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Foodie Friday: The Restaurant Critic's Wife by Elizabeth LaBan

Title: The Restaurant Critic's Wife
Author: Elizabeth LaBan
Publisher: Lake Union
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
ISBN: 9781503947757
Number of Pages: 306
How I Got It: Netgalley
Format: Kindle
Goodreads Description:
Lila Soto has a master’s degree that’s gathering dust, a work-obsessed husband, two kids, and lots of questions about how exactly she ended up here. In their new city of Philadelphia, Lila’s husband, Sam, takes his job as a restaurant critic a little too seriously. To protect his professional credibility, he’s determined to remain anonymous. Soon his preoccupation with anonymity takes over their lives as he tries to limit the family’s contact with anyone who might have ties to the foodie world. Meanwhile, Lila craves adult conversation and some relief from the constraints of her homemaker role. With her patience wearing thin, she begins to question everything: her decision to get pregnant again, her break from her career, her marriage—even if leaving her ex-boyfriend was the right thing to do. As Sam becomes more and more fixated on keeping his identity secret, Lila begins to wonder if her own identity has completely disappeared—and what it will take to get it back.My Review:
I think the concept of being a food critic is fascinating and it would be fun to be "undercover" but the restaurant critic of this novel was pretty much a top notch ass. The restaurant critic's wife, Lila, seems smart enough and I wanted to cheer her on in her pursuit of something beyond being a wife and mother but she just was too eager to bow to her husband's demands. Overall, this was pretty "meh." I didn't really love it but I didn't hate it enough to stop reading.
***Disclaimer:: I was given a copy of this release in exchange for an honest review. I received no additional compensation. ***

Review: ALL WOMEN ARE WHORES by Jezebelya Orobas

Title: All Women Are Whores
Author: Jezebelya Orobas
Publisher: Kindle publishing
Publication Date: June 6, 2016
Number of Pages: 95
How I Got It: from publicist
Format: Kindle
Goodreads Description:
The new generation feminist knows that intelligence is the greatest female power, and sexuality comes second.
And yet, society has stolen both of those powers from women, rendering them helpless damsels in distress. But now women have a way of empowering not only themselves, but other women in order to accomplish real social change.
This book will tell you how to:
- Fight female exploitation in the fashion & cosmetics industry.
- Avoid the pitfalls of the unattainable image of beauty.
- Enjoy the best sex you'll ever have.
- Become more successful than any man in the world of business.
- Establish the new empire of female leadership.
- Be the woman you were born to be!
Yes, all women are whores. At least, that's what the media would have you believe. In order for all woman to stop being whores, some drastic changes need to be made. First, internally, by making peace with and unconditionally loving themselves. Then, by coming together in small groups of non-whores, as a group who trust and love one another and are committed to improving the community. Lastly, real social change is only attainable when these like-minded communities of non-whores join together with a shared goal.
In this book we will explore those changes, what they might looks like, and how to put them into action. We will look at the cause of female whorishness and illusions perpetrated by whores like the media, government, and religion which are used to oppress women so that they will remain whores.

My Review:
First of all, the dedication in this book is everything:
"This book is dedicated to any woman who has ever been called a whore. Keep your chin up, darling."
After moving past the shock factor of the title, readers see author Jezebelya Orobas' mission to draw attention to the judgement of women in the media and their personal lives. Orobas draws on her own life and experiences to provide first hand accounts and advice. While this book will infuriate most readers, it will also offer some wonderful pieces of advice. This book is a great accompaniment to any women's studies courses or a perfect short read for young feminists. 

***Disclaimer:: I was given a copy of this release in exchange for an honest review. I received no additional compensation. ***

