Friday, April 29, 2016

Book Review: Falling Together










By Denise Keliuotis

This was one of those times where the title of the book truly summed it all up.

When I began reading Falling Together: How to Find Balance, Joy, and Meaningful Change When Your Life Seems to be Falling Apart, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Donna Wilk Cardillo’s work has been classified under the “self-help” genre, so I suppose I expected some life tips, but Falling Together offers so much more. Cardillo has crafted a thoughtful work of – yes – advice, but she has done so in a personal, heartfelt, and relatable way.

Without a doubt, Falling Together could easily be set among the memoirs, as Cardillo spends a good portion of the book sharing stories from her own life, stories from which she learned important and truly life-changing lessons. Working through these experiences, Cardillo found the way to greater happiness and serenity, even in the face of immense stress and self-doubt.

Cardillo’s story begins in the middle, but also at the beginning. She is on the cusp of turning forty when she finds herself stuck in what she labels a “spiritual crisis.” She was in a loving marriage and had a solid career in the nursing field, and yet she truly was not happy. Cardillo faced a choice: she could give in to her existential malaise and keep the status quo, or she could attempt to make a change. She chose the latter, setting out to start her own business as a professional speaker. Taking action worked, and she felt her cloud lift as she began to head down this new path.

But life is funny, and it held other plans for Cardillo. And the curveball it threw – an illness affecting Cardillo’s husband – underlies many of the lessons contained in Falling Together.

With great heart, honesty, and courage, Cardillo shares her journey down her own winding path, one full of life’s ups and downs, one that could have led her to a dark, depressive dead-end but which instead brought her to a place of light, peace, and contentment. Refusing to turn inward, she opted to travel the world and talk about her experiences and the valuable lessons she’s taken away. As she did so, Cardillo met dozens of women who told her how easily they related to her words. It was this discovery that led to Falling Together. Cardillo explains it best:

Over the years I have learned that every woman has a warrior within her, along with unique gifts to bring forward into the world. But often we get derailed on our journey to live an authentic life, one where we come to know ourselves and be true to who we are. My sincere hope is that this book will help you find courage, inspiration, balance, happiness, and meaningful change in your own life, even when it seems to be falling apart, to continue that journey and light up the world in the process.

Cardillo – now a blogger at DoctorOz.com and lovingly known as The Inspirational Nurse – has divided Falling Together into themed chapters with titles including "Losing Self" and "Making Friends with Fear." My favorite chapter is "Caring for My Most Important Asset – Me," a well-written reminder to women to take care of themselves as they are immersed in caring for others. Each chapter ends with a "Lessons Learned" section, as well as "Recommended Reading and Resources."  Readers will see themselves and their stories within those shared by Cardillo because even though her experiences belong to her, in many ways, they are truly universal.

Falling Together guides the way to finding the good among the bad, the upside of the downside, the opportunity often hidden behind the challenge. Inspiring, it will remind you that it is never too late to be true to yourself, that change is often both scary and exhilarating, that we really do control our own destinies, even at those moments we feel like we are falling apart.

Thanks to BookSparks for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Reviews at Amazon--April edition

We're posting some reviews at our Amazon account, as either they've been sitting in queue for a while and deserve their time in the sun, fall under our new featuring policy, or they're new reads that we couldn't wait to post at the blog. You can check them out at the links below. Hope we can help you find your next favorite book!

Melissa A:

Review
Review
Review
Review


Sara:

Review
Review

Spotlight and Giveaway: Wedding Girl

Stacey Ballis' latest novel, Wedding Girl, comes out on Tuesday. Thanks to Berkley/NAL, we have TWO copies for some lucky US readers!

You’ve Got Mail meets Julie & Julia in the new foodie fiction from the author of Recipe for Disaster.

