For many being fat is a shameful fact worthy of embarrassment. For Jes Baker her weight is just a fact that does not define her.  She is proud of who she is, rolls and all.   And Jes should be proud, her blog The Militant Baker is a destination site for women of a certain size.   Jes doesn't have a "woe is me" attitude about her weight like some with a similar platform.  No, Jes is an empowered, intelligent woman on a mission to help millions of women feel positive about their body.  In her book Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls sets out to empower women of all sizes with her sage advice.   With chapters about  taking ownership of your health (including ways to find a doctor who is "fat friendly"),  finding people to follow in your social media feeds that will empower you (diversify your social media), and of course fat-fashion Jes Baker shows no fear.   Her call to action for women include sitting in a booth the next time they go to a restaurant, fly without fear, and go to the nearest park to swing make Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls is a manifesto for women all over the world.

The thing that surprised me about Jes Baker and Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls is just how damned smart she is and how well she shared that intelligence with her readers.  Now, maybe that sounds like I stereotyped Jes Baker, and that is not true.  I had no doubt she was intelligent, but I was expecting more of a memoir-type of book.  Not a book that was thoroughly researched and is full of facts and stats, like only five percent of women naturally possess the body type often portrayed by Americans in the media.  Her advice is thoughtful, researched, and sound.  She doesn't tip-toe around the fact that some fat women need seat belt extenders while flying or even the word "fat" itself.  It is a fact.  Like her shoes are black, there is no reason to use terms like "fluffy" or "curvy" because the word is fat.  You do need to know that Jes is not one to hide her personality and that means f-bombs galore.  It just adds to her authenticity, but some might find it offensive.   I think my favorite part was when she took on Abercrombie & Fitch for the double-standard of having XL & XXL clothing for men, but only going up to L for women. I wanted to wave my book in the air and say "You Go Girl!"

Bottom line - Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls is truly one of the most empowering books I have ever read.  The advice in the book is certainly advice all fat women should read. The message of body-positive acceptance is a message that all women need to hear, no matter what their size.


It has been two years since "The Day" of the EMP that changed the world.  John Matherson and the good people of Black Mountain have been living life in their new normal; archaic dentistry, trading books, and standing guard against bands of roving thieves.  John has taken on a leadership role in the community and his military history has served the community well when it comes to keeping their community safe.   There is a disturbance in their unique tranquility when the little community receives word that the makeshift government ruling the Eastern seaboard has implemented a draft. Along with over a hundred other young community members, John's own daughter, has received a draft notice.  Now John and his community must decide what to do about the draft and determine if  the new government in power is coming down on the right side of the law or are they creating their own twisted version of the law?

One Second After was one of my favorite books of 2012 and I was excited to find out that the author had finally written a sequel. Some time has passed and the people of Black Mountain have settled into a cautious routine of sorts.  I found it interesting how they tried to return some normalcy to their community.   Like the trading library and the archaic form of dentistry.  They had even gotten telephones working again and it was all disrupted by the draft.  One Year After seemed to be much more military driven than One Second After and I admittedly found myself getting a little bored with all of the lingo. John Matherson is still the  honorable character that I loved from the first book and that honor is featured many times in the second book.  It was clear to the reader and eventually to the ANR that John took his responsibility as a community leader very seriously.  That sense of responsibility got him in serious trouble a couple of times, but he always found a way out of trouble.   The book finished in a manner that leave you anticipating a third book.

Bottom line - One Year After is an action packed sequel to a novel that was a hit with many people, myself included.  While it is fun to see how things have evolved since the EMP I did not enjoy One Year After as much as I had hoped, but it is still worth the read.


Julia Ansdell is in Rome for a gig as a violinist when she wanders into a picturesque antique shop.  She finds a piece of music that just speaks to her and she cannot leave the Incendio waltz behind.   The weird things start to happen once she returns home to her husband and young daughter, Lily.   Her precious three year old reacts violently when Julia plays the Incendio Waltz and kills the family cat.  When Lily gets progressively more dangerous Julia knows that her behavior is somehow tied to the dark piece of music, but she cannot seem to convince her husband.  Julia decides to seek out the history of the musical masterpiece and against her husband's wishes she is off across the pond.  The composition's origins take her back to Europe where she discovers the piece's roots are tied to horrific events that took place during World War II.   But does that prove the  Incedio waltz is haunted?  Can a piece of music even be haunted?  Julia isn't sure, but she is sure of one thing.  She needs to find out the truth before her daughter's life is ruined forever.

