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Nutcrackers & Handsprings: Books About the Cutthroat World of Ballet and Gymnastics

Swan Dive: The Making of a Rogue Ballerina by Georgina Pazcoguin (Henry Holt & Company)
The Turnout by Megan Abbott (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
The Happiest Girl in the World: A Novel by Alena Dillon (William Morrow)
Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein (Atria Books)

September 21, 2021

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

Like so many young girls, I wanted to be a famous ballerina AND an Olympic gymnast.  I was little, so both professions seemed like reasonable career goals even though I could barely touch my toes. Images of me gracefully dancing across the stage in a white nightgown clutching a wooden nutcracker or sticking a round-off back handspring on a balance beam filled my wandering mind.  I, of course, only saw what was directly in front of me.  Beauty, elegance, strength, and perfection were what graced the stage and gym mats for all the dreamers like me who dared to dream.  Little did I know what the making of an elite athlete indeed looked like.  Today I am sharing four books that capture the fierce passion and wild side of ballet and gymnastics.  Scandal, abuse, injuries, eating disorders, and love fill the pages of today’s reads.   The lineup is dripping in all of the blood, sweat, and tears that we love to read about.   And GUESS WHAT?  Legwarmers and leotards are entirely optional.   You can be captivated by these stories from the comfort of your living room couch wearing sweatpants and a baggy t-shirt.  How great is that!!!! 

Point shoes and tutus, anyone??? I LOVED Georgina Pazcoguin’s memoir, Swan Dive. Pazcoguin was the first Asian American soloist in the New York City Ballet.  Her story from leaving her small town in Pennsylvania at age 16 to train in New York City was mind-boggling.  Pazcoguin’s memoir is a backstage pass into the making of a true ballerina.  She is brutally honest with the highs and lows of the profession.  From bloody toes to dancing with injuries to the abuse and racism she experienced, Pazcoquin’s story of dancing in the ballet to performing in the Broadway musical CATS is exceptionally enchanting.  I could not put it down.

While we are still in the mood for tortured ballerinas and scandal galore, let’s move on to a work of fiction that takes place against the provocative backdrop of a ballet school and its yearly performance of The Nutcracker.  The Turnout by Megan Abbott is one heck of a page-turner.  Sisters Maria and Dara Durant run their family’s ballet school.  Things unravel when they hire a contractor to rebuild part of their studio that recently caught fire.  All I can say is that this man is more significant than he lets on. Nutcracker drama, family secrets, irresistible sexual encounters, razor blades in point shoes, and even a dead body fill the pages of this “un-put-downable” book.  I officially know what a “turnout” is and OUCH! The Nutcracker will never be the same again!

All you gymnastic fans out there will love Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein.  Avery’s Olympic dreams come to an end after an injury occurs during her Olympic trials.  To make matters worse, she is newly single and moving back to her hometown in Massachusetts.  In comes Ryan, Avery’s childhood acquaintance, and Olympic gold medalist.  When Ryan discovers that Avery is back home, he eagerly asks her to take the job as his assistant coach to Hallie, an up-and-coming gymnast.   As these two former gymnasts train the next Olympic star, sparks begin to fly on and off the mat.  Picture twists and turns, switch leaps and layouts, and maybe just maybe, some steamy fooling around on a sticky pile of mats.  Head Over Heels has it all…the love of gymnastics, the tension, the hot topics, and most of all, the romance.  Can you say perfect 10!

Alena Dillon’s book, The Happiest Girl in the World is a work of fiction reminiscent of the recent sexual abuse scandals in gymnastics.  Sera and her best friend Lucy are training for the Olympics.  Everything changes for these two when Lucy reports to the authorities that the team doctor sexually abused her during treatment sessions.  Sadly, Sera denies these facts to protect her career and destroys their friendship.  Dillon’s book is overflowing with dusty chalk and intense training but also takes a deep dive into the byproduct of sexual abuse and the ultimate drive for perfection in the cutthroat gymnastics world.  Reading this book felt very timely, especially with the 2021 summer Olympics still in the rearview mirror.  

Now that I have filled your To Be Read pile with pirouettes, flips, and spins, it’s time to get reading!

Until next time my friend!

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly

P.S. When I was little, my sister and I used to pretend the black lane lines in our community pool were balance beams.  In between swimming around, we would put together gymnastic routines and perform them in the pool, making sure to always stick our landings on the lane lines.  So much fun!

Click on the book pictures below to purchase!

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The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell (Atria Books) September 7, 2021

August 21, 2021

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

I am over the moon to share with you one of Fall’s most anticipated and buzziest new books.  This September, Lisa Jewell is back with her latest creation,The Night She Disappeared.   I feel like I write to you often about my love of dark mysteries and thrillers, and this is certainly not the first time I’ve written to you about this lovely author.  I always chuckle to myself with each of these letters because the books I share with you are pretty much the opposite of your writing.   However, even though your genre and style differ from Jewell’s, you both know how to create an atmosphere that brings out the very best in your stories. I believe you would enjoy Jewell’s moody vibes and dreary skies covering the English countryside that serve as the backdrop to her new chilling tale.  I most definitely did and today I am here to tell you why.  

