Tag Archives: Heart of the Matter

2010 Year in Review

I completed Ready or Not by Meg Cabot on December 28, 2010. This marked the 78th book I read that year, and I met my goal of reading 78 books! In celebration I will be highlighting some of my favorite–and one least favorite–of 2010.

Favorite Pregnancy Read

Nominees: Knocked Up: Confessions of a Hip Mother-to-be by Rebecca Eckler and Baby Bargains, 8th Edition: Secrets to Saving 20% to 50% on Baby Furniture, Gear, Clothes, Toys, Maternity Wear and Much, Much More! by Denise Fields, Alan Fields
Winner: Baby Bargains, 8th Edition by Denise Fields, Alan Fields
Book Cover for Baby Bargains, 8th Edition by Denise Fields & Alan FieldsI judged this category based on which book I felt prepared me the best for my impending motherhood. These two books are very different from each other, which made it difficult to choose a favorite. Knocked Up was an entertaining and realistic tale about the journey of pregnancy; it is a great memoir. Baby Bargains wins the category, however. This book helped me prepare for the new baby the most. As a first time mom, I know nothing about the products available for a newborn. This book was invaluable in helping figure out which items I needed and which I didn’t. I loved how this information was all in one place for easy reference. This is such a great book that I recommend it for all new parents.

Favorite Series

Nominees: Airhead Series by Meg Cabot, Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter, The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins, and Mediator Series by Meg Cabot
Winner: Mediator Series by Meg Cabot
Cover of Shadowland (Mediator #1) by Meg CabotI didn’t realize how many great book series I read this year until I tried to pick a winner. All four series were full of five-star books. In order to pick my favorite, it came down to one fact: which series was the most consistent throughout. Two of these series–Airhead and Hunger Games–started off strong but the series’ finales left me disappointed. To some extent this also happened with the latest Gallagher Girls book. This was not the case in the Mediator books. Each book had a consistency that I enjoyed. I picked up the first and finished the last within forty-eight hours. The entire time I was interested and engaged in the plot. I enjoyed how Cabot was able to tell Suze’s story over six books while keeping the plot connected and entertaining. Note: While the Mediator series wins this category, all four series are “Must Reads” in my book.

Favorite Goodreads “First-Read”

Nominees: Second Time Around by Beth Kendrick, The Council of Dads: My Daughters, My Illness, and the Men Who Could Be Me by Bruce Feiler, Lay the Favorite: A Memoir of Gambling by Beth Raymer
Winner: Lay the Favorite: A Memoir of Gambling by Beth Raymer
Lay The Favorite book cover What I like most about Goodreads giveaways is that they give me a chance to read a book I wouldn’t normally pick up. This is true of all ten books I have won. I appreciated all but one of them, with Lay the Favorite being the one I enjoyed the most. The fact that I had nothing in common with the main character, yet still was still entertained by her story, made the book more interesting for me. The book was a real page-turner that had me interested throughout. I never would have purchased this book, but am really glad that Goodreads gave me the opportunity to read it.

Worst Book of 2010

Nominees: Rich Again by Anna Maxted, The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell, The Gift by Cecelia Ahern
Winner: Rich Again by Anna Maxted
Book Cover of Rich Again by Anna Maxted I previously mentioned that I picked up this book solely based on its cover. The bright colors and shopping bags made me believe the story was a typical Chick Lit plot with a bit more conflict. Instead I found a book with a confusing setup, unlikeable characters, and morbid plot. There was not one enjoyable aspect in this story. I have never before been unable to finish a book and was only able to complete this one because I heavily skimmed it. Such a bad book all around.

Favorite Memior

Nominees: Sliding Into Home by Kendra Wilkinson, My Fair Lazy: One Reality Television Addict’s Attempt to Discover If Not Being A Dumb Ass Is the New Black; Or, A Culture-Up Manifesto by Jen Lancaster, Didn’t I Feed You Yesterday?: A Mother’s Guide to Sanity in Stilettos by Laura Bennett
Winner: Sliding Into Home by Kendra Wilkinson
Book Cover of Sliding Into Home by Kendra WilkinsonSo, I have a confession to make. I have a small obsession with all things related to the original Girls Next Door; Holly Madison, Kendra Wilkinson, and Bridget Marquardt. I was very excited when I heard that Wilkinson was going to be releasing a memoir. I figured this book would give me a little extra insight into what went on behind the scenes of the TV show. I was also interested in learning a bit more about what Wilkinson’s life was life before her time at the mansion and what brought her there. Apparently I wasn’t the only one interested, as it was impossible for me to get my hands on a copy of the book until a week after it had been released! Once I was able to start reading, I found myself enjoying the pace and flow of the story. Her truthful tale was the perfect mix of history and humor that defines her. This book may not be on the same level as some of the other five-star books I read this year, but it served as a needed escape. It was the perfect way to get some “guilty pleasure” time in and getaway from the insanity that can be real life.

Favorite Chick Lit Novel

Nominees: Second Time Around by Beth Kendrick, The Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian Keyes, Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin
Winner: Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin
The cover of Emily Giffin's now book "Heart of the Matter"Most of the Chick Lit stories I read in previous years were fun and flighty. They involved a single girl shopping her way around town while looking for the right guy. This year I discovered that authors were moving away from this type of story in favor of serious tales. Emilly Giffin was able to successfully tell the tale of the challenges of marriage after writing great “boy meets girl” stories. There was very little about this book that didn’t work. I highly recommend it to all of my Chick Lit blog readers.