In Playing with Fire author Tess Gerritsen takes a break from her faithful duo, Rizzoli and Isles.  There are two stories being told in Playing with Fire; Julia's story in present day and Lorenzo Todesco's story during World War II.  Todesco is the Italian Jew who wrote the Incedio Waltz.  The back and forth in the decades gave us the complete story, but I found myself losing interest.  Of the two, I found Julia to be an interesting character , the kind that enjoys walking through dusty old shops in Rome.  But, I  knew something wasn't right when her daughter starts behaving all crazy-like, but I wasn't sure how far it would go.   Her frustrations with her husband and aunt were palpable and completely understandable.   I started to suspect something was off when she took off for Europe against her husband's wishes.   There is a "plot twist" at the end that may leave you speechless.  I am still not sure if was pure genius or pure cop-out.  Either way it still has me thinking about the end.

Bottom line - Tess Gerritsen has built such a loyal following with Rizzoli & Isles that her fans are willing to read anything she writes. Playing with Fire may be a deviation from her beloved characters, but it is a high quality mystery novel that is guaranteed to hook you.


Bennie Rosato has taken on a new client who has been accused of murder, Jason Lefkavik.  Jason really isn't a new client, though.  Thirteen years ago Jason's father hired Bennie to help his son when he was thrown into Juvenile Detention for getting into a lunchroom fight in middle school.  Jason had been sentenced to ninety days and his aggressor, Richie,  was sentenced to just sixty days.  As Bennie starts digging into Jason's story she realizes the story runs much deeper and the corruption is so deep it may never be fully exposed.  Bennie finds herself teaming up with Richie's handsome uncle, Declan to help free the boys.  Her relationship with Declan crosses lines and soon the tough talking lawyer finds herself in love.  But when Jason's father finds out that Bennie is working with the "enemy" he fires her, leaving Bennie feeling unfulfilled both personally and professionally.   Now it is thirteen years later and Richie has been murdered and Jason is charged with his murder.   Will Bennie be able to help Jason in ways she was unable to help all those years ago?   And what will happen when Bennie will inevitably cross paths with Declan?

Corrupted was a great legal thriller.   The story starts present day and then flashes back to thirteen years ago and you get the backstory of Jason and Richie and Bennie and Declan. I didn't really feel the chemistry between Bennie & Declan, mostly I think because I felt that Declan was kind of an ass thirteen years ago and even a bit of an ass in the present when he tries to convince Bennie to dump Jason.  But Bennie was carrying a lot of guilt over the way things went down thirteen years ago which was completely understandable, getting fired caused a lot of problems for Jason.    For me things started to get really good when the trial started.  That is when the real Bennie gets to shine.   From her jury observations to her cross-examinations it was just completely intriguing.   There is a plot twist that I did not see coming, but it worked and things worked out the way they were supposed to work out.

Bottom line - Lisa Scottoline is a genius when it comes to legal thrillers and that has been no more evident than with Corrupted.


Everybody's favorite fake OB/GYN has released her second book, Why Not Me?  In her new book, Mindy Kaling entertains us with tales of her time in a Sorority, to her early days in Hollywood.  She even shares stories of her love life, like the time she dated a White House staffer to her soulmate, BJ Novak. Mindy, I feel that I can call her Mindy, is refreshing in her honesty and her sense of humor is guaranteed to leave you giggling.   I even really liked the way she ended the book - with a tale of what her alternate life would have been like if she hadn't become successful in Hollywood.  She would have been a Latin teacher at a private school in Manhattan, in case you were wondering.

At the risk of shocking all of you, I didn't really get to know Mindy Kaling until she created her own show, The Mindy Project.  I instantly fell in love with her and her show because it felt like a Chick Lit novel had come to life.  I was thrilled to listen to Why Not Me on Audio-book because I felt like she was taking a road trip with me.   We were dishing about fashion tips and I then I listened to her talk about her weight issues right after telling me how much she loves McDonalds.  Ya know, just like real besties.  :)

Bottom line - Mindy Kaling is a successful writer, producer, and actress who seems to be as down to earth as they come.  In her new book she is honest and forthright about life in Hollywood.  A fun read!


