Book Review: All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin

With titles such as Something Borrowed and Baby Proof on her bibliography, Emily Giffin is hands down one of the queens of ‘chic-lit’ literature – next to JoJo Moyes and Sophie Kinsella of course.However, in her latest novel, All We Ever Wanted, Giffin begins
to stray from her roots. The result? One of the best novels that I’ve read this year.

All We Ever Wanted starts out with elite Nina Browning and her husband, Kirk. The couple are at one of their charity functions — a typical night out for the couple. Nina is a stay at home wife, whose charity and shopping fills her days, since husband Kirk makes more money than ever due to deals.

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However, across town, their 18 year-old son Finch makes the biggest mistake of his life. He takes a racist picture of a drunken girl passed out on a bed – Lyla Volpe – and has it sent around school. Soon enough, Finch’s parents have caught wind of what happened, and so has Finch’s school. This results in Finch losing everything he has ever worked for – including his coveted place in Princeton. As a result, we as the reader watch as the characters’ true morals come to show – and how money can never truly make you a good person.

Giffin tells this story through three points of view – Tom Volpe, Nina Browning, and Lyla Volpe. She does this quite well, as this adds a little something extra to the novel. As a reader, you get to see the point of view to what’s going on, whether it may be Lyla (the victim), or how the parents react. I liked hearing about what Nina’s processes
were, in addition to hearing about what it was like for Lyla. Hearing Nina’s point of view helped me understand the effects of this on the parents of the person who did it — something that can instantly be forgotten.

What I really liked was the character development of Nina Browning. At the start of the novel, Nina was yourtypical wealthy Nashville wife. However, throughout the novel, she
slowly sees the light on a lot of issues – including her husband’s morals, and what it’s doing to her son. Furthermore, I think the incident removed some of the blindness Nina had for the people around her. While I am not sure if this is realistic, I thought that Giffin did an amazing job with that. I won’t give anything away here, but you’re in for a surprise as the novel unfolds.

The only problem that I had with the novel was this – Lyla’s attraction to Finch. Yes, she’s 15 years old. However, she harbored a crush on him throughout much of the novel – despite the fact that he took this picture that was downright humiliating. Finch lied his way through everything – just to clear his name. Yet, in Lyla’s eyes, he was perfect. Now, this could be the fact that she’s 15 years old and naïve. However, I would be more angry than forgiving to the person who took that kind of picture of me.

With that being said, I still really loved this book. It was superbly written, and Giffin kept readers engage from the first chapter down to the last sentence. Therefore, I highly recommend that if you’re looking for a great book for your beach trip or summer travels, that you pick up All We Ever Wanted. Chances are, you’ll be reaching for her other books next (which I can tell you from experience that they are just as well written).

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Book Review: Save The Date by Morgan Matson

Your wedding day is the one day where everything is supposed to go right. At least, you hope so.

However, that’s not the case with Charlie’s sister’s wedding in Morgan Matson’s Save the Date. Between a fallen wedding cake, a faulty alarm, and a wedding planner that hits the road the day before, it seems like the day can’t go right. With that being said, Charlie is excited because she gets a chance to hang out with all five of her siblings altogether — even estranged sibling Mike.

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My copy of Save the Date — it’s a signed edition! 

But the wedding isn’t the only craziness that is happening in Charlie’s life. In addition to preparing for her sister’s wedding, she’s getting ready for college and figuring out where she is going to go next year. Her parents are selling their childhood home, and the comic strip that her mother had worked on for the past 25 years is now drawing to a close as well.

With that being said, this novel isn’t about a wedding or a happy family. I mean it is, but it’s so much more than that. It is also a coming of age, watching a woman grow up kind of story. I mean, throughout the novel you watch Charlie mature, whether it may be coming to the light with her childhood crush, or seeing her siblings with their faults — not as superheroes.

Overall, I thought that this was a great book. Usually, whenever I read a book where everything seems to go wrong, I begin to get frustrated. This was not the case. Tucked between the mini disasters were those heartfelt family moments that only come with the wedding territory. For instance, the Grants played capture the flag the night before Linnie’s wedding.

In addition, I enjoyed how the different story lines flowed. There’s a lot going on in this novel. You have the wedding, you have Charlie figuring out where she stands with Jesse and where to go to college, and the house being sold. But, there’s so much more than that. For instance, you have the end of Charlie’s mom’s comic, Grant Central Station. You see an unexpected romance form. And, you see one end.

