Friday, June 30, 2017

#SRC2017 Book Spotlight: The People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Ginder

Title: The People We Hate at the Wedding
Author: Grant Ginder
Published: June 2017, Flatiron Books
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Relationships are awful. They'll kill you, right up to the point where they start saving your life.

Paul and Alice’s half-sister Eloise is getting married! In London! There will be fancy hotels, dinners at “it” restaurants and a reception at a country estate complete with tea lights and embroidered cloth napkins.
They couldn’t hate it more.

The People We Hate at the Wedding is the story of a less than perfect family. Donna, the clan’s mother, is now a widow living in the Chicago suburbs with a penchant for the occasional joint and more than one glass of wine with her best friend while watching House Hunters International. Alice is in her thirties, single, smart, beautiful, stuck in a dead-end job where she is mired in a rather predictable, though enjoyable, affair with her married boss. Her brother Paul lives in Philadelphia with his older, handsomer, tenured track professor boyfriend who’s recently been saying things like “monogamy is an oppressive heteronormative construct,” while eyeing undergrads. And then there’s Eloise. Perfect, gorgeous, cultured Eloise. The product of Donna’s first marriage to a dashing Frenchman, Eloise has spent her school years at the best private boarding schools, her winter holidays in St. John and a post-college life cushioned by a fat, endless trust fund. To top it off, she’s infuriatingly kind and decent.

As this estranged clan gathers together, and Eloise's walk down the aisle approaches, Grant Ginder brings to vivid, hilarious life the power of family, and the complicated ways we hate the ones we love the most in the most bitingly funny, slyly witty and surprisingly tender novel you’ll read this year.

What people are saying: 

"Ginder takes family dysfunction to its hysterical limit in this joyously ribald, sharply cynical, and impossible-to-put-down examination of love and loyalty." ― Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"A feast of bitchy characters, dysfunctional family dynamics and hilarious, over-the-top catastrophe."― People

"The summer’s most compelling fictional exploration of affluence and envy, it skillfully mingles the introspective ways of a domestic novel with the juicy stratagems of a page turner...Especially well-suited to this summer of our discontent. Like all the best beach reads, it eats the rich like so many frozen grapes." ― Bloomberg BusineesWeek

"An over-the-top dishfest that atones for the sins of its characters with sly humor and a surprisingly big heart."― Departures

"A vibrant celebration of the modern family and all the crazy, hilarious and wild ways we love each other...This is the best wedding drama since My Best Friend's Wedding." ― Redbook

"Witty and completely absorbing, The People We Hate at the Wedding is family dysfunction at its best ―full of heart, humor, and jealous siblings. This novel is addicting and entertaining and I couldn't put it down!"― Jennifer Close, New York Times bestselling author of Girls in White Dresses and The Hopefuls

"Not only does it have the best title in the universe, The People We Hate At The Wedding is wickedly smart and shamelessly funny. Grant Ginder brilliantly captures privileged Brits clashing against semi-privileged Americans in the most hilariously cringeworthy ways. Cluelessly self-absorbed, appallingly outrageous, and so very endearing, these are characters I hope to be seated with at the next wedding I attend."―Kevin Kwan, New York Times bestselling author of Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend

"Don't be fooled by the superbly sardonic title―Grant Ginder's subject is not hate at all: it's love. Ginder expertly and hilariously shows us that real love (whether romantic or fraternal, parental or filial) is always a most complicated matter."Rumaan Alam, author of Rich and Pretty

"Ginder successfully captures the clash between people who are intimately connected yet deeply at odds. These characters are completely clueless and utterly self-absorbed yet highly likable, their trials and tribulations painful at times and joyful at others but always entertaining. Ginder’s latest is a fascinating exploration of family dynamics and the complex way we interact with those who know us best."― Booklist, Starred Review

"It turns out that the people we hate at the wedding are the very people we most love reading about. Grant Ginder's smart, funny novel is madly insightful and contains some of the most delightfully difficult and fabulously flawed characters I've encountered in a long time. I found myself worrying about them as I drove to work, hoping things would turn out well for (almost) all of them." ― Stephen McCauley, bestselling author of The Object of My Affection

