Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Books! Books! Books! Tons of book recommendations!

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about books here and I’m sure you don’t want to hear about how the minivan broke, how the bed broke (you DEFINITELY don’t want to hear about how the bed broke), how the garage door broke, how I cried in the parking lot of a Jack in the Box (thank you Melisa at Suburban Scrawl for yanking me off the ledge after my desperate Tweets!), and how the kids are managing this week at day camp.

That stuff is boring and filled with self-pity. Besides, I'm saving those stories for my memoir, tentatively titled: A Midwestern Mom’s Scottsdale Struggles Among Boobs and Botox: Manic Mommy Finds her way home to a place she never expected.

Instead, today I thought I’d share with you some of the books I’ve recently read and some of the books I have in my ever-growing TBR pile. That’s a lot more fun anyway, right? RIGHT!

Now that I’m here in AZ trying to get acclimated, I am hoping to find the time to get to these books soon. If you haven’t heard of them yet, check them out on or your nearest bookstore! And settle in because there are a LOT on this list, and apologies if I’ve forgotten some of you because I’m still in the “I’ve just moved” stage and there are still boxes in the hallway, so email me if I haven’t given you your well-deserved shout-out!

Let’s get started, shall we?

My Fair Lazy by Jen Lancaster

First up, the other night I finally finished My Fair Lazy! And when I say FINALLY, it wasn’t because it was hard to get through, because Jen Lancaster’s books are never a difficult read. I love her books. It was just with the move, it was hard for me to find time to settle in and grab some time to read, and when I did, I was so zonked I could only manage a short time before I crashed hard. But Jen’s “culture-up manifesto” had me laughing about all her JENaissance excursions. From “eating the world,” checking out live theater (where there were nekkid people!) to wine and cheese tastings, and reading classic literature and discovering a fondness for poetry (I NEVER knew e.e.cummings was a GUY!), Jen takes her readers on a laugh-out-loud journey like only she can! I do have one question for her though … Who is Eliza Doolittle? Seriously! Maybe I need the culturing up!

Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin

By now, everyone knows I have a strong affinity for Emily and her books. I’ve already done a review for Heart of the Matter but in case you haven’t read it yet, it’s worth another mention here. Heart of the Matter deals with tough subject matters like infidelity, single parenthood, working vs. staying at home, and the delicacy of marriage. You’ll find, as in all of Giffin’s novels, you won’t know who to root for in this complicated and heartfelt novel. Beautifully written, as always.

Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner

Fly Away Home is not yet out but this upcoming novel by Jennifer Weiner will be available July 13! It’s being described as “hilarious, heartbreaking, and insightful” and features a sister duo (I love Weiner’s books with sister combos!) and a politician’s wife/mom. The three women take refuge at the family beach house after Dad’s extramarital affair makes headlines. And yes, there will be more on Fly Away Home on MaNiC MoMMy including a book giveaway so stay tuned!

Sleepwalking in Daylight by Elizabeth Flock

So here’s the crazy thing about this author. I have two of her other books, Me & Emma, and also But Inside I’m Screaming, and I’ve not yet read either of them. I don’t know why! Every single one of Flocks’ books intrigues me and I buy them whenever I see a new one published. So, I picked up Sleepwalking in Daylight, which is about a bored SAHM in a boring marriage, and her 17-year-old adopted daughter. Daughter discovers she is adopted and goes on a search for her birth mother, and Mother discovers she’s bored and goes on a search for coffee dates with handsome stranger. Sounds like the making of a great book, doesn’t it? I can’t wait to read this one.

Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan

I picked this book up at Jen Lancaster’s book signing because it was front and center, and because I am a sucker for any book about the college experience. I think I just want to see if my college experience was right on target with the fictional ones others write about. And while I didn’t know anyone in college named Celia, Bree, Sally or April, nor did I show up to college with a bottle of vodka in my suitcase, my parents did send me off with a case of Stroh’s Light (the 30-pack edition), so I’m thinking maybe my college experience and the book may have some common thread? And I did have a college roomie who pined for the guy she left behind but then she wised up, got rid of him, and had the time of her life. And it’s a good thing she did because she’s since seen him ‘round town and her now-husband and her kids all call him a big dork. So yep, that’s the reasoning behind why I’m excited to read Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan – definitely a book right up my alley! Except, I just checked out more about the book and realized it’s set at Smith College, which is an all-girl’s college, but hey, I went to an all-girls Catholic school in ninth grade, so maybe I can relate? We’ll see!

Pieces of Happily Ever After by Irene Zutell

Of course, this is a must-read because 1.) Emily Giffin praised it, and 2.) Irene has written for People magazine so you know some of the fiction she writes has got to be bits of truth! Pieces is about Alice, a former New Yorker, who is suddenly displaced when her husband moves their family to CA … (hmm… this sounds vaguely like my life – insert Chicago / Scottsdale). There is an affair, tabloids (this is where the People magazine info may come in handy?), and the Sexiest Woman Alive. From all that, there’s got to be some Pieces of Happily Ever After right? I’m dying to find out!

The One That I Want by Allison Winn Scotch

The One That I Want is another that I’ve already reviewed but hey, Allison’s my friend, this is my blog and I’ll pimp if I wanna. Since I’ve already told everyone how I adore Allison and her books I’m going to instead share something very interesting that I’ve discovered about Allison’s characters. In Department of Lost & Found, the main character is Natalie Miller. In Time of My Life, the main character is Jillian Westfield. In The One That I Want, the main character is Tilly Farmer. Do you see a trend here? All of Allison’s characters have a Double L in their name, and so does Allison! Yep, I am sleuth-tastic, aren’t I? I asked Allison about this once, and I think she said it wasn’t intentional. Am dying to know her next character’s name! So yes, go out and pick up Allison’s latest, The One That I Want, and while you’re at it, get both of her others too! You will thank me.

The Opposite of Me by Sarah Pekkanen

I did crack this one open and am not stopping – The Opposite of Me by Sarah Pekkanen, which is about two totally different twins, is completely enthralling me for two reasons. No, I am not a twin, but I am an Irish Twin. My sister and I are 11-1/2 months apart, which means we are both the same age for 2 weeks every year. We were not that competitive growing up, and I am the older sibling, but there were some instances where she excelled and I did not. Take 8th grade and 7th grade. I didn’t make cheerleading. Take my Senior Prom. She went to MINE. I didn’t. So the theory behind The Opposite of Me very much intrigues me. The other reason is I went to college with two completely different twins, one of whom I am still very best friends with, the other with whom we have all been estranged from, including her own twin sister. It’s disheartening to think twin sisters could have a bond broken, and I’m so interested to see where this book and its story will take me.

Not Ready for Mom Jeans by Maureen Lipinski

Not Ready for Mom Jeans is the follow-up to Lipinski’s hilarious debut Bump in the Road. And it’s quite funny (to me anyway) that Maureen’s sequel came out at a time where it should be called, Not Ready for Maternity Jeans (Again!) as the books’ debut coincides with Maureen's second pregnancy. Before I moved, I had the pleasure to get together with Maureen and I can’t tell you how totally insecure I was – after all, I was picking her up in my MOM minivan and sure she was going to notice that I was sporting my very own mom jeans! Fortunately she was very cool on the down-low and didn’t cause a big scene on my blatant Mom-ness! Love and miss this girl! She’s a lot of fun and her books are a blast to read so check them out! Just don't get caught in your Mom jeans!

Trish Ryan’s A Maze of Grace: A Memoir of Second Chances

I read and loved Ryan’s first memoir, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not and am excited for this follow-up that has been called “a powerful inspiring read” which chronicles the first five years of her marriage. Trish writes in a spiritual and humorous way that may evoke the very best kind of goosebumps. I know from personal experience that she’s also an excellent backseat driver during really scary tornadoes and plays a mean game of, “If I were going on a picnic, I’d bring a …” all the way from A to Z! Giveaway coming to MaNiC MoMMy very soon!

