Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Book Review: Wishful Thinking by Kamy Wicoff






Members of the Vise Library were selected to review Wishful Thinking.  We received a copy of Kamy Wicoff's book for an honest review.







About the book:

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.
This book was super funny and had a similar message as The Balance Project. This book is very different as far as the story is concerned, but they both discuss the "women having it all" myth.  The main character, Jennifer, is a single mom of two boys.  She has not had a lot of support from her ex-husband, Norman, in the past.  She has a very fulfilling job, but has a new boss that wants the employees to work 60-80 hours a week.  By chance, Jennifer's physicist neighbor installs and app on Jennifer's phone that allows her to be in more than one place at the same time.  At first Jennifer is reluctant to use the app.  However she starts using it more and more to spend time with her kids while meeting the demands of her boss.  All this extra time starts to take a toll on Jennifer.  She is more tired since she is doing more in her days and she realizes she isn't doing everything she would like to do.  She also tries to keep groups of people separate from each other so they won't discuss how she is picking up her kids after school, but somehow manages to be at work until 8.  At the same time, Jennifer is learning that all moms find it hard to juggle quality time with their kids and working while not feeling exhausted.  She (unknowingly) is making a coworker feel bad about not staying as late as Jennifer does.  

All the secrets (she is hiding the use from everyone and hiding things from her best friend) and time start to wear on Jennifer.  Her Norman finds someone else and tries to tell Jennifer that she needs to find someone to be happy with.  At first Jennifer thinks her life should revolve around her kids and work, but eventually she meets Owen.  Once Owen and her start getting close, she splits herself into threes to make for him.  She's exhausted and starts feeling present in multiple places at once.  When something at sketchy at work happens that she is suspected of and when she can sense danger for her kids, Jennifer has to decide whether to interfere with the future or just let things happen naturally without the app.

I thought the premise of this book was very intriguing.  Without giving specifics of the app away, I thought it was very neat that the app had certain rules and that there were lessons from the person that created the app.  As a reader there was some background involved instead of being expected to take the app at face value without any questions involved.  In a way all of this made it seem possible.  Her best friend thinks she's having a panic attack when she first tells her about the app.  I thought this book raised some very interesting points.  When she falls asleep at a meeting after using the app for some time, she realizes that other mothers are exhausted and that she isn't alone.  A line from the book really stood out to me.  (I'm paraphrasing) Near the end of the book Jennifer wonders if you have all the time in the world to do anything is there really meaning to the things you do.  Since we do have such limited time and there are no guarantees it speaks volumes when you do make time for people or activities.  There are some many other things we could or want to be doing.  Even when Jennifer has extra time to clean or see her kids she thinks she still does not have enough hours in the day to do EVERYTHING she wants.  One last point that I think is important is that when things start getting serious with Owen she is scared.  She wants a guarantee that things will work out and that the relationship won't end up like the one with Norman.  That is not possible (obviously).  However, Jennifer has to learn to take a leap of faith and trust not only Owen but other people in her life to do things that she thinks she is the only person capable of doing.  Sure it would be nice to avoid heartache or bad situations, but sometimes those lead to the best things or make you even more grateful for the good things you do have in life.  

Overall, I thought this book was great.  It was so funny and I loved the snark from Jennifer.  She is trying to make things good for her sons, but sometimes she doesn't think about her own happiness.  The emails between her and her best friend are some of the best lines in the book.  I loved those.  I also enjoyed the minor characters in this book, particularly Dr. Sexton.  She was like a kid herself.  You will get a kick out of the book and maybe wonder what you would do with all the extra time if you had an app like Jennifer.  Would you do it if it potentially made you age faster and more tired than you already were?  That's something to think about.  

