Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Worthy by Catherine Ryan Hyde


From author Catherine Ryan Hyde, comes a book about tragedy, triumph and redemption. It is the story of two strangers who forge a connection when they find out they are connected by an unfortunate turn of events. This being her 27th novel, you just know it will grab you and will be a story you will not soon forget.

Synopsis
"Virginia finally had the chance to explore a relationship with Aaron when he asked her on a date. She had been waiting, hoping that the widower and his young son, Buddy, would welcome her into their lives. But a terrible tragedy strikes on the night of their first kiss, crushing their hopes for a future together. Nineteen years later, Virginia is engaged, though she has not forgotten Aaron or Buddy. When her dog goes missing and it comes to light that her fiancĂ© set him loose, a distraught Virginia breaks off the engagement and is alone once again. A shy young man has found the missing pet, and although he’s bonded with the animal, he answers his conscience and returns the dog. Before long, Virginia and the young man discover a connection from their pasts that will help them let go of painful memories and change their lives forever."
Worthy is a book that will warm your heart, and remind you to believe that nothing happens without a purpose. Often tragedy strikes, and we cannot understand the reasons, but that it is often best not to try to make sense of it. Sometimes life doesn't make sense. Virginia and Aaron could have been a family. Life has a mind of its own. From Worthy we learn to embrace life, because even the set-backs can help us understand who we really are, and why life is precious and important. Every single second of it. 

Happy reading!





Monday, June 29, 2015

The Balance Project by Susie Orman Schnall


From author Susie Orman Schnall comes a book about learning to balance it all: family, career, and relationships. It begs an answer to the question "can we have it all?" Do we truly have the ability to keep everything running smoothly when we are busy and overstretched? This is the modern-day woman's facade of perfection. What you portray on social media becomes your existence. If it looks perfect, it must be perfect, right? 
I would love for you to read a synopsis of the book, and then share with you my thoughts on the book. 

Synopsis
"The Balance Project is a story of loyalty, choices, and balance that will resonate deeply with all women who struggle with this hot-button issue. Loyal assistant Lucy Cooper works for Katherine Whitney, who seems to have it all: a high-powered job at a multibillion-dollar health and wellness lifestyle company, a successful husband, and two adorable daughters. Now, with the release of her book on work-life balance, Katherine has become a media darling and a hero to working women everywhere. In reality, though, Katherine’s life is starting to fall apart, and Lucy is the one holding it all together, causing her own life―and relationship with her boyfriend Nick―to suffer. When Katherine does something unthinkable to Lucy, Lucy must decide whether to change Katherine’s life forever or continue being her main champion. Her choice will affect the trajectory of both of their lives and lead to opportunities neither one could have imagined."

My Thoughts
I truly believe the answer to the question "can we have it all?" is-yes. Let me explain before you jump up in protest! I believe "having it all" is a very subjective experience. What I believe to be a full life may be very different from someone else who believes that I do way too much in my life. If I listed off the many things I did within the span of a day, someone may take a deep breath and say "Whew! You do too much!" For me, this lifestyle is normal. I really enjoyed this book. It was well-written, an easy read, and an engaging story-line. This was the trifecta of perfection for me-a busy working mom. Please, indulge in this book on a towel or on a beach lounge somewhere. Sip your drink with an umbrella in it, and forget about your problems. I promise you (crosses heart), you will not be sorry. 


Happy reading!

The Monday Run-Down

After spending a week sans computer, I am back up and running thanks to helpful You Tube videos and a trip to the Apple Genius Bar. Seriously, what did we ever do before we could Google solutions to a problem? Everything is out there. EVERYTHING! The digital snafu put me a little behind in regard to blogging, but that's not a bad thing! Every could has a silver lining. Here is what's up this week on Read Baby Read.

Monday
The Balance Project by Susie Orman Schnall. As a woman who adored The Devil Wears Prada, I highly recommend Susie's book which is not exactly The Devil Wears Prada, but will leave you feeling fulfilled and happy that you have chosen a great read for your seaside adventures.

Tuesday
Worthy by Catherine Ryan Hyde. If that name sounds familiar, it is because she also is of the Pay it Forward fame. Remember the book and the movie that came out? Yes, that one! I think you will all really enjoy this book.

Wednesday
What to Read Wednesday Summer Recap. If you don't have time to scroll through my blog to find your next read, this post is for you!

Thursday
Throw Back Thursday post. Bringing it back to Taylor's After I Do. You will be thrilled with her newest book, and I just wanted to warm you up!

Friday
Tiny Little Things by Beatriz Williams. She has written many summer hits, and this book is no exception!

Have a fabulous reading week, everyone!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

#tbt to The Best Reading Challenge EVER!


