Monday, April 21, 2014

Review: "Pretty in Ink" by Lindsey Palmer

Welcome to the ruthless offices and cubicles of Hers magazine, a women's magazine that has seen better days. Meet Mimi, the new editor-in-chief determined to turn the magazine around at absolutely any cost. She doesn't hesitate to fire those who don't fit in with her new vision and as a result she quickly becomes public enemy number one.

As the summer carries on the women at Hers struggle to mesh the old with the new, and every one of the "old" Hers employees wonders when her pink slip will come. Filled with office gossip and office politics, Pretty in Ink is a captivating and juicy version of what goes on in the hallways of women's magazines today.

I thoroughly enjoyed this fun and surprisingly catty version of what goes on behind the scenes of modern women's magazines. A former magazine editor herself, debut author Lindsey Palmer certainly brings her own experiences to life on the page. We meet women that we root for, such as mom- to- triplets Leah Brenner who loves her job and refuses to give it up despite the writing on the wall and her husband's push for a move to rural Vermont. We meet women that we are less sure that we like, such as Victoria, a woman destined to take Leah's spot at Hers who is desperate for a baby and secretly finds joy in the fact that Leah will soon be unemployed. We also meet women that we are certainly sure that we don't like, such as assistant to Mimi, Laura, who refuses to get to know or acknowledge the other women in her office despite their various attempts to be friendly. This eclectic collection of characters make up the team at Hers magazine and, for better or for worse, they need to learn to work with one another if they want to keep their jobs. When a scandal rocks the Hers office it is interesting to see who sinks and who floats.

The one criticism that I have for Pretty in Ink is that there were so many characters whose lives we peeked in to that we didn't get to know any one character particularly well. Although I can certainly see that the author was desiring to give us the big picture as to what goes on behind the scenes of a women's magazine, from the lowly mail man all the way to the editor, I did find that the result was not an in-depth connection with any one character. Some of the character's stories felt unfinished to me and I wish that I could have gotten to know them better. One character's story in particular left me curious to know more, but we got to know her in one chapter and that was it. I would have liked the book a little bit better if there had been three or four characters working at the magazine that we got to know really well.

Pretty in Ink is a well-written, interesting take on life behind the scenes of a popular women's magazine. Funnily enough I picked up a popular women's magazine to read right after I was done reading this book and this particular women's magazine had a new editor-in-chief at the helm. As I read the Editor's Letter I couldn't help but wonder what went on behind the scenes as the new editor-in-chief took charge! Pretty In Ink certainly changed the way that I view women's magazines and I would recommend it to those who already know what goes on behind the scenes as well as those who don't!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Review: "Half-Assed: A Weight Loss Memoir" by Jennette Fulda

I saw this one advertised in the back of a different book that I read ,and it instantly appealed to me. So many people suffer from obesity! It has become an epidemic among North Americans. I can't remember a time in my past when I haven't considered myself to be overweight. My husband insists that I'm not fat (thanks husband! I love you!) but the truth is that I've always carried extra weight and I've been struggling to lose it for as long as I remember. Jennette Fulda's memoir appealed to me because she went about losing weight the healthy way, not the easy way, and I was interested in the details of her journey.

While she wasn't born fat,one day Jennette Fulda realized that she was obese. She weighed 372 pounds. Those 372 pounds had crept up on her, so slowly that she almost didn't realize that they were there. However when she went in for gall bladder surgery at the age of 23, the truth smacked her in the face. She needed to lose weight or she would suffer even more extreme health-related consequences. Despite her new- found knowledge it still took Jennette more than a year to even begin her journey. She started off slowly but over the next year she successfully loses more than half of her body weight and she does it the old-fashioned way, by eating healthy and exercising.

Half-Assed is nothing short of inspiring. Jennette's journey started off with her taking a single step in the right direction and the result of that was that she lost an awe-inspiring amount of weight. My favourite part is that she did it the hard way. She didn't take the easy way out, she didn't seek out the quick fix or embark on a fad diet. She didn't even opt for weight-loss surgery, which was a viable option for her. She simply took one step in the right direction, and then she followed it up with another. She learned to eat better, she exercised, she sought out helpful information and as she did these things, she shrank.

Sure, at times the story feels repetitive, but that is to be expected. After all, long-lasting weight loss comes from being consistent and from doing the same thing over and over. That's how the weight comes off and stays off. Throughout it all Jennette remains realistic. She knows that, already having been obese, the fat that she has lost is waiting around every corner. Every pound that she lost has the potential to be regained and she knows that and remains vigilant. Throughout her journey she even realizes things about herself and about her need to accept herself before others can accept her for who she is. I especially love that at the end she emphasizes that losing a large amount of weight is not a magic cure to fixing your life. She shares with her readers that her life did not drastically improve in every way as she lost the pounds. Mr.Right did not materialize out of thin air, nor did the perfect job and apartment just appear. However she gained some things that were far more important- self-realization and control of her life.

