Monthly Archives: June 2014

Review: The Never Never Sisters

Recap: For marriage counselor Paige Reinhardt, summer couldn’t come soon enough. She rented a home in the Hamptons, and is looking forward to spending some alone time there with her workaholic lawyer husband, Dave. But something happens at Dave’s office that causes him to be suspended. As his world spirals out of control, and he works to keep Paige out of it, Paige’s estranged sister plans a trip into town to visit. Sloane has been out of the picture for twenty years, since her drug addiction got the best of her.

Suddenly Paige’s relaxing summer becomes a stressful one, as she works to uncover why Dave was suspended and to get to know the sister she lost so many years ago (not to mention Sloane’s new fiancé, Giovanni). As the summer continues, Paige realizes more and more how many secrets the people close to her have been keeping. What happened at Dave’s office, and why won’t he tell Paige? Who is Sloane, and has she gotten her life together? Can she really be trusted? As a marriage counselor, she tries to practice what she preaches, but that proves easier said than done as she’s faced with her own marital problems.

AnalysisThe Never Never Sisters is a family drama, a good beach read, the perfect chick lit novel for right now, since its story also takes place in the summer. It hooked me because it wasn’t easy to map out exactly which direction the story was headed. Compared to other family dramas I’ve read, this certainly wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t the worst either. Most of the characters came across as sketchy, so it was hard for me to understand why Paige so badly wanted to make things work with Dave and her sister. It was hard to believe there was ever much love in Paige and Dave’s relationship, and while I was curious to learn what Dave did to get suspended and why he kept it from Sloane, I didn’t necessarily care. And the fact that Paige is a marriage counselor and couldn’t even see the problems in her marriage was slightly concerning to me.

To be honest, I was more interested in the relationship between the sisters. The book spent a fair amount of time on them, but in my opinion, not enough, considering the book is titled for them. I expected and wanted to see more their relationship develop more. The fact that much of what they bonded over and discussed was Dave seemed to cloud the focus of the novel. But the ending was unexpected — in a good way! — though I wish the climax and resolution hadn’t felt so rushed.

MVP: Giovanni. Sloane’s fiancé brought to The Never Never Sisters the light-hearted, happy parts of the novel. While some found him to be annoying, he knew how to right a wrong situation and bring out the best in Sloane.

Get The Never Never Sisters in paperback for $12.34.

Or get it on your Kindle for $7.99.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Review: I Remember Nothing

Recap: Contrary to what the title of this book may seem to imply, I Remember Nothing is not a story about Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. On a much lighter note, I Remember Nothing is a nonfiction memoir, penned by the late, great journalist /writer /producer /director /screenwriter Nora Ephron. The book is a collection of essays about the past, present, and future, some personal, some more an outlet for Ephron to vent. Most are funny, some smart, empowering and thought-provoking, others sad, and a few are quite frankly odd.

In the chapter entitled “Journalism: A Love Story,” Ephron explains how she got her start writing as a journalist, from working in the mailroom at Newsweek to writing for the New York Post. The themes about sexism in the workplace and hard work paying off prevail here and feel inspirational. Other sections of the book discuss her divorce, friendship, and death. This is where we learn more about Ephron as a person and how she sees the world. Commentaries round out the rest of the book, including funny bits about email and short, odd, disposable chapters about things like Teflon.

Analysis: In all, reading about the life of one of the smartest, most successful, and iconically remembered creative female minds of our time was enjoyable. She is brilliant, and more importantly resilient. That comes across in her chapters on divorce and industry “flops” that she suffered. But if you read between the lines, Ephron not-so-subtly implies the state that she was in while writing the book. That is to say, Ephron had been diagnosed with leukemia a few years before penning I Remember Nothing. That information was not made public until after Ephron died in 2012. In retrospect, that knowledge better explains chapters like “What I Will Miss” and “What I Won’t Miss.” It’s lists like these that make it clear Ephron knew what road lay ahead. And what’s more, she faced it head-on.