PS In the acknowledgements I loved that the author may have potentially found her own real life Owen! :)

Buy the book:
     Amazon
       Barnes and Noble
      Parnassus Books







About the author:

Kamy Wicoff is the author of Wishful Thinking, a novel about a divorced mother of two boys (as a divorced mother of two boys, she didn't have to reach hard for that one) who gets an app on her phone that lets her be in two places at the same time. (She could have used the app to help her finish the book faster.) She is also the bestselling author of the nonfiction book I Do But I Don't: Why The Way We Marry Matters, and founder of one of the world's largest communities for women writers, www.shewrites.com. She is also founder, with Brooke Warner, of She Writes Press. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York. To learn more, visit www.kamywicoff.com.


Connect with the author:


   Facebook
   Twitter
   Website

Friday, May 22, 2015

Summer Reading Challenge: Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave







This summer, members of the Vise Library are participating in a Summer Reading Challenge. We have received copies of several books from publishers for honest reviews. We hope that you enjoy these reviews (and books)!



This week's book is Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave.



About the book:

A breakout novel from an author who “positively shines with wisdom and intelligence” (Jonathan Tropper, This Is Where I leave You). “Laura Dave writes with humor and insight about relationships in all their complexity, whether she's describing siblings or fiancés or a couple long-married. Eight Hundred Grapes is a captivating story about the power of family, the limitations of love, and what becomes of a life’s work” (J. Courtney Sullivan, Maine).

There are secrets you share, and secrets you hide…

Growing up on her family’s Sonoma vineyard, Georgia Ford learned some important secrets. The secret number of grapes it takes to make a bottle of wine: eight hundred. The secret ingredient in her mother’s lasagna: chocolate. The secret behind ending a fight: hold hands.

But just a week before her wedding, thirty-year-old Georgia discovers her beloved fiancé has been keeping a secret so explosive, it will change their lives forever.

Georgia does what she’s always done: she returns to the family vineyard, expecting the comfort of her long-married parents, and her brothers, and everything familiar. But it turns out her fiancé is not the only one who’s been keeping secrets…

Bestselling author Laura Dave has been dubbed “a wry observer of modern love” (USA TODAY), a “decadent storyteller” (Marie Claire), and “compulsively readable” (Woman’s Day). Set in the lush backdrop of Sonoma’s wine country, Eight Hundred Grapes is a heartbreaking, funny, and deeply evocative novel about love, marriage, family, wine, and the treacherous terrain in which they all intersect.
Everything in Georgia's life is out of control.  She has found out a very big secret that her fiance (of several years) has been keeping from her.  Her wedding is supposed to happen within a week, but she runs home to her family's vineyard.  When she arrives back home things there aren't much better.  She finds out her brothers are fighting and her parents aren't exactly together anymore.  She also finds out that her father has sold the family vineyard to a big corporate group and Georgia is determined to fight for her family's legacy.  Georgia goes through so many changes and at first is trying to concentrate on fixing everyone else's problems instead of her own.  She is looking for her problems to be decided for her.  Eventually she must learn to choose between what makes her happy and what she thinks will make her happy.  She has to work hard for those things and some of them don't come easy.  I think the ending to this book was perfect because everything doesn't work out perfectly, just like real life.  This is a great read and I can't wait for people to get their hands on this story!

Buy the book:
     Amazon
       Barnes and Noble
      Parnassus Books







About the author:

Laura Dave is the author of London is the Best City in America, The Divorce Party, and The First Husband. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Glamour, Self, NPR's All Things Considered, The Huffington Post, and Redbook. She lives in Los Angeles.


Connect with the author:
   Twitter
   Website

Book Review: Outskirts of Hope by Jo Ivester






Members of the Vise Library were selected to review Outskirts of Hope.  We received a copy of Jo Ivester's book for an honest review.






