Friday, May 24, 2019

Review: Waisted

Summary: In this provocative, wildly entertaining, and compelling novel, seven women enrolled in an extreme weight loss documentary discover self-love and sisterhood as they enact a daring revenge against the exploitative filmmakers.

Alice and Daphne, both successful and accomplished working mothers, harbor the same secret: obsession with their weight overshadows concerns about their children, husbands, work—and everything else of importance in their lives. Scales terrify them.

Daphne, plump in a family of model-thin women, learned only slimness earns admiration at her mother’s knee. Alice, break-up skinny when she met her husband, risks losing her marriage if she keeps gaining weight.

The two women meet at Waisted. Located in a remote Vermont mansion, the program promises fast, dramatic weight loss, and Alice, Daphne, and five other women are desperate enough to leave behind their families for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The catch? They must agree to always be on camera; afterward, the world will see Waisted: The Documentary.

The women soon discover that the filmmakers have trapped them in a cruel experiment. With each pound lost, they edge deeper into obsession and instability...until they decide to take matters into their own hands. -- Atria

I had extremely high hopes for the new novel WAISTED by Randy Susan Meyers. I have read all of Ms. Meyer's books, and I think she's an amazing author. Plus, this novel's description totally appealed to me. I have to admit that I enjoyed this novel (more on that later!), but I'm not sure it lived up to my expectations.

WAISTED tells the story of two overweight women, Alice and Daphne. Even though both women are successful working moms, their unhappiness over their appearances seem to take center stage. Alice was extremely thin when she married her husband is concerned that her marriage can't survive her weight gain, and Daphne has always been anxious about not living up to her mother's expectations of thin. Trust me when I tell you that weight is an all-consuming concern for both of them!

The two women meet at Waisted, an in-patient program in rural Vermont where they hope to drastically lose weight... and improve their lives. They also have agreed to have the entire weight loss journey filmed for a documentary. As much as this seems to make sense for both women, they quickly learn that Waisted is much, much more intense than they even thought -- maybe even bordering on abusive. These two strong women (with a little help from some others!) decide it's high time to save themselves and take charge of what's happening to them!

As I mentioned earlier, I did like WAISTED quite a bit but I didn't love it. There were just a few scenes in an otherwise strong story that didn't set right with me. That's all I'm going to say on the matter because I don't want to focus on that... or provide spoilers! Rather, I would like to focus on the powerful messages in this novel that will resonate with all sorts of women in today's society!

I definitely appreciated what the author set out to do with WAISTED -- it really does an excellent job of exploring women's issues with their bodies and how these issues spill over into the rest of their lives. Both Alice and Daphne were incredible women, truly successful in so many aspects of their lives; however, they couldn't really love or accept themselves the way they were. It was so sad because they let their weight define them, and in the process, lived their lives with so much guilt and embarrassment. It truly broke my heart just how desperate they were.

However, I have to be honest and say that I could totally relate to so many of their thoughts and feelings. And actually, I think that's the beauty of this novel. Women will get this book! In today's society (and probably since the beginning of time), women are constantly judging themselves. And most of the time, it's harsher than how others see us. So many times our moods and behaviors are based on our weaknesses (or perceived weaknesses) rather than our strengths.

What I did enjoy about this story is that Alice and Daphne realized that they didn't deserve to be treated poorly just because they were heavy. (And let me tell you this was quite the journey!) When they decided to pull together all of their smarts and overcome the adversity that was WAISTED, they accomplished great things. And while they weren't miraculously cured of all their issues by the end of the novel, I do think they gain a lot of perspective. I guess it goes to say that we are all a work in progress!

I think I've touched upon a lot of great things about WAISTED, so it's no surprise that I am going to recommend this book for book clubs. There is truly so much to discuss, and there's a reading group guide to help stimulate conversation. Some of the themes you might want to explore include self-confidence, body issues, identity, relationships, confidence, guilt, parenting styles, and revenge. It also would be interesting to discuss how these characters move forward with their lives after the last page of the book!

