This is a blog written by a 20-something PR professional in the Second City. Follow along as I chronicle my outfits, DIY projects, social events and more. Thanks for stopping by!
Category Archives: Sincerely Reading
Sincerely Reading is a reoccurring feature on the blog. When it’s not one of my book recommendations, it will be a friend’s. This week I’m sharing a Crimes Against a Book Club book review.
Title: Crimes Against a Book Club by Kathy Cooperman
Summary: Best friends Annie and Sarah need cash—fast. Sarah, a beautiful, successful lawyer, wants nothing more than to have a baby. But balancing IVF treatments with a grueling eighty-hour workweek is no walk in the park. Meanwhile, Annie, a Harvard-grad chemist recently transplanted to Southern California, is cutting coupons to afford her young autistic son’s expensive therapy.
Desperate, the two friends come up with a brilliant plan: they’ll combine Sarah’s looks and Annie’s brains to sell a “luxury” antiaging face cream to the wealthy, fading beauties in Annie’s La Jolla book club. The scheme seems innocent enough, until Annie decides to add a special—and oh-so-illegal—ingredient that could bring their whole operation crashing to the ground.
Hilarious, intelligent, and warm, Crimes Against a Book Club is a delightful look at the lengths women will go to fend for their families and for one another. (via Amazon)
On a Scale of “Don’t Bother” to “Couldn’t Put Down”: Pack it for a vacation!
Why? It was a cute book and an easy read. I started to get invested in the women’s lives and could easily see how one lie could lead to another. It is a pretty shallow novel, but that’s all you need next to a pool! It gets even better at the very end, when the author creatively imagines a resolution.
If someone likes ________, they’d like this book: Big Little Lies. This book wasn’t a dark as the HBO series, but the housewives in the books are similar and all have their own secrets. Also, both books take place in sunny California, and I couldn’t help but be envious of the lives the author described (despite their downfalls).
You know all of those articles that come out right about now each year, recapping the previous 11 1/2 months? I LIVE for those recaps. By the end of every year I feel like everyone’s all “Thank God year 20xx is over.” Sometimes all you remember is the bad. But thankfully, a lot of these recaps remind you the year was pretty good, even if it was just in the form of makeup tutorials and hit singles. Here are a few of my favorite 2016 recap articles I’ve seen this year:
- United States of Pop 2016 – About mid-November I so, so excited in anticipation for DJ Earworm’s annual mashup of the year’s top hits. So excited to hear two of my fav Top 40 songs from the year (JBiebs and Chainsmokers) on one track together.
- 17 Of The Prettiest Hair Trends We Saw This Year – These trends might have been from 2016, but I bet you’ll want to continue them into the new year once you see them.
- Influenster Reviewers Choice Awards: Best in Beauty – “From drugstore favorites to splurge-worthy luxury buys — these products deliver real results and Influensters can’t get enough!” – Influenster
- 15 Spectacular Celebrity Feuds of 2016 – Whose side were you on in all of the 2016 celebrity feuds? So many snakes, so little time.
- 2016 in Focus (Getty Images) – Relive 2016 in photos. There are some heart wrenching ones, but visit the love gallery to begin 2017 with a smile on your face.
Let’s hope next year keeps giving us just as many great pieces!
Sincerely Reading is a reoccurring feature on the blog. When it’s not one of my book recommendations, it will be a friend’s. This week I’m sharing a Dark Matter book review.
Title: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
Summary: “Are you happy with your life?”
Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.
Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.
Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”
In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.
Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.
Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of. (via Amazon)
On a Scale of “Don’t Bother” to “Couldn’t Put Down”: Couldn’t put it down – but had to because it was too scary for me!
Why? I’m such a jumpy person and anything with the extraordinary is especially scary for me. I ended up reading about half the book in a day, and then skipping through to the end. I had to know how it was all figured out, but couldn’t read anything more in the dark!
If someone likes ________, they’d like this book: Stranger Things. My fiancé and I binge watched Stranger Things over the Labor Day weekend, the same time I picked up this book, and I couldn’t believe how similar they were. Both deal with alternative universes and worlds overlapping.
Sincerely Reading is a reoccurring feature on the blog. When it’s not one of my book recommendations, it will be a friend’s. This week I’m sharing a Here’s to Us book review.
Title: Here’s to Us by Elin Hilderbrand
Summary: Three romantic rivals. One crowded house. Plenty of room for jealousy.