Top pastry chef Sophie Bernstein and her sommelier fiancĂ© were set to have Chicago’s culinary wedding of the year…until the groom eloped with someone else in a very public debacle, leaving Sophie splashed across the tabloids—fifty grand in debt on her dream wedding and one-hundred percent screwed on her dream life. The icing on the cake was when she lost her job and her home…

Laying low, Sophie moves in with her grandmother, Bubbles. That way, she can keep Bubbles and her sweater-wearing pug company and nurse her broken heart. But when Sophie gets a part-time job at the old-fashioned neighborhood bakery, she finds herself up to her elbows in dough and reluctantly giving a wedding cake customer advice on everything from gift bags to guest accommodations. Before she knows it, she’s an online wedding planner. It’s not mousse and macarons, but it pays the bills. But with the arrival of unexpected personal and professional twists, Sophie wonders if she’s really moving forward—or starting over from scratch...


Stacey Ballis is the author of nine foodie novels: Inappropriate Men, Sleeping Over, Room for Improvement, The Spinster Sisters, Good Enough to Eat, Off the Menu, Out to Lunch, Recipe for Disaster, and Wedding Girl. She is a contributing author to three nonfiction anthologies: Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys, Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume, and Living Jewishly. She was an educator for more than fifteen years in Chicago, including teaching high school English in the Chicago Public Schools and serving as director of education and community programs for Goodman Theatre for seven seasons, before pursuing a full-time career in writing and consulting.

Visit Stacey at her blog, Facebook, and Twitter. Check out her interview at Jewish Food Experience.


How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


US only. Giveaway ends May 3rd at midnight EST.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Spotlight and Giveaway: Where We Fall

Where We Fall by Rochelle B. Weinstein was published last week and we're pleased to share more about it here! Thanks to Goldberg McDuffie, we have FIVE copies for some lucky readers in the US and/or Canada!

By all accounts, Abby Holden has it all. She’s the mother of a beautiful teenager and the wife of a beloved high school football coach. And all it took to achieve her charmed life was her greatest act of betrayal.

Coach Ryan can coax his team to victory, but he can’t seem to make his wife, Abby, happy. Her struggles with depression have marred their marriage and taken a toll on their daughter, Juliana. Although this isn’t the life he’s dreamed of, he’s determined to heal the rifts in his family.

Chasing waterfalls and documenting their beauty has led photographer Lauren Sheppard all around the world. Now it has brought her back home to the mountains of North Carolina—back to the scene of her devastating heartbreak.

For the first time in seventeen years, a trio of once-inseparable friends find themselves confronting past loves, hurts, and the rapid rush of a current that still pulls them together...


Rochelle B. Weinstein is an author, speaker, and former entertainment industry executive. Her two previous novels include What We Leave Behind, which explores the poignancy of love and the human condition and The Mourning After, a moving story of hope and resiliency. She lives in Miami, Florida with her husband and twin sons. Visit Rochelle at her website, Facebook, and Twitter.



How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


US/Canada only. Giveaway ends May 2nd at midnight EST.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Nicole Waggoner takes center stage...plus a book giveaway

We are excited to feature Nicole Waggoner at CLC today to celebrate the publication of her debut novel, Center Ring, which kicks off her Circus of Women series. There has been a lot of buzz about this book and Melissa A is excited to read it soon, now that it has made its way to the top of her TBR pile. Nicole has TWO copies to share with some lucky US readers, but there's a catch....one of them will be for the friend of our winner.

Aside from being an author, Nicole is a decorated teacher with 12 years’ experience teaching upper level English and Literary Criticism courses. She is proud to call her husband and children her biggest fans. The other loves of her life include green tea, great conversation over vino, all things theater, skipping the gym, women’s health, and a fanatical commitment to live her belief that love is a verb to be paid forward. Visit Nicole at her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. (Bio courtesy of Nicole's website.)