The Night She Disappeared is set in a small English town between 2017-2019…basically right before Covid-19 hit and the whole world shut down.  Again, with mysteries and thrillers my plot summary will be cautious to keep every twist and turn from being spoiled.  One night in 2017, Tullulah and her boyfriend Zach (who is currently living with her at her mother’s house) decide to go out for the night and enjoy an adult evening of dining and hanging with friends.  They leave behind their young son with Tallulah’s mom Kim to mind.  Kim is alarmed when they do not come home that night or even the next morning.  She knows how strong Tallulah’s love is for her son and can’t fathom her disappearing by choice.  Tallulah and Zach are officially declared missing and a search begins.  Fast forward to 2019 and we meet Sophie.  Sophie is a cozy mystery writer who just moved to the area with her boyfriend who is a new educator at the Maypole House.  On her walk one day, she discovers something that opens back up the closed case of missing Tallulah and Zach.  Will this unsolved mystery finally be solved and at what cost?  

My summary may be sparse, but the story is surely not.  I loved how Jewell wrote this book using different timelines and from multiple points of view.  To me this created a well paced mystery that had me waiting with bated breath for 2017 to sync up with 2019. The back and forth between timelines generated the suspense I so desire and because of this, I was immersed in The Night She Disappeared from start to finish.  And let’s face it, short chapters with mini cliffhangers will always KEEP ME READING.  Jewell added a few of my favorite elements to her mysterious tale…the quintessential  private school and the ever so beloved “strange house”  that both hoard secrets and lies galore!  My perfect cup of tea! I loved the history of the Maypole House and all who dwelled there.  I was obsessed with Tallaluh’s temperamental friends and their unsteady yet eager behaviors. I was absolutely delighted with the eeriness of “Dark Place” and the neverending woods that encroached upon its morose existence (you’ll see).  I was entertained observing the characters take on the dangerous work of investigating a threatening affair even though the police and officials were already involved.  I was mesmerized by the darkness that seeped out of this story with each page I turned and tucked under my blanket a little tighter to absorb my chills.  I adored how fired up I was while reading and for the life of me… couldn’t predict the ending. I hoped for this kind of reaction and I am stoked that Lisa Jewell delivered me another fantastic reading experience.  So while I continue to chip away at all of her backlist books, I can say with confidence that I may just be…Her Biggest Fan! This book comes out September 7, 2021!  Be sure to grab yourself a copy!

Peace, Love and Reading…and a few dead bodies!

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly

P.S. If you haven’t read Jewell’s 2020 book, Invisible Girl….Let me convince you to do so.

Invisible Girl was an absolute clever read! I was instantly invested in all of Jewell’s characters from the very start. I desperately wanted to know EVERYTHING about them. Childhood trauma, family drama, strange neighbors, buried secrets, and a MISSING GIRL… this book had me at HELLO! Throw in some crazy twists and turns and a wicked moody vibe and I crossed the finish line with this book in just shy of two days. It’s fast and crazy and the perfect fall treat.

Click on my poolside reading pic to purchase. I spy my hubby in the hot tub 🥰🥰!
Click on this pic to purchase Invisible Girl!

***I received an advance reader copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  My opinions are 100% my own. If I don’t like it…I don’t share it!

DMH~Pages Well Paired Summer 2021 Box

On Sale June 1, 2021 USA Only

May 27, 2021

Dear Readers!

I am thrilled to reveal what will be inside our first DMH~Pages Well Paired box this summer.

Our first box includes a paperback copy of The Other Passenger (Atria Books) by award winning UK author, Louise Candlish.  This book is being published in the United States for the first time on July 20, 2021. Ruth Ware, #1 New York Times best selling author, calls Candlish “the queen of sucker-punch twists”, and I couldn’t agree more.  

The Other Passenger is a slow burn, psychological suspense novel.  Jamie commutes everyday to work via ferry with his buddy Kit.  When Kit goes missing, Jamie becomes a suspect for potential murder given that he was the last person to have seen him. OR WAS HE??? This is a story that is frothing over with lying, cheating and secrets galore.  Candlish’s unreliable characters and subtle twists will keep you guessing every step of the way.  With the Thames river as the backdrop, this noir-like British tale has a wonderful sense of place and a menacing vibe to jam to.  Recline your beach chair and put on your sunnies…The Other Passenger is your next summer read!