As I mentioned in the Monday Run-Down post, I attended a fabulous party in New York that was held by author Laura Dave to celebrate the release of her newest book Eight Hundred Grapes (out soon!). While I was at the party, I met some wonderful bloggers who I have seen and interacted with on social media, but it was great to have the opportunity to meet them in real life! If you are a book blogger, or a book lover, I highly recommend attending BEA at least once in your lifetime. It was exhausting in the best possible way, and gave me the opportunity to share some amazing new books with you! Okay, so I will limit my babble to tell you about an exciting challenge coming out of a conversation I had with Laura's publicist, Marysue. We chatted about A.R., and promoting reading. of course it is no secret I am a reader, and with o without free books, I would be reading. I told her about my former school creating a 40 Book Challenge for students. The gist of the challenge was to promote reading within our school, and to encourage the students to increase the amount of books they read each year. For every book they read, they received a raffle ticket to win a set of books we housed in the office. It was amazing to see the look on the kids' faces when they would run their tickets up to the office to enter the raffle. In conversation with Marysue, I told her I really think a contest works well for adults too! So...thanks to generous publisher donations, I bring you the #1in1 and #15in15 challenge on Instagram.

The rules are simple:
1. Read one book this month (contest ends on the last day of the month)
2. Once you have finished reading, take a picture or screen shot of the book cover, and post it on Instagram or Twitter.
3. Hashtag #1in1 and #15in15 so I can find your post
4. Tag me @lilmommareader, as well as the publisher of the book
5. You can post twice a month for the contest, but feel free to enter as many times as you want!

The contest is on you honor, and I would love more than anything for everyone to win! The more you enter, the better your karma. Just sayin'....

Thank you Simon & Schuster for the books for our monthly giveaway.

To inspire you, please read this book! I recommend it all the time, to everyone I meet. It is one of my all-time faves!

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Wednesday #wanttoread List feat. Jane Green



Every book I read by the fabulous Jane Green is one I treasure. I met her in 2014 at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Her signed copy of Tempting Fate is well-worn from all of the hands that have read it at my insistence. It is, as I type, still being passed from reader to reader. I love when a book does that! I cannot wait to dive in her newest book Summer Secrets. It is part of the Book Sparks Summer Reading Challenge, and I want you to add it to your TBR list!   

Synopsis
When a shocking family secret is revealed, twenty-something journalist Cat Coombs finds herself falling into a dark spiral. Wild, glamorous nights out in London and raging hangovers the next day become her norm, leading to a terrible mistake one night while visiting family in America, on the island of Nantucket. It's a mistake for which she can't forgive herself. When she returns home, she confronts the unavoidable reality of her life and knows it's time to grow up. But she doesn't know if she'll ever be able to earn the forgiveness of the people she hurt.
As the years pass, Cat grows into her forties, a struggling single mother, coping with a new-found sobriety and determined to finally make amends. Traveling back to her past, to the family she left behind on Nantucket all those years ago, she may be able to earn their forgiveness, but in doing so she may risk losing the very people she loves the most.
Told with Jane Green's keen eye for detailing the emotional landscape of the heart, Summer Secrets is at once a compelling drama and a beautifully rendered portrait of relationships, betrayals, and forgiveness; about accepting the things we cannot change, finding the courage to change the things we can, and being strong enough to weather the storms.


Happy Hump Day & Happy Reading!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Wishful Thinking by Kamy Wicoff


Do not allow the whimsical cover on this book fool you into thinking this book isn't richly written and wonderfully nuanced. Yes, the premise is a bit far-fetched, but the writing in this book is simply wonderful, and the story has you thinking, "would I fall for this same scenario?" The truth is, we are incredibly busy. As a mother, I though having babies and toddlers left me busy and running around. I knew nothing of busyness until my children became involved in sports, and traveling for said sports, and my schedule became more compact and impacted. Some days I am so busy my head spins. There were times I wished I could clone myself into another person so that one day I could just come home and lie down. That's it, just lie down. Maybe even read a book somewhere besides the front seat of my car. If you can identify with anything I've just said, this book is for you. Anyone who has had a job that took up even a minute of your leisure time can identify with this book. 

