Not Ready for Mom Jeans by Maureen Lipinski – Book Review

Not Ready for Mom Jeans by Maureen Lipinski
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin, an imprint of Macmillan

If you read “A Bump in the Road” (which you don’t need to understand and enjoy “Not Ready for Mom Jeans”), you already know that Clare Finnegan has a new baby after what was an unplanned pregnancy for herself and her husband. Not that they don’t both adore their daughter, but life with Sara is so different than life before Sara. One of the biggest differences is Clare’s newfound questioning of her career. Being an event planner is something that she has always loved, but when Clare’s maternity leave ends, she feels an intense amount of mom guilt leaving her precious little girl at daycare with strangers.

Although I couldn’t always identify with Clare and the old, single, pre-child ways she did not want to give up, like staying out for most of the night to go drinking with her friends, I think that most mothers will identify with Clare’s struggles with work-life balance. For Clare motherhood is a constant reinvention of self, and she has a lot of soul searching to do in order to determine what is best for her and her family.

A couple of minor continuity problems failed to dampen my enthusiasm for this funny and realistic look at the tough choices of modern motherhood. I think most moms – nay, parents – would be able to relate to the decisions Clare finds herself forced to make.

Buy this book from:
Powells.*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound.*
Amazon.*

Maureen Lipinski’s website

Other Books by Maureen Lipinski:
“A Bump in the Road”

This review was done with a personal copy.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

Good Enough to Eat by Stacey Ballis – Book Review

Good Enough to Eat by Stacey Ballis
Published by Berkley Trade, an imprint of Penguin

As someone who has been overweight her entire life until very recently, it might seem odd for Melanie to open a cafe, but after attending culinary school she has discovered how to make healthy food that actually tastes good and she wants to make this – and her own story – available to other people. But then, just around the time of her grand opening, Melanie’s husband announces that he is no longer in love with her and has been seeing someone else who he is leaving her for – her former boss and friend, in fact, a woman who is just as heavy as Melanie ever was. Now Melanie must learn to move forward, dealing with stress, anger, and sadness without eating emotionally. The fact of no longer being married also opens Melanie up to new relationships, both romantic and otherwise, of the sort that she has not encountered for a long, long time.

“Good Enough to Eat” was a fabulously emotionally authentic book. I honestly cannot remember the last character I read who was so 100% real as Melanie. She is devastated by the turn her life was taken and has serious trust issues because of it. And yet, she is still generous (even when she sort of regrets it) and caring, ready to cautiously open her heart again. She is also still dealing every day with the reality of her food addiction and weight loss and knows she will be for the rest of her life without being too self-pitying about it.

I really don’t know if there was anything I didn’t love about “Good Enough to Eat.” I really enjoyed the very realistic wrenches that Ballis threw into Melanie’s relationships, as well as the ways they were resolved. The plotting, characters, and writing all really came together, although I think that even had the plotting and writing been only adequate this book would have been worth reading just for the absolute authenticity Ballis infused into Melanie.

Very highly recommended, I’ll be checking out Stacey Ballis’s backlist after this.

Buy this book from:
Powells.*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound.*
Amazon.*

Stacey Ballis’s website
Stacey Ballis’ blog

Other Books by Stacey Ballis:
The Spinster Sisters
Room for Improvement
Sleeping Over
Inappropriate Men

This review was done with a book borrowed from the library.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780425229637?aff=devourerofbooks

Out of the Shadows by Joanne Rendell – Book Review

Out of the Shadows by Joanne Rendell
Published by NAL Trade, an imprint of Penguin

All her life, Clara’s mother has told her about their family’s alleged connection Mary Shelley, a story that Clara largely ignored. After her mother dies, though, Clare feels driven to discover whether her mother’s stories are true. And really, it is just as well that Clara has something other than just her work to occupy her, since her fiancé Anthony is extremely tied up in his research for a new cancer drug.

“Out of the Shadows” is the second of Rendell’s three books I have read, and I’m sold. I will absolutely be reading her first book, as well as whatever else she comes out with. Although her characters tend to be New York academics, her stories are not derivative , even of one another. In “Out of the Shadows,” Clara is a young woman searching for her identity and a way to connect with her mother and her past.  One of my favorite thing about Rendell’s books is that her protagonists’ romantic lives are secondary to the story, they are part of these women’s lives so they must inform the story, but they are not the main focus.