The Other Passenger is paired with a custom made, luxury booksleeve by Maine Designer and Seamstress, Joelle Stoecklein, from Aggrojo.  The sleeve measures 11X9 inches and is made from charcoal colored waxed canvas and lined with a flamed colored fabric that is 55% linen and 45% cotton.  Waxed canvas is wicked durable, water resistant (great for the beach and pool), and takes on a weathered/distressed look the more you handle it.   This classy and timeless sleeve looks and feels incredible, and the quality and stitching is over the top fabulous…I am obsessed.  Your book will be safe and sound nestled inside this lavish sleeve.   

*This box will be delivered by July 20, 2021…contingent upon the mail. 

Happy Reading & Happy Shopping!

Kelly

P.S. Boxes go on sale June 1, 2021 at 9am. Be sure to order one before they sell out! I will be sending an email next week as a reminder. If you are looking for discount codes, please visit any of my launch team members below for 10% off.

Kristen

Chase

Lisa

Katie

Laura

Janelle

Charcoal colored waxed canvas with flame colored fabric (55% linen/45% cotton)

Here Comes The Sun

It Had To Be You by Georgia Clark (Atria/Emily Bestler)~May 4, 2021



May 3, 2021

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

Love is in the air, and it feels like Valentine’s Day… in the beginning of May.  Because of this, I have to share with you the most sprightly and heartwarming book. It Had To Be You by Georgia Clark has all the “feels” and I literally can’t stop smiling.  Love almighty love is the theme here, and Clark delivers a five star tale blending a sprinkle of Modern Love with a dollop of Love Actually.  This twenty-first century romantic comedy is a ray of sunshine and I can’t wait for the world to read it.

Liv and Eliot Goldenhorn have been married for decades.  Their New York wedding planning company, In Love in New York is THE place to go for the ultimate wedding experience.  One night, Liv finds out that her husband had a heart attack while away, and died.  Soon after, Liv discovers that not only did her husband/business partner die, but that he left his half of the company to his GIRLFRIEND, Savannah (excellent time for your jaw to drop).  Why on Earth is he trying to bring these two women together after his death? 

Now that you have the backdrop of the story, let me continue with what happens next.  Liv is baffled when Savannah moves to New York to take on her “half “of the wedding business, and so begins their unexpected journey as business owners and women trying to discover love after loss. To enrich this story further, Clark brings in a cast of characters with their own unique love challenges that all link back to Liv, Savannah and In Love In New York. 

It Had To Be You is a must read for anyone looking for love,hope and a happily ever after.  LGBTQ themes, diversity, and romance were lovingly woven together to showcase the power of love. Clark magically melded together an incredible ensemble of characters that offered a different point of view for each new chapter.  The five storylines were distinct in their own quirky way and I was completely obsessed with each and every one of them.  As a woman in my 40’s, I personally relished reading about Clark’s characters my age and even older. It is so refreshing to see more mature women and men in romance books.  This writer truly knows how to tap into the human heart and I look forward to more books written by her.  

It Had To Be You is a treasure that belongs on everyone’s bookshelf.  It is a well needed hug after a long day kind of book and I can’t encourage you enough to read and savor this all inclusive love story.   

Love and Happiness My Friend!

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly


P.S.  Georgia Clark shared her own happily ever after in Brides Magazine.  Check it out Right Here!

Click on the Book Pic to Purchase!

Let’s Get It On

To Love and to Loathe by Martha Waters (Atria)

“But she has no time for these dangerous thoughts-she had a scheme to enact, a dowager marchioness to thwart, and a marquess to make miserable.  In short, she was busy.  Busy ladies had no time to dwell on kisses.”

April 6, 2021

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

Do regency romance novels ring a bell? If I remember correctly, this sub genre was brought to your attention by author Lauren Layne when she wrote to you about her favorite comfort read back in February of 2020.  I have to admit, it has been awhile since I have sunk my teeth into one of these juicy romances set in the early nineteenth century, but after Bridgerton took the world by storm on Netflix this past winter, regency romances are back on center stage.  To Love and To Loathe by Martha Waters is out today and its flirty, fresh and everything in between.  An easy-peasy lemon-squeezy read is the best way to kick off spring in my opinion and Water’s latest historical rom-com will have you smiling from ear to ear.

“She did not wish for much in life-a comfortable house, an extensive wardrobe, and a plentiful supply of paint and canvas were all she really asked for.  But the sensation of winning a wager against Willingham?  Yes, she would admit to wanting that rather badly.”

