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!
Your Biggest Fan,
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.
Untamed by Glennon Doyle (The Dial Press) & Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire: The Guide To Being Glorious You by Jen Hatmaker (Thomas Nelson)
August 24, 2020
Dear Mr. Hemingway,
I am coming at you today Mr. H. with a whole lot of girl power. I hope all your “masculinity” can handle it 😂. I am talking about the fabulous Glennon Doyle and Jen Hatmaker! These two motivational ladies are the “QUEENS” of self love and all things good in the world. They know how to navigate the murky waters of religion and sexual identity. With empathy, they champion those who struggle. They are “momming” hard with all the rest of us, sharing their triumphs and challenges with their kids every step of the way. They believe in the power of relationships and the people around us. But most importantly, they want to live their most authentic lives. Both women have the gift of connecting with their audience. When I read their words or listen to them speak, it feels like I am in a room with one of my closest girlfriends. They are inspirational, compassionate, and downright hysterical. Let me move forward now and tell you about their latest books!
I have been following Glennon Doyle forever. I have read her previous books, Carry on, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life,and Love Warrior: A Memoir. I have listened to many of her interviews and podcast appearances and basically feel like she could be my next-door neighbor. In her latest book, Untamed,Glennon once again invites her readers into her life sharing intimate details of her family and her mission for equality and all things good in the world. She shares with us her divorce from her husband (and father to their three children) and her love story with her wife Abby (ummm…greatest woman soccer player ever….just saying). She talks about the importance of knowing who you are and how the relationship you have with yourself is your foundation, your home base in the world.
What I love about Glennon is that she embraces the awkward questions revolving around sexual identity, politics, sobriety, parenting and more. She understands that so many of us are trying to figure out the hard stuff. Let’s face it, life can be messy at times. It’s having the guts to ask edgy questions that bring clarity to oftentimes difficult issues that moves us closer to the truth. Glennon welcomes these conversations and nourishes them with her heart and soul. She shows her readers how to take on the gritty issues…She firmly believes that “We Can Do Hard Things”. She is so right…We totally can do hard things. I can do hard things and so can you. I felt so well balanced after readingUntamed. Such a much needed pick me up during these strange pandemic times. I hope you enjoy Glennon’s book as much as I did.
Let’s move on to the lovely Jen Hatmaker. So Jen is another powerhouse woman that I have also been following for many, many years. I am a fan of her Podcast, For The Love and an even bigger fan of her personal journey as a woman of faith and a motivational speaker. Here is the thing about Jen. She does the work. She doesn’t just talk, talk, talk. She examines, explores and researches the tough topics. She is not afraid to try new things and she embraces failure. Her latest book, Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire has everything you need to know about owning your space and not having to justify to ANYONE who you are. Jen encourages women to stop hiding, pretending or posing as someone else. It is all just too exhausting. Our one and only life is ours and we need to live it well and live it truthfully. When we do that, guess what happens…we flourish. One thing that is awesome about her book is that it is not preachy. Jen makes it very clear that even though our journey’s may look similar, each of our endgames are different.
Jen is the best girlfriend to her readers. She shares the importance of our friendships and “vibrant relationships” in our lives. She shares her personal exploration with religion and God and all the hiccups along the way. She shows her readers how to examine their own faith (if they want to…again, no pressure) and figure out what is right for them. Jen speaks about her friendships and faith with absolute honesty. That is what makes her shine.
Jen is no stranger to the everyday challenges of being a woman. Weight issues, self-esteem, wrinkles, loneliness and raising kids…Jen dives right into these issues with experience and of course, a whole lot of humor. Her book inspires me to be the best version of myself. While I continue to nourish my relationships with my friends and family, I will most importantly be taking care of my one true self. That feels pretty incredible to me. Enjoy this treasure during these unprecedented times.
Well my friends, Glennon Doyle and Jen Hatmaker are two women that not only speak their truth, but are vibrant with fantastic wisdom that so many of us women can truly appreciate. There is something for everyone in their books. Whether all or even just parts of their writing resonate with you, I hope you embrace their positivity and love yourself.