Astronaut Mark Watney is the first person to inhabit Mars.  His crew left him on the desolate planet after a dust storm caused major damage and put them all at risk.  They were sure there was no way that Watney could have survived the accident that was a result of the dust storm and evacuated the Red Planet leaving him behind.  Only Watney didn't die, despite the fact that his survival was a complete fluke, Watney is determined to survive the harsh existence that is Mars.  In a manner that puts McGuyver to shame, Watney puts his skills to the test in order to survive.   He has to figure out a way to eat, so he figures out how to grow potatoes on Mars.  He has to figure out a way to communicate with NASA so he takes a bit of a road trip.  The Martian is a story of one man's ingenuity in the face of extreme hardship, but is it enough?  Will The Martian survive long enough to catch a ride home?

I always plan on reading the book before watching the movie.  I don't always succeed, but I am glad I did read The Martian.  Because it was awesome!!   Mark Watney is one of the more intriguing characters I have read this year.  He was the kind of character that you want to invite over for a BBQ, but also hope that he is your neighbor during in a post-apocalyptic world.  Because Mark Watney is the kinda guy who could generate electricity from an empty soda can, chicken wire, and duct tape.  While there is a lot of science and engineering in The Martian, it is written in a way that is engaging and interesting and even a little bit exciting.  Listening to The Martian in audio-book went even one step further at solidifying my admiration for Mark Watney. I found myself cracking up pretty consistently at his one-liners and dry sense of humor.  As time passes on Mars the urgency builds and you can picture the crowd in the movie theater on the edge of their seats.   Having read the book, I totally understand why they made a movie and why it is getting all of the accolades.

Bottom line - The Martian is one of those rare books that could appeal to all readers.    It is thrilling, it is exciting, it will make you laugh and cry.  It will make you want to rush out and see the movie.   Have you read The Martian?  What did you think?


Elizabeth and Ben Martin's marriage has hit a rough patch.  They have to put their divorce discussion on hold when a fast moving forest fire forced them to evacuate from their home.  Beth's career in fighting forest fires has always been a source of contention for the couple and she even gave it up when they started to try for a family.  But this time, the fire is too close to home.  She uses her new career as an Private Investigator to try and get to the bottom of who started the fire that is putting them all at risk.  In the course of the investigation Beth finds out that the son of her ex-friend, Mindy, is at the center of it all.   Beth feels her loyalties being pulled in several different directions.  Between her husband's disapproval of her being involved with the fire investigation and her fondness for the teen son of her ex-friend, Beth only wants one thing.  The truth, but at what cost.

Beth Martin is a flawed woman who just wants to make the right decision.  Catherine McKenzie uses Beth and her situation to illustrate that there is never any easy answers when it comes to love, friendship, and doing the right thing.  Beth gave up her career for her husband and has missed it everyday since.  But more than her career, she wanted a baby.  And that intense desire is what caused the rift between her and Mindy.  It took a while for the reason of their rift to be revealed, but really it was kind of lame when revealed.   With all of the build up I expected it to be more substantial, but I was disappointed.   The book is told from alternating views  - mainly Mindy and Beth, but eventually the culprit of the crime, too.  Smoke was a good, if not uncomfortable, book to read.  Seeing someone exposed the way Beth was with her pain, her insecurities, her broken marriage, well it was tough to read.  In the end things wrapped up in a way that I guess was okay, but I just felt it was a bit unresolved.  Their story is not finished.

Bottom line - I really like Catherine McKenzie's work.  While Smoke wasn't my favorite one of her books I did like the story and can see where many people would be able to understand Beth's story.


Izzy Lane is like thousands of other women across the country.  She is just trying to figure out her life as a newly divorced mother of a five year old son.   Her ex-husband loses his job and decides to go clear across the country for "business" with his new girlfriend, leaving Izzy to be both mother and father to Noah.  She has to find a supplemental form of income and lets one of her best friends, Jade, talk her into taking her blog to the public.  What Jade - and the rest of the world - doesn't know is that Izzy's blog about her boyfriend, Mac, and dating after divorce is completely made up.  There is no boyfriend and there hasn't been much dating since the divorce.  The writing once a cathartic release for Izzy as she was dealing with the emotions of seeing her ex-husband date.  The more popular the blog becomes the deeper Izzy gets into the lie she told.  The only person who knows the truth is Izzy's elderly neighbor, Mrs. Feldman.  She encourages Izzy to come clean, but she has her own secrets to keep.  Will Izzy ever be able to come clean to her friends? And what will happen to those friendships if she does?