Welcome to high society where the widowed Diana, Lady Templeton and Jeremy, Marquess of Willingham are center stage.  These two “friends” turn an argument at a ball into a full on wager.  Diana will turn over one hundred pounds if “playboy” Jeremy marries within the year.  Shortly after, Jeremy brings another proposal to Diana.  He recently received a harsh review of his bedroom skills from his last mistress.  He asks Diana to embark in a brief dalliance with him at his house party at Elderwild, his country estate.  During this affair, Diana can offer him some “constructive” criticism of his intimate most moves, while providing him with a much needed confidence boost. In addition, word will get out that Diana, the independent widow, is open to more interludes herself.  What sounds like a win win situation becomes more complicated as the banter, flirtation and romping intensifies. As Jeremy’s competence in the bedroom becomes oh so promising and Diana’s desire for independence dwindles, the two of them must decide how to proceed when the house party fun comes to an end.

“Jeremy was a man of simple pleasures: a glass of brandy, a hard ride on a horse, a good round of boxing at Gentleman Jackson’s, a tumble with a willing woman.  None of these occupations provided him with expertise that he generally had much cause to call upon, but in that moment, he knew one thing with the utmost certainty:  that moan had not been one of pain, but of pleasure.”

Here is my take.  To Love and To Loathe is an opulent tale that is sparkly and bright.   Who doesn’t love a fiery kiss against a ginormous tree with a gorgeous man who just dismounted his sweaty horse.  Don’t be afraid to raise your hand…mine is way up high. I am talking callous hands cupping your face, a few nibbles on your neck, hair askew, dress ruffled in all the right places, and panting from the sheer thrill of getting caught….you get my drift.   Place this scenario in the early 1800s on a grassy estate with nosy maids lingering around every corner and a few two a.m. booty calls (very classy mind you), and you have the key ingredients to a regency romance. 

Water’s story has a gorgeous atmosphere bubbling over with schemes and desire.  One thing I adored was how forward thinking the women in her book were during this male dominated time.  Waters weaved in contemporary themes of love, relationships and independence in a vivacious way.  Instead of keeping her innermost thoughts and desires stifled out of ear of polite society, her female protagonist expressed them using a paintbrush on canvas and in the bedroom with her “Misteress”, Jeremy.   I absolutely love the evolving relationship between Diana and Jeremy.  Their constant wordplay with one another and coy foreplay left me short of breath. The plot was straightforward, but the main characters’ pasts and individual hankering for intimacy and love kept me not only intrigued, but highly entertained.  To Love and to Loathe is a quick and chucklesome read that is heartfelt and down right a blast.  I hope this book brings you as much joy as it brought me.

Happy reading dear friend.

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly

P.S. To Love and to Loathe is book #2 in The Regency Vows series.  Book one is called To Have and To Hoax.  I did not read the first book in this series, but will happily tell you that book #2 works perfectly well as a stand alone. I of course am running to get the first book posthaste!!!

Click on the book pic to purchase!

One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure

The Memory Collectors by Kim Neville (Atria Books)


“Her head is like a snow globe, a blizzard of glitter, a thousand tiny plastic flakes reflecting too many colors for her mind to track.  She closes her eyes and waits for the settling.”

March 16, 2021

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

Memories, memories, memories.  Yes they live in our minds and in our hearts, but they are also nestled in the physical possessions that have come and gone from our lives.  I can look around my house at any given moment and be reminded of a time in my life.  My kitchen table alone evokes more memories than I can count.  It was passed down to me from my sister-in-law and was passed down to her from someone else.  Looking at this table instantly brings me back to arts and crafts done with my children years ago, family meals, homework drama, poker games and then some.  What if being in the presence of this table allowed me to experience the memories that others have had at this table before it came into my home.  This kitchen table has lived a thousand lives before me and I can’t imagine taking on its most intimate secrets from the past.  Kim Neville takes on this fantastic concept in her powerful debut novel, The Memory Collectors. Her fictional tale dives deep into the world of memories and how they can shape,define and even sometimes destroy us… if we let them.  Let’s take a look.

Evelyn is in her early twenties and has a mysterious capability that plagues her.  She can feel the emotions from the objects around her.  Objects and things are “stained” with memories that emit energy that Evelyn can deeply feel.  She can sense the weight of everything around her from the joy a stuffed animal brought to a child to the despair that seeps out of a lost button.  Her mind is in overdrive at all times and the energy she experiences from the world around her brings more fear to her life than joy.  She believes that objects with negative energy carry a danger and must be handled with care.   

“Most of Ev’s objects are stained with love or nostalgia.  Those are the easiest to sell, both for Ev’s wallet and her conscience.  She has pocket watches and pendants, fishing reels and baby rattles.  Some of them vibrate with longing-a compact mirror, a dog-eared copy of The Sun Also Rises.  She always has one or two items stained with lust.  This week it’s a shooter glass with a chip in the rim.”

Now lets meet Harriet.  Harriet is an older woman with a similar “skill set” so to speak.  On the outside she presents as a hoarder of stuff, but in reality she is a collector of treasures.  When circumstances force Harriet to move out of her apartment, she decides to create a museum with all of her treasures channeling the different energies they release.  