I'm glad that I read Half-Assed. I read it purely for me, simply because I was interested in the journey that this brave and determined woman took. In the day and age of fast fixes and easy answers Jennette is determined to do things the right way, no matter how painful that may be, and that was both inspiring and refreshing.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Review: "Forever, Interrupted" by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Elsie and Ben meet and their connection is instant. Within six months the two have gotten married and moved in together. Sure, Ben hasn't exactly told his emotionally fragile mother about Elsie yet but they have plenty of time to do that! Except that they don't. Nine days after their elopement Ben dies in a tragic accident. His mother is even more devastated to realize that her only son didn't even tell her that he had a girlfriend, let alone a wife.

As Ben's mother as well as Elsie attempt to come to terms with Ben's untimely death the two realize that they may have more in common with one another than they may have thought initially. Elsie is surprised to realize that her new mother-in-law may have more to do with her healing than she ever thought possible.

I connected instantly with Ben and Elsie's love story. To some it may seem too unrealistic, too much like a fairy tale, but for me it reminded me of when I met my husband. Although we didn't marry until later on, we were in love and engaged very early in our relationship, within the first seven months. When I met him I just knew that he was the one I would spend my life with, and thirteen years later we're still going strong. Ben and Elsie had that potential. Their time together was short but intense. Since we are provided with Ben and Elsie's back story throughout the book I felt connected to them as characters, and even though we only meet Ben very briefly before his death, I really related to him by the end.

Adding Ben's mother into the mix was so clever on the author's part. Forever, Interrupted was not just the story of Ben and Elise's relationship, cut short, but about a new potential bond that could form in the wake of such a tragic event. The author did not make the path smooth for the two grieving woman but she certainly made it interesting!

Forever, Interrupted was in my TBR pile for quite some time before I got to it. I'm not sure why I didn't get to it sooner but I'm so glad that I read it. It was well-written and it captivated me from the beginning. Taylor Jenkins Reid's next novel is already on my wish list because I can't imagine not loving something that she's written! This story about love cut short and the intensity of the grieving process is one that I will be recommending to my friends and family without hesitation.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Review: "Tempting Fate" by Jane Green

Forty-three year old Gabby has everything that she could ever wish for. Her husband Elliot truly is her best friend, she has two daughters whom she adores, and while her friends seem to be grasping for their youth by wearing expensive, skimpy outfits and frequently going out to singles bars, Gabby is quite content to just be 43. That is until one night when Matt walks into her life. Matt is younger than her by 10 years and he truly makes her feel alive again. When she meets him at a bar she has no idea how he will turn her life upside down. At first Gabby and Matt maintain contact only through flirty e-mails, e-mails that make Gabby feel desirable again, but as the nature of their contact changes Gabby must consider if her boundaries and limits are quite as firm as she thought that they were.

Jane Green has done it again! Tempting Fate had me frantically turning the pages to find out what would happen next. At one point I even e-mailed a friend of mine who had read the book before me, incredulous about a plot twist that has just happened!

Despite the fact that I don't exactly gravitate towards books about infidelity, given the fact that I am so firmly against it, I thought that Jane Green handled this sensitive topic in a way that was respectful to all of the emotions and people involved. I felt that the reactions of the various characters involved in the story were realistic and likely accurate given the situation, and I appreciated that. I could sympathise with all of the characters, regardless of how much or how little they were involved in the main plot.

The one criticism I could offer for Tempting Fate is how neatly the ending wrapped up. Endings that are too picture perfect are my personal pet peeve, and I did feel that this one, despite it being satisfying on one level, was too abrupt and a little too perfect on another. This still did not lessen my enjoyment of the book!

Well-written with a thoroughly engaging plot, Tempting Fate is yet another must read from the pen of Jane Green. If this is your first Jane Green book or if it's your fourteenth, it will not disappoint!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Review: "Blogger Girl" by Meredith Schorr

Kim is a legal secretary with a love for chick lit and a wildly successful book review blog called Pastel Is The New Black. Luckily her boss is understanding of her passion and allows her to blog as long as her "real" work is done. Kim does her day job well but without any real passion, and that doesn't go unnoticed by her office crush, Nicholas, who encourages her to get out of her comfort zone and follow her dreams.

