeline Wiseman; body art and illustrations by Sally Deskins.

My Review: 

Intimates and Fools is a cheeky, fun read that explores women's complicated relationship with our undergarments and breasts. We are poked, prodded and pinched into our bras and can't wait to take them off. We shop for the newest colors and styles, shuck out small fortunes, and then curse their restrictiveness. Laura Madeline Wiseman's poetry will have you conspiratorially chuckling and each page of Sally Deskins' painted illustrations are frame-worthy. This short book is a great gift for your sister, best friend or mother. Or better yet, treat yourself...and your boobs!

Buy on Amazon and check out Laura Madeline Wiseman and Sally Deskins' websites. 

**  I received this book in exchange for an honest review and received no additional compensation **