Synopsis 

Jennifer Sharpe is a divorced mother of two with a problem just about any working parent can relate to: her boss expects her to work as though she doesn’t have children, and her children want her to care for them as though she doesn’t have a boss. But when, through a fateful coincidence, a brilliant physicist comes into possession of Jennifer’s phone and decides to play fairy godmother, installing a miraculous time-travel app called Wishful Thinking, Jennifer suddenly finds herself in possession of what seems like the answer to the impossible dream of having it all: an app that lets her be in more than one place at the same time. With the app, Jennifer goes quickly from zero to hero in every part of her life: she is super-worker, the last to leave her office every night; she is super-mom, the first to arrive at pickup every afternoon; and she even becomes super-girlfriend, dating a musician who thinks she has unlimited childcare and a flexible job. But Jennifer soon finds herself facing questions that adding more hours to her day can’t answer. Why does she feel busier and more harried than ever? Is she aging faster than everyone around her? How can she be a good worker, mother, and partner when she can’t be honest with anybody in her life? And most important, when choosing to be with your children, at work, or with your partner doesn’t involve sacrifice, do those choices lose their meaning? Wishful Thinking is a modern-day fairy tale in which one woman learns to overcome the challenges—and appreciate the joys—of living life in real time.

If there is a book that has been an unexpected gift to me, it has been Wishful Thinking! Thank you Book Sparks! 



Monday, June 15, 2015

The Monday Run-Down

I have had an incredibly eventful weekend, and meeting wonderful authors was part of that. I had the opportunity to meet Jane Porter tonight at a release party for her newest book titled "It's You." While at Laguna Beach Books for the release party, I also had the pleasure of meeting Kaira Rouda, Beth Albright, and Anita Hughes. I also chatted with Suzanne Redfearn again, which was a treat for me as it has been a while since I last saw her. Being around bookish folks is a huge treat for me, and I loved every minute of it!

Monday
Check out my Instagram @lilmommareader for a giveaway of Wishful Thinking by Kamy Wicoff. This was a wonderful read in Book Spark's Summer Reading Challenge. Please stop by Instagram to enter for a chance to win. You do not want to miss it!

Tuesday
Visit my page to see what I thought of Wishful Thinking by Kamy Wicoff. I posted a while back on my Want to Read Wednesday post, and I was enthralled with this book!

Wednesday
Find out what is up next on my TBR pile! (hint, Jane Green)

Thursday
Throw-Back Thursday to one of my favorite books, and one that I return to time and time again to recommend to friends, family, and strangers!

I hope you have a wonderful bookish week! xoxo

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Far End of Happy by Kathryn Craft

Q &A with Kathryn Craft
1. Your book is a perfect choice for book clubs because it raises questions for discussion and in-depth conversation. What book have you read that you couldn't wait to talk about with someone?

Thank you. I am drawn to both writing and reading books that invite reader participation and incite reaction, because discussing books is one of my favorite ways to interact with people. I’ve felt that urgency to discuss, perhaps most recently with Gone Girl. Readers are deeply divided about this novel yet are never apathetic! I love the way Gillian Flynn created unlikable characters that kept us guessing, yet still offered up so much truth about human nature. And about myself—it was unsettling. My copy is heavily underlined.

2. This book provides an honest portrayal of what happens daily in many women's lives. What part of the writing process was the most difficult for you?

One part felt difficult to the point of dangerous: In the seventeen years since his suicide, for the first time, I opened my wedding album and allowed myself to remember how much I loved my husband. The story needed to show the near end of happy, even if doing so deepened my sense of tragedy and loss. It was easier to stay angry. But just as the human body is designed to heal and the heart is made to love, the human psyche is meant to adapt. The change isn’t easy, and finishing the novel pushed me into a new phase of grieving. But remembering love is so important, and may well have been the final part of my healing journey.

3. What is one piece of advice about life that has stuck with you and that you pass on to others?

It’s so simple I made a hashtag and a Twitter movement out of it: #choosethisday. Every day we get out of bed and go about our daily business, we are choosing this day to live our lives. It wasn’t until my husband chose not to that I realized this and it is so empowering. Give yourself credit for showing up. And now that you realize the precious minutes of this day were yours to choose—what will you do with them? I love reading about what makes people come alive with this hashtag on Twitter. We can use more positive messages. Every step you take, large or small, is a choice that counts in the book of your life. Live a great story.

4. I'm inspired by your courage to write what many authors shy away from. Are there any authors who inspire you with their writing?

Thank you so much. Once you’ve lost someone to suicide, you realize how harmful it is to guard “the unspeakable.” We need to share our humanity with one another, warts and all. Some who are masters at bringing flawed characters to life on the page, and who inspire me to do so as well, are Barbara Kingsolver, Ann Patchett, Khaled Hosseini, and Anna Quindlen.

5. Are there any books you've recently read that you have loved and can recommend to readers? 

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh were both novels where I got to the halfway point and then had to keep reading in one sitting just to relieve the knots in my gut. And believe me, that’s tough these days—I don’t have half-days available for sitting around and reading! But both authors were able to create in me that deep need for resolution.