About the book:

In 1967, when Jo Ivester was ten years old, her father transplanted his young family from a suburb of Boston to a small town in the heart of the Mississippi cotton fields, where he became the medical director of a clinic that served the poor population for miles around. But ultimately it was not Ivester’s father but her mother—a stay-at-home mother of four who became a high school English teacher when the family moved to the South—who made the most enduring mark on the town. In The Outskirts of Hope, Ivester uses journals left by her mother, as well as writings of her own, to paint a vivid, moving, and inspiring portrait of her family’s experiences living and working in an all-black town during the height of the civil rights movement.
This book gives you the story through two perspectives: from Jo as a ten year old and her mother Aura.  Aura and her family have a big impact on the southern community that they move to during the civil rights movement.  Aura teaches highs school English and had an impact on her students as she introduces them to topics they hadn't really been taught before. There are a lot of good things that happen in this book, but they also have to face some very difficult things along the way.  This book will show you how just a few people showing a little compassion will go along way.  I loved how this book was pieced together from so many sources.   This is was a very fast read and I couldn't put it down.  I hope people take the time to read this book and gain an understanding of the times and this family!
Buy the book:
     Amazon
       Barnes and Noble
      Parnassus Books






Connect with the author:
   Twitter
   Website

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Book Review: Insatiable by Shary Hauer






Members of the Vise Library were selected to review Insatiable.  We received a copy of Shary Hauer's book for an honest review.






About the book:

In her professional life, Shary Hauer was a confident, successful, high-caliber executive coach who advised big-time corporate leaders around the globe―but her personal life was an entirely different matter. When it came to love, she was insecure, clingy, desperate, willing to do anything and everything to win and keep a man. Because without a man by her side, what good was she? InInsatiable, Hauer fearlessly chronicles her emotional journey from despair to hope, rejection to redemption, and self-hate to self-love, one man at a time. In candid detail, she relates what it is like to be trapped in the torturous cycle of love addiction―what it’s like to be forever searching, needing, obsessing, scheming, and agonizing for love, suffering from a hunger that never ceases―and what it takes to break free of that cycle. An intimate, soul-baring tale that sheds much-needed light on one of the least understood and talked about addictions, Insatiable is the story of one woman’s journey through the hellish, the humiliating, and the humbling in her single-minded pursuit of the most addictive drug of all: love.
Shary Hauer's memoir is pretty honest.  She details the relationships she has had in her life and where they went wrong.  These relationships transform her each time.  She falls back into old patterns of gauging her self-worth in these relationships.  A lot of times she neglects herself when she is dating these men.  Or in the instance of one guy named James who doesn't call her for four days because he is moving, she becomes very distraught and miserable.  When he does call or gives her a compliment, she is back to feeling okay about herself and their relationship.  I have known a lot of women (and men) who do this.  It is something very real and I think this memoir sheds light on that.  She also finds that she is with men that need to be taken care of and that is ultimately where a lot of the problems are.  She does some searching within herself and realizes that she has an addiction to love.  It is an interesting read in examining her relationships and how she eventually becomes her best self.  Not a lot people examine their relationships like Shary does in order to understand where they went wrong.  Instead, a lot of times people resort to the same patterns or date the same type of people.  That is what makes this book refreshing because sometimes we do not want to look at where we went wrong.  Shary is very open about this and eventually learns that she must be important to herself in order to find the right person for her.  
Buy the book:
     Amazon
       Barnes and Noble
      Parnassus Books








About the author:

Shary Hauer is a Master Certified Executive Coach (MCC) with nearly twenty years of success in Leadership and Executive Development with Fortune 500/1000 leaders, and the founder of The Hauer Group, a strategic consulting and coaching firm. Her business writings have been published in outlets including Working Woman and HOW magazines and The CEO Refresher; her creative nonfiction work has been published in Chicken Soup for the Recovering Soul and Sage Woman magazine. She lives in Clearwater Beach, Florida where she glories in the wonders of the sea, befriends feral cats, and volunteers for the hungry, homeless, and elderly.



Connect with the author:
   Twitter
   Website

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Book Review: Don't Leave Yet by Constance Hanstedt






Members of the Vise Library were selected to review Don't Leave Yet.  We received a copy of Constance Hanstedt's book for an honest review.






