Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

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Synopsis via Amazon:

Twenty-two, and knowing no one, Tess leaves home to begin her adult life in New York City. Thus begins a year that is both enchanting and punishing, in a low-level job at “the best restaurant in New York City.” Grueling hours and a steep culinary learning curve awaken her to the beauty of oysters, the finest Champagnes, the appellations of Burgundy. At the same time, she opens herself to friendships—and love—set against the backdrop of dive bars and late nights.  As her appetites sharpen—for food and wine, but also for knowledge, experience, and belonging—Tess is drawn into a darkly alluring love triangle that will prove to be her most exhilarating and painful lesson of all. 

My thoughts:

I’m really torn on whether or not to recommend this book.  First off the book reads like poetry, the author is a true poet I enjoyed the reading a lot. Secondly, it is absolute food porn if I’ve ever read one!  However, the story-line, or lack thereof, could have been so much better.  This could have been a great book all around but it didn’t deliver a great story and the ending was… blah!  Maybe it’s just something I can’t relate to that made it a bit unappealing to me.  You have this girl who arrives in New York City that can be anything she wants to be.  She gets hired at one of the top restaurants and really wants to climb that latter to become a server.  She stays out late, snorts coke, drinks til she’s belligerent all while trying to get the attention of Jake, the grungy bartender.  Then there’s Simone, an older woman that I assumed was (maybe sort of is) a mentor to Tess.  Jake and Simone have this weird relationship, weird meaning I don’t know if they’re romantically involved or mother/son type.  Just a little gross.  Anywho… you’ll have to read the book to find out the rest.  It’s not a very long book so maybe it actually would be worth the time even if you agree that it was just… meh.

“I had never thought of a tomato as a fruit—the ones I had known were mostly white in the center and rock hard. But this was so luscious, so tart I thought it victorious. So—some tomatoes tasted like water, and some tasted like summer lightning.”

“I flipped the shell back. I was prepared for the brininess. For the softness of it. For the rigidity and strangeness of the ritual. Adrenalized, fiercely private. I panted slightly and opened my eyes. Jake was looking at me and said, ‘They’re perfect.’ He handed me the beer. It was nearly black, persuasive as chocolate, weighty. The finish was cream, it matched the oyster’s creaminess. The sensory conspiracy made the blood rush to my head, made my skin break out in goose bumps. Ignore him. Look away. I looked at him. ‘Can I have another?’”

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Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

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Synopsis:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

My Thoughts:

Wow!  Reading this book was like watching a full season of The Real Housewives!  I’m so glad that I chose this book as my first of the year.  The characters were so relatable, I kept comparing each of them to actual people that I know.  I was so engrossed that I finished this book way too quick and was disappointed because I wanted it to go on.  Luckily, HBO will be premiering this series on February 19th!  I can’t wait.  They have the most amazing cast including Nicole Kidman, Reece Witherspoon &  Shailene Woodley just to name a few.  A definite must read… if you haven’t already.

Royal by Winter Renshaw

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Synopsis:

His name is Royal, but he’s no prince charming. He’s not even a prince-though you could say I loved him once upon a time. He was my older brother’s best friend. Growing up, he sat at our dinner table every Sunday, teased me mercilessly, and pretended I annoyed him. When I was old enough, he took me on my first date. Royal taught me how to drive. Escorted me to my junior prom. Gave me my first kiss . . . amongst other things. He was my first taste of toe-curling, all-consuming, can’t-sleep love. We had our whole lives ahead of us. There was never anyone else for me but him. And then he disappeared. No letter. No explanation. Not even a good-bye. I’ve spent the last seven years trying in vain to forget my first love, but just when I think I’ve finally moved on, guess who’s back in town?

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book!  It reminded me a lot of the Poughkeepie series, which I was obsessed with. I usually don’t like when the author switches POVs but in this book it worked well. If I had to complain about one thing is that there was this big secret why Royal went missing for 7 years and he didn’t want to tell Demi until the time was right and when he thought she could handle it.  They made it seem like it was something sooooo unbelievably tragic (don’t get me wrong it was awful) but when there was this big reveal I was expecting so much more.  Other than that it was a pretty good book.  I’m definitely going to read the second book.

The Dinner Party by Brenda Janowitz

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Synopsis:

This Passover Seder is not just any Passover Seder. Yes, there will be a quick service and then a festive meal afterwards, but this night is different from all other nights. This will be the night the Golds of Greenwich meet the Rothschilds of New York City.

The Rothschilds are the stuff of legends. They control banks, own vineyards in Napa, diamond mines in Africa, and even an organic farm somewhere in the Midwest that produces the most popular Romaine lettuce consumed in this country. And now, Sylvia Gold’s daughter is dating one of them.

When Sylvia finds out that her youngest of three is going to bring her new boyfriend to the Seder, she’s giddy. When she finds out that his parents are coming, too, she darn near faints. Making a good impression is all she thinks about. Well, almost. She still has to consider her other daughter, Sarah, who’ll be coming with her less than appropriate beau and his overly dramatic Italian mother. But the drama won’t stop there. Because despite the food and the wine, despite the new linen and the fresh flowers, the holidays are about family. Long forgotten memories come to the surface. Old grievances play out. And Sylvia Gold has to learn how to let her family go.