In some sections — like the one about Teflon — I scratched my head in a state of “what the eff?” But other parts made me laugh out loud. And still others made me view the world in a different way. As a journalist, I felt that the journalism section of I Remember Nothing allowed me to connect with Ephron on a deeper level. I feel as thought I understand her quirks, and I respect her for them. But now, two after she’s passed away, I Remember Nothing helped me understand this great woman who I wish I had learned more about when she was still alive. We may not have Nora Ephron anymore, but we do have her words.

Get I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections in paperback for $11.71.

Or on your Kindle for just $5.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Another Book from Mindy Kaling

kalingFor those of you who haven’t yet read Mindy Kaling’s memoir, you might want to pick up a copy. Why? Because she has another one on the way.

According to the L.A. Times, Mindy Kaling, star of The Office and The Mindy Project, is working on a second memoir. Entitled Why Not Me?, the book will be a collection of essays, with a variety of topics, as Carolyn Kellogg explains.

“So much has happened between the time I published my first book and now,” Kaling tells [The Times’ Yvonne] Villarreal. “The show; my mother passed away; so many of my friends have gotten married. I’m a godmother now, and a homeowner. There’s so much that has happened in that period of time that I wanted to write another book.”

Considering her first book was a bestseller, I have no doubt this one will be successful as well.

Leave a comment

Filed under Author News, News Articles

‘Orange Is the New Black’ Reading List

oitnbIf you’re a fan of either the Netflix hit TV show or memoir Orange Is the New Black, and if you’ve been watching the new season incessantly like I have, you’ve probably noticed something — the characters are constantly reading. After all, they’re in prison. There’s not a whole lot else for them to do. The prison even has its own library!

Anyway, here’s a thank you shout-out to Entertainment Weekly for compiling a list of the books that the characters are reading in each episode throughout the second season of the series. If you’re into classics like Piper, pick up a copy of Anna Karenina. Maybe you like YA fiction like Vee; if so, grab The Fault In Our Stars. Also featured are Alice in Wonderland and Atonement.

Little did you realize that OITNB is subliminally trying to encourage viewers to read!

Leave a comment

Filed under News Articles

Fight Intensifies Between Amazon, Hachette

It’s one of the biggest book brawls since the 2012 fight over e-book pricing. Once again, Amazon and Hachette are involved.

This time, according to The New York Times, it’s believed that Amazon wants to offer discounts on Hachette e-books, and apparently negotiations aren’t going well. In fact, they’re going so poorly that Amazon is now supposedly delaying shipment of some Hachette books and preventing preorders of some Hachette books.

It would seem that this is a battle strictly between Amazon and Hachette, but rather, it appears to be the start of a war between Amazon and many publishing companies, as Jonathan Mahler explains.

As part of Hachette’s antitrust settlement with the government, the company agreed to allow Amazon to continue to discount the price of e-books for two years. That agreement has expired, and for some reason — no one is sure why — Hachette is the first publisher to find itself in the position of negotiating a new one.

Other publishers are holding their breath. It is in their interests for [Hachette Book Group’s chief executive] Mr. Pietsch to drive a hard bargain, and they are cheering him on, but silently. They have their own relationships with Amazon to protect […]

So is the squabble close to being resolved? Doesn’t seem that way, but with many of the details of the negotiations being kept under wraps, it’s hard to know exactly what’s going on and when it may finally end.

1 Comment

Filed under News Articles

Movie vs. Book: The Fault In Our Stars

Being sixteen years old isn’t easy. Even worse, being 16 and dying of cancer. But Hazel Grace Lancaster is making it work. She’s not scared of dying; she’s scared of getting too close to people, and what they’re going to do, how they’re going to live without her. She feels like a grenade, which makes it particularly difficult for her to become close to anyone. But then she meets Augustus Waters in a support group for teens with cancer, and suddenly everything changes.

Augustus, who’s in remission, sweeps her off her feet. The two bond over Hazel’s favorite book, and Augustus manages to get in touch with the author of the novel, in the hopes he’ll help Hazel learn what happens to the characters after the book ends. Augustus uses his “Make a Wish”-style wish on Hazel to give her the dream trip of her expectedly short life.