What was also cool — and something that Matson always does in her books — was that you get to see a character in a previous novel. This time, you see Andie Walker from the Unexpected Everything. In addition, you see her father, who is now the governor, make a few appearances. I always love it when authors do that — it’s kind of neat to see how your favorite characters in your novels are, without reading another book about them.

However, while I enjoyed the book, I still wondered if it was realistic. Having never really been in a wedding or have gotten married, I wouldn’t have experienced the trials of planning a wedding. But, for all of you who have, let me ask you this — it is realistic for everything to go wrong on your wedding day?

Other than that, it was definitely one of my favorite reads of the year. Furthermore, if you’re a fan of Sarah Dessen, Jenny Han, or Jennifer Smith, than Save the Date should also be on your summer reading list.

Book Review: Love and Luck by Jenna Evans Welch

I don’t know about you, but I have a list a mile long of places that I want to travel to. One of them, Italy, was the setting of Jenna Evans Welch’s debut novel, Love & Gelato. Another place is Ireland, which is the setting of her latest novel, Love & Luck.

Love & Luck in some ways is like a sequel to Love & Gelato. The protagonist, Addie, is Lina’s best friend, who was the protagonist of Love & Gelato. But, don’t be fooled. It’s not a sequel to Love & Gelato by any means.

The novel begins at Addie’s aunt’s destination wedding, which is in Ireland. At the wedding, Addie and her brother Ian have an argument that gets resolved by Addie pushing her brother down a hill. However, before the reception, Addie’s mother gives them a challenge — to behave without incident while the two visit Addie’s best friend Lina while she’s in Italy or she’s revoking all their privileges to play sports. Since both of them are athletes, this is the ultimate punishment.

However, here’s the thing — Addie and Ian are usually the closer of the sibling group. But, after Addie dates football bad boy Cubby — which had an unfortunate ending — the two are drifting apart. This leads Addie to pick up the book Ireland and the Heartbroken, which isn’t your typical guidebook.

Right before Addie is destined to leave for Italy, she discovers Ian to be missing along with his suitcase. She finds him on his way to the ultimate music festival, where his favorite band will be giving one last performance. Addie follows him, which leads her down a rabbit hole of the unexpected as she heals her broken heart. Along with her brother’s friend, she begins to complete the heartbreak homework to ultimately heal the broken heart that she arrived with.

This is easily one of the best books that I’ve read this year. Furthermore, this book is the perfect read for summer. You can easily get lost in it, just as Addie gets lost in the Irish hills. The book is one of those books you can easily finish in a few days, but it’s one of those books that can become your favorite.

What’s unique about the book is that each chapter is sandwiched with an excerpt from Ireland and the Heartbroken. Now, you may be wondering whether or not this may take away or add to the novel. Personally, I liked it. It served as a preview for the upcoming destination. Furthermore, I also think that it also helped with the tone of the book. It helped Addie come to terms with what’s going on with her life at home.

I also liked that this book didn’t reveal all at once. It added to the intrigue of what happened to Addie to lead her to that point. At the beginning of the book, Addie and her brother are arguing. By the end, their relationship is restored.

The one thing that I didn’t like about the book though was the ending. I personally felt that it was a little rushed. I would have liked to see everything go full circle just a bit more. Maybe show more about Addie and Ian as they go back to school, and face the music.

But, with that being said, if you’re a fan of young adult literature, travel or even both, I highly recommend you reading Love and Luck.

Why Everyone Should Read Lauren Graham’s New Book

I am a huge fan of Lauren Graham. I’ve watched Gilmore Girls over a thousand times, and am gradually getting through Parenthood (I am terrible at watching television shows).

But, what I also love about Lauren Graham is her books. When it comes to celebrities writing books, there are some of them that just aren’t that great. But, that isn’t the case when it comes to Graham. Up to date, she’s written three: Someday, Someday, Maybe, Talking as Fast as I Can: from Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between), and the newest, In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It.

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Hands down, I will say this: Graham is a talented writer. Her memoir was entertaining, but her fiction was enchanting. She really captured the voice of a character who is struggling to make it as an actor in New York in the ’90s, which made the book irresistible. Maybe, I’ll credit it to her having a Bachelor of Arts in English, but she’s a pretty good writer.

Her third book, In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It is different then the her others in simply it’s not a story. It’s a speech.

Basically, the novel is a transcript of the commencement speech from her high school, Langley High in 2017. Additionally, it also has the forward explaining why she’s publishing it.