Laurel Thorpe, Belinda Rowe, and Scarlett Oliver share only two things; a love for the man they all married, Deacon Thorpe–a celebrity chef with an insatiable appetite for life–and a passionate dislike of one another. All three are remarkable, spirited women, but they couldn’t be more different. Laurel: Deacon’s high school sweetheart and an effortlessly beautiful social worker; Belinda: a high-maintenance Hollywood diva; and Scarlett: a sexy southern belle floating by on her family money and her fabulous looks. They’ve established a delicate understanding over the years–they avoid each other at all costs.
But their fragile detente threatens to come crashing down after Deacon’s tragic death on his favorite place on earth: a ramshackle Nantucket summer cottage. Deacon’s final wish was for his makeshift family to assemble on his beloved Nantucket to say good-bye. Begrudgingly, Laurel, Belinda, and Scarlett gather on the island as once again, as in each of their marriages, they’re left to pick up Deacon’s mess. Now they’re trapped in the crowded cottage where they all made their own memories–a house that they now share in more ways than one–along with the children they raised with Deacon, and his best friend. Laurel, Belinda, and Scarlett each had an unbreakable bond with Deacon–and they all have secrets to hide.
Before the weekend is over, there are enough accusations, lies, tears, and drama to turn even the best of friends–let alone three women who married the same man–into adversaries. As his unlikely family says good-bye to the man who brought them together–for better or worse–will they be able to put aside their differences long enough to raise a glass in Deacon’s honor? (via Amazon)
On a Scale of “Don’t Bother” to “Couldn’t Put Down”: Pack it for vacation.
Why? This book is a quick read but will keep you entertained as you turn the pages. I had specific characters that I liked best and kept barreling through to try to get to their chapters again so I could check back in on their grieving process. (It might be a quick read, but it’s not exactly light! Everyone is battling their own inner demons.)
I also was interested in the story because the main character was a reality star before “reality TV was a thing.” Since I’m a reality TV-aholic, I enjoyed this fictional character and imagining what people knew about his real life through his TV shows, then getting a peak into his real life through the book.
If someone likes ________, they’d like this book:
- Books told from multiple POVs. Each chapter is narrated by a different character and gives you a peak inside their grieving process and connection to the deceased main character.
- Cooking. Being that the book is about a famous chef, there are multiple recipes scattered throughout the book that actually sound quite good! Bring this along on vacation and whip something up that’s reminiscent of Nantucket summers, as described in the book.
Sincerely Reading is a reoccurring feature on the blog. When it’s not one of my book recommendations, it will be a friend’s. This week Erin from Loop Looks is sharing “The Girl on the Train” book review. I’ve also read this book, and highly, highly recommend it! Read on to find out why.
Title: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Summary: Rachel rides the train from the suburbs into downtown London every day. To keep herself entertained she makes up stories and creates imaginary lives for the occupants of the houses she can see out of the train window. One house, in particular, captivates her the most. She yearns for the life the couple in that house appear to live. But appearances can be deceiving. When Rachel learns that the woman who lives that house, Megan, is missing she decides that something she’s seen is of vital importance and that only she can help find Megan.
Meanwhile, Anna, who not only happens to be married to Rachel’s ex-husband but also lives down the street from Megan, is stressed out by Rachel’s continual appearances in their neighborhood. Why won’t Rachel just leave them alone?
And then there’s Megan. At loose ends after her art gallery closes, she’s struggling with what to do next. Can she be a good stay-at-home wife or does she need something more?
All three women’s lives will intersect in a surprising way that will either shock you when it’s revealed or make you cringe in horror if you figure it out in advance.
On a Scale of “Don’t Bother” to “Couldn’t Put Down”: Couldn’t Put It Down
Why? This book is a mystery novel, pure and simple; a whodunit that does a great job of leaving a breadcrumb trail of clues. Following that trail is an enjoyable experience as you unravel the mystery of what happened to Megan. However, you’re also following Rachel as she discovers that her own past might not have been exactly what it seems, either. It’s like two mysteries in one.
If someone likes ________, they’d like this book: Gone Girl or any of Gillian Flynn’s novels. If you enjoy flawed main characters, mysteries and stories told from several points of view then this is the book for you. You will want to keep reading to find out what happens, and you may or may not be surprised at the end depending on how good of a detective you are!
Sincerely Reading is a reoccurring feature on the blog. When it’s not one of my book recommendations, it will be a friend’s. This week it’s a “Lessons from Madame Chic” book review by Leanne of ClassyYetTrendy.com.
I’m Leanne B. from Alabama and have the fashion, beauty and lifestyle blog, ClassyYetTrendy.com. Thank you Jennie for asking me to do a book review of Jennifer L. Scott’s, “Lessons From Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living In Paris!” I had heard great reviews from a few other bloggers about this book so I decided I would read it. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it!