I think WAISTED touches upon some incredibly relevant issues for women in today's society, and I guarantee that this novel will make you think and feel!

Thanks to the publisher and Get Red PR for providing a review copy of this novel.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Mailbox Monday

Welcome back to another Mailbox Monday post! It was a great book week for me with lots of surprises! I know a few of you will be checking out the new Kate Morton in paperback and the new Lauren Willig book....
THE ROGUE OF FIFTH AVENUE by Joanna Shupe came from Avon Books

THE OTHER END OF THE LINE by Andrea Camilleri came from Penguin Books

BATTLE ROYALE: LAST FAN STANDING by Mathias Lavorel came from Andrews McMeel

THE CLOCKMAKER'S DAUGHTER by Kate Morton came from Atria Books

THE SUMMER COUNTRY by Lauren Willig came from William Morrow

I HAVE AN IDEA! by Henre Tullet came from Chronicle Books

ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE MAKE WAVES by Lauren H. Kerstein and illustrated by Nate Wragg came from Two Lions and Blue Slip Media

What was in your mailbox?

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Kid Konnection: Show Me History! Books



Every weekend, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekly feature about anything related to children's books. This week I'm going to share with you a series of books that parents and kids alike will love!

Summary: Considered by many historians to be the greatest American president, Abraham Lincoln led the Union at the greatest turning point in the nation’s history. Abraham Lincoln: Defender of the Union! tells the story of one of America’s most admired figures in graphic novel format. From his childhood on a farm in Kentucky to the battlefields of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln served the United States with resolve, intelligence, and courage unlike that of any other president. Readers of all ages will be entertained and educated by the full-color illustrations and historically accurate narrative of this graphical biography. -- Portable Press

Summary: Alexander Hamilton: The Fighting Founding Father! tells the story of one of the most ambitious and controversial figures in American history in a graphic novel format. From a rough childhood on the Caribbean island of Nevis to the highest levels of American politics, Alexander Hamilton’s life was filled with adventure, conflict, and controversy. Full-color illustrations and an entertaining narrative make this graphical biography of America’s first Secretary of the Treasury accessible for readers of all ages. -- Portable Press

Summary: This graphical biography tells the story of the most prominent leader of the American civil rights movement. With full-color illustrations and a historically accurate narrative, Martin Luther King Jr.: Voice for Equality! will inform and entertain readers of all ages. From his childhood in Atlanta to his rise as an international icon of human rights and a fiery orator who refused to back down in the face of adversity, King’s life story serves as an ongoing source of inspiration. -- Portable Press

Summary: When Amelia Earhart became the first woman to make a solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1932, she immediately became an American icon and a subject of endless fascination for generations to come. In Amelia Earhart: Pioneer of the Sky!, the story of the bold and daring aviator’s life is presented in graphic novel format, with full-color illustrations and historically accurate details. From her hardscrabble childhood to her final flight—and mysterious disappearance—Earhart’s journey will entertain, captivate, and inspire readers of all ages. -- Portable press

I am so impressed with the Show Me History! series of biographies for readers ages 8 - 12. These books are a winner of the 2019 National Parenting Product Awards (NAPPA), and they are a fantastic way to make learning fun for kids. The four books in the series are ABRAHAM LINCOLN: DEFENDER OF THE UNION! by Mark Shulman and Tom Martin, ALEXANDER HAMILTON: THE FIGHTING FOUNDING FATHER by Mark Shulman and Kelly Tindall, MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: VOICE FOR EQUALITY! by James Buckley Jr. and Youneek Studios, and AMELIA EARHART: PIONEER OF THE SKY! by James Buckley Jr. and Kelly Tindall; and I honestly can't even pick a favorite because they are all so outstanding. These hardcover books are written in a graphic novel format with colorful illustrations, and I think even the most reluctant readers will be drawn to these history books about some of our country's most interesting heroes.