In real life, I’ve found progress lives in small and seemingly uneventful accomplishments: the homework you’ve finished, the journal you remembered to write in, the same run you took on the same path yesterday. These things might not always seem like much, but over time, they add up to something bigger. They become the foundation of your life, building blocks on the way to all those milestone moments. — Lauren Graham, In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It

The novel contains both the transcript and drawings. It’s fairly short — a little over 40 pages — and is something that readers can easily devour in one sitting. But, while it’s a short little book, the impact is far greater than it’s size. It’s one of those books that’s inspiration, and deserves a rightful place in any young adult’s book collection — whether they are navigating high school, graduating high school and starting college, graduating college, or even a young adult trying to figure out their rightful place in this world.

Why?

It gives you wisdom in every little delicious word. While Graham tells stories of her journey to success, she gives a few nuggets to inspiration to readers. These include: be confident, don’t worry so much, and give it your all to get to your dream, even if you’re not there yet.

In the meantime, perform every job as if you’re being well paid, as someone who probably wasn’t paying me told me. Which is to say: why not treat yourself now as the success you dream of becoming? Respect yourself and your work as you would if you were being paid to be the boss, and I’ll bet you’ll climb the latter faster — My favorite passage of Lauren Graham’s In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It

As 23 (soon to be 24) year old millennial reading this, I found that this book was the perfect mixture of encouragement and entertainment. Sure, I bought the book because it was by Lauren Graham and my mom gave me a Barnes and Noble giftcard. But, it doesn’t change my opinion.

It’s hard being a millennial and navigating through the world. It’s even harder when you lack the confidence in yourself. Therefore, sometimes you need a reminder. This book is that reminder that you can do anything. When you put this book down, I guarantee that you’ll feel empowered enough to say yes, I can do this.

Love yourself, and what you’re doing, even if you’re not yet at the place you hope to land. Let the joy be the thing that drive you, and I bet you’ll get there faster. Give yourself permission to make mistakes. Those mistakes are as valuable as the triumphs. — Lauren Graham, In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It

With that being said, that book is that reminder when something doesn’t go as planned, that your day will in fact come. It might not be as fast as someone else, but the key thing is not to give up. That’s something many need to hear — whether you’re a new college graduate trying to find a job or moving into that dorm that first time.

Furthermore, the cover is positive too. Whenever I look at it, it just reminds me of flowers and birds. Which reminds me of springtime — something that makes me happy.

In conclusion, don’t worry about it. You already have The Most. And you’re already one of the The Best.  — Lauren Graham, In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It

In conclusion, if you’re looking for a great graduate gift — or just need some inspiration for yourself — then this book might be your little guidebook. Or, at the very least, an entertaining read.

You Are A Badass Book Review

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One of the reasons why I love reading so much is because books truly have the impact to change your life. This is why You are a Bad Ass by Jen Sincero is one of my favorite books.

The book is not your mother’s self help book, and is truly unlike any other. It approaches the topic of changing your life and giving you the momentum to actually go out there and do it. Sincero approaches each with of the 27 chapters with wit and is extremely entertaining. In fact, one of the chapters is called “Your Brain is Your Bitch.” Take that, Freud.

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What I like most about this book is that it reminds you that you have the tools to change your life, and that it is up to you to change the way you think to get change. The attitude of being a bad-ass is something that you can bleed into your daily life – whether it may be doing something because you want to, or deserve it, or going for things because you want to. She also prompts you to stop thinking about doing something, and start doing it. Being a badass means forgoing any feedback from others, and doing things your way. This is something each and every one of us could use more of.

Furthermore, this book also talks about going out of your comfort zone, and trying something that you always wanted to try for the hell of it, whether it may be sky diving or taking an art class. By doing things for the hell of it, Sincero stated that you learn to enjoy life, and it’s worth it.

However, what is unique about this book is how Sincero ends each chapter with two simple words – love yourself. Two simple words that truly have an impact on a reader who may need to hear them during a time of turbulence.

A little background information about my relationship with this book: it was actually recommended to me by my therapist. Since I read it back in September, my attitude towards life has done a complete 180. For example, when something in my life isn’t working – a relationship, job, for instance – I refocus my energies to figure out why that is and what can I do to find a resolution. Sincero writes that when you don’t you allow others (and yourself) to feel sorry for you. But, instead of allowing that to happen, you get out and do something about it, thus allowing change in.