Jennifer’s way of writing makes you think she is talking directly to you, telling you all about her observations of the family she stayed with while staying in France. She offers some great tips on staying fit, eating right and dressing well. She also shares the differences in how Parisian women and American women dress. Parisian women have fewer clothes because their closets are smaller than Americans’ closets. She explains how they make the most of their wardrobe by wearing everything, like a capsule wardrobe concept that I have in my own life and share with my readers on my blog, ClassyYetTrendy.com. I recommend this book. It is one of my favorites!
Title: Lessons From Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living In Paris
Summary: Inspired by Paris, this lighthearted and deceptively wise contemporary memoir serves as a guidebook for women on the path to adulthood, sophistication, and style. Jennifer Scott’s self-published success is now a beautifully packaged and fully illustrated gift book, perfect for any woman looking to lead a more fulfilling, passionate, and artful life.
Paris may be the City of Light, but for many it is also the City of Transformation. When Jennifer Scott arrived in Paris as an exchange student from California, she had little idea she would become an avid fan of French fashion, lifestyle, and sophistication. Used to a casual life back home, in Paris she was hosted by a woman she calls “Madame Chic,” mistress of a grand apartment in the Sixteenth Arrondissement.
Madame Chic mentors Jennifer in the art of living, with elegance and an impeccably French less-is-more philosophy. Three-course meals prepared by the well-dressed Madame Chic (her neat clothes covered by an apron, of course) lure Jennifer from her usual habit of frequent snacks, junk food, sweatpants, and TV.
Additional time spent with “Madame Bohemienne,” a charming single mother who passionately embraces Parisian joie de vivre, introduces readers to another facet of behind-closed-doors Parisian life. (via Amazon.com)
On a Scale of “Don’t Bother” to “Couldn’t Put Down:” Couldn’t Put Down
Why? The way Jennifer writes makes you feel like you are there and she is talking with you. It’s easy to read and very enjoyable!
Who would like this book? If someone likes #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso, they’d like this book.
When would be the best time to read this book? The best time to read this book is relaxing in the evening with a cup of hot tea.
Does anyone else wear a pair of faux glasses just to feel smarter, and maybe a little edgier? Like, I’m daring to wear these wide frame glasses on my face that only the cool kids wear and now I’m one of them? I paired my glasses with an eye-catching red blazer and scuba leggings and I was feeling pretty good…all for my trip to the library.
Speaking of libraries, lately I have been obsessed. First of all, I recently signed up to reserve books online through the Chicago Public Library system, so I’ve had a constant rotation going of all of the hottest reads. Sure, I might have to wait a few weeks to get to one I’m dying to devour, but I usually have another book in the meantime.
Second, I just went to the historic Harold Washington Library for the first time and could not even believe how beautiful it is. From the first floor to the top, it’s light and airy and magnificent. The winter garden was the perfect respite from the cold, and the sun streaming through the windows tricked me into believing for a moment that if I stepped outside I’d be warm. Ha. Maybe those glasses don’t make me that much smarter. But seriously, you should sign up for your own library card and start reserving books of your own! If you need any recommendations, be sure to check out my Sincerely Reading feature.
Sincerely Reading is a reoccurring feature on the blog. This week I’m sharing a “Tales From the Back Row” review.
Title: Tales from the Back Row: An Outsider’s View from Inside the Fashion Industry by Amy Odell
Summary: Cosmopolitan.com editor Amy Odell knows what it’s really like to be a young woman working in the fashion industry.
In Tales from the Back Row, Amy—funny and fearless—takes readers behind the stage of New York’s hottest fashion shows to meet the world’s most influential models, designers, celebrities, editors, and photographers. But first, she has to push her way through the crowds outside, where we see the lengths people go to be noticed by the lurking paparazzi, and weave her way through the packed venue, from the very back row to the front. And as Amy climbs the ladder (with tips about how you can, too), she introduces an industry powered by larger-than-life characters: she meets the intimidating Anna Wintour and the surprisingly gracious Rachel Zoe, not to mention the hilarious Chelsea Handler, and more. As she describes the allure of Alexander Wang’s ripped tights and Marchesa’s Oscar-worthy dresses, Amy artfully layers in something else: ultimately this book is about how the fashion industry is an exaggerated mirror of human fallibility—reflecting our desperate desire to belong, to make a mark, to be included. For Amy is the first to admit that as much as she is embarrassed by the thrill she gets when she receives an invitation to an exclusive after-party, she can’t help but RSVP “yes.”
On a Scale of “Don’t Bother” to “Couldn’t Put Down”: Worth reading
Why? This is an entertaining (at times professionally educational) read all about the fashion industry and what it’s like to be the new girl trying to understand its rules. Why are there $1,000 sweatpants? What do you wear to an interview with Anna Wintour? No, it’s not going to grip you like The Good Girl, but that’s not why this book was written.
