Modern Lovers

27209486 Modern Lovers by Emma Straub

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date 5/31/16.

Summary from Goodreads:

Friends and former college bandmates Elizabeth and Andrew and Zoe have watched one another marry, buy real estate, and start businesses and families, all while trying to hold on to the identities of their youth. But nothing ages them like having to suddenly pass the torch (of sexuality, independence, and the ineffable alchemy of cool) to their own offspring.

Back in the band’s heyday, Elizabeth put on a snarl over her Midwestern smile, Andrew let his unwashed hair grow past his chin, and Zoe was the lesbian all the straight women wanted to sleep with. Now nearing fifty, they all live within shouting distance in the same neighborhood deep in gentrified Brooklyn, and the trappings of the adult world seem to have arrived with ease. But the summer that their children reach maturity (and start sleeping together), the fabric of the adults’ lives suddenly begins to unravel, and the secrets and revelations that are finally let loose—about themselves, and about the famous fourth band member who soared and fell without them—can never be reclaimed.

Straub packs wisdom and insight and humor together in a satisfying book about neighbors and nosiness, ambition and pleasure, the excitement of youth, the shock of middle age, and the fact that our passions—be they food, or friendship, or music—never go away, they just evolve and grow along with us.

My thoughts:

This is my first book by Emma Straub, but I remember hearing a ton of buzz about her last book, so I was excited to get approved for this one on Netgalley. I’ve been working on reading it over the past few days and really enjoyed the story. Coming from someone who reads mostly YA, I have to be in a “mood” for Adult books. This one would actually be a pretty good crossover for YA, minus some content. I enjoyed this author’s writing style and the stories of all the characters. Everything intertwined well and I didn’t find one story more boring or more interesting than another. This is always a good quality, I hate nothing more than reading a book and just trying to get to a different part of the story. I want to enjoy it all.  I would recommend this one to my friends and those who like contemporary novels/women’s fiction. This is a good, not-too-serious summer read.

My rating: 4/5

BookCon in Chicago

Hey again! This will (probably) be my last post for now about BEA/BookCon and this was my final day spent in Chicago. BookCon is kind of attached to BEA, but open to the public and run by a different company (I think). My coworkers/friends drove up Friday night after school and joined me for BookCon on Saturday. They were super excited and I was super exhausted, but happy to have friends to hang with for at least one of the days.

We had done our research about BookCon and knew we needed to get up early the next morning to get in line, but we grossly misjudged how early apparently. We got there a little over an hour before the autograph/wristband area opened, which was still 3 hours before BookCon actually started and we were overwhelmed by the massive line stretching to what seemed like an infinite point. We walked over from the hotel into the convention center, found the line, and had to follow it over a skywalk, down some escalators, and to a whole other building essentially…and there ended up being a LOT of people behind up before it was all said and done. Luckily, the wristband area was fairly well-organized and things moved quickly. We were actually able to get pretty much all of the wristbands we wanted, even though we were so far back in the line (or so it seemed). I was actually pretty impressed with the organization and manners of people, after some things I had read about past BookCons.

After getting our wristbands, we had to go wait in another line for the show floor to actually open and we had some fun there playing with Snapchat and maybe making fun of people around us (I would never!). Okay, really, I have to say it, there was just someone around us who smelled really bad and we had to laugh to make it through. Here we are in one of the lines and me with a sign at some point in the day:

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I had seen that there was going to be a Harry Potter wall in the Scholastic booth so that was one of my stops (since I couldn’t get into the Penguin breakfast, I was so close!) while they waited for the Sylvia Day signing—so not my cup of tea. The wall asked for you to tell why you loved Harry Potter or why it had impacted you. I was trying to show off my HP tattoo in the second photo, but obviously that didn’t work, so I will add a pic of it as well. Obviously, I’m a bit obsessed!

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We were walking around the floor picking up giveaways and ARCs before some of the signings and we ran into Richelle Mead. I have to admit that I was only just reading one of her books for the first time (while I was at BEA actually), but my friend Candice about lost her mind. She was like I was when I met Jennifer Niven. 🙂  Richelle was kind enough to take some pictures with us and chat a little bit. She even signed the copy of The Glittering Court that I had with me for our school library when Candice saw her again later. IMG_3019

I missed the James Dashner signing while waiting in line for the Property Brothers (I got caught up in hype and excitement!), so that was a little disappointing, but I met Drew and Jonathan! Drew is super cute by the way…okay, Jonathan is too, but I’m a Drew fan. Their line moved pretty slowly due to a holdup with the money table, so it took quite a while to make it through there, I want to say close to 2 1/2 hours in one line. But, at one point, they came out into the crowd because they knew we had been waiting so long, which I thought was super cool of them.

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My last signing of the day was Jennifer Niven (yes, again!). Is it getting creepy at this point? I just wanted to talk to her again and get a copy of All the Bright Places signed, since it is my absolute favorite. It was a pretty slow-moving line, but she was kind enough to chat with everyone, so I can’t fault her for that. I talked to her again and my friend Julie hyped me up, telling her how much I talked about her book. 🙂 Thanks, Julie! We have already put it into the hands of a student since we got back to read over the summer. I didn’t get a picture with her again, but I got a picture of her. Also, it was her birthday! I’m hoping that meeting fans and signing books is her idea of a fun birthday celebration.