“She doesn’t normally shop in stores such as these, cheap ones full of new, vacant things.  Retail stores disturb her, rows and rows of empty objects.  Products with no souls, no energy, people buying and discarding them before they have a chance to take on any kind of life, the world growing more cluttered and at the same time more barren each day.”

In order to take on this overwhelming task, she reaches out to Evelyn, who she knows has similar talents.  She is hoping Evelyn can curate these objects in a way that uses their liveliness to heal or inspire those who come into their space. As the story unfolds, the past rears its ugly head and we learn more about these two women and the complexities of their lives.  Dark pasts, haunting memories and the need to live a more peaceful life torment them both daily.  As they work together and their lives merge closer, there is one question that begs to be answered.  Are these women a curse to one another or a blessing?  

“For better or worse, they belong to her.  She feels the flutter of her panicked heart as the shadows gather around her, the memories caged here, piled one on top of another.  The enormity of it overwhelms her and she can think of nothing else but her need to run away.  She presses down the flaps of the box and edges outside into the cool, early evening air, closing the door on all of it with an air of finality.”

If that sounds wild to you, stay with me.  Neville’s story is fiction at its finest with a splash of magical realism.  Even though there is a hint of sorcery, her tale isn’t that far fetched.  I connected with this story because I believe that possessions exhale energy on a daily basis. There are reasons why I  surround myself with things that bring me joy (thanks Marie Kondo), but that is not always the case for everyone else.  Evelyn and Harriet narrate the story in alternating chapters.  They are not the warmest or fuzziest characters on the block and their stories unveiled the truth one chapter after another.  Neville is a beautiful writer who flawlessly captures her character’s anguish and grief.  Emotions are high in her book and they bled into my reading experience page after page, leaving me wanting more.  The pacing of The Memory Collectors fascinated me.  The slow and steady start attracted me to the story right away.  As I settled into this mesmerizing tale, the momentum began to pick up.  Before I knew it, this contemporary fictional novel with a hint of fantasy turned into a suspenseful and gripping story that had me on the edge of my reading seat.  And finally, let’s not forget the supporting cast that not only compliment our leading ladies, but have their own story to tell.  A big shout out to Owen the artist, Noemi (Evelyn’s sister) and Brett (who I need to know more).  The Memory Collectors was a pleasant surprise that left me a very happy reader.

Cheers to an amazing book!

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly

P.S.  Happy Pub Day to Kim Neville and her book, The Memory Collectors.  Click on the book pic below to grab yourself a copy!

A Handful of Books…Just For You

A Handful of Books

February 19, 2021

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

I love my long letters to you recounting my journey with a new crew of characters in their real or fictional worlds. Sometimes though, I am frothing over with so much literary goodness that I simply must gush about more than one book to you.   Because I am forever a mood reader, I require a variety of reading options at my fingertips at all times.  Whether it’s a literary drama, a light an airy romance, or a thriller gone wild, my state of mind always dictates to me my next read.  Here are a handful of book recommendations to kickstart your weekend.   

Happy Reading my friend!

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly

P.S.  Your bouquet of books awaits you down below.  Arrange these books into your literary lifestyle any way you like. Click on the book pics to purchase or read the full synopsis.

You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria (Avon Books)

I adored this romance. I did a combination of reading and listening to Daria’s story and both options were quick and delicious. The storyline was definitely a little predictable, but still tons of fun, worth the read and a wonderful pick me up. I loved the characters and the plot was wicked entertaining. Who doesn’t love the world of acting? There was a slow build to the “steamy” scenes making the last 1/3 of the book HOT! I enjoyed the Puerto Rican culture, and the Spanish speaking parts and accents on audio…were fabulous! This was a feel good, put a smile on your face kind of read.

Verity by Colleen Hoover (Independently Published)

Buckle up friends this is an absolute WILD RIDE. This has been the most hyped book I have read in quite sometime, and guess what…….It lived up to every juicy and disturbing detail. If you adore psychological thrillers that are mentally unsettling then this book will WOW you. Not only is the writing quick and captivating, Hoover pretty much nailed a five star ending in my opinion! Absolutely brilliant!

Good Eggs by Rebecca Hardiman (Atria Books)

A multi-generational Irish family, laugh out loud dialogue and dysfunctional characters you just can’t help but love fill the pages of Hardiman’s debut novel. From an aging grandmother, to an unfulfilled father, to a teen lost in her own way, Good Eggs takes on the trials and tribulations of family life…one character at a time. Hardiman’s heart felt story is peppered with humor that could be construed as inappropriate, but to me was hilarious and on point. I personally enjoy this approach to writing, especially when talking about sensitive topics such as aging, teenage life and infidelity. Good Eggs moved along at a steady pace offering me an equal distribution of comedic relief and tender moments. The ending was a bit over the top, but never the less brought a big smile to my face. I think this story would be incredible as a TV series. Move over Schitt’s CreekGood Eggs is coming to town. This book comes out on March 2, 2021. Pre-order or reserve it from your local library now!!!