If someone likes ________, they’d like this book: Cosmopolitan.com or Matt Bellassai. Amy is open about her time covering the fashion industry and her musings while doing so. She has an outsider looking in perspective, and tells it to you honestly like an older cousin might. She’s not completely jaded like Bellassai, but she’s also not going to worship the ground a fashion designer walks on just because VOGUE said to.
When would be the best time to read this book? When you want a quick break from your real (boring) 9-to-5 job or when NYFW comes around again. Bet you won’t feel too jealous of all those bloggers snapping photos in front of yellow cabs once you hear Amy’s inside scoop.
Sincerely Reading is a reoccurring feature on the blog. When it’s not one of my book recommendations, it will be a friend’s. This week it’s from JJ Berman of Urbane Nomad with a Delicious book review.
Title: Delicious! A Novel by Ruth Reichl
Summary: Billie Breslin has traveled far from her home in California to take a job at Delicious!, New York’s most iconic food magazine. Away from her family, particularly her older sister, Genie, Billie feels like a fish out of water—until she is welcomed by the magazine’s colorful staff. She is also seduced by the vibrant downtown food scene, especially by Fontanari’s, the famous Italian food shop where she works on weekends. Then Delicious! is abruptly shut down, but Billie agrees to stay on in the empty office, maintaining the hotline for reader complaints in order to pay her bills.
To Billie’s surprise, the lonely job becomes the portal to a miraculous discovery. In a hidden room in the magazine’s library, Billie finds a cache of letters written during World War II by Lulu Swan, a plucky twelve-year-old, to the legendary chef James Beard. Lulu’s letters provide Billie with a richer understanding of history, and a feeling of deep connection to the young writer whose courage in the face of hardship inspires Billie to comes to terms with her fears, her big sister and her ability to open her heart to love. (via Amazon)
On a Scale of “Don’t Bother” to “Couldn’t Put Down”: After the first chapter, I scarfed down the book like a great meal. I had the same remorse as when I ate a meal so fast. Once I finished the book, I wished I’d taken the time to savor it .
Why? At first glance, the novel appears to be a tale of the comfort of food, which is nice but ubiquitous. The added layer of complexity comes from the mystery of the letters and learning how food culture changes throughout history.
My favorite parts of the book hands down are Lulu’s letters. As someone who likes to cook, her banter is refreshingly honest. I even have the same thoughts while cooking.
If someone likes ________, they’d like this book: Julie & Julia as well as food blogs. Anyone who enjoys the connection of food, healing and learning will be interested.
When would be the best time to read this book? On a rainy day with your kitchen close by or on a plane to New York City. Delicious! It can easily be read in one sitting and is guaranteed to spark your appetite, so access to tasty snacks is vital to fully appreciating the novel.
Sincerely Reading is a reoccurring feature on the blog. When it’s not one of my book recommendations, it will be a friend’s. This week it’s from Mary Beth of MBZ Interiors, Inc. with a Closing Costs book review.
Title: Closing Costs by Seth Margolis
Summary: The white-hot Manhattan real estate market forms the backdrop for Margolis’s fifth novel, a pithy but slow-moving ensemble character study that weaves together the tales of several Manhattan couples trying to survive on the housing bubble’s uncertain edge. The novel opens with Lucinda Wells, a gorgeous, high-power real estate maven, orchestrating the buying and selling of upscale apartments. Her most intriguing clients are the Granthams, who have to sell their digs after the Feds arrest Barnett Grantham for allegedly embezzling millions from his employer. He soon flees the country, leaving his wife, Lily (and the G-men) to track him down. ….The well-drawn characters complement Margolis’s wry observations on Manhattan life and the ups and downs of marriage and career, and though the real estate angle may fail to pique those living west of the Hudson, it will certainly resonate with New Yorkers. (via Amazon.com)
On a scale of “Don’t Bother” to “Couldn’t Put Down”: I’d choose couldn’t put it down. The novel intertwines characters in the world of New York real estate and has twists and turns in the life of the very wealthy and their domestic help. One of the character’s mother is a riot, although obnoxious. The book’s surprise ending is the icing on the cake.
If someone likes ___________, they’d like this book: Blueprints by Barbara Delinsky.
The best time to read this book: I don’t have a lot of time to read for leisure, but in the summer every morning I pack up my work files, laptop and books and magazines and have them out on the patio table all day long. When I couldn’t be outside, I’d pick up the book between dinner preps (waiting for water to boil, etc.) or I’d read it in the car at the train station while waiting for my husband’s train to arrive.