I think that Izzy Lane is one of those characters that many women and going to be able to understand.  She was torn apart by her  divorce and watching her ex-husband start to date other women is painful.  Incredibly painful.  She wants Bruce to feel what she feels and so she creates "Mac".  It was by pure accident that her blog became famous and her friends are reading all about her pretend boyfriend.  But it is her fault that she did not set her friends straight with the truth.  But I can even understand her hesitation.  Telling her friends the truth right off the bat would have generated pity.  And being pitied is never fun, no matter what the circumstance.  Mrs. Feldman fulfilled the role of  "moral compass" for Izzy, but in a gentle, non-judgmental way. Evgen when Izzy could have taken the easy way out, Mrs. Feldman encouraged her to come clean.   The guilt of it all obviously was weighing heavy on her mind and coming clean was the only way to relieve herself of that guilt.  In the end, lessons were learned and the book had a great, if not slightly predictable,  conclusion.

Bottom line- The Good Neighbor is a novel written about a woman caught in a web of lies and the steps she takes to get herself out of the web.   Definitely a well written novel and worth the read.


Molly Arnette was devastated when she had a miscarriage and found out that she couldn't have children. She and her husband have started the adoption process, but Molly is on edge that the truth of her past will be revealed as they continue the process .  She has kept this truth from her husband and she fears what will happen when he finds out the truth.   Molly left her family in North Carolina years ago and has never looked back, but questions about her family's medical history brings up all the painful memories.  She thinks back to the year her father died and everything that she went through with her mother and the rest of the family.   What will happen if her husband found out the truth of her father's death?  Will the truth prevent them from having the family they so desperately want?

I have always been a huge fan of Diane Chamberlain.   In her new book, Pretending to Dance,  she introduces us to Molly and her unique southern family.  Her father has been battling MS for as long as she can remember, her mother is really her adopted mother, but her real mother lives on the family land, along with her various aunts, uncles, and cousins.   It is a unique situation, but for fourteen year old Molly, it is just home.  Pretending to Dance is told in alternating chapters. Present day Molly is fearful that the truth will get out and fourteen year old Molly is living a life where it is normal for her father to need help going to the bathroom and feeding himself.   And then Molly's dad dies & she realizes that her idyllic childhood has been anything but idyllic.  She runs away and never looks back from the people she felt betrayed her and her beloved father.   Now, having said that, Pretending to Dance was more predictable than what I have come to expect from Diane Chamberlain.   I figured out pretty early on what the twist was going to be and honestly the reason Molly kept the truth from her husband was pretty weak. I do think that the author accurately depicted the struggles of a teen girl trying to find her place in the world.  Which sometimes means choosing the wrong friends and making bad decisions about boys.

Bottom line, while Pretending to Dance wasn't my favorite Diane Chamberlain novel, it is worth the read.  The subject matter is one that is relevant and has been in the news a lot in the last year or so.  It will certainly generate some conversation for book clubs all over the country.


If you have not read Me Before You (Why not??  I told you to go read it over two years ago!) then you probably should skip over this review.   After You is the long awaited sequel to my favorite book of 2013. It has been nearly two years since Lou said her final good-bye to Will.  She has only been going through the motions, not really living the life Will wanted her to live.  She goes to work at her job as a waitress at an airport bar and then she comes home.  And that is it.  One night there is a freak accident and Lou ends up falling off her roof.   She goes home to her parent's house to recover, but after weeks of their smothering she is ready to go home.  And they are willing to let her go back to her apartment with one condition - she needs to attend grief counseling, for Lou's family isn't entirely convinced that Lou had an "accident".   Lou isn't home long when there is a knock at her door and the young woman on the other side says that she is Will Traynor's daughter.  Lou finds herself immersed in the feelings she has been trying so hard to bury.   Will she be able to help the troubled teenager and find the true direction her life is supposed to take?

