Sunday, January 28, 2018

(7)The Clothes Make the Girl (look fat)? by Brittany Gibbons

Brittany Gibbons is a body-positive activist that knows what it means to find fashion that fits.  In her new memoir, The Clothes Make the Girl  (Look Fat) Brittany Gibbons explores what it means to be a plus-sized fashionista. Brittany takes her readers to a fashion show of sorts from years past.  We are reminded of the some of the crazy fads from our younger years. - Gauchos anyone?  From her high school job at the Gap to her closet devoted entirely to her denim, Brittany has always been a fashionista. But being a plus-sized fashionista isn't always easy.  As Brittany talks about, it has only been in recent years that stores and designers have started to consider the curvy women fashionistas.  Brittany also talks about the piece of fashion that I am completely unfamiliar with, the mesh undies new moms get at the hospital. Even though I will never know the joy of this undies, I know the joy of finding a garment that you love and then buying them in all colors and maybe even a size above and below your current size.

I don't really consider myself a fashionista, but I like to look nice and put together and that isn't always easy to do when you have a plus-sized body.  Also, I am a huge advocate for body positivity and lines like this make me so glad that I "know" Brittany Gibbons.
Real women, for the record, are not defined by their curves, thigh gaps, or chest size.  Those are just things generally used to make us feel bad about ourselves and have nothing to do with our label or worth as women. 

A-freaking-men!  There were several times throughout this book that I felt like bursting out in exuberant agreement.
Whether or not you are healthy, have lost weight, have an invisible disorder or disability, or went through something traumatic...people aren't entitled to your story, but they are required to be kind to you. 

Damn straight they are required to be kind to you.  And don't you forget it!! 

The first I heard of Brittany Gibbons was over two years ago when I read her book, Fat Girl Walking.   It was when researching Brittany for my review that I found her Facebook group, the Curvy Girl Guide.  I joined that group of 5,000+ strong women and have not regretted it for one second.   I have felt more empowered to be a strong, beautiful, curvy woman than I have ever felt in my life.  And Brittany Gibbons is our leader.

Bottom Line - Even though I have been actively losing weight for the last two years, I will always be a "curvy girl" because being "curvy" is just as much a state of mind as a body type. Self-confidence is sexy no matter what your size and Brittany Gibbons empowers her readers to be just that.  Confident in their curviness.


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

(6)Keep Her Safe by K,A. Tucker

Noah Marshall never dreamt that his world would fall apart the night that he got home from work to find his mom drunk at the kitchen table.  That wasn't all that unusual these days, however, the gunshot that pulled him from his shower shattered his world.  Apparently, his mother, the chief of police could no longer live with her demons.  In the days following his mother's death Noah realizes that his mother's demons had something to do with her partner's death fourteen years ago.  Noah has fond memories of Abe Wilkes and when he finds a duffel bag his mother had stashed with nearly $100k he finally was able to understand her drunken ramblings that last night.  He takes the duffel bag full of money and heads to Arizona looking for Abe's daughter, Gracie.  When he finds her they start to realize that there was more to Abe's death fourteen years ago and they work to clear his name.   Will they be able to uncover the truth and who will be destroyed when the truth is finally uncovered?

When you read an ARC you run the risk of not reading the fully edited copy.  I hope that was the case with Keep Her Safe because the author has Gracie feeding a stray dog grapes.  Grapes are deadly for dogs and I hope somebody points that out before publication.   Other than that minor irritation Keep Her Safe was a fast-paced mystery.   Noah was about as strait-laced as a character gets and Gracie's life since her father's death was far from easy.   They were good together and I really liked their chemistry.   Their investigation leads them to discover that Gracie's aunt may have been a victim of human trafficking and Abe was looking for her when he was killed.   I had my suspicions who was the bad guy in the book and I was right.  I did get a little surprised at one of the things the bad guy revealed when caught.  It made me sad. -- CLICK HERE FOR SPOILERS

Bottom Line - Keep Her Safe is a fast-paced thriller with just enough romance sprinkled in that you will be unable to put the book down!