About the book:

As a young girl in the Midwest, Constance Hanstedt was consumed by fear—of her parents, especially her disapproving mother, Virginia; of social situations; and of people in general. Unable to connect with those around her, she embraced perfectionism as a substitute for love. Raising her own family eased some of Hanstedt’s self-doubt. But even as an adult she remained guarded around her mother, avoiding conflict at all costs. Still, when Virginia developed Alzheimer’s, Hanstedt did what the perfect daughter she’d always struggled to be would do: she returned to the Midwestern town where she was raised to help care for a mother who could no longer care for herself. In Don’t Leave Yet, Hanstedt recounts her journey toward facing her fears and rising above the past; her mother’s unrelenting bitterness regarding life, even as she loses memories of it; and her unexpected discovery of an emotion that reaches beyond familial duty: compassion.
This book is more than just the a woman's life with dementia and Alzheimer's.  This book is about Constance's relationship with her mother.  Constance had a childhood that she tried to run from and be the mother to her own child that she felt like she did not get.  This book gives flashbacks of Constance's childhood and the relationship she had with Virginia growing up.  As her mother's memory is be taken away, Constance starts to understand why her mother is the way she is.  She is also able to come to terms with her family's history of mental illness.  I think this would be a very comforting read for anyone that has had a tumultuous relationship with a parent or anyone that has someone deal with this disease or mental illness.  It was a very fast read and a great way to show what the human spirit can overcome! 
Buy the book:
     Amazon
       Barnes and Noble
      Parnassus Books








About the author:

Constance is an author, poet, and business owner living in Northern California. Her poetry has appeared in the Comstock Review, Calyx, Rattle, the Naugatuck River Review, and many other literary journals. Her poem "Ode to Beige" was published in Diane Lockward's The Crafty Poet (2013), a collection of poems, prompts, craft tips, and interviews. 

Don't Leave Yet, How My Mother's Alzheimer's Opened My Heart is Constance's first book (published April 2015 by She Writes Press). It also was a finalist in the Pacific Northwest Writers Association memoir competition in 2011.



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Monday, May 18, 2015

Book Review: Love Abstract by BL Berry



We are thrilled to be included in the blog tour for the book Love Nouveau by B.L. Berry.  We have received an advanced copy of this book for an honest review.







The only thing inevitable in love is despair. 

I knew from the start that he would wreck me. 
Nothing could have prepared me for the day he walked into my life ... 
or the day he walked out of it. 

I self-destructed. 

All that remained was a shell of the girl I once was. 
SHATTERED. 

And I don't know if I'll ever recover.






Last year we reviewed the first book in this series Love Nouveau (make sure to read that book first!).  This book picks up a few weeks after Phoenix and Ivy make their move to New York.  They are living together and everything seems to be going okay.  However, Phoenix is hiding something pretty major and Ivy knows it.  Ivy starts learning bits and pieces along the way, but never from Phoenix himself.  Ivy decides to trust him anyways.  However, after a night of celebration the truth comes out and Ivy is devastated.  I wish I could say more, but it would give too much of the plot away.  Just know that Ivy realizes she is stronger than she thinks she is and Phoenix is able to come to terms with his past.  
I really enjoyed seeing some of the side characters from the first book featured in here.  I also loved the character Brock.  He was a trip.  I think Berry does a great job of describing the art and the pieces in this book.  I could picture it all in my head!  When you read this book you will being to have a fondness for origami paper cranes too!  I'm glad there was a second book in this series to find out what Phoenix is all about.  I am also glad that Ivy is able to work through her previous baggage.  I will miss Ivy and Phoenix, but am in way content to see them go.  :)



About the author:


B.L. Berry is many things. A New Adult author. A self-proclaimed music whore. A long-course triathlete. A marketing savant. And a full-time working mom. While there are never enough hours in the day, she does the best she can to get things done and hopes for technological advances in human cloning.

When she’s not hiding behind her computer writing, you can find her spending time with her family or catching up on her favorite TV shows. Rumor has it she’ll sleep when she’s dead.

She is Canadian by birth. Mexican by marriage. Chicagoan by heart. Kansan by choice. Jayhawk purely by common sense.