Until next time!
Your Biggest Fan!
P.S. I did a combination of reading both books and listening to them on audio. I am not going to lie, both authors narrate their respective books so it is almost like listening to a super long fabulous podcast. I loved both books on audio. Jen adds extra commentary and clips from relevant podcasts, which enhance your listening experience of her book. If you are an audio lover, be sure to check out Libro.fm. I am a huge fan. Your purchases go directly to the local bookstore of your choice. How cool is that?
Today I am writing to you about two books that literally thrilled me to death. Suspense and crime fiction have really added some zest to my summer days. I’m not going to lie though, you weren’t exactly Mr. Thriller back in the day. As you are aware from previous letters, I will always rely on your simple, yet zealous writing. But once again, I am leaving the thrills and chills to a few others. Let me introduce you to E.G. Scott and Alice Feeney. Even though these authors are relatively new to me as a reader, they have won me over with their recent books. I believe you would have enjoyed these two authors’ company (ok…technically there are three. See my postscript for the explanation). I can imagine you and E.G. Scott discussing writing techniques and the ever changing publishing industry, while you and Alice Feeney swap stories of your shared experiences as journalists. I am sure your conversations would be accompanied by some sort of fabulous drink. Perhaps a stiff, no nonsense alcoholic bevy or even a frothy cappuccino would do the trick. Anyway, I digress. Here is the scoop on today’s post. Feeney and Scott know how to write stories that bring on the goosebumps. I am talking heart pounding, quick shivers of mind bending crazy that run through your veins kind of writing. Let’s check out their latest creations.
First up, we have E.G. Scott’s, In Case of Emergency. When thirty something Charlotte’s career as a neurosurgeon abruptly ends, she takes on the world of acupuncture and holistic healing. Here is Charlotte in a nutshell. She is a member of an online support group for trauma survivors, she struggles to keep her new business afloat, and she believes her mysterious and secretive boyfriend, Peter, has gone missing. To add a shake of salt to her already open wounds, she is called in to help identify a dead (presumably murdered) woman in town. The crazy thing is, Charlotte has no idea who this woman is or why this “Jane-Doe” had Charlotte down as her “in case of emergency” contact. Here is where all of the questions come in. Why on earth is Charlotte being questioned by the police, who IS this mysterious dead woman, and where the hell is Peter? Throw in Charlotte’s ex-junkie best friend/co-worker, an officer and a gentleman, and a whole lot of acupuncture needles going every which way, and this book is crazy good! Scott’s fast paced story will have you effortlessly dipping in and out of chapters until the very end. Enjoy this summer treat!
Next up is His & Hers by Alice Fenney. This book is ridiculously incredible on audio. I repeat, this book is ridiculously incredible on audio. So, I guess the saying goes…there are two sides to every story, right? Well… in Alice Feeney’s latest thriller, there may be yet another side. The story starts with Anna Andrews, a temporary TV Presenter on BBC (filling in for Cat Jones on a never ending maternity leave). When her dreamy presenter job is jeopardized, she is asked to cover a murder in Blackdown, Surrey. It turns out that the woman murdered was a childhood friend of hers. Anna’s ex-husband, Jack Harper, is a detective at the scene of the murder and may be a suspect in this horrid crime. Shortly after this woman’s body is discovered, a string of murders occur nearby, thickening the plot of this already juicy mystery. His & Hers is told from alternating POVs… Anna and Jack’s. Feeney’s story moves quickly and is gushing with unimaginable twists and turns. She meticulously exposes her characters’ pasts and closely guarded secrets every step of the way. I mentioned two sides of every story, but sometimes…there is a possible third 😯! Feeney offers up the POV of the “killer” for an extra layer of creepy. Be prepared to be sucked into this very dark read from page one. Fans of true crime stories who just adore the craftiness of a well mannered serial killer will drool over this book! Enjoy your pounding pulse everyone!