Synopsis:
Norah Merrit, a dedicated obstetrician known for her bedside manner and service to Doctors Without Borders, walks into girls’ night out with a confession to make―and what she has to say shakes the group to its core. In the aftermath of Norah’s revelation, each of the women she calls her sister-friends―photojournalist Camille, stay-at-home mom Leila, publicist Ellison, and designer Kate―are left questioning the roads they haven’t taken, and revisiting the vastly different choices they’ve made in life and love.

Told in alternating points of view between the five friends, Center Ring is a story about modern women finding balance through action, relationships, and growth in the midst of challenges and change. (Courtesy of Amazon.)


We've heard many great things about Center Ring already! What is the best compliment you've received about it so far?
Thank you! I have been absolutely floored by the reception and am so grateful to the readers and bloggers who have given it their time! The best compliments have been from readers writing me to say that it helped them get through something difficult when they needed an escape. To think my words could make someone's chemo treatment, divorce, or grief even a modicum more bearable is truly humbling.

Which of the women from Center Ring do you relate to the most?
I am all of them and none of them, but "Leila" is definitely the most like me. People who know me in real life as a teacher, friend, parent, wife, etc., or have ever seen me run, pick out our similarities in a hot second!

What is something you wish you knew before you embarked on the publishing path?
That's a hard one. There is still so much I feel I don't know. I will say I never expected to spend so much time at the post office!

If Center Ring were made into a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?
What a fun question! Here goes-
Norah: Keri Russell
Cami: Amy Smart
Leila: Ginnifer Goodwin
Ellie: Scarlett Johansson
Kate: Keira Knightley
Patrick Grayson: Henry Cavill
Enrique Orlando:William Levy

If you could take us on a tour of your town, where would we go first?
During this time of year, probably the storm shelter. We call it Harvard. We would go to Harvard :). Just kidding. I would take you on a walk around OU. It is a gorgeous campus surrounded by unique little boutiques and great places to eat/people watch.

Where is your favorite place to spend money?
Bookstores, shock :) Also, Costco because I'm fancy.

Thanks to Nicole for visiting with us and for sharing her book with our readers (and their friends).

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


US only. Giveaway ends May 1st at midnight EST.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Book Review: Meternity

By Jami Deise

When women who fake pregnancy end up in the news, it’s usually not a feel-good story. Telling a lie that has spun out of control, these women – few and far between, thank G-d – try to obtain a baby through any means necessary, with tragic and sometimes fatal results.

Magazine editor Liz Buckley, heroine of Meghann Foye’s new novel Meternity, must be unaware of these disastrous outcomes. But she’s all too aware of the preferential treatment given to her mommy colleagues at Paddy Cakes magazine. It starts with the baby showers, goes through maternity leave, and ends up with the moms constantly leaving work early for doctor’s appointments, mommy and me classes, and other child-centered activities. And Liz is the one holding the bag, having to rewrite stories, track down interviews, and stay late to cover for them. Even worse, as a childless woman at a baby magazine, her opinions don’t matter. “Spoken like a woman without kids” is a refrain she hears often. When Liz, who dreams of being a freelance travel writer rather than covering the latest front on the baby-wearing wars, is told to give up a business trip to Paris to cover for an editor who has a family reunion in the Caribbean, it’s the last straw. Her stress-induced nausea is mistaken for morning sickness, and Liz runs with it. She tells her colleagues that she’s pregnant. Immediately, the attention, the accolades, and the questions are all hers. And Liz has every intention of going through with it. At the end of the nine months, she’s going on a “ME-ternity leave,” where she’ll travel, relax, and gear up for a new job. But without a man in her life – and that bump in her belly undeniably fake – how long will Liz be able to pull off this subterfuge? And when she’s caught, will she lose everything?

As a mom who struggled to balance child-care issues with full-time employment when my son was a baby, I found Foye’s premise a little outlandish. Studies have shown that moms who work are penalized for leaving early due to family issues (while the dads in the office are applauded for actually taking care of their own children.) even when they cover all their work responsibilities. And yet Foye is absolutely right that childless workers of both sexes feel slighted by leave policies. They feel that if Jennifer takes off a few hours early to meet with her son’s teacher, they should also be able to leave early for kick ball in the park and happy hour. I have strong memories of arriving at my office at eight am, watching my childless female colleagues roll in around ten, and then seeing them roll their eyes when I left at five.