I've read some graphic novel history books in the past and enjoyed them quite a bit, but I think the Show Me History! series has definitely perfected this art. Each of these books provides a brief history of these individuals' lives and accomplishments with fun pictures and few words. Kids will definitely learn the highlights of these people's lives while not being turned off by a long and "boring" biography. In fact, the books' website claims, "It's a time machine you can read!"

In addition to the accounts of history, the end of these books also include some interesting pages that complement the biographies. There are lists of other individuals who were relevant to the specific cause as well as timelines, glossaries, and ways to find out more about these people. I love that these books encourage kids to discover more about these American heroes on their own by providing books, websites, and videos!

I definitely recommend this series to teachers as well as parents because the publisher has made these books ideal for learning. In addition to the approachable format of a graphic novel, they also have made resources readily available to enrich the reading experience. There are reading guides as well as interviews with the creators. There are also sample pages to download:
I highly recommend the Show Me History! series of graphic novels for all school and home libraries.

Thanks to Media Master for providing review copies of these books.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!

Monday, May 13, 2019

Mailbox Monday

Welcome back to another Mailbox Monday post! It was a quieter book week for me but that's a very good thing! My life is insane between work and home-life and my reading has definitely taken a back burner.

REBEL by Beverly Jenkins came from Avon Books

LET'S MOOOVE! by Courtney Sheinmel and Bianca Turetsky came from Random House Kids

THE SHOW MUST GO ON by Courtney Sheinmel and Bianca Turetsky came from Random House Kids

THE TIGER CATCHER by Paullina Simons came from William Morrow

THE FAVORITE DAUGHTER by Patti Callahan Henry came from Berkley and Tandem Literary

What was in your mailbox?

Monday, May 6, 2019

Mailbox Monday

Welcome back to another Mailbox Monday post! It was a huge book week for me! Check out these great books!
DARK STORM by Karen Harper came from Mira Books

THE UNBREAKABLES by Lisa Barr came from Harper Books

ONE SMALL SACRIFICE by Hilary Davison came from Thomas & Mercer

MY LIFE IN SMILEY: SAVE ME by Anne Kalicky came from Andrews McMeel

SILVER MEADOWS SUMMER by Emma Otheguy came from Alfred A. Knopf BFYR

SHRED GIRLS: LINDSAY'S JOYRIDE by Molly Hurford came from Rodale Kids

THE PUMPKIN WAR by Cathleen Young came from Schwartz & Wade


THE SONG OF THE JADE LILY by Kirsty Manning came from William Morrow

What was in your mailbox?

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Kid Konnection: We Are (Not) Friends



Every weekend, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekly feature about anything related to children's books. This week I'm going to share with you a picture book about friendship!

Summary: Two fuzzy friends are having a fun playdate when a new pal hops in. As the day continues, each friend feels left out at times. It isn’t so easy to figure out how to act when everything seems to change. With humor and heart, the beloved characters from Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner You Are (Not) Small navigate a friendship triangle as only they can. -- Two Lions

When my kids were small, it always seemed like there were issues when we had playdates with three kids. Things would be fine when there were two, but when you added that third child to the mix, it seemed like someone was always left out. There were occasional fights and tears, and lots of parent involvement; and I'm sure it was a great learning experience for the kids, but... wow!

So when I picked up the new picture book WE ARE (NOT) FRIENDS by Anna Kang and illustrated by Christopher Weyant, I could totally appreciate the message. This cute picture book, with its three lovable (and furry) characters, teaches children that it's okay to add a third friend to a friendship. Even though it's sometimes awkward to navigate a friendship triangle, these characters learn how to change the way their view their current friendship and include everyone.

As a mom who has lived through many situations like the ones in WE ARE (NOT) FRIENDS, I can't help but think that this book has a great message for little ones. Not only does it show that it's normal to have these feelings when a new friend enters a relationship, but it also shows that you can be open-minded, inclusive and still have fun!

I thought WE ARE (NOT) FRIENDS was a precious book with a great message and adorable furry characters. Highly recommended!