"Ginder has a gift for the gleefully outrageous, dishing out one over-the-top scene after another... A daisy chain of debacles makes time spent with people we hate good fun."― Kirkus Reviews


The People We Hate at the Wedding  by Grant Ginder is one of  BookSparks "Summer Reads" reading selection picks. 
 Follow the #SRC2017 hashtag on twitter to read reviews on this book as well as reviews on the other summer books! Also, be sure to check out the BookSparks Facebook page for the #SRC2017  and other fun links. You can participate in weekly secret missions for chances to win signed copies of selected books and more! There's a new secret mission each week :)


#SRC2017 Book Spotlight: Proof by C.E. Tobisman

Title: Proof
Author: C.E. Tobisman
Series: Caroline Auden, #2
Published: June 2017, Thomas & Mercer
Format: Paperback, 348 pages
In this gripping sequel to C.E. Tobisman’s legal thriller Doubt, techie turned attorney Caroline Auden struggles to move on with her life after her last case nearly destroyed her career.

Still haunted by the betrayal that forced her to leave a prestigious law firm, Caroline Auden struggles to keep her fledgling practice afloat—and her paranoia in check. When her grandmother dies, she mourns losing the only constant in her life. But grief soon turns to suspicion when she discovers her grandmother left her entire estate—including a valuable antique watch, the family’s sole heirloom—to a charity called Oasis Care. On the surface, Oasis helps society’s outcasts, like Caroline’s alcoholic, homeless uncle. But as she digs deeper, Caroline uncovers a sinister plot that sends her running for her life on the dangerous streets of Los Angeles.

Plunged into a world of addicts and broken souls and operating without a phone or a computer, Caroline finds sanctuary with her uncle and a ragtag group of outcasts while building evidence for her case. As she sifts through the shadowy world of the Goliath nonprofit, Caroline is also forced to confront her own dark shadows, casting doubt on her ability—and her sanity.

Proof  by C.E. Tobisman is one of  BookSparks "Summer Reads" reading selection picks. 
 Follow the #SRC2017 hashtag on twitter to read reviews on this book as well as reviews on the other summer books! Also, be sure to check out the BookSparks Facebook page for the #SRC2017  and other fun links. You can participate in weekly secret missions for chances to win signed copies of selected books and more! There's a new secret mission each week :)

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Blog Tour & Review: Kiss Carlo by Adriana Trigiani (audio)

Title: Kiss Carlo
Author: Adriana Trigiani
Narrator: Edoardo Ballerini
Published: June 20, 2017, HarperAudio / HarperCollins
Length: 16 hours 2 minutes / 544 pages
Source: Audio - Personal copy via Audible / Hardcopy - Publisher via TLC Book Tours
From Adriana Trigiani, the beloved New York Times-bestselling author of The Shoemaker’s Wife, comes an exhilarating epic novel of love, loyalty, and creativitythe story of an Italian-American family on the cusp of change.

It’s 1949 and South Philadelphia bursts with opportunity during the post-war boom. The Palazzini Cab Company & Western Union Telegraph Office, owned and operated by Dominic Palazzini and his three sons, is flourishing: business is good, they’re surrounded by sympathetic wives and daughters-in-law, with grandchildren on the way. But a decades-long feud that split Dominic and his brother Mike and their once-close families sets the stage for a re-match.

Amidst the hoopla, the arrival of an urgent telegram from Italy upends the life of Nicky Castone (Dominic and his wife’s orphaned nephew) who lives and works with his Uncle Dom and his family. Nicky decides, at 30, that he wants more—more than just a job driving Car #4 and more than his longtime fiancée Peachy DePino, a bookkeeper, can offer. When he admits to his fiancée that he’s been secretly moonlighting at the local Shakespeare theater company, Nicky finds himself drawn to the stage, its colorful players and to the determined Calla Borelli, who inherited the enterprise from her father, Nicky must choose between the conventional life his family expects of him or chart a new course and risk losing everything he cherishes.

From the dreamy mountaintop village of Roseto Valfortore in Italy, to the vibrant streets of South Philly, to the close-knit enclave of Roseto, Pennsylvania, to New York City during the birth of the golden age of television, Kiss Carlo is a powerful, inter-generational story that celebrates the ties that bind, while staying true to oneself when all hope seems lost.