Monday, January 22, 2018

(5.)Anatomy of A Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

Anatomy of A Scandal is the story of four people. James is a privileged, charismatic, successful member of Parliment and is accused of raping his mistress.  Sophie is devoted and devastated wife, they have been together since University and she feels his betrayal deeply, but she is not willing to throw away their relationship - yet.  Olivia is the "other woman" who told James "no" in the lift (elevator) and now is on trial just as much as James.  There are many who believe that she is just a scorned woman seeking revenge. And Kate is the woman prosecuting him for rape. She has her own history that she is trying to not let it cloud her judgment and efforts in this case.  But, make no mistake.  She believes that James is guilty of rape.  In fact, she knows he is.   The trial is a sensational one and is all over the media.  Will James get away with rape or will justice be served? And how will the verdict change the lives of all of those involved?

I don't think that a more timely novel has ever been written.  An Anatomy of a Scandal is a book about privilege and power. I actually read this book in November when the headlines were full of sexual harassment and misbehavior by men of power in all sorts of high profile industries. Now it is January and the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements are going strong.   James is an arrogant man who believes that no woman would want to resist his advances. I immediately disliked him and that dislike grew into hate throughout the book.  His wife, Sophie, is quite likable, but I found myself questioning her own strength when she allowed her husband to get away with such bad behavior in their marriage. The book is told from alternating viewpoints with alternating timelines.  As more of the past is revealed it is even more clear that James is a douchebag.  He doesn't believe that he has done wrong - ever.   I thought that the end was going to be disappointing - but there is a redeeming twist that made it all worth it. - CLICK HERE FOR SPOILERS

Bottom Line - Sarah Vaughan has written a story that could have been ripped from the headlines.   An Anatomy of A Scandal exposes sexual assault for being more than just a moment in isolation.  It is a culmination of behaviors and attitudes leading up to that moment and involves more than just the victim and the assaulter.  An Anatomy of A Assault is a very well written book but should come with a warning that some readers might find the subject matter to be difficult to read.


Friday, January 19, 2018

(4)Between Me and You by Allison Winn Scotch

Ben and Tatum have a history that goes back a long time.  They met one night at the bar where Tatum was working, but it was awhile before they became more than friends.  Since then a lot has happened.  They met back when they were both trying to figure things out.  They met before they got married and moved to Los Angeles.  They met before they were famous.  Before Ben became a famous writer and Tatum became a famous actress.  Before they had a son.  Before one of them won an Oscar.  Ben and Tatum have been through a lot together.   Over the years they had to deal with the loss of parents, the loss of a sibling, the loss of trust in their marriage.  The ebbs and flows of marriage are what defines a marriage, but when both Tatum and Ben have secrets that could destroy their marriage, is there a hope that their marriage can survive?

Between Me and You is the story of Ben and Tatum and their marriage.  Ben and Tatum share the narrating duties, but the timeline jumps around pretty significantly and you may get a little lost if you stop reading in the middle of a chapter. Even though things jump around you get the entirety of their story and everything in between.    I really liked both Ben and Tatum.  The everyday stressors of a marriage can take its toll on a marriage, but when both spouses live in the fishbowl of Hollywood it magnifies those issues. I *hated* the thing that really caused a rift in their marriage, mostly because I didn't want to dislike either of them.   One of the things that really humanized both of them was their devotion to their dog, Monster.  It was something that I could relate to in a very real manner.    In the end, things worked out just the way they were supposed to and it was a good ending.

Bottom Line - Marriage is tough and it is Between Me and You is an honest and intimate look at a one couple's marriage.


Friday, January 12, 2018

(3)Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

Okay, those of you who have been telling me for the better part of a decade that I need to read Harry Potter -- well I give you permission to say "I told you so."   

The Goblet of Fire starts with the Quidditch World Cup and you get to see Harry start to become more comfortable in the world of wizarding.  He dreams of becoming a star like those who participated in the World Cup.  He doesn't realize that his chance to be a star is closer than he thinks.  Harry and the rest of Hogwarts are shocked when his name is pulled from the Goblet of Fire and he becomes a contestant in the Triwizard Tournament.  The rest of the book was full of exciting and shocking events, culminating in another edge-of-your-seat conclusion.