Favorite YA Novel

Nominees: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green, David Levithan, Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan, Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, The Hunger Games & Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Winner: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Book Cover of Before I Fall by Lauren OliverIt was a great year for me in terms of YA books. A quick look at a summary of YA books I read least year shows that a high percentage of the them rated four or five stars. It was hard to narrow this list down to the nominees. It was even harder to pick a winner! After much deliberation I picked Before I Fall. I started reading the book with no expectations. Lauren Oliver was a new author who was not from the usual circle of authors I read. I finished the book with a changed attitude. The way in which Oliver discussed the life and death of the main character was inspiring. I find myself often recommending this book to friends and strangers. Such an amazing book.

So, those are some of my favorite books of 2010. What were some of your favorite reads?

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Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin

Even though I was eagerly anticipating this book’s release, it sat on my bookshelf for four months. I finally got some inspiration to pick it up this weekend. Although this is not a banned book, it does help me cross of another book on my Chick Lit Challenge list. Here is my review of Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin.

Heart Of The Matter book coverTessa Russo is the mother of two young children and the wife of a renowned pediatric surgeon. Despite her own mother’s warnings, Tessa has recently given up her career to focus on her family and the pursuit of domestic happiness. From the outside, she seems destined to live a charmed life.

Valerie Anderson is an attorney and single mother to six-year-old Charlie–a boy who has never known his father. After too many disappointments, she has given up on romance–and even to some degree, friendships–believing that it is always safer not to expect too much.

Although both women live in the same Boston suburb, the two have relatively little in common aside from a fierce love for their children. But one night, a tragic accident causes their lives to converge in ways no one could have imagined.

In alternating, pitch-perfect points of view, Emily Giffin creates a moving, luminous story of good people caught in untenable circumstances. Each being tested in ways they never thought possible. Each questioning everything they once believed. And each ultimately discovering what truly matters most.

Heart of the Matter was one of the Books of Summer that I was eagerly anticipating. In that post I talked about two reasons I loved Giffin’s work. The first is her skill at depicting interpersonal relationships. The second is the characters she creates. Both of these skills were well represented in her latest novel.

The main thing that stuck with me after I finished this book was the realness of it. I believe this feeling was a result of the characters Giffin created. Often I find characters to be either “too perfect” or “too flawed.” When this happens, I find it difficult to become interested in the plot due to the lack of reality in the characters. In this story each character is believable due to their good mix of strengths and flaws. Each character is balanced enough to make them feel like real people instead of plot points.

The credibility of the characters lead to a quality of realism to the story. At some points the story was so personal that I felt like I was snooping into a neighbor’s life. I felt guilty enough to want to put the book down; however, my curiosity got the better of me. While this book could have easily been predictable, I never wondered what came next. I think this was due to the fact I was riveted by what I was reading and didn’t want the experience to end.

Review: I was a bit reserved in my excitement about this book due to the fact I had not enjoyed Griffin’s last two releases as much as her first two. This book ended up being perhaps my favorite of her novels. Giffin again demonstrated her great storytelling ability, creating great characters whose experiences will stay with me.

Books of Summer

As a book lover, I am very excited for this summer. Not only does the summer offer many opportunities for lying out in the sun and reading, it also brings a bunch of new book releases! I am eagerly awaiting many of these releases as they are from some of my favorite authors.

Heart of the Matter book coverThe first summer release that has me excited is Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin. Although this book has been released — its release date was Tuesday, May 11th– I still feel it is worth a mention. I discovered Emily Giffin’s first book, Something Borrowed, while waiting in line for the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I picked up the book initially just to help me pass the time while waiting in line. An hour or so later I was engrossed in the story. I ended up buying it, and it has since become one of my favorites. I often find myself returning to this book for an impromptu re-read. I have since purchased and enjoyed Giffin’s other three releases. The author’s ability to depict relationships between people in her novels has consistently amazed me. This skill always translates to characters that I can relate to. I can’t wait to see if this is true of her new novel.

Insatiable Book CoverThe next summer release on my calendar is Insatiable by Meg Cabot. Due in bookstores on June 1st, this will be Cabot’s third release this year. Though Cabot has quite the collection of published works, none feel “cookie-cutter” in plot. I have read over thirty Meg Cabot stories and I have enjoyed them all. Each book or series has a different feel to it which really helps them stand out. That is certainly true of her newest novel. Cabot promises that Insatiable will take on the topics of Supernatural and Vampires in a new way. I can’t wait to see what that is!

Promises to Keep by Jane GreenThe third summer release I am excited about is Promises to Keep by Jane Green. I have read many of Green’s books and love how I have always been able to relate to her characters. When I was an unmarried college student, I was able to connect with the single women in her stories. Once I was married, I enjoyed her stories of the trials and tribulations newlyweds. As I leave that stage of my life, I am enjoying her stories of mothers-to-be and find them to be delightful. I hope that Promises to Keep: A Novel helps to continue that trend. This book is scheduled to be released June 15th.

Fly Away Home book coverJuly 13th is the release date of my next anticipated summer release Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner. Weiner’s ability to describe the complex feelings of relationships is a reason why she is among my favorite authors. She uses this skill in In Her Shoes to tell the story of two sisters, making this book a favorite of mine. In her novel Little Earthquakes, she is able to show the connection between young mothers with the same realism. I am interested to see which relationship she tackles in this new release as it is sure to be as moving as her previous works.

Mini Shopaholic book coverThe last summer release I am eagerly awaiting is Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella. This book, to be released August 24th, is the latest in the author’s “Shopaholic” series. As a fellow shopaholic, I find main character Becky Bloomwood endearing. I have related to many of her antics and travels throughout the series. I have been wondering about Becky the birth of her daughter in the end of Shopaholic and Baby and can not wait to see what she has been up to in the time since.

These are the five summer releases that have me excited. Are any of your favorite authors releasing books this summer? What are your most anticipated summer releases? Thanks in advance for sharing!