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People were packing up booths and we were wandering out, when we came upon the massage both.  They were still working hard, so Julie decided to take advantage. I had never had a massage before and had a weird fear of it, but they talked me out of it and I got a back massage before we left the convention center. It was pretty nice, I’ll admit…but what I would’ve given for a foot massage (I was ready to cut them off and be done with it by that point!). They were offering one, but I was not about to subject anyone to my sweaty feet that had been in my stinky tennis shoes all day! I’m more considerate than that. 🙂

Would I do BookCon again? Probably not if I did BEA the days before, but I would if I had friends that really wanted to go again. It was fun nerding out with others who get it! I did get this awesome t-shirt out of the day:

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Here is my final stash from BEA and BookCon, stacked by month they come out—a little overwhelming and awesome!

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Check out the rest of my blog to read about my days at BEA.

Book Expo America (BEA)–Day 3

Day 3 was the last day of the actual BEA event, BookCon (post coming soon) was a separate event that was open to the public. Friday was a more laid-back day for me…thank goodness, but still packed with good stuff if that makes sense. I wasn’t as in a rush or as stressed to get to certain things I guess. Plus, I felt like I had everything figured out by this point, which made things better as well. This was also the first day that I actually sat down and ate something decent for lunch. I ran into some girls from other blogs and sat with them while I ate. Shout-out to the girls at Brittany’s Book Rambles and Michelle! I enjoyed listening to their commentary about things I know nothing about, haha.

Anyway, on to the books and authors. I got in line pretty much first thing–after grabbing The One Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett which author, Chelsea Sedoti, sold me on during a panel Thursday–for Emily Giffin’s new book and to meet her. I was pretty stoked about meeting Emily, as I have been reading her books since Something Borrowed came out. She was absolutely beautiful and seemed super-sweet, if you can tell that much about someone in the 10 seconds you spend with them during this process. I had already been approved on Netgalley for this title, but wanted a physical copy (just not the same, you know?!).

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I had been waiting patiently (a lot) for Danielle Paige’s signing as well and couldn’t wait to meet her. She has been an author that I follow on Twitter and talk to sometimes, so it was exciting to tell her who I was. She is always super nice online and seems to interact with a lot of her fans, which is a great quality for an author to have. I hate that the picture didn’t turn out very well, but I guess that’s what happens when you have to trust a stranger to take photos for you. Can’t wait to read this one, but will wait until closer to release date.

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I also got to meet Kami Garcia (who was hilarious!) and Kristi Yamaguchi (one of my childhood idols!) Friday. Even my non-reader friends knew who Kristi was, so I got a lot of love on Facebook for that one. 🙂  Side note: Her children’s book looks super cute!

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I am a fan of Pretty Little Liars, so I went to the signing of Sara Shepard’s new book as one of my last stops for the day. I was one of the first in the “unofficial” line (all my BEA folks know how that goes), and I found a chair to sit in while I waited…hallelujah! The girl organizing the lines for Disney on Friday was awesome, she was friendly and funny. I had interactions with her earlier in the day waiting for another Melissa de la Cruz signing…I’m not sure what happened to those pictures, but it was the second book I had signed from her during BEA. I’m excited to read this book and to start fresh with a series from her. I always wanted to go back and read the PLL books, but it was too daunting with all my other TBR books since there are so many in the series.

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And, finally, here’s a picture of my haul from Day 3, got some really neat stuff on this day.

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I had to pack my suitcase Friday night to put in the car Saturday morning before BookCon started, since we had to check out of the hotel before we went. So, these are my books from all three days of BEA. I would say I did pretty well, may have to be a little more selective if I go in the future, especially if it’s in NYC. This is what it looked like and it weighed a TON. Thank goodness I didn’t have to try to haul it home on a train or airplane. Also, thank goodness they make expandable suitcases!

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I had an excellent time at BEA. Yes, I complained about how tired I was and how bad my body hurt…but would I do it again? Absolutely! However, I would probably skip BookCon in the future, unless there was someone I was just dying to meet. More on BookCon soon!

Thanks for reading!

 

Holding Up the Universe

 

Holding Up the Universe Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

**This review is based on an early bound manuscript received from the publisher/author and an ARC received at BEA.

This is an initial review, please know that there will be much more to come as the release date gets closer. That being said, this is a review from someone who has actually read the book (not just someone reviewing it based on a synopsis I read on Goodreads).

I hadn’t even bothered to read about all the negativity surrounding the initial synopsis of this book before today. Yes, I am a Jennifer Niven fan (as you would know if you have read my blog); this means I was highly anticipating this book and let me say that I was NOT disappointed. I feel that even though I am a fan, I can be fair and (almost) unbiased in my review, but I am someone who can relate to at least one of the characters as well. I am not a small girl, I have always struggled with being overweight and have had to hear rude comments coming from those who feel bad about themselves in some way. Why would you feel the need to comment on someone else’s weight unless you are insecure? I was in no way offended by Libby’s story or by the part in the original synopsis stating that she was going to “rejoin the human race”…in her mind, that’s exactly what she was doing after being confined to her home and home-schooled for several years. She was finally ready to overcome her challenges and get back to her life! I have never felt less than human for being overweight and I don’t think Jennifer (if she even had any part in that synopsis) would ever mean for it to seem that way for anyone.

Also, there are others commenting on the fact that the only way Jack could fall in love with Libby is because he couldn’t see her face…if you actually READ the book, you will understand why that is a ridiculous statement. I fell