Foodie Friday:: Review: ROSE WATER AND ORANGE BLOSSOMS by Maureen Abood

Title: Rose Water and Orange Blossoms: Fresh & Classic Recipes from my Lebanese Kitchen
Author: Maureen Abood
Publisher: Running Press
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
ISBN: 9780762454860
Number of Pages: 256
How I Got It: Netgalley
Format: Kindle 
Netgalley Description:
Pomegranates and pistachios. Floral waters and cinnamon. Bulgur wheat, lentils, and succulent lamb. These lush flavors of Maureen Abood's childhood, growing up as a Lebanese-American in Michigan, inspired Maureen to launch her award-winning blog, Rose Water & Orange Blossoms. Here she revisits the recipes she was reared on, exploring her heritage through its most-beloved foods and chronicling her riffs on traditional cuisine. Her colorful culinary guides, from grandparents to parents, cousins, and aunts, come alive in her stories like the heady aromas of the dishes passed from their hands to hers. Taking an ingredient-focused approach that makes the most of every season’s bounty, Maureen presents more than 100 irresistible recipes that will delight readers with their evocative flavors: Spiced Lamb Kofta Burgers, Avocado Tabbouleh in Little Gems, and Pomegranate Rose Sorbet. Weaved throughout are the stories of Maureen’s Lebanese-American upbringing, the path that led her to culinary school and to launch her blog, and life in Harbor Springs, her lakeside Michigan town.
My Review:
Rose Water and Orange Blossoms teaches readers about another culture through mouthwatering photos, stories, and recipes. Ordered by courses (i.e. appetizers, main, dessert, etc.,) each section features family stories of the author's life and Abood is sure to share facts about Lebanese culture and where to find some of the ingredients that may not be in your pantry. I will definitely be reaching into this cookbook the next time I am looking for something new to try. It must be noted that the pictures alone are worth checking this book out. I have this in electronic form but will be purchasing a physical copy, not just for what's inside but that cover! This would be a beautiful and delicious addition to anyone's cookbook collection. 

***Disclaimer:: I was given a copy of this release in exchange for an honest review. I received no additional compensation. ***

A Fun Book about Murder:: Review of JANE STEELE by Lyndsey Faye

Title: Jane Steele 
Author: Lyndsey Faye
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publication Date: March 22, 2016
ISBN: 9781472217554
Number of Pages: 432
How I Got It: direct from publisher
Format: paperback
Goodreads Description:

Reader, I murdered him.

Like the heroine of the novel she adores, Jane Steele suffers cruelly at the hands of her aunt and schoolmaster. And like Jane Eyre, they call her wicked - but in her case, she fears the accusation is true. When she flees, she leaves behind the corpses of her tormentors. A fugitive navigating London's underbelly, Jane rights wrongs on behalf of the have-nots whilst avoiding the noose. Until an advertisement catches her eye. Her aunt has died and the new master at Highgate House, Mr Thornfield, seeks a governess. Anxious to know if she is Highgate's true heir, Jane takes the position and is soon caught up in the household's strange spell. When she falls in love with the mysterious Charles Thornfield, she faces a terrible dilemma: can she possess him - body, soul and secrets - and what if he discovers her murderous past?
My Review:
Pitched as a gothic retelling of Jane Eyre, I was intrigued. Not that I especially love Jane Eyre or retellings but I do love strong female protagonists and I was hoping Jane Steele wouldn't let me down...and she did not! At the story's opening, Jane is told by her mother that she is the true heir to Highgate House, even though they live in a cottage behind the manor. Upon her mother's death, Jane's aunt arranges for the headmaster of a boarding school to come take Jane away. Physically fleeing the headmaster and the arrangement, Jane finds herself in the woods but not alone. Her "cousin" attacks her, Jane fights back, and he is killed. In shock from committing murder and mourning her mother, Jane agrees to attend the boarding school in hopes of being a better person. Unfortunately, the boarding school is not simply strict, it is closer to a prison where girls are starved and abused by the deviant headmaster. This all happens within the first 100 pages and the pace only accelerates with more of Jane's (mis)adventures. I do not want to give a full summary of the book, but it must be said that Jane does not stand for mistreatment and can most certainly hold her own. I would recommend this book to anyone who, like me, loves a strong female character, especially in historical fiction. It is not even necessary to have read Jane Eyre. While the story and Jane Eyre are referenced by Jane Steele, a reader would not miss out if they have not read the book which this novel is based on. 
***Disclaimer:: I was given a copy of this release in exchange for an honest review. I received no additional compensation. ***

Review: LILLIAN ON LIFE by Alison Jean Lester

Title: Lillian on Life
Author: Alison Jean Lester
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publication Date: May 10, 2016
ISBN: 9780425276204
Number of Pages: 240
How I Got It: direct from publisher
Format: paperback
Goodreads Description:
This is the story of Lillian, a single woman reflecting on her choices and imagining her future. Born in the Midwest in the 1930s; Lillian lives, loves, and works in Europe in the fifties and early sixties; she settles in New York and pursues the great love of her life in the sixties and seventies. Now it’s the early nineties, and she’s taking stock. Throughout her life, walking the unpaved road between traditional and modern choices for women, Lillian grapples with parental disappointment and societal expectations, wins and loses in love, and develops her own brand of wisdom. Lillian on Life lifts the skin off the beautiful, stylish product of an era to reveal the confused, hot-blooded woman underneath.
My Review:
Lillian is a very modern for her time and ours as well. After Vassar, she heads to Germany to type for an author, is then a secretary for the Paris bureau, before hopping to London and then New York. She has a series of lovers but has never married or had children. The book tenderly begins with Lillian, age 57, waking up next to her long-time, married lover, but it is on page 19, when Lillian reflects on her first year at college, that I fall in love with her:
"The phone was quiet for the first few weeks of my first year, so I spent most evenings in the library rather than listening for the phone at the entrance to the residence hall. I was there to study after all. I'd signed up for more than the required number of credits, in order to do a double major--early childhood education and English literature. Lots of girls were doing a major and a minor, or even a major and two minors. But what kind of word is that, minor?  A minor in religion, or philosophy? It's like taking only a thin slice of fruitcake. What if the cherry is on the other side of the cake and you never taste it? I was too hungry for that."
Lillian is smart and practical. She isn't thumbing her nose at society's conventions with her actions, rather she simply does what she wishes. Her calm, composed intelligence shine through in each of her chapters of advice on life. The short chapters of this slim debut novel made this a quick read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I will definitely pick up author Alison Jean Lester's next release.