I often have thought about Louisa Clark and what her life was like after Will died. I am not surprised that her life has kind of stalled-out, anybody who went through what she did would need some time to get back to normal.  About the same time that Lily enters her life so does Sam the ambulance driver.  He was on duty the night that Lou fell off the roof and he was instrumental in saving her life and keeps popping up at the strangest times.  While Lou is afraid to fall in love again she does enjoy his company and he makes her feel something she hasn't felt in a very long time - hope.    As much as I wanted to love After You it did not recreate the feelings that I felt while reading Me Before You. The author really challenged my own beliefs about sensitive topics and that emotional roller coaster is why I loved the first book so much.  That ride is just not there for After You. I loved catching up with Lou, I loved checking in on her and her family, I even loved the way she handled the whole Lily situation, but I was a little disappointed that the emotional ride was just not there.

Bottom line - if you read Me Before You then you have to read After You, you just have to.  But you must temper your expectations and go into it knowing that Me Before You was a one of a kind novel than cannot be replicated.  Definitely catch up with Lou, but just know that the hard part of her story has already passed.


Alice Pearse is apprehensive when her husband tells her that he is leaving his job as a successful lawyer to start his own practice.  She knows that their family of five cannot survive on her income as a part-time book editor for a women's magazine, so Alice starts her job search.  She lands at a start-up company called Scroll.  Scroll is the pet project of a large conglomeration that has grandiose ideas of yet again reinventing the way people buy books and read those books.  Alice is beyond thrilled to be part of such an endeavor and when she receives a first edition of her favorite book on her first day she is sure that she has found the perfect job.  Scroll is demanding of both Alice's time and energy.  She has to sacrifice the majority of her duties at home to her husband and their nanny, Jessie.  She works long and exhausting hours, but she does it because she believes in the mission of the company. And then her father's cancer returns, life at home is falling completely apart, and the company she was so proud to work for has changed their vision.  Alice is heartbroken about her father and torn between providing for her family and honoring her true self.  And will her marriage survive everything that is being thrown at them?

I really, really, really enjoyed A Window Opens. I didn't realize it until I had finished the book and was able to digest everything that I realized it was one of the best books of the year.  Unfortunately I completely understand what it is like to become disillusioned with a company that you thought was a perfect fit for you. There is a huge sense of disappointment and coming to that realization could bring even the strongest of women to their knees.  Alice tried to hang on for as  long as she could and that was admirable.  She kept hoping that Scroll would turn around and be the company she believed they could be.   Bibliophiles are going to love this book.  There are so many references to popular books both past and present.  It feels like Alice is truly one of us.   And it was so telling when her husband pointed out that she hadn't really read for pleasure since taking the job at Scroll.  Any bibliophile will tell you that not reading is the sign of true distress.   There were some heartbreaking points in the book, but I was content with the way things were wrapped up.  A bit inspiring even.

Bottom line - A Window Opens is an introspective look about one woman's struggle with fulfillment and the struggle of maintaining a work/life balance.  Book club patrons are going to find  lots to discuss with this one.  A definite must read!


Claire is devastated when her wealthy husband, Paul, is brutally murdered in a random street crime. When Claire arrives home from the cemetery on the day of his funeral she discovers that someone has broken into her house.  During the investigation Claire discovers something troubling on her husband's computer.  That something challenges everything Claire thought she knew about her husband. As she digs deeper she begins to wonder if her husband may know something about her sister, Julia, that went missing over two decades ago.  Once Claire starts to unravel the the truth she reaches out to her estranged sister Lydia, and together they will not stop until they know everything, no matter what the cost.

WARNING:  Pretty Girls has some pretty disturbing subject matter, I won't give it away, but I think it is safe to say that the average reader may find it too much to take.   But, having said that,  oooooooooh, Pretty Girls is so good!  From the very beginning we learn that Claire is just coming off house arrest and is on parole, but you are well into the second half of the book before we learn why.  That kind of suspense is sheer genius. The reason wasn't even crucial to the main story, but I was dying to know why she was on parole!  Claire and Lydia have been estranged for a very long time, but their relationship has so many layers and complexities.  When we learn the cause of their estrangement it is enough to make one sad and maybe even a bit angry, but they are together now and you hope their relationship will survive beyond this moment in time.  In the end there are some shocking revelations, some scary situations, and some downright horrifying experiences.  But the author remained true to the story and it ended the only way it could.