Residing outside of Kansas City, she lives with her husband, two children and black pug. Each day her family thanks the makers of e-Readers, because without which they would be living amongst stacks and stacks of romance novels. Conversely, each day B.L. Berry thanks the makers of e-Readers for hiding her book-hoarding tendencies.

Connect to B.L. Berry

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25243912-love-abstract






Friday, May 15, 2015

Summer Reading Challenge: The Year My Mother Came Back by Alice Eve Cohen






This summer, members of the Vise Library are participating in a Summer Reading Challenge. We have received copies of several books from publishers for honest reviews. We hope that you enjoy these reviews (and books)!



This week's book is The Year My Mother Came Back by Alice Eve Cohen.



About the book:

For the first time in decades I’m remembering Mom, all of her--the wonderful and terrible things about her that I’ve cast out of my thoughts for so long. I’m still struggling to prevent these memories from erupting from their subterranean depths. Trying to hold back the flood. I can’t, not today. The levees break.

Thirty years after her death, Alice Eve Cohen’s mother appears to her, seemingly in the flesh, and continues to do so during the hardest year Alice has had to face: the year her youngest daughter needs a harrowing surgery, her eldest daughter decides to reunite with her birth mother, and Alice herself receives a daunting diagnosis. As it turns out, it’s entirely possible for the people we’ve lost to come back to us when we need them the most.

Although letting her mother back into her life is not an easy thing, Alice approaches it with humor, intelligence, and honesty. What she learns is that she must revisit her childhood and allow herself to be a daughter once more in order to take care of her own girls. Understanding and forgiving her mother’s parenting transgressions leads her to accept her own and to realize that she doesn’t have to be perfect to be a good mother.
This is an amazing memoir about motherhood.  This memoir is about the author's very difficult year of health and motherhood.  Alice shows you the tense relationship that she had with her mother due to her own mother's breast cancer.  Unfortunately Alice herself eventually gets breast cancer and discusses herself as a mother.  Alice undergoes treatment for her breast cancer and this is where her mother's voice comes to her.  She discusses her adoptive daughter seeking out her birth mother.  Alice's other daughter also treatment herself.  This daughter has a leg-lengthening procedure that is from a birth defect.  As the author reflects on her relationship with her mother and herself as a mother you can't help but reflect on your own relationship with your mother.  This book is very honest and heartbreaking.  Anyone that has a mother or is a mother (or both! ha!) will gain something from reading this book.  This book will give you insight into the complexities of motherhood, even if you aren't a mother yourself.  I think anything that makes you self-reflect is good (even if you can't relate to many things that the other person experiences).  And I can say this book does just that.  
Buy the book:
     Amazon
       Barnes and Noble
      Parnassus Books








About the author:

Alice Eve Cohen is a writer and solo theatre artist. Her new memoir, The Year My Mother Came Back was published by Algonquin Books in March, 2015; audiobook (read by the author) published by Highbridge/​Recorded Books. Her first memoir, What I Thought I Knew (Viking /​ Penguin) won the Elle's Lettres Grand Prix for Nonfiction; it was selected as one of Oprah Magazine’s 25 Best Books of Summer and Salon's Best Books of the Year. Her solo theater adaptation of the book has been produced at the Kitchen Theatre in Ithaca and other venues. She has written for Nickelodeon, CTW, and CBS, and has toured her solo shows and plays to theatres, festivals and schools, nationally and internationally. Her writing about arts in education has been published in nine languages, and she has written for various print and online publications. The recipient of fellowships and grants from the NYS Council on the Arts and the NEA, she has been an artist-in-residence at Virginia Center for Creative Arts and Voice & Vision Theatre's Envision Retreat. She was a writer-in-residence at Frank McCourt high school for writing and journalism, and has taught writing and performance workshops at schools and universities around the country. She holds a BA from Princeton University and an MFA from The New School. Alice teaches at The New School and lives with her family in New York City. She is currently working on a novel.


Connect with the author:
      Website