Synopsis
Ronnie's husband, Jeff, is supposed to move out today. But when he pulls into the driveway drunk, with a shotgun in the front seat, she realizes nothing about the day will go as planned. The next few hours spiral down in a flash, unlike the slow disintegration of their marriage—and whatever part of that painful unraveling is Ronnie's fault, not much else matters now but these moments. Her family's lives depend on the choices she will make—but is what's best for her best for everyone? 

Based on a real event from the author's life, The Far End of Happy is a chilling story of one troubled man, the family that loves him, and the suicide standoff that will change all of them forever.




Kathryn Craft is the author of The Art of Falling and The Far End of Happy. Long a leader in the southeastern Pennsylvania literary scene, she loves any event that brings together readers, books, food and drink, and mentors other writers through workshops and writing retreats. A former dance critic, she has a bachelor’s in biology education and a master’s in health and physical education from Miami University in Ohio. She lives in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, and spends her summers lakeside in northern New York State.

Connect with Kathryn on social media:
Twitter: @kcraftwriter

Thursday, June 11, 2015

#tbt to Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Reid


This book. It will forever have a special place in my heart. I just cannot implore you enough to read it, and satisfy a reading craving you didn't know you had been missing until now. here is a Throwback Thursday post to my initial review of Forever, Interrupted:

Every once in a while a book comes along and hits you right in the heart. The story is exquisite, and pulls at you. "Keep reading, keep reading", it says. It's a book so memorable, you dreamily recall the characters, the story line, and the outcome with fondness, and it may leave you a little melancholy that it ended. Forever, Interrupted is that book for me. It has even inspired a new book category on my blog. There's the borrow it, buy it, and now-Shut Up and Take My Money!! It's the book that I will be recommending to friends, and family, and even strangers (I'm talking to you dude at the Brand at Americana who works in concierge.  We are kindred book spirits. I'm coming to see you about this one!). 

The scoop on the book is that Elsie and Ben are newlyweds, so in love with one another that their love is likened to a supernova. Brief, but brilliant. It lights up the sky. But its brilliance soon fades, and you're left with darkness. At the beginning of the book, Ben leaves their apartment one night to buy her fruity pebbles (I mean, it wasn't Cinnamon Toast Crunch-that should've been his first warning). She wanted Fruity Pebbles, so her devoted husband hops on his Schwinn to go down the street-when... bam! Tragedy strikes, and Ben is killed. Don't worry, that is not spoiling the story for you because, ummm....hello? It's called Forever, Interrupted!  I digress. Anyway, Ben's death understandably sends Elsie into a tailspin, which is further complicated by the arrival of Ben's mother. Ben's mother has no idea her son was even married, and planning for the funeral is Elsie's first meeting with her. Awkward? Yes. Devastating? You bet ya! Will Elsie be crushed under the weight of it all? Dear Lord, this is my prayer-please don't let this happen to me. I do not want my forever to be interrupted. I wouldn't be able to take it! I love that Elsie is a librarian, and trust me-it is the eventual highlight of the story for me. Read it-you'll see what I mean.

The story that unfolds in Forever, Interrupted is so wondrous, I'm certain you will feel the same way I did. You'll laugh, you'll cry. I was cheering for Elsie the whole book. I was rooting for her. This story will stay with you. I recommend stocking up on the Kleenex.

You've been warned about the impending book hangover.

Happy Reading! 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Wednesday #wanttoread List


This week's #wanttoread book is The Balance Project by Susie Orman Schnall. In my younger years, I would desperately want it all. I wanted the fabulous job, lots of money, the perfect life. Perfectionism was in my blood, and being Type-A is not an easy bond to break. I found out that the perfect life doesn't exist, and boy am I ever grateful that it doesn't! Life has been one of the best teachers, and I *think* I have been a good student. I have another book for you to add to your growing stack of books-this is it! Here is a synopsis of the book, so you can read along with me in the #SRC2015 reading challenge. Let me know if you want to read along in the comments section!

Synopsis

The Balance Project is a story of loyalty, choices, and balance that will resonate deeply with all women who struggle with this hot-button issue. Loyal assistant Lucy Cooper works for Katherine Whitney, who seems to have it all: a high-powered job at a multibillion-dollar health and wellness lifestyle company, a successful husband, and two adorable daughters. Now, with the release of her book on work-life balance, Katherine has become a media darling and a hero to working women everywhere. In reality, though, Katherine’s life is starting to fall apart, and Lucy is the one holding it all together, causing her own life―and relationship with her boyfriend Nick―to suffer. When Katherine does something unthinkable to Lucy, Lucy must decide whether to change Katherine’s life forever or continue being her main champion. Her choice will affect the trajectory of both of their lives and lead to opportunities neither one could have imagined.


Adding to your TBR stack, and Happy Reading!