Bottom line - Karin Slaughter is one of the most beloved crime novelists in the country.  With Pretty Girls she deviates from  her familiar characters and goes darker than she ever has before and with great success.  Like I said earlier, though, Pretty Girls is pretty dark and twisted, but if you have the stomach for dark and twisted , you will love this book.


Jenny Tate has been divorced for more than a year and is finally ready to let go of the life she lived in New York City.  She is looking forward to being back in her quaint little hometown where she can drop in on her sister, Rachael, her devoted husband, Adam, and her three nieces anytime she wants.  Moving her wedding dress business was easy, as was settling back into small town life.  Her handsome neighbor, Leo, makes it even easier as they dance around their growing attraction.  His way with his piano students and quick wit have Jenny feeling things she doesn't want to be feeling.   Soon some really hard truths come to light about Rachael's "idyllic" marriage and the sisters are forced to examine their differing views on exactly what constitutes an "idyllic" or even functionable relationship.

I have grown to become a fan of Kristan Higgins over the last few years  and find myself thoroughly enjoying her romance novels.   If You Only Knew is Higgins' first attempt at more fiction and less romance, but she made the transition with ease and I think she did a great job.   If You Only Knew is told in the alternating voices of Jenny and Rachael.    Two sisters with two different perspectives on love and marriage.   But the realization I came to while reading this book is that those perspectives are fluid and always evolving based on your current situation in life.  Just married -well of course you are in love with love.  Just divorced - well, of course, the complete opposite.   For Jenny Tate, even though her own marriage didn't work out, she still had to believe in marriage - her career depended on it.   Jenny & Leo's burgeoning relationship had all of that wit and humor I have come to expect from the author and I found myself laughing out loud several times. It is revealed late in the book that there is a bit more depth to Leo than I expected, but it made me love him even more.  And of course there is a dog (and I am not referring to Adam).  There is always a dog to fall in love with in her books.

Bottom line - If You Only Knew is a quick and wonderful read with characters you are eager to get to know.  Definitely worth the read if you are looking for a fun escape.


Even though Letty Espinosa has two children, fifteen year old Alex and six year old Luna, she has never really had to be a mother to them.  Her own mother stepped in and was the one to make sure the kids had food and clothes and made it to school on time.  But now Letty's parents have returned to Mexico and Letty is forced to be a mother for the first time in her life.   It is a rough transition for both Letty and the kids.  Alex is hesitant to trust his mother to be able to care for them and Luna- well, Luna misses her grandparents so much she can hardly stand it.  It doesn't take Letty long to catch on to this "mother" thing and she realizes that she wants better for her kids.  She concocts a plan to get them into a better neighborhood and better schools, but struggles and worries with each step.  Things get even more muddied when Alex's father comes back into their lives.  Will Letty finally be able to feel like she deserves the life she has, including her children or will the balancing act give way and force them all back into the life Letty worked so hard to get them away from?

We Never Asked For Wings is one of those books where the title really fits the story.  Alex is a fifteen year old boy who has an awful lot on his shoulders for such a young man. He is wicked smart and so kind, but he was born on the wrong side of the tracks. And the thing is that Letty doesn't know her son at all.  I had a really hard time liking Letty, in fact I despised her at first. But the harder she worked at making things right the more I started coming around.  Letty's story is just one of millions out there, a single mother working hard to provide her kids with a little something more than she had and it is scary.  Letty was scared that she wouldn't be able to do it and I think once her fear became evident it was easier for me to like her. Fear is an understandable emotion.   We are introduced to Alex's girlfriend, Yesenia, and the fact that she is not in the States legally.  It open ups a whole new level of fear for Letty.  She is afraid that Alex will make the same mistakes she made and follow in her footsteps, instead of his fathers.  In the end, things worked out the way they were meant to, but it wasn't an easy path.

Bottom line - I found We Never Asked for Wings to be a beautiful and honest look at the human side of the immigration debate.  The Espinosa family is just one story, but their story - all stories - are worth knowing.

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