Thanks to Blue Slip Media for providing a review copy of this book.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Review: Daisy Jones & The Six (Audio)

Summary: Everyone knows DAISY JONES & THE SIX, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock ’n’ roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice. -- Random House Audio

I could barely contain myself when the novel DAISY JONES & THE SIX by Taylor Jenkins Reid showed up in Volumes. I absolutely love Ms. Reid's novels and this one sounded like it was right up my alley. I am not a huge listened of audio books, but I made an exception for this one. The cast was absolutely amazing, and I was hearing some pretty special buzz about the audio version.

DAISY JONES & THE SIX tells the story of the 1970s mega rock band, Daisy Jones & The Six. The band split up when they were the biggest rock band in the country, and no one knew why. This novel, written as an oral history of the band, finally tells that story.

Daisy was a young girl growing up in L.A. in the late sixties. From the time she was a teen, she was sneaking into bars and clubs, sleeping with famous singers, and even dabbling in drugs. She also figured out that she wanted to be a performer. She started to get buzz for her sexy voice, but it didn't hurt that she was absolutely drop dead gorgeous too!

Meanwhile, the band The Six, led by Billy Dunne and his brother, were also getting some attention. Right before the band was ready to head out on their big tour, Billy learned that his girlfriend was pregnant. Billy wasn't quite sure how to handle this news, and he ended up going a little wild. That's actually an understatement. Billy began drinking and doing drugs and actually missed the birth of his first daughter.

When a producer decided to introduce Daisy and Billy, the history of rock music was forever changed. These two had major chemistry... and I don't just mean on-stage! As the band began to gain fame, the bandmates, especially Daisy and Billy, had to deal with many issues and make some difficult choices about the band's and their own future.

I loved, loved, loved DAISY JONES & THE SIX! I felt as if these characters were real, and Ms. Reid brought their stories to life in the very best possible way. I adored both Daisy and Billy and their complicated lives (even though I felt like hitting them upside the head a few times), and I thought the supporting cast was equally well developed. The way the author captured the time period and the dynamics of the band were just so good! I honestly didn't want their story to end... although I admit that I loved how everything was wrapped up.

However, I think what really made this book extra-special to me was the performance of the narrators. I almost can't believe I'm saying this, but I know I preferred the audio version to the written one. This audio book will go down as one of my favorites ever because of performances by Jennifer Beals, Pablo Schreiber, Julia Whelan, and Judy Greer...although every narration was spot on. This was an amazing production, and I'd like to just list the entire cast because it was so special:

Daisy Jones, read by Jennifer Beals
Billy Dunne, read by Pablo Schreiber
Graham Dunne, read by Benjamin Bratt
Eddie Loving, read by Fred Berman
Warren Rhodes, read by Ari Fliakos
Karen Karen, read by Judy Greer
Camila Dunne, read by January LaVoy
Simone Jackson, read by Robinne Lee
Narrator / Author, read by Julia Whelan
Jim Blades, read by Jonathan Davis
Rod Reyes, read by Henry Leyva
Artie Snyder, read by Oliver Wyman
Elaine Chang, read by Nancy Wu
Freddie Mendoza, read by P.J. Ochlan
Nick Harris, read by Arthur Bishop
Jonah Berg, read by Holter Graham
Greg McGuinness, read by Brendan Wayne
Pete Loving, read by Pete Larkin
Wyatt Stone, read by Alex Jenkins Reid
Hank Allen, read by Robert Petkoff
Opal Cunningham, read by Sara Arrington

Book clubs should so read DAISY JONES & THE SIX! I am happy to say that there is an excellent discussion guide with 15 thought-provoking questions. Some of the themes you might want to explore include sacrifice, the role of women in society, drugs, addiction, family, finding one's self, sibling relationships, commitment, faithfulness, and memory. I truly think you could talk about this novel and these characters for hours!

I adored DAISY JONES & THE SIX and highly recommend it to fans of women's fiction!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy on Volumes.