Told against the backdrop of some of Shakespeare’s greatest comedies, this novel brims with romance as long buried secrets are revealed, mistaken identities are unmasked, scores are settled, broken hearts are mended and true love reigns. Trigiani’s consummate storytelling skill and her trademark wit, along with a dazzling cast of characters will enthrall readers. Once again, the author has returned to her own family garden to create an unforgettable feast. Kiss Carlo is a jubilee, resplendent with hope, love, and the abiding power of la famiglia.

My thoughts: Adriana Trigiani is one of my all-time favorite authors!!! I've met her numerous times and most recently just bumped into her at BookExpo - she's the most genuine person I've met in a long time and I love seeing her whenever I get the chance. I've read just about all her books and one of my most favorite books of hers is The Shoemaker's Wife...well, this latest one is right up there with that one. Kiss Carlo is fantastic!!! I loved it - from start to finish - and let me tell you, it's a chunkster of a book at 544 pages, and even a long audio book at just over 16 hours. But it's so worth it, let me tell you! 

So first off...even though I have 2 copies of this book - I received an advanced reader's copy of the book for being part of the book tour and then picked up a finished copy at BookExpo...I still decided to listen to the audio version. Not because I was daunted by the length of the book - oh no. I love reading Adriana's words - I get lost in her stories and find myself losing track of time. But when I saw who was narrating the audio - Edoardo Ballerini, I could not give up the opportunity to listen to him narrate this book. He is like a tall drink of cool water - I love listening to him. And I just knew he would be perfect for this book. More on him and the audio production down below.

So back to the book itself...I loved this story. I found myself totally swept up in this family saga right from the beginning. The book is set right after WWII in Philly and centers around the Palazzini family. I love the big families that Adriana creates - they are so life-like and relatable - possibly because I have such a big family myself! But where Adriana shines is that with all the characters in this book - and believe me, there are a lot! - it is easy to keep them all separate as they all have their own identity and personality. And each one she introduces us to have a purpose - there really aren't any superfluous characters. 

The story is mainly set around Nicky - he has been brought up by his Aunt Jo and Uncle Dom and his three cousins and drives a cab for the family's cab company, not only taking on fares but also delivering telegrams. But what no one knows is that he also moonlights in a local theater - a theater that puts on Shakespeare plays. There Nicky helps the actors with their lines. Oh, and he's been engaged to Peachy for seven years - yes, seven years! 

With so many characters in this book, of course you are going to fall in love with a few. My favorites were Calla Borelli from the Shakespeare theater, Jo Palazzini, who took Nicky in after his mother died, and Hortense Mooney, the telegraph operator. Each of these women had so much spunk and passion - I couldn't get enough of them, especially Hortense. 

And, for all you soap-opera fans out there...Gloria Monty has a cameo in this book. How freaking cool is that!!! I loved the way Adriana used the early soaps in this book, called a "teleplay" back then. There is so much packed into this book - so much, but oh so good!

This book has so much going for it, with so many different themes running through it. It's a story about family, love, loss, the search for meaning and self-worth. It's about finding one's purpose in life and realizing it before it's too late and not settling for something just because that's what is expected of you. 

I adored this story - every part of it, from the setting to the characters to the dialog to the cover - it's a beautiful, enchanting story and one that I am thrilled to have sitting on my shelf. I know I can do no wrong when I pick up an Adriana Trigiani book!

Audio thoughts:
As I mentioned above, I just had to listen to the audio version of this book when I saw that Edoardo Ballerini was narrating it. He is awesome - such a mesmerizing voice - and he did such a fantastic job with this audio book! Between the unique voices for all the characters, males and females, and the little bit of Italian - which was amazing, especially since I speak absolutely no Italian - I was in heaven! I can not recommend this audio more - it was so delightful to listen to - and even though it was long - I found myself so engaged that the time just flew by! His pacing and tone were spot on and I found this a pleasure to listen to.