I think that Goblet of Fire is my favorite book so far.  That one "thing" at the end of the third event.  Well, it had me gasping out loud in the middle of the grocery store.  It was then that I realized how invested I was in this story.   Of course, everything worked out in the end, but not before Hogwarts lost an important member. 

Bottom Line - Harry Potter is awesome. His friends can be annoying at times, but they always come through when they need him the most.


Sunday, January 7, 2018

(2)The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

The Wife Between Us is a tale of two women.  There is Vanessa, the ex-wife, and there is her replacement.  You assume that you know how this story is going to go, but you would be wrong.  Vanessa seems to be unhinged and is destroyed by the thought of her ex-husband getting remarried. She drinks too much, misses too much work and gets fired.  She is desperate to stop Richard from marrying again and starts to take all sorts of steps to prevent the wedding from happening.  Like sending letters, texts, and showing up where she shouldn't be.  All in an effort to stop Richard from marrying her replacement.  Will she be successful in her endeavors or will this be the thing that finally destroys her?

The Wife Between Us is one of those twisty-turny novels that will leave you speechless.   I need to tread lightly as there is very little I can say that will not give away all of the twists. Vanessa is one of those characters that you aren't sure what to make of her.  At first, she seemed to be off her rocker, then as the authors reveal more details you realize that there is more to her story, as is the case for most of us.  I was not expecting the fact that is revealed about half-way through the book.  I actually said "Wait. What?"   The timeline jumps around, so you need to really pay attention.  The end was absolutely stunning in that jaw-dropping sort of way. - CLICK HERE FOR SPOILERS

Bottom Line - There is nothing I love more than a good psychological thriller.  While there are some themes that may seem familiar,  Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen have written such a unique thriller that you will be on the edge of your seat and be looking over your shoulder!  The Wife Between Us is on sale Tuesday, January 9th.


Friday, January 5, 2018

(1)The Spring Girls by Anna Todd

The Spring girls are holding down the fort while their father is deployed to Iraq and their mother has been distracted by that and who knows what.  Meg is the oldest and has had a bit of a rocky start to adulthood.  She thinks that she knows what - no who - she wants, but love has a funny way of working things out.   Jo is the second oldest and has a "devil may care" kind of attitude. She doesn't think that she is going to let anything get in the way of what she wants, but maybe she doesn't really know what she wants?  Beth is the mother-hen of the family.  She doesn't really like to leave the house so she is the one to make sure that the family's day-to-day operations keep running.   And Amy is the youngest - at twelve years old she wants to be wants nothing more than to grow up and be able to be considered equals to her older sisters.  The girls are struggling in their own ways with their father's absence.  And then there is a knock at the door.  The Spring girls are forced to confront their worst fears and spring into action.  How will that knock on the door affect the lives of the Spring girls?

The Spring Girls is a modern day retelling of one of my favorite books, Little Women.  The main character traits are there for Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, but there are some interesting takes.   Like one of the reasons why Beth has such anxiety is because she is trying to work out the fact that she is gay.  Jo has her Laurie, but she also has an intense desire to move to NYC to work in publishing. The Spring girls watch horror movies on Netflix on Christmas Eve and have part-time jobs to bring in extra money for the family.  I will be honest and say that there were a few times that The Spring Girls seemed to drag a little bit,  but there was plenty of romance and drama to spice the story up at just the right times.  In the end, I was thrilled with the way that everything worked out for all of them.

Bottom line - Anna Todd did an excellent job of modernizing one of the most beloved stories of all time.   I usually hesitate to read a "retelling" of a beloved classic, but The Spring Girls was definitely worth the read.


Why I Read...

I remember the carefree summer days when I used to ride my bike to the public library to pick out new books. I would go almost daily to find books to read. I read to learn. I read to explore the world. I read to escape. I read because not reading is not an option.

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