That is a wrap my friend!
Until next time!
Your Biggest Fan,
P.S. Did you know that E.G. Scott is the pseudonym for two writers…Elizabeth Keenan and Greg Wands. These two authors have been friends for over 20 years. How fun is that? Also, rumor has it that His & Hers was picked up for TV…WOW! I know I will be watching.
I have written to you about my love of audiobooks before. In my days, they were actually referred to as “books on tape”. I still catch myself saying that from time to time…especially when my kids look at me like I am speaking a foreign language. Anyway, do you know how many times I have fallen asleep listening to your book, The Old Man and the Sea? Well, it feels like a thousand. As much as I adore that particular book of yours, it is my darling husband that plays it over and over again as he drifts off to sleep. Every now and then he throws on the audio version of your book, A Moveable Feast. I have no problem listening to that book over and over again. Falling asleep to your words from this story ensures my dreams will be filled with Parisian streets, salty oysters, and crisp white wine. Anyway, I digress. Today I am sharing some books that I found to be quite entertaining on audio. A little bit of romance, friendship, mystery, memoir, and time travel is coming your way today. Grab your headphones and hit play! Let the listening begin!
Your Biggest Fan,
P.S. If you are looking for a way to listen to your books while supporting ANY participating local bookstore, check out Libro.FM. Feel free you use my REFERRAL LINK to get your first month free. Any member can share their referral code. Click on the book pics below to take you directly to their info page.
Abby Jimenez’s book, The Friend Zone, came out last year, and I JUST recently listened to it. I am actually pumped that I was was fashionably late to this fabulous book party. This book was the perfect feel good, pick me up during this uncertain time. Not only did I get to spend the night in bed reading this warm and fuzzy tale, I acquired a new book boyfriend who goes by the name of Josh. Married or not, you can never have too many book boyfriends 😂😂😂. Also, if you end up liking this book, the sequel just came out. It’s called The Happily Ever Playlist.
“Kristen Peterson doesn’t do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don’t get her. She’s also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.
Planning her best friend’s wedding is bittersweet for Kristen — especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He’s funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he’d be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it’s harder and harder to keep him at arm’s length.”
WOW! I’m embarrassed to say that I did not know who Mikel Jollett was or for that matter, who his band, The Airborne Toxic Event was. Well, after listening to his brand new memoir, Hollywood Park I have a pretty good sense of who this writer and musician is! Mikel Jollett narrates his profound journey from his early childhood In the 70’s to present day with an honesty that spares no details! From his early days living in a cult with his family to his unsettled adolescence and young adulthood, Jollett’s journey was rocky to say the very least. He effortlessly brings his readers into his world of family love, loyalty and survival by exploring the intimate most details from his relationship with his parents and older brother. His writing is stunning and his story is absolutely unforgettable. His emotional memoir will no doubt stir your soul and fill your heart with love. Bonus……Jollett narrates his audio book.
“So begins Hollywood Park,Mikel Jollett’s remarkable memoir. His story opens in an experimental commune in California, which later morphed into the Church of Synanon, one of the country’s most infamous and dangerous cults. Per the leader’s mandate, all children, including Jollett and his older brother, were separated from their parents when they were six months old, and handed over to the cult’s “School.” After spending years in what was essentially an orphanage, Mikel escaped the cult one morning with his mother and older brother. But in many ways, life outside Synanon was even harder and more erratic.
In his raw, poetic and powerful voice, Jollett portrays a childhood filled with abject poverty, trauma, emotional abuse, delinquency and the lure of drugs and alcohol. Raised by a clinically depressed mother, tormented by his angry older brother, subjected to the unpredictability of troubled step-fathers and longing for contact with his father, a former heroin addict and ex-con, Jollett slowly, often painfully, builds a life that leads him to Stanford University and, eventually, to finding his voice as a writer and musician.”