***Disclaimer:: I was given a copy of this release in exchange for an honest review. I received no additional compensation. ***

Happy Paperback Pub Day to Chevy Stevens and THOSE GIRLS

Happy Paperback Pub Day to Chevy Stevens and THOSE GIRLS, 

When THOSE GIRLS initially released last year, Tamara and I featured it in our Book Talk with R & T. I reviewed it here and Tamara reviewed it here. We had so much fun featuring it and got a lot of great feedback that week, especially with our interview with Chevy,  Dream Movie Cast, and Spoilers Talk. Check out our thoughts in the links, read more about THOSE GIRLS on Chevy's website and grab a copy of one of the best page-turners I've ever read! 

Chevy Stevens' "most powerful, emotional thriller yet— a story of survival…and revenge.
Life has never been easy for the three Campbell sisters. Jess, Courtney, and Dani live on a remote ranch in Western Canada where they work hard and try to stay out of the way of their father’s fists. One night, a fight gets out of hand and the sisters are forced to go on the run, only to get caught in an even worse nightmare when their truck breaks down in a small town. Events spiral out of control and a chance encounter with the wrong people leaves them in a horrific and desperate situation. They are left with no choice but to change their names and create new lives.
Eighteen years later, they are still trying to forget what happened that summer when one of the sisters goes missing and they are pulled back into their past.
This time there’s nowhere left to run.
As much of a thriller as it is a deep exploration of the bonds among sisters, Those Girls is an unforgettable portrait of desperation, loyalty, and evil."

Review: THE GIRLS by Emma Cline

Title: The Girls
Author: Emma Cline
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: June 14, 2016
ISBN: 9780812998603
Number of Pages: 355
How I Got It: from publisher
Format: paperback

Goodreads Description: 
Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong. Emma Cline’s remarkable debut novel is gorgeously written and spellbinding, with razor-sharp precision and startling psychological insight. The Girls is a brilliant work of fiction—and an indelible portrait of girls, and of the women they become.

My Review:
Influenced by the famous, 60s Manson murders, The Girls is getting a lot of buzz. Maybe that's why it took me a while to pick it up. Where hype tends to draw others in, it often pushes me away. So it sat taunting me from my TBR pile since January. I initially accepted the offer of a review copy because I was interested in how a 14-year-old would describe life at this commune and where the line was drawn that would push its members over the edge, so I was going to give it a shot for that alone. As soon as I began reading, I was completely submerged in Evie and in awe of Cline's ability to so perfectly describe being a young girl always waiting for life to begin, looking for the perfect formula that would unlock the secrets to where you stood in the world, measuring yourself against every other girl and painfully aware of where you stand with every boy. With only one friend, an absent father, and a mother who is rarely home, it was easy to see how Evie found solace at the ranch, a sense of belonging. There is also a current smaller story that frames the main story in The Girls. Cline's very carefully planted parallel, Sasha, shows the dangerous sacrifices young girls will make to be loved, accepted, and included. This book really did blow me away and it really is a great summer time read. The hype is much warranted. 

Emma Cline lives in New York and grew up in California, The New York Times described The Girls as the buzziest title at the 2014 Book Fair, Stylist and the Guardian listed it as one to watch in 2016. It has sold into 35 territories and Scott Rudin (Social Network/ Frances Ha/True Grit) has bought the film rights.