When Kim finds out that Hannah, the woman who made her life hellish in high school, has written a chick lit book and wants Kim to review it on her blog, Kim is torn. She doesn't want to give the girl who tortured her for so many years a positive review, but the book actually sounds good and Kim is, after all, a chick lit blogger.

As Nicholas and Kim become closer outside of the office, and when Nicholas makes some painfully honest but surprisingly accurate observations about Kim's life, she begins to question if she is taking the path that she was meant to in her life and she questions whether or not it's time for her to make some changes.

Blogger Girl is an irreverently hilarious story and a must read for any chick lit blogger or fan! Not only was it fun trying to guess which chick lit authors Meredith Schorr was covertly referring to, but I could see so much of my personal blogging journey reflected in the pages. I think that many people don't realize what a labour of love blogging is. There are very few of us who are doing it for monetary gain, and quite often we simply do it for the love of the books and the love of the chick lit genre. I know that I started my blog many years ago because I was the only person in my personal life who loved the same kind of books that I do, and I wanted to discuss my favourites with someone! I'm so glad that I started The Book Chick Blog and I have made many great virtual blogging friends along the way!

The romance between our main character Kim and leading man Nicholas was sweet and, although predictable, a lot of fun to watch unfold. I also enjoyed getting to know Kim's best friend, Bridget, who is incredibly loyal to Kim and Kim's "friend with benefits" Jonathan. Surprising to me was the unexpected twist involving Kim's former torturer, Hannah! That may have been one of my favourite parts of the book!

This short and funny novel is a must-read for anyone who believes that chick lit is, most definitely, not dead! I laughed out loud, I cringed at times, and I thoroughly enjoyed this quirky story. My thanks to the author for providing me with a copy for review!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Review: "Weightless" by Michele Gorman

Annabel isn't quite sure why she even decided to go to her high school reunion in the first place. Formerly a fat, spotty teen, no one will likely recognize or care about reuniting with the girl that they tortured back in high school.

When Jack, the guy that she had a crush on throughout high school, says hello, Annabel is floored. However she realizes why he bothered to say hello when she realizes that he has mistaken her for Christy Blake, his ex-girlfriend and her chief tormentor throughout high school. Caught up in the moment initially, Annabel finds herself falling for Jack over the next few weeks but is faced with the problem that he still thinks that she's Christy. Will she be able to tell him the truth without losing him for good?

I am definitely a fan of Michele Gorman's books. I have yet to read one that I haven't thoroughly enjoyed! This short story was the perfect bite of romantic fiction. I read it in one sitting, thoroughly enjoyed it, and was left wishing that her next book (The Curvy Girls Club, out in March 2014) was out already!

I especially appreciated that Gorman touched on the idea of teenage bullying and how it can continue to affect people long after the bullying has stopped. Having been bullied myself as a child I could really relate to Annabel's feelings on the subject.

Any fan of women's fiction should be buying a copy of Weightless! This short and sweet story is the perfect remedy for the winter blues!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Mystery Product Revealed! It's Garnier Fructis Damage Eraser!!

The mystery product line that I reviewed earlier this month has been revealed! I was trying (and loving!) the Garnier Fructis Damage Eraser line of hair care products!

I really had no concrete guesses as to which product line the shampoo, conditioner and split end serum would be from. My only guess was that it would be something high end. I have been using this product for about two weeks now and I can't believe how much softer and shinier my hair is already! I have only experienced similar results in the past when using the pricier shampoo products found in drug stores. My hair is often thrown up into a ponytail when I go to work or the gym or flat ironed on the weekend, so "damaged" is a word that I would definitely use to describe my hair up until this point. Since I have started using Garnier Fructis Damage Eraser products I have been thrilled with the improvements that I've noticed. My hair is shiner, smoother, softer, and it definitely looks healthier! I'm glad that such a simple tweak to my daily routine can make such a difference to my hair!

Thanks to Influenster and Garnier Canada I have now had the opportunity to try the Garnier Fructis Damage Eraser shampoo, conditioner, split ends bandage serum and strength reconstructing butter. I love the smell of the products which is definitely a pro, and I love the results so far! Since the unique formula promises to reconstruct hair strength 90% from root to tip, as well as prevent future damage, I am looking forward to stronger hair as I continue to use it! Another pro of the product is the price. Garnier is known for being reasonably priced, so now great hair is affordable for everyone!

I tried hard to think of a con of the product, but I came up with nothing. It smells good, is easy to use, and it actually does what it says, so I can confidently recommend it to anyone looking to erase everyday damage from their hair and prevent damage in the future!