The beauty of the novel The Fault In Our Stars is that it’s a YA novel that brought teens back to reality, after years of popular young adult fiction novels revolving around vampires, wizards, deadly games, and dystopian universes. The Fault In Our Stars tells a realistic story, and though the end is viciously sad, it’s also uplifting and hopeful, emphasizing the importance of making your days count, even if you have very few.

The movie The Fault In Our Stars manages to mimic this sad, but hopeful feeling from the end of the book, and does a great job of accurately bringing the book to life. Of course, certain scenes are cut: Augustus and Hazel writing an ad to sell her childhood swing set (in the movie, the swing set is there in the beginning, and oddly, mysteriously missing from the backyard landscape at the end); Hazel shopping with one of her girlfriends at the mall; Augustus’s family; the fact that Gus has an ex-girlfriend that Hazel stalks a little bit. But none of these scenes are particularly crucial to the plot. While they may have helped to add depth to the character, they weren’t necessary and I didn’t feel as though the movie were really missing anything.

In all honesty, the most important aspects of this story are the characters and their chemistry between Hazel and Gus; luckily actress Shailene Woodley and actor Ansel Elgort play the characters wonderfully onscreen. Shailene Woodley isn’t just believable as Hazel; she is Hazel. She’s sarcastic and funny and cynical. And it’s hard to imagine any young male actor being as ridiculously charming and swoon-worthy as Ansel Elgort. Their chemistry is undeniable, making the story that much more lovable and that much more heartbreaking. If possible, I may have loved the movie as much as I loved the novel.

Get The Fault in Our Stars in paperback for $7.79.

Or on your Kindle for $4.99.

Leave a comment

Filed under Movie vs. Book, Reviews

Review: Seating Arrangements

Recap: The wedding between Daphne Van Meter and Greyson Duff is expected to be the upstanding New England social event of the summer. The two are delightfully perfect together, two beautiful, Ivy League graduates; twenty-somethings that come from the same stature of well-off New England families. One problem: the bride is pregnant, very pregnant, seven months along to be exact. Another problem: on the weekend of the wedding — during which the novel takes place — all of Daphne’s bridesmaids are staying at the Van Meters’ New England beach house with Daphne’s parents, Winn and Biddy. Included in the bridesmaid bunch are Livia, the bride’s sister; Dominique, the exotic former roommate; Piper, the meek friend; and Agatha, the friend who also happens to be a sexy tease to all men everywhere. Oh wait — another problem: the bride and groom’s families are getting together during the two nights leading up to the wedding, and also included at those events are the groom’s four brothers the bride’s drunk aunt.

From the beginning, the reader is informed that Daphne and Livia’s father, Winn, may be harboring feelings for Agatha, the sexy bridesmaid. We also learn Winn once dated the groom’s mother. We then learn he also once kissed his sister-in-law. Throw in the three brothers of the groom, and it’s unclear which will be more of a disaster — the night before the rehearsal dinner, the night of the rehearsal dinner or the night of the actual wedding. Can the wedding planner keep the clandestine scandals of the weekend separate from the weekend’s marital plans? Debatable.

Analysis: On the surface, Seating Arrangements sounds like an exciting, juicy, scandalous beach read, and it is. But it’s so much more than that. It feels like a classic, and is scandalous in the way that Edith Wharton (The Age of Innocence, released in 1921) novels are scandalous. Author Maggie Shipstead writes the novel in such a literary way, I kept questioning whether it takes place modern-day or in an earlier time period.

As much as the story seems like it would be about a wedding, very little is about the wedding or the bride and groom. We learn more about the bride’s father, Winn, his relationship with his wife, and his relationship with his younger daughter, Livia. This is the story of a man who’s a little neurotically insane, a man who’s trying to understand all the women in his life as he — even at age 60 — is still working to figure out what kind of man, husband, and father he wants to be versus what he should be. It’s a story about family, growing old, growing apart, letting go, and learning to love the people you’re obligated to love, even if it hurts.

MVP: Livia. She is such a sad little creature, and she has so much growing up to do. But there’s something there — a natural sense of defiance and strength that makes the reader believe, especially at the end, that she’s going to be okay.

Get Seating Arrangements in paperback for $8.48.

Or on your Kindle for $7.99.

2 Comments

Filed under Reviews