My Thoughts:

Great book!  As a parent I can relate to Sylvia in the sense that you have such great expectations for your children that you want to push them towards success, sometimes disregarding the fact that maybe they yearn for something different.  And I also could relate to Sarah because growing up I always wanted to please my parents even if it meant keeping secrets that I know would disappoint me.  I sometimes felt like I wasn’t doing a lot of the things that I wanted to be doing in fear that they’d judge me.  This book is so true to life when it comes to tight knit families.  I recommend this awesome read.

Turning The Tables by Teresa Giudice

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As all of you know, I’m a huge fan of RHONJ and I’ve been watching it from season 1.  So of course when all this went down about Teresa and Joe I watched like many as there situation unfolded publicly.  I was stunned when both were sentenced to prison- as a mother of 4 myself I just couldn’t imagine being away from my kids and in prison.  Watching the show there is no denying that Teresa Giudice is a devoted mother and wife and it really broke my heart that someone that loves her family so much would be ripped away from them (no matter what the circumstance it’s so sad).  There have been so many people out there saying “Why does everyone feel sorry for her?  She did the crime so she should do the time!”  I strongly believe that when you commit a crime you should definitely suffer the consequences, but geez there are so many people (really BAD people) getting off on murder, rape, drunk driving and risking the lives of those around them.  So yes, I find it fucked up that not only Teresa but her 4 beautiful young daughters had to suffer this unfortunate ordeal.

It took me a while to get around to reading this book, but I’m glad I did.  Of course the writing wasn’t the best; I mean this is Teresa Giudice we’re talking about.  The Teresa Giudice known for these one liners…

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I got started with this book with no great expectation of reading a well written book.  In all honesty the writing (even with the help of K. C. Baker) was not good at all, but like I said earlier I expected nothing more.

Surprisingly, I really enjoyed reading this book.  Teresa takes us on a journey through her strict upbringing as a child and adolescence, shares how her and Joe knew each other since she was born, stories about falling in love, getting married and having her children and how BRAVO’S RHONJ changed her life.  I love how we see a humbled side of Teresa.  She gets real about how she broke knowing that she’d be away from her family and how she worried about everyone that she was leaving behind.  She wrote about her experience in prison and what the living situation, food and other inmates were like.  If you can get over the writing, I think that the book was pretty good!

Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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Synopsis:

At the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college. On the heels of leaving yet another city, Hannah moves back to her hometown of Los Angeles and takes up residence in her best friend Gabby’s guestroom. Shortly after getting back to town, Hannah goes out to a bar one night with Gabby and meets up with her high school boyfriend, Ethan.

Just after midnight, Gabby asks Hannah if she’s ready to go. A moment later, Ethan offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay. Hannah hesitates. What happens if she leaves with Gabby? What happens if she leaves with Ethan?

In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision. Quickly, these parallel universes develop into radically different stories with large-scale consequences for Hannah, as well as the people around her. As the two alternate realities run their course, Maybe in Another Life raises questions about fate and true love: Is anything meant to be? How much in our life is determined by chance? And perhaps, most compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate?

Hannah believes there is. And, in both worlds, she believes she’s found him

My Thoughts:

I finished this book in one sitting!  It was such a cool book, very interesting in the way that each chapter alternates scenarios of what the outcome could be.  I thought that this book delivered such a good message- The choices and decisions that you make in life will ultimately lead you to where you’re supposed to be.  I totally believe that everything happens for a reason and even the bad in life is usually a blessing in disguise.  If I say more than the synopsis already tells, I might give too much away.  Go read the book!

My April Reading List

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I’m super excited about these books!  I hardly have the time to read these days but I hope that I can get through as much of these books as possible.  I’ve read some great reviews on each of them.

  1. The Dinner Party by Brenda Janowit
  2.  Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  3. Just Fall by Nina Sadowsky
  4. Some Women by Emily Liebert
  5. I’ll See You In Paris by Michelle Gable

 

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

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Photo Source

Synopsis:

“I’ve been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she has her dry cleaning done, where she works. I don’t know the color of her eyes or what they look like when she’s scared. But I will.”

Born to a prominent Chicago judge and his stifled socialite wife, Mia Dennett moves against the grain as a young inner-city art teacher. One night, Mia enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn’t show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. With his smooth moves and modest wit, at first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia’s life.

Colin’s job was to abduct Mia as part of a wild extortion plot and deliver her to his employers. But the plan takes an unexpected turn when Colin suddenly decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota, evading the police and his deadly superiors. Mia’s mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them, but no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family’s world to shatter.

An addictively suspenseful and tautly written thriller, The Good Girl is a propulsive debut that reveals how even in the perfect family, nothing is as it seems….

My Thoughts:

This book was really good. I had an idea about what the “twist” was from early on in the book but it didn’t take away from how much I enjoyed reading the book when at the end I was proven correct. Why did I love that “Owen” and “Chloe” fall in love? For god’s sake he was her kidnapper! But I found myself rooting for a “happily ever after” for the two of them. Books have the power of doing that to me sometimes. Anyhow…. I found myself crying at the end of this book. This was a really comfortable mystery/thriller to read. I didn’t find myself getting overly frustrated or at the edge of my seat with this one. I just sat and enjoyed this page turner. I definitely recommend reading this book. I hear that this is the author’s first novel? If this is true, I can’t wait to read what she comes up with next.