The Prophets by Robert Jones, JR. (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

The love between two Black and enslaved men in the deep south is enough to grab most readers’ attention. Pair that with a beautiful and heart wrenching story filled with prose that will literally hypnotize you, and you’ve got yourself an extraordinary read. The Prophets is by no means a fast read. Jones’ writing is lyrical and oftentimes reads like a poem. It is one that you consume at a pace that allows time to sit with your heightened senses and experience Samual and Isaiah’s journey, one page at a time.

The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon (Berkley)

Radio co-hosts who pretended to have dated in order to share their “fake” past on their award winning show is the premise of The Ex Talk. Another feel good romance for the win with this bright and shiny new release. Enemies to lovers will always be one of my favorite tropes, and Shay and Dominic had me yearning for a “romantic” connection right from the start. This was a slow burn romance with great energy that evens gets a little naughty in the bedroom during the second half of the book. So much fun and perfect to read if you need a little boost to your day.

I Have Some Ideas

The Love Proof by Madeleine Henry (Atria Books)

“The least understood, most important thing in the world is love?”

February 8, 2021

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

What do you think of soul mates?  I presume that many may think that because of your multiple marriages that perhaps you never had one.  I would like to believe that based on your writing, you did in fact experience heartfelt connections, and at the end of the day, loved the people in your life with passion and zest.  Speaking of passion and zest though, I just finished reading the most unique love story that weaved together science, human connection and the power of time.  Madeleine Henry’s latest book, The Love Proof struck a tender chord in my heart that continues to vibrate.  This five star read is the most intellectual romance I have ever come across and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

“Her name, of course, was Sophie Jones-”The next Einstein,” according to the New York Times’s profile.  In that piece, the three most decorated mathematicians in the world had predicted she would be the one to answer humanity’s legendary questions about space and time within the decade-the most profound, undefeated ones about what reality is, with transformative implications for mankind.”

All eyes are on Sophie Jones, a physics prodigy starting her first year at Yale University.  As she continues on her journey to solve the universe’s most intricate problems, she meets Jake Kristopher, a fellow freshman at Yale.  The connection between the two is instant.  As Sophie tries to focus on her work and proving her theories on time, she becomes consumed with their love and most intimate feelings and how they fit into the concept of time as a whole.  

“They were in a world of their own where time passed at a different rate, maybe not at all.  Sophie was peace, magic, stillness.  Even cramped on a hammock, he felt like they fit perfectly together, as if they were two parts of the same person.  He kissed her forehead.”

There is an intimacy to Sophie and Jake’s love that teeters between innocence and extraordinary.  In the beginning, they move through their days at Yale as one..bodies, souls and minds intertwined. As time passes though, Jake’s work life becomes grueling and intense, while Sophie chooses to follow her heart instead of proving theories on time.  When an unexpected change occurs in reality, Sophie immerses herself into her research that she had once relinquished in order to experience her relationship and love without interruptions.  Sophie continues to leave her mark in the world of physics as the decades go on.  But as the years continue to pass, is she really losing time?  Will she prove her greatest theory on love?   

“When you’re balanced, people look down on you.  You get judged when you care about relationships as much as work.  Nobody says that, but you can tell.  It’s not something that people here really respect.”

The Love Proof was an all consuming, wondrous read for me.   My senses came alive as my heart ached, my eyes watered and my mind wandered in the most sublime way.   I am as far from a science geek as they come and I was still drawn in by Henry’s magical writing.   How real love can impact or even change our perception of time is such a tremendous and groovy premise in my opinion.  What I found so appealing about Henry’s writing is how she had me constantly thinking about her main characters and their life choices.  In an attempt to satisfy my own curiosity, I detected myself playing out different scenarios in my head for both Sophie and Jake and longed to chat with my fellow book lovers about my overflowing thoughts and emotions.  Henry undoubtedly explored being trapped inside your mind verses being trapped inside your heart. Can there be balance between two worlds so vastly different from one another?  If you are anything like me, Sophie and Jake’s story will remain with you long after you finish, maybe even leaving you with more questions than answers.  

I urge you to grab a copy of this brilliant read and let yourself escape into our universe filled with love.  The Love Proof is a treasure that officially has a permanent place on my bookshelf.  

Enjoy my sweet friend!

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly

P.S.  The Love Proof comes out Tuesday, February 9, 2021.  Be sure to grab a copy by clicking on the book pic below.  Also, be sure to check out what I had to say about Madeleine Henry’s previous book, Breathe In, Cash Out, RIGHT HERE!