Fortunately, as Liz’s fake baby bump grows, so does her empathy for the real mothers in the office – especially her self-described nemesis, Alix. As Liz becomes truly attached to her fake baby, these women drop their Facebook-perfect facades of motherhood and clue her into the real stresses. Liz also becomes more likeable – not just because she stops judging the mothers in the office, but because she becomes more diligent about her job. In the opening chapter, she blames Alix for rewriting her copy and demanding last-minute changes, but Liz’s own responses reveal that she hasn’t been keeping her boss in the loop or making changes as soon as they were requested. “I was going to do that when I got back from vacation” is never an answer that a manager wants to hear.

I was expecting Liz to take the easy way out with the traditional soapy fake miscarriage. But Liz falls in love with her fake baby, whom she names Lucie Rose, as well as the benefits of fake impending motherhood. As Liz feels more and more guilty and conflicted, the stakes get higher as her bump gets bigger. I found myself wanting Liz to get away with it, while the same time hoping for a spectacular reveal that forces Liz to eat her baby bump. Kudos to Foye for inducing such conflicting emotions in the reader.

In a way, Meternity reminded me of my favorite Chick Lit Central book review from 2015, Lisa Doyle’s Milked. Both novels masquerade as light-hearted comedies about contemporary motherhood and maternity, while really shining light on pressing problems faced by today’s mothers. In Milked, Doyle explores how the gig economy and the ever-growing gap between the one percent and the ninety-nine percent makes parenthood almost unaffordable for middle-class, college-educated single women living in a major city. Meternity sheds light on the war between parents and non-parents in the workplace, a war exacerbated by meager maternity benefits, unaffordable child care and unrealistic expectations for both mothers and workers.

“Chick lit” is sometimes disparaged as a superficial genre focused on shoes and boyfriends. Books like Milked and Meternity prove that pretty heroines, funny situations and clever dialogue can be found in novels that explore real issues and serious dilemmas.

Thanks to BookSparks for the book in exchange for an honest review. It's part of their "It's Raining Books" tour.


Friday, April 22, 2016

What's in the mail

Melissa A:

Wedding Girl by Stacey Ballis from Berkley/NAL

Baggage Check by M.J. Pullen from
St. Martin's Press

The City Baker's Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller from Viking (e-book via Edelweiss)

Relativity by Antonia Hayes from Gallery

Me and My Sisters by Sinead Moriarty from Bookouture (e-book via NetGalley)

The Blue Bath by Mary Waters-Sayer from St. Martin's Press

We Are All Made of Stars by Rowan Coleman from Ballantine (e-book via NetGalley)

Finding Fraser by KC Dyer from Berkley

Settling Down by/from Dawn Keable

Blaming the Wind by Alessandra Harris from RedAdept Publishing (e-book)

My Heart Can't Even Believe It by
Amy Silverman from Strategies 360 (e-book)

One Wrong Move by Meirav Oz from Contento Now (e-book)

A Lowcountry Wedding by Mary Alice Monroe from Gallery Books

Jami:

Meternity by Meghann Foye from BookSparks (e-book)

If You Left by Ashley Prentice Norton from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (e-book)

While My Eyes Were Closed by Linda Green from Quercus

Sara:

Tailored for Trouble by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff from Random House (e-book)

Truth or Date by/from Portia MacIntosh
(e-book)

Sleepless in Manhattan by Sarah Morgan from TLC Book Tours (e-book)

The Cubicle Chronicles by/from
Lynn Brookdale (e-book)

American Babe by Babe Walker from Gallery Books

Denise:

Sunday's on the Phone to Monday by Christine Reilly from Simon and Schuster