About the author:  Adriana Trigiani is the bestselling author of 17 books, which have been published in 36 countries around the world. She is a playwright, television writer/producer and filmmaker. She wrote and directed the film version of her novel Big Stone Gap, which was shot entirely on location in her Virginia hometown. She is co-founder of the Origin Project, an in-school writing program that serves more than a thousand students in Appalachia. She lives in Greenwich Village with her family.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook  Instagram

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Be sure to check out all the other stops on the blog tour and follow the tour on Twitter (hashtags:  #TLCBookTours & #KissCarlo). 


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

#SRC2017 Book Review: Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

Title: Every Last Lie
Author: Mary Kubica
Published: June 2017, Park Row Books
Format: ARC E-copy, 336 pages
Source: Netgalley via publisher

New York Times bestselling author of THE GOOD GIRL, Mary Kubica is back with another exhilarating thriller as a widow's pursuit of the truth leads her to the darkest corners of the psyche. 
"The bad man, Daddy. The bad man is after us." 
Clara Solberg's world shatters when her husband and their four-year-old daughter are in a car crash, killing Nick while Maisie is remarkably unharmed. The crash is ruled an accident…until the coming days, when Maisie starts having night terrors that make Clara question what really happened on that fateful afternoon. 

Tormented by grief and her obsession that Nick's death was far more than just an accident, Clara is plunged into a desperate hunt for the truth. Who would have wanted Nick dead? And, more important, why? Clara will stop at nothing to find out—and the truth is only the beginning of this twisted tale of secrets and deceit. 

Told in the alternating perspectives of Clara's investigation and Nick's last months leading up to the crash, master of suspense Mary Kubica weaves her most chilling thriller to date—one that explores the dark recesses of a mind plagued by grief and shows that some secrets might be better left buried.

My thoughts: It's no surprise that I am a huge Mary Kubica fan...she is definitely an author on my must-read list. Her psychological thrillers are top-notch and I love nothing more than settling in with one of her books - I know I am in for a good read!

This one is a little different than her previous books - it's more of a slow-burn, and I loved it! There's no fast-pace action going on here, but make no mistake - there is still that suspense building as the book progresses. The way the story is told, with Clara's part in the present and Nick's part in the past leading up to his death just add to the tightly woven tension and overall suspense. And through these two narrators we meet a whole cast of characters that add suspicion at every turn.

One of the things I love about Mary's books is that all the characters she creates are always so well-developed. They are engaging and interesting and you just want to know all you can about them. You can't help but feel for Clara and all that she is going through. The writing is so tight and clear that I often felt her grief - that's how palpable the writing is.  And then there's Nick...I really felt that despite all that he got himself involved in, he really did have good intentions.

This is such a twisted book - but so addicting. Once you start reading it, you will find yourself completely consumed with it...and despite the fact that it's a slower pace than her previous books, it's still really good, with just as many twists and turns.  I was all over the place with where I thought it was heading and was completely surprised with where it ended, but in a good way. I loved the ending and I think that Mary Kubica has proven that she is one master-storyteller, able to craft more than one kind of story! 

Every Last Lie  by Mary Kubica is one of  BookSparks "Summer Reads" reading selection picks. 
 Follow the #SRC2017 hashtag on twitter to read reviews on this book as well as reviews on the other summer books! Also, be sure to check out the BookSparks Facebook page for the #SRC2017  and other fun links. You can participate in weekly secret missions for chances to win signed copies of selected books and more! There's a new secret mission each week :)


Sunday, June 25, 2017

FitReaders: Weekly Check-in Jun 23

So, it turns out yoga classes are just not in the cards for me at this point. I have some tendon issues in my palm that I aggravated and it is preventing me from putting any pressure on my hand and that means no yoga for the time being. But, I found some good strength-training workouts that I've been doing that I actually like, so I am substituting that for now - a leg workout and an arm workout. My goal is to do the leg and arm workout on alternating days. I started this past week and so far so good!
June Goals: 

  • 10K steps M-F, at least 7,500 steps on the weekend  - 9/10, 2/4
  • 30 minutes of active walking every day, M-F - 5/5 (thank goodness for having to walk the dogs everyday!)
  • Attend at least 1 yoga class/week - on hold for the time being.
  • Eat mindfully/eat enough - Yes
Here's how the last 2 weeks went:    
Jun 10:  12,640 steps
Jun 11:  14,610 steps (2 Charity Miles for Girls on the Run)