Georgia’s Kitchen by Jenny Nelson

This one’s on my must-read list and while everyone knows I don’t know my way around my own kitchen, we all know I LOVE to eat! Georgia is not only a jilted chef, she’s also just been jilted by her fiancé. And what’s an up-and-coming NY chef to do when life takes a turn for the worst? She heads to Italy to saturate herself in the finer things in life, which might be some fine wine, good food, and possibly a new man? This book definitely has the makings for the big screen in my opinion, and if only we could smell the pages! I’m starving just writing about it!

Get Lucky by Katherine Center

I’ve loved Katherine Center since her debut The Bright Side of Disaster and her pajama-clad cute “come-to-the-rescue” guy character whose name escapes me, but man, do I remember how he took hold of me in that book! And again, her writing in Everyone is Beautiful grabbed me and reminded me what it’s like to be a struggling young mother (well, I WAS young ONCE!). So when I heard her third novel, Get Lucky, was coming out, I knew I had to GET Lucky and get it! This is another one of my favorite types of books – a book about the complexity of the sister relationship, and also about the possibilities of pregnancy and babies. Many of my favorite things.

After You by Julie Buxbaum

I read about Julie Buxbaum’s first novel, The Opposite of Love, in Redbook and tore the sheet out, thinking, “this is a book I have GOT to read.” A week or so later, an email lands in my in box from Julie and I about freaked out. She got my name from Allison Winn Scotch (thank you Allison!) and Julie thought I might be interested in her book. I was shocked and flattered, and of course, read it, loved it and promoted it here on MaNiC MoMMy. Julie and I later had the chance to meet, and she’s since had another great book come out, After You. It’s about friendship and the lengths one will go to in order to honor that friendship when tragedy strikes. But it’s not a sad book, and there’s a very precocious 8-year-old at the center of the story that you will absolutely fall in love with! Also, Julie has a new blog with a really cool name and she writes about her darling little baby girl Elili and puts up pics, so go check it out too: Julie Has Writer’s Blog.

I am a huge, huge, huge fan of Young Adult and I’ve got a few on my reading table that I’m dying to get to as well …

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

I’ve loved everything that Laurie Halse Anderson has written, and I think her debut was Speak. (Confirmed, and also, helloooo … did you know Speak was made into a movie starring Kristen Stewart in 2004? I’ve also read Twisted. What I love about Laurie’s books is that she writes so much like how her characters should sound, which obviously, that is how a writer should write, right? But I think it’s especially hard for an author to be authentic in the voice of a teen, but she always pulls it off, whether she’s writing as a teen boy struggling with his sexuality or a girl hiding a secret from everyone, even herself. Wintergirls is her latest, and I think it’s the perfect “chilling” book for me to check out poolside here in Scottsdale, mid-July when it’s 115 degrees out, don’t you?

Fall by Colin McAdam
Fall, by Colin McAdam may or may not be YA; I’ve yet to determine this but the first chapter wowed me! Quick and sparse detailed writing drew me in immediately, and I wanted to continue reading, but I am a faithful reader and can only read one book at a time, which probably is a crutch for me! Fall follows the story of Julius and Noel, senior-year roommates at an elite boarding school, and Julius’ girlfriend, Fall (love THAT name). It’s considered part love story and part mystery, and also, to me, seems like it’s a coming-of-age, but I guess I will have to just see about that!

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

I picked up If I Stay, just the other day. It’s a New York Times Bestseller, and USA Today said it "will appeal to fans of Stephenie Meyer’s" and even though I’ve never read Twilight I still bought it (love the Twilight movies though!). This story is about “memory, music, living, dying, loving” and I checked out the author’s acknowledgments and she said she listened to the song, “Falling Slowly” like 200 times while writing this book. I can relate to that (writing alongside a song that moves you), and can’t wait to read this book.