Fashion Scenes & Low Rise Jeans

Everybody (else) is perfect

Everybody (Else) is Perfect:  How I Survived Hypocrisy, Beauty, Clicks, and Likes by Gabrielle Korn (Atria Books)

“Under the guidance of 29-year-old Gabrielle Korn, an out lesbian who lives in Brooklyn with her musician girlfriend, Nylon has become one of the most politically-aware, racially diverse, LGBTQ-inclusive, and feminist-forward digital magazines out there since Korn was appointed editor-in-chief in September 2017 (the same time the outlet’s print edition folded).”

January 25, 2021

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

Women!  You were a fan…I am quite sure of that.  We empower one another to live life to the fullest, love who we want to love, feel confident in our bodies and demand equality in our everyday lives.  But the bottom line is…are we ever 100% happy within our own skin?  How can we get to a place of peace and acceptance of our most wonderful selves, especially when we are promoting this to those around us?  Sometimes a deep dive into the roots of these issues is more telling than a one size fits all answer.  Gabrielle Korn, a digital media expert, former editor at Refinery29 and former editor-in-chief of Nylon shares in her new memoir, personal essays relating to this very issue. Her story is an eye-opening, contemporary account of how damaging the fashion and beauty industries have been (and still can be) to women.  Her writing is fresh and alive and pretty much blew me away.  I hope you will read her book and find wisdom and courage in her words.

I will admit right away that I have never read Nylon (I have seen it referenced in books and on the internet though) and until I read Korn’s memoir, I didn’t even know who she was.  I am telling you this because I loved her book and I loved getting to know her through her writing.  I am not sure how much of a difference it would have made if I had more knowledge of who Korn was and what Nylon was all about.  FYI…Nylon is an international lifestyle publication that focuses on emerging culture (beauty, fashion, music, entertainment, etc.).  Korn’s book is a compilation of essays about her time spent in her twenties working in the fashion/beauty industry and her fast rise to the top of the publication, Nylon.  Korn had a great education, a supportive family and plenty of friendships.  Despite these blessings, she found herself in a cycle of eating disorders and body dysmorphia that not only impacted her health and well being, but had an acute influence on her intimate relationships with women.  Society’s view of sexualality was and still is in constant flux, making Korn’s goal of bringing diversity to this area and to all shapes, sizes and races to the media a constant battle. Fashion Week in New York City was one of the biggest culprits of all.  Stick thin models with dress sizes measuring an xxxs, is not ideal for anyone.

Korn talked a lot about trending body parts and their continuous sway on our self-esteem.  First it was a flat as a pancake stomach, then it was an oversized booty, followed by big boobs or bust.  Let’s not forget the thin waif look or the “strong is healthy” body.  What body part was the focus was and still is ever changing.   Looking in the mirror became a confusing vision for Korn and one that she battled everyday.    

“Even before hashtags, women’s body parts have been going in and out of style for as long as there’s been style.  What’s meant by that, really, is that for the moment, people with a certain physical characteristic are privileged. “ 

With popular body parts comes fashion to highlight them.  From low rise jeans, to high rise leggings, to crop tops to the no makeup makeup look, there is always a trend lingering around tempting us to conform or shaming us because we don’t.  Korn takes us through her days of dressing and undressing in the clothes of our time that were supposed to inspire us to feel beautiful but also had the potential of making one feel empty and not good enough.  She does mention that what you wear still can be valued.  Fashion has changed through the decades and for example, women being able to wear pants was a huge deal.  It was a sign of strength and equality that should be celebrated.  With this comes a hefty side order of  sexism, mental health issues and a variety of eating disorders that keep us from reaching our full potential and most happy selves.  Korn shares how her own eating disorder came to be and her battle to overcome it in a world that was determined to defeat her with unobtainable bodies and beauty standards. 

Through her years in the instrustry, Korn called out the fashion world for promoting diversity and women empowerment, while at the same time, not adhering to their own standards.  

“For any real change to happen in the fashion industry, all of the editors and bloggers and influencers would have to agree to stop showing up for designers that aren’t making an active effort to improve diversity.  That would mean going to probably four or five shows as opposed to the nearly one hundred that happen during New York Fashion Week.”  

Gabrielle Korn’s memoir was a deep-seated read.  I was beguiled with how she shared her most private moments in her life in a way that felt like she was talking in confidence with a close friend.  As a forty something year old straight woman who has never worked in the fashion industry, I could still relate to so much of what she revealed.  I have lived through my fair share of fashion/body trends and unreachable beauty standards and of course…sexism at its finest.  I can’t say that it was all bad (excluding sexism…that is always never welcomed here), but looking back now I wonder if some of it was even worth it.   Some trends worked in my favor, while others had me scrambling or left feeling pretty low.  Through the decades, I have witnessed media, fashion, diets and beauty products make strides towards diversity and inclusion of all shapes, sizes and even genders…at least from my perspective as a consumer. But is society moving in the right direction to meet the needs of our diverse and beautiful world?  Hopefully.  Do I still feel like I am reaching for the stars sometimes?  Absolutely.  But my one take away from Korn is that there are so many outside factors that influence our lives and we can’t change everything, especially all at once.  What we can change though, is our reaction to the cultural influences around us and how we let it seep into our minds and relationships.  We do not have to be a slave to our image.  We can just be who we are and love ourselves, flaws and all.   2021 continues to be an uphill battle. But as the steepness slowly decreases, our strength is increasing. Our bodies are our vessels that carry us through life.  I am focussing more on loving my vessel than hating it.  How about you?  