Jun 12:  23,321 steps (10K+ - 8 Charity Miles for Girls on the Run)
Jun 13:  8,535 steps
Jun 14:  12,854 steps

Jun 15:  15
,255 steps (5K+ - 5 Charity Miles for Girls on the Run)
Jun 16:  11
,440 steps (5K - 3.1 Charity Miles for Girls on the Run)

Total Steps: 98,655 steps

Jun 17:  5,485 steps
Jun 18:  8,462 steps

Jun 19:  18,142 steps (5K - 3.25 Charity Miles for Girls on the Run)   
Jun 20:  18,754 steps
(5K+ - 4.14 Charity Miles for Girls on the Run)
Jun 21:  10,050 steps

Jun 22:  10
,851 steps 
Jun 23:  13
,445 steps (5K - 3.1 Charity Miles for Girls on the Run)

Total Steps: 85,189 steps

Audiobooks listened to last week (since I'm not much of a music fan, I listen to books while I walk):

  • Started & finished The Weight of Lies by Emily Carpenter, narrated by Kate Orsini
  • Started & finished Eden by Jeanne McWilliams Blasbery, narrated by Marnye Young

How did your week go? You can find this week's link-up here.

Virtual 5K /10K Tally:
     January:                               May:                             September:   
           5K  -  4                                  5K  -  5                                5K  - 
         10K  -  7                                10K  -  6                               10K  - 
     February:                             June:                            October:

           5K  -  4                                  5K  -  6                                 5K  - 
         10K  -  9                                10K  -  2                              10K  -   
     March:                                  July:                             November:
           5K  -  3                                  5K  -                                    5K  - 
         10K  -  7                                10K  -                                  10K  - 
     April:                                    August:                        December:
           5K  -  9                                  5K  -                                    5K  - 
         10K  -  1                                 10K  -                                  10K  -


Friday, June 23, 2017

#SRC2017 Book Spotlight: Last Seen by J.L. Doucette

Title: Last Seen
Author: J.L. Doucette
Series: Dr. Pepper Hunt, #1
Published: May 2017, She Writes Press
Format: Paperback, 330 pages
Psychologist and police consultant Dr. Pepper Hunt, struggling to deal with the murder of her husband, leaves the private practice they shared and relocates to Wyoming. There, in the stark landscape of the high desert, there is nothing to remind her of everything she lost and left behind. Then her new patient, Kimi Benally, goes missing in a Wyoming blizzard after her last therapy session -- making Pepper the last person to see her.

She knows the secrets Kimi shared in therapy hold clues to her mysterious disappearance, and she joins forces with Detective Beau Antelope to try to discover what's happened to her. But as she follows the trail of Kimi's obsession with the past, Pepper begins to fear the worst for her missing patient--and her own haunted memories surface.

What Readers are saying: 

"The projected first in a series, Last Seen makes the southwest landscape and culture an integral part of the story. This self-sufficient community is one that readers will be intrigued to visit again." ―Booklist

“Readers will grow enamored with these characters and the twisty dark plot – so much so, they may forget about BLL completely.” ―Redbook, “6 Books to Cure Your Big Little Lies Withdrawals”

"A missing person tale with a strong setting and cast of characters…Doucette’s auspicious first novel puts a welcome focus on the players instead of transgressive twists.”  ―Kirkus

"Author J.L. Doucette gives readers a keen sense of Wyoming winters, three-dimensional characters, and taut, descriptive writing. An enthusiastic welcome to Dr. Pepper Hunt!”  ―Linda Barnes, Edgar Award-winning author of the Carlotta Carlyle mystery series

“There’s a detective named Antelope, at least two registered sex offenders, a scoundrel in pricey ski gear, his lying mistress, and tellingly, his missing wife. At the middle of this many-sided mess is Dr. Pepper Hunt, psychologist―clear-eyed, intelligent, beautiful, brave. You’ll fall in love with Pepper and with J. L. Doucette’s subtle, immersive, beguiling tale.” ―Bryan Gruley, Anthony, Barry and Strand Award-winning author of the Starvation Lake Mystery series