So, as you can see, I’ve got my work cut out for me with plenty (PLENTY!) of awesome reading ahead of me! I hope this lengthy list has given you a great start with your summer reading, and if you have any other suggestions you’d like to offer, I would love to hear about them in the comments, because as far as I am concerned, forget about being too rich or too thin, you can NEVER have too many books in your library!

PeaCe uP!

~MaNiC MoMMy


Melissa said...

I read the two by Elizabeth Flock that you mentioned. Both were good. However, "Everything Must Go" is boring and anticlimactic. I'm glad that's not on your list.
I'm reading "Not Ready for Mom Jeans" now. So funny. I want to read "A Bump..." sometime. It's cool that you got to meet Maureen Lipinski. I'm jealous. It's like she and I share the same mind (or at least Clare Finnegan and I do).

Thanks for sharing your list and all the recommendations.

sweet southern inspiration said...

I have read my fair lazy and loved it but Jen is my fave. I am reading Heart of the Matter right now and its great. I now will add a couple of these to my must haves too! Thanks for the suggestions.

Becky W. said...

Thanks for the great list. Most of these are on my TBR list as well! I am reading 'The Opposite of Me' right now and am loving it. I am an identical twin, by the way!

MaNiC MoMMy™ said...

Becky, I'm reading Opposite right now too -- what page you on? Haha.

Katherine Center said...

Yay!!! Thanks for including GET LUCKY on this fun list of great books! This list just looks like one good read after another. Thanks again--and happy summer!!

morninglight mama said...

I just read The One That I Want last week, and I'm waiting on The Opposite of Me in the mail. :) I always love when you start talking books, lady!

Shelley said...

The only one of those I've read is Wintergirls, and that was because it was a summer reading assignment (1 of 4 choices) for my daughter last year. This year she had five choices, and we went with Water For Elephants. I'm going to start that one soon! I also loved Speak and Wintergirls.

Liz Fenton said...

Great post! xoxo

Allison Winn Scotch said...

Thank you, Steph! FYI: the character in my next book has ZERO "Ls" in her name. Margo. So there. :)

Maureen Lipinski said...

Holy crap! That's quite a list! Thanks so much for including me! I remember when you bought Commencement...I went out and got it the next day!

Miss you, girl! :(

Anonymous said...

Love it! Eliza Doolittle is who Audrey Hepbourn plays in the movie, My Fair Lady.

MaNiC MoMMy™ said...

Allison, NOT SO FAST, I have another connection -- OK, so MARGO, as in Margarita, and SCOTCH as in SCOTCH ... this time it's all about the LIQUOR! hahahahah! I'll do anything to find a connection, won't I?

MaNiC MoMMy™ said...

And Anon, thank you, and for the record, I really need to be 'cultured up' cuz I've never seen My Fair Lady or Gone With The Wind if we wanna get into the classics! hahaha!

sarah Pekkanen said...

I've read most of these books and loved them, so I'm thrilled to be included in this list! (And you're the one who introduced me to Julie Buxbaum!)
By the way, I do not have alcohol in my name, but it's often in my system after a long day with my three kids :)
Many thanks...

Heidi @ Decor & More said...

Welcome back, MM! Missed you! Thanks for enhancing my TBR pile...I've read a few of these, but some I haven't heard of so Amazon here I come!
And def check out My Fair all your spare time ;-).

chrissy19 said...

Hi Steph,

I'm new here. Thanks for the great list. I loved Allison Winn Scotch's books, TOML and TOTIW. I could totally relate to Jillian in TOML. Her verbal spontaneity cracked me up. Heart of the Matter was amazing. All of Emily's books are. She even makes the bad guys look good or at least you give them another thought before throwing them to the wolves. I went to B&N to get "Not Ready for Mom Jeans" but they didn't have any of Maureen Lipinski's books (totally bummed) so I picked up "Get Lucky". I'm totally loving it. I had to get it since the location is Houston (where my hubby is from). Can't wait to get to all the rest.

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for including me on this list, Steph! Such great company!