***Disclaimer:: I was given a copy of this release in exchange for an honest review. I received no additional compensation. ***

Review: A Dangerous Age by Kelly Killoren Bensimon

Title: A Dangerous Age
Author: Kelly Killoren Bensimon
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
ISBN: 9781501136115
Number of Pages: 368
How I Got It: NetGalley
Format: Kindle
NetGalley Description:
Couture royalty meets downtown grit and heady artists mingle with freewheeling socialites in A Dangerous Age, a sophisticated, indulgent, and delicious novel of contemporary New York City that women of all ages will devour.
It’s the dog days of a sweltering Manhattan summer, and four sophisticated best friends who once took New York by storm are secretly falling apart at the seams. Lucy’s marriage to a renowned artist is slowly crumbling, with an explosive secret that threatens them both. Sarah, in the middle of auditioning for an auspicious new television show, realizes that her socialite standing is in jeopardy after countless disastrous events. Billy—a queen in the kitchen—has finally left her former life behind to become a highbrow cuisine artist. And Lotta, a knockout downtown art dealer, spends her free time guzzling cocktails in both the grittiest and most expensive clubs around town—but now, she’s taken it a little too far.
In this addicting and refreshing comedy of manners reminiscent of Edith Wharton, Lucy, Sarah, Billy, and Lotta go to all ends to hide their troubles in a city that worships only the young, twentysomething it-girl. But in the end, there’s no denying that these women have all entered a very dangerous age...and who knows how they’ll emerge on the other side.
My Review:
I was beyond impressed with this novel. I wasn't sure what to expect from a Real Housewife. Well, I expected fluff. Even though the storyline follows a familiar set-up (4 women in NYC) it did not rely on cupcakes and shoes to carry the pace. Each of the women have their own problems but this story is told from Lucy's point of view. She is funny and rational. I didn't roll my eyes at any of her thoughts or statements (like I tend to do with a lot of "women's fiction" protagonists.) She is supportive of her artist husband's routines and quirks but when their sex life is all but forgotten, it's easy to think that he may be having an affair with one of his models. There are a few "secrets" that I was so happy to have not figured out until they were exposed. I've been wanting a "women's fiction" release that was not sappy sweet perfection, beach houses in the rain, and all the same boring scenes. A Dangerous Age hit the mark. 
***Disclaimer:: I was given a copy of this release in exchange for an honest review. I received no additional compensation. ***

Spotlight and Giveaway: Heart of Stone by James W. Ziskin

        Spotlight and Giveaway: 

HEART OF STONE by James W. Ziskin

In the waning days of a lazy August holiday, Ellie Stone is enjoying a bright Adirondack-lake morning. Nearby, two men plummet to their deaths on the rocks below, just a few feet short of the water of a dangerous diving pool. A tragic accident, it seems. But the state police quickly establish that the two victims--one, a stranger to the lake and, the other, a teenaged boy from a nearby band camp--surely didn't know each other. That anomaly is strange enough, but what really perplexes Ellie is the out-of-place station wagon parked twenty yards from the edge of the cliff.Wading into a slippery morass of gone-to-ground fellow travelers, free-love intellectuals, rabid John Birchers, and charismatic evangelicals, Ellie must navigate old grudges and Cold War passions, lost ideals and betrayed loves. She sticks her nose where it's unwanted, rattling nerves and putting herself in jeopardy. But this time, it's her heart that's at risk.

For more information check these sites out: 

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Book Spotlight & Giveaway: UNTETHERED by Julie Lawson Timmer

I sobbed my way through Five Days Left and am so excited to spotlight Julie Lawson Timmer's latest release, Untethered! Be sure to enter for your chance to win one of two copies below! 

Readers of Jojo Moyes, Christina Baker Kline, or Anna Quindlen will find themselves enthralled by this exquisitely-wrought story of love, loss, and motherhood that author Elisabeth Egan has called “a poignant page-turner.” In UNTETHERED (G.P. Putnam’s Sons; June 7, 2016), the issues of adoption, step-parenting, and child grief are at the forefront, challenging the way we think about the construction of families and the love that binds them.

Char Hawthorn has a great life. A freelance editor and college professor who is married to a wonderful man and is stepmother to his spirited fifteen-year-old daughter, Allie, in suburban Michigan, Char loves her family and the joyful rhythms of work and parenting. But everything changes when her husband unexpectedly dies in a car accident. In the eyes of the law, the word "mother" and all the rights that go along with it belong to Lindy, Allie's self-absorbed biological mother, who wants her daughter to move and live with her in California. Meanwhile, Allie begins to struggle in school and tensions mount between step-mother and step-daughter, though Allie’s connection to young Morgan Crew, a ten-year-old girl whom she tutors, seems to keep her grounded. Morgan, who was adopted out of foster care after a traumatically neglect-filled early childhood, self-harms and her adoptive parents are at a loss what to do. When Morgan disappears, Allie is distraught and takes matters into her own hands, leaving Char to face an irate Lindy, a future without Allie, and the question of Morgan—suddenly caught, herself, in a terrible crack in the system. Viscerally poignant, and deeply resonate on many levels, UNTETHERED is a powerful story of the void between law and love, and a riveting portrait of motherhood and all it encompasses.
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