The Guest List by Lucy Foley is absolutely wonderful on audio. Who wouldn’t want to attend a wedding with friends and family on a small Irish island? The privacy from the outside world, the weekend escape from everyday life, one big hurrah with friends and family to tide you over until someone else’s big day. Sounds like the perfect weekend. The narrators’ Irish accents and the icy cold ocean air will make you feel like you are actually on this Emerald Island. There is a creepy vibe while the bride and groom and all their guests get ready for the ceremony. Family drama and dark secrets from their pasts give this wedding day a very unsettling vibe. Throw in some blood and a dead body and you have one heck of celebration. Foley’s slow burn mystery is an atmospheric treat.
“The bride – The plus one – The best man – The wedding planner – The bridesmaid – The body
On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.
But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.
And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?”
When I think about time travel, my mind instantly goes to The Magic Treehouse or Outlander. In Margarita Montimore’s new book, Oona Lockhart travels to a different time in her life every New Year’s Eve for one year. Can you even imagine revisiting yourself in the past or for that matter, meeting yourself in the future? If given the chance, would you alter your past knowing that in turn, it could change the future? Montimore offers her readers this, and so much more in her unique tale. Oona Out of Order definitely made me think. Between the pages of this compelling read are funny and light hearted moments coupled with self reflection and a giant splash of pop culture (80s and 90s anyone?). Do not think too deeply about the ins and outs of time travel. Simply enjoy Oona’s wild ride!
“It’s New Year’s Eve 1982, and Oona Lockhart has her whole life before her. At the stroke of midnight she will turn nineteen, and the year ahead promises to be one of consequence. Should she go to London to study economics, or remain at home in Brooklyn to pursue her passion for music and be with her boyfriend? As the countdown to the New Year begins, Oona faints and awakens thirty-two years in the future in her fifty-one-year-old body. Greeted by a friendly stranger in a beautiful house she’s told is her own, Oona learns that with each passing year she will leap to another age at random. And so begins Oona Out of Order...
Hopping through decades, pop culture fads, and much-needed stock tips, Oona is still a young woman on the inside but ever-changing on the outside. Who will she be next year? Philanthropist? Club Kid? World traveler? Wife to a man she’s never met? Surprising, magical, and heart-wrenching, Margarita Montimore has crafted an unforgettable story about the burdens of time, the endurance of love, and the power of family.”
The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon is an all-star treat. Here is my favorite quote….“If sexy and adorable had a baby together, the result would be Daniel Collins.” SOLD! Farrah’s book is filled with sass, class, and a whole lot of smarts… did I mention Daniel Collins??? Women lifting each other up, staying true to yourself, and a tall, dark and handsome man lingering in the background….sign yourself up for this one. Such a perfect summertime listen.
“Samiah Brooks never thought she would be “that” girl. But a live tweet of a horrific date just revealed the painful truth: she’s been catfished by a three-timing jerk of a boyfriend. Suddenly Samiah-along with his two other “girlfriends,” London and Taylor-have gone viral online. Now the three new besties are making a pact to spend the next six months investing in themselves. No men and no dating.
For once Samiah is putting herself first, and that includes finally developing the app she’s always dreamed of creating. Which is the exact moment she meets the deliciously sexy Daniel Collins at work.What are the chances?But is Daniel really boyfriend material or is he maybe just a little too good to be true?
I need to say something and I really hope you and everyone else hear this correctly. AUDIOBOOKS COUNT AS READING! I can’t believe that there are actual people in the world that believe this to be untrue. I am setting the record straight today. Listening to your books vs. reading a physical book comes down to modality. One uses visual, while the other uses auditory. That is it. Still reading!
Now that I have cleared that up, I’ll let you in on a little secret. My personal reading life drastically changed once I added audiobooks into the mix. I pretty much doubled the number of books I was consuming and felt way more up to date with my TBR list. Let’s face it, the act of reading a physical book is pretty much incompatible with most activities (except for maybe working out on a treadmill or exercise bike). However, listening to a book pairs quite perfectly with so many everyday activities (driving, exercising, household chores). With that said, listening to books wasn’t exactly a slam dunk for me. It took many failed attempts to find the right fit. The key to finding a great book on audio boils down to the narrator. While a poor audio narration can destroy the experience of a five-star read, the right performance will elevate your listening adventure beyond the stars. In fact, you will feel so fantastically entertained that you will wear your earbuds 24/7. And that my friends, is a sign that you are on your way to becoming an audiobook junkie. Welcome to the club!