“With clear, crackling prose, at times breathtaking, and characters so real that I felt flesh and bone back on that wild western landscape, mingling with the people and inhabiting their world. Combine Doucette’s voice and prose with a story that haunts and intrigues again and again, and we know we are in the hands of a very talented writer. I loved these characters. I loved the terrain. I never wanted to leave. This is the kind of writing that stays with me long after the novel is finished.” ―Diane Les Becquets, author of Breaking Wild

“Last Seen is a tantalizing psychological thriller in which J. L. Doucette masterfully weaves a chilling plot around a cast of complex, well-drawn characters led by psychologist, Dr. Pepper Hunt, a woman running from her own nightmare past. As the tiny Wyoming town searches its frigid horizons for a missing local woman, Dr. Hunt and Detective Antelope spark some warmth in an investigation all their own. A suspenseful ride that will keep you turning pages to the very end!” ―Michelle Cox, award-winning author of A Girl Like You and A Ring of Truth, from the A Henrietta and Detective Howard series



Last Seen  by J.L. Doucette is one of  BookSparks "Summer Reads" reading selection picks. 
 Follow the #SRC2017 hashtag on twitter to read reviews on this book as well as reviews on the other summer books! Also, be sure to check out the BookSparks Facebook page for the #SRC2017  and other fun links. You can participate in weekly secret missions for chances to win signed copies of selected books and more! There's a new secret mission each week :)

#SRC2017 Book Spotlight: The Half-Life of Remorse by Grant Jarrett

Title: The Half-Life of Remorse
Author: Grant Jarrett
Published: May 2017, SparkPress
Format: Paperback, 256 pages

When two vagrants meet on the streets of Muncie, Indiana, they are both unaware that their paths crossed years before. Chic, crude and uneducated, is convinced that Sam is nothing more than a harmless lunatic, and Sam, emotionally scarred and psychologically traumatized by events long past, regards Chic as just another denizen of the street. But Chic has spent his adult life trying to purge his soul of the brutal crime he committed as a teenager―the same botched burglary that resulted in the deaths of Sam's wife and son. Meanwhile, Sam's daughter Claire is still unable to give up hope that her father might someday reappear. 

When these three lives converge, the puzzle of the past gradually falls together, but redemption commands a high price, and what is revealed will test the limits of love and challenge the human capacity for forgiveness.

What readers are saying: 

"An often engaging and heartwarming novel…”―Kirkus Reviews

"The true wizardry of The Half-Life of Remorse is how the random intersection of two homeless men evolves into a story of irresistible forward motion, stunning revelations, deepest human complexities and highest consequences. Underwriting this feat is Jarrett's ability to inhabit his fated characters absolutely, conjuring their voices, their minds, their wounds, their guilt, their haunted and mingled histories, with such spooky fidelity that you feel you are each one of them, and all of them, all at once. Original, gorgeous, exciting and deeply moving, The Half-Life of Remorse put my heart through all the paces." ―Tim Johnston, author of New York Times bestseller Descent

"Acts of searing violence transform vulnerable lives in Grant Jarrett’s The Half-Life of Remorse. Through the anguished accounts of survivors who nearly died in that night of violence, and the delusions of one of the survivors who imagines himself capable of magic, Jarrett creates echoes of The Tempest and The Winter’s Tale. This resonant novel traces the lingering effects of trauma and exposes the greatest challenge for its primary characters: self-forgiveness."―Lee Upton, author of The Tao of Humiliation

"In The Half-Life of Remorse, Grant Jarrett proves his mastery of narrative voice, unflinching realism, and adroit yet artful storytelling.” ―Mark Wisniewski, author of Watch Me Go


The Half-Life of Remorse  by Grant Jarrett is one of  BookSparks "Summer Reads" reading selection picks. 
 Follow the #SRC2017 hashtag on twitter to read reviews on this book as well as reviews on the other summer books! Also, be sure to check out the BookSparks Facebook page for the #SRC2017  and other fun links. You can participate in weekly secret missions for chances to win signed copies of selected books and more! There's a new secret mission each week :)

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