In addition to Clara’s storyline, Rendell also included small snippets of Shelley’s young life, up through her meeting of Shelley. Although I did not find these sections as engaging as Clara’s storyline, they did add a depth to the work as a whole and helped to give a feel for the woman about whom Clara was searching for information. This look at Mary Shelley’s life also gave “Out of the Shadows” more power when it began to explore many of the same themes as did Shelley’s seminal work, “Frankenstein.”

Highly recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells.*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound.*
Amazon
.*

This review was done with a book received from the publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
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The Life You’ve Imagined by Kristina Riggle – Book Review

The Life You’ve Imagined by Kristina Riggle
Published by Avon A, an imprint of Harper Collins

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.
Misquoted from Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden”

Living the life you’ve imagined is something that may be easier said than done, at least that is what Anna, Cami, Maeve, and Amy are finding out. Anna and Cami, best friends in high school who have grown apart as they aged, both find themselves back in Haven, Michigan at the same time. Cami’s boyfriend kicked her out after she stole from him to feed her gambling habit, sure she would use his money to win back her own money she had lost. For Anna, the return has more to do with grief than misdeeds. Her beloved mentor, August was killed in a traffic accident while she was talking to him on the phone, and her law firm insists upon bereavement leave, since she’s essentially useless anyway.

As a result of their return – and Cami’s lack of any income – the girls find themselves back in Haven and at the Nee Nance Store, the convenience store run by Maeve, Anna’s mother. Unfortunately, Haven is not one for them. They worry about the letters Maeve has recently been getting from her long-gone deadbeat husband, and the fact that her store is now slated for destruction by Amy’s fiance. As all four women’s lives get increasingly complicated, they must consider whether they are truly living the life they’ve imagined and, if not, what to do about it.

What a rich, messy, and real book Kristina Riggle has written!I was very surprised when she gave one of her characters a gambling addiction, because that isn’t something I’ve seen very often, but she pulled it off beautifully as one of Cami’s character flaws, without overdoing it and making it too seedy, it was just this glorious, real weakness she had, much like Maeve’s weakness for the husband who left her, the draw Anna had to her now-married high school boyfriend, or the formerly-heavy Amy’s fixation on appearance. And by the way, keeping Amy so relateable and giving her so much depth when she could have come across as simply very shallow? Absolutely fabulous.

I think that after “The Life You’ve Imagined” and “Real Life and Liars,” Kristina Riggle is going to be my official go-to for novels about the complications of everyday life. The tragedies that her characters experience are always so real, and never feel simply piled on, and their responses are absolutely true to life, messy, complicated life. What they experience is nothing that can’t be worked through, especially if they do it together, but neither is it something with a simply, pat answer. She leaves the reader with an ending tied up enough to satisfy, but not so much that it becomes unrealistic. Like in life, there are always a few more questions, a degree of uncertainty.

I highly recommend both this and Riggle’s debut, “Real Life and Liars.”

If you pick up a copy of this book, please join us on September 7th and 8th for an online book club discussion right here at Devourer of Book! I will have two copies of “Real Life and Liars” to give away to randomly chosen participants. If you review the book online, please leave a link on the Mr. Linky below.

Buy this book from:
Powells.*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound
.*
Amazon
.*

This review was done with a book received from the publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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29 by Adena Halpern – Book Review

29 by Adena Halpern
Published by Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster

Growing old sucks.

At least that is what Ellie Jerome thinks. She is turning 75, but she sincerely wishes that she wasn’t. She does everything possible to not look 75, and she doesn’t, but looking like she’s in her 50s or 60s doesn’t really do it for her. Ellie wishes she was young and glamorous, like her granddaughter Lucy, a 25-year old fashion designer. At Ellie’s party, when her daughter Barbara can fit only 29 candles on her cake, she decides to make a wish that she really could be 29, if only for one day. When Ellie’s wish comes true, she has no idea just how being young again will change her.

I expected that “29” would be a fun, light sort of book, based on the title and description. And it was, of course, but there was also a surprising amount of depth throughout the book, but particularly in the end. One thing that I thought Halpern did particularly well was to keep Ellie consistent as a 75 year old woman in the body of a 29 ear old. By that, I mean that she kept Ellie in the mindset of a woman raised in her generation, while allowing her a bit of adaptability and keeping her mindset from becoming just a gag.

While it may not be my favorite book I read all year, it was definitely well-written and engaging. Recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells.*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound
.*
Amazon
.*

This review was done with a book received from the publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.