Much love, health and happiness to you!

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly

P.S. Wallace ❤️❤️❤️

Click on the book pic below to purchase this book. It comes out January 26, 2021 🥰🥰🥰

The Yogi of Wall Street

New Blog Post

Breathe In, Cash Out by Madeleine Henry (Atria Books)

January 12, 2020

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

Let’s talk about a crazy coincidence?  I am writing to you in the middle of a global pandemic and you actually know what I am talking about.  Covid-19 for me and Spanish flu for you. Wow…who would have thought.  Remember the busyness of everyday life?  School, work, deadlines, hanging with friends and family (geez…even War for you).  The everyday grind has drastically changed, but I got to relive the feeling of being overcommitted and overworked in Madeleine Henry’s book, Breathe In, Cash Out. As I go through my days (Groundhog Day Style), it was refreshing to get a glimpse into the world of ruthless banking on Wall Street (boy I miss NYC), while also getting my zen on with some much needed yoga. Henry delivered a soul searching story that not only enlightened me with wisdom and laughter, but seriously charmed the pants off of me.  Let’s take a look, shall we.

Allegra Cobb… a self taught yogi and one time American Yoga National Competition Champion, is also a straight A Princeton grad who works as an analyst at a cut throat, top tiered bank on good old Wall Street. Now that was a mouthful. Biding time until her year end bonus comes in (should be a juicy one), Allegra is seriously contemplating leaving her financially secure job to follow her dreams  of becoming a yoga teacher.  While she struggles with disappointing her father and battles her innermost demons, she meets up with the ultimate yoga guru (and her yoga idol), Skylar, for some realignment in her life.  Skylar has a very successful yoga career and is a superstar on instagram.  Allegra desperately begins following her advice on how to integrate more mindfulness and yoga into her life in order to discover her true and authentic self.  The more she works with Skylar though, the more she begins to realize that working over a 100 hours a week in a grueling banking job, which basically strips you of your soul, may not be all that different from Skylar’s world of shiny leggings, seven chakras and photo perfect poses for instagram.  And of course, just to add a splash of sparkle to her conscience examining days, a bit of romance is lingering in the background.  Time is ticking on her mental well being and Allegra needs to figure out which path she should travel next.  

Breathe in, Cash Out was a breath of fresh air. It was the perfect distraction to my stay at home days filled with work, Zooms and teenage boys surrounding my every move.  I love books (fiction or nonfiction) where someone is pondering a major life change.  Even though Allegra’s story is a work of fiction, it still dazzled me and all my dreams.  But self exploration aside, Henry’s book is down right hysterical. As I revisited my own days of working a gazillion hours a week and took a hard look at the current state of my downward facing dog (not that pretty these days), I found myself doubled over with laughter.  And of course, one of my favorite parts of Henry’s story was the wee bit of romance that kept my heart fluttering.  It did not overpower the story one bit, but was equivalent to a sprinkle of cinnamon on top of a fabulous cappuccino……the perfect touch!.  

Allegra is a character you want to root for because guess what…there is a bit of her in all of us.  During these strange days of more time with our thoughts than ever, it is impossible not to engage in a tad of introspection. Whether switching jobs or shifting our mindsets, change is not always a bad thing and Henry’s main girl is a gentle reminder of that.  But of course every leading lady needs a gaggle of characters around her to add some more shine to her story.   Mark (Allegra’s boss who she accidentally sleeps with 😮), and Tripp, Chole and Puja who sit in close proximity to her everyday, were an absolute delightful addition to Henry’s story.  And of course the lovely Skylar…the spice to this wicked fun tale.  I always say that a touch of spice is always quite nice…am I right???

I hope you enjoy this easy breezy and quite frankly, humorous read.  It sure added a twinkle and some much needed stretching to my day!

Until next time my friend!

Namaste!

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly

P.S.  Madeleine Henry has a new book coming out on February 9, 2021 called The Love Proof!  I am reading it now and will be telling you all about it very soon. In the meantime, give it a quick pre-order ❤️❤️❤️.

P.P.S. I alternated between reading Breathe In, Cash Out and listening to it on audio. Both were equally wonderful.

Click on the book pic below to purchase!

Breathe in, Cash Out

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