Because of reading this book, I was able to have the attitude to go out and get what I want, and that I actually deserve it. Why, you may ask? Because I am truly a badass, and completely worth it.

Reading this book made me want to kick ass and get off of mine to do something about my life. With that being said, I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking to change their life or is unhappy with it. Why? Because you too, are a badass.

Milk and Honey Lives Up To The Hype

Out of the 64 books that I have read this year, there is one book in particular I will definitely read again. That book is “Milk and Honey”by Rupi Kaur.

I had wanted to read this book for a while now-it had been very highly recommended by a several different friends, and after receiving a gift card (which was a graduation gift), I had finally decided to purchase it.

After finally getting my hands on the book, I eagerly finished my Hemingway novel I was reading, as I was anxious to finally read the words that everyone was buzzing about. It was worth the wait, and I consumed the book within an hour, as I was engrossed in Kaur’s beautiful prose.

“Milk and Honey” is a poetry book that is comprised of four parts-hurting, loving, breaking, and the healing, and some of the poems were accompanied by illustrations by Kaur.

The book talks about trauma, and about falling in and out of love, approaching heartbreak and self love in a way that everyone who has been in a relationship that has ended can relate to.

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Via The poem “Balance” appears in the fourth part, and offers a change of perspective of gratitude. 

Overall, I thought that Kaur did an amazing job with each poem, along the pictures that accompany the poems, as each of them enhances their meaning.

This book came with a lot of hype, and with books that come with the amount of hype that this book did, they often fall short.

However, with “Milk and Honey,” it did not only live up to the hype. It surpassed it.

I believe this book has all of the components to what makes a good book, as it draws you in to the point where you can not put it down, has something that pretty much everyone relate to, is well written, and is simply powerful. What I especially loved were the poems about strength, gratitude and learning to love yourself, because I felt both empowered and inspired after reading them.

Therefore, I recommend this book highly to everyone out there, no matter what gender you are. I especially recommend this book to someone who is going through a breakup or a heartbreak, because of the comfort it offers to those who need it.

So, if you are looking for a good book to spend your holiday gift cards on, look no further. “Milk and Honey” is the book to get. Chances are, it will earn a place of honor on your shelf, as it did on mine.

*Writer’s Note: All opinions are my own, and I am reviewing this book simply because I enjoyed reading it, not because I received it to write a review.

Conscious Uncoupling: A Break Up Must Read

Disclaimer: I’ve recieved this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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The book “Conscious Uncoupling” helps offer you a healthy perspective of a breakup. 

Let’s face it: break ups are not fun. It is safe to say that we all can come to that consensus. I always say that the only way to truly know someone is to break up with them, as the way that they break up with you or react to your breakup (or how a friend takes a breakup) can show a lot about their personality.

Breakups have also become a huge topic in literature. When I went through one a few months ago, I decided to go to the bookstore to look for some resources on the subject, only to be confused by the wide variety of books that are out there. So with so many books on how to break up, how do you know which ones are the ones worth spending your money on?

Katherine Woodward Thomas’ “Conscious Uncoupling” is that very book. The book is organized five steps-find emotional freedom, reclaim your power and your life, break the pattern, become a love alchemist and create your happily even after life. Each of these steps helps comfort you in a time of heartbreak and gives you the tools to not only cope effectively, but become better than before.

What I liked about this book is that it explores the ideas of letting go and maintaining a healthy relationship with your former partner, as well as learning how to find strength within. Cliche? Yes. But, I found it to be really helpful, and I believe that anyone would as well.

For instance, one of the things that I really liked was changing how people talked about your former partner. When I broke up with my ex-boyfriend, my friends as a way to support me, said that he was a jerk and that they didn’t like him anyway. I found that  However, after reading Thomas’ book, I want to correct them and say we both were at fault, and that I am not the victim.

While this is only one of the many things this book has, this book also offers readers a look of at patterns that one has in relationship. Because of this, I was able to take a look at who I am as a girlfriend, and what I could have done better in my previous relationship. For instance, I could have been more honest with my partner, and more open to him. I also could have asked him how he was feeling when it came to my anxiety. However, while I can not change the past, I can change the future and continue to evolve as a person, an even better one for whenever I do get into a relationship.

And, it all started with this book.

So, if you are going through a break-up, whether it may mutual or otherwise, the “Conscious Uncoupling” is the book for you to read. Trust me, it will help you get through it. And if you’re still trying to move forward, this book also offers you a great resource to help you take those next steps in your life.