Today I am sharing with you a few audiobooks that worked for me. Between the stories and the talented narrators, these audiobooks brought joy to me during the most dreadful activities…laundry, cleaning, endless driving. You get my drift. While so many of these daily undertakings are unavoidable, we can at least get some reading done while doing them. But don’t just associate your listening with unpleasant activities. Long walks, gardening, and everyday life work well with good storytelling. Make reading more a part of your day. Start listening!
“One summer morning, twelve-year-old Edward Adler, his beloved older brother, his parents, and 183 other passengers board a flight in Newark headed for Los Angeles. Among them are a Wall Street wunderkind, a young woman coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy, an injured veteran returning from Afghanistan, a business tycoon, and a free-spirited woman running away from her controlling husband. Halfway across the country, the plane crashes. Edward is the sole survivor. Edward’s story captures the attention of the nation, but he struggles to find a place in a world without his family. He continues to feel that a part of himself has been left in the sky, forever tied to the plane and all of his fellow passengers. But then he makes an unexpected discovery—one that will lead him to the answers to some of life’s most profound questions: When you’ve lost everything, how do you find the strength to put one foot in front of the other? How do you learn to feel safe again? How do you find meaning in your life?”
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ In the wake of an unimaginable tragedy, Napolitano’s story tells of one boy’s survival and how he went on to not only survive but truly really live. My emotions were everywhere in this book. I hesitated to listen to this story because I didn’t want to feel sad. While a few parts of this book completely gutted me, the majority of this story was uplifting and heartfelt. Casandra Campbell’s narration comforted me during this emotionally charged story. Edward will forever be in my heart! This book is 100% worth the 11 hours 36 minutes of listening hours in your day.
Synopsis from the Publisher (Penguin Random House Audio): “In a Philadelphia neighborhood rocked by the opioid crisis, two once-inseparable sisters find themselves at odds. One, Kacey, lives on the streets in the vise of addiction. The other, Mickey, walks those same blocks on her police beat. They don’t speak anymore, but Mickey never stops worrying about her sibling. Then Kacey disappears, suddenly, at the same time that a mysterious string of murders begins in Mickey’s district, and Mickey becomes dangerously obsessed with finding the culprit–and her sister–before it’s too late.”
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Liz Moore’s story brings awareness to the opioid crisis that plagues our nation. She shines a light on how this calamity impacts not only society but the ones we love most. Allyson Ryan’s narration transports you to the streets of Philadelphia while bringing to life this mystery and family drama in the most satisfying way. It is definitely worth your 13 hours 19 minutes of listening time.
Synopsis from the Publisher (Penguin Random House Audio): “Cyril Avery is not a real Avery — or at least, that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he? Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead. At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from – and over his many years, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country, and much more.”
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I am not going to lie. The Heart’s Invisible Furies is one of my favorite books of all time. Boyne’s story is rich. It’s full. It absolutely requires 21 hours 10 minutes to tell. Do not let these long hours deter you from experiencing this coming of age saga. Stephen Hogan’s performance will keep your earbuds permanently in place with his luscious Irish accent. Cyril Avery is one to root for. He will stay in your soul forever. This my friends…..is worth every second of your listening time (76,200 seconds to be precise).
Well, Mr. H., I must get back to my listening! Cheers everyone!
Your Biggest Fan,
P.S. If you are looking for a way to listen to your books while supporting your local bookstore, check out Libro.FM. Feel free you use my referral link to get your first month free. I am NOT affiliated with Libro.FM. I personally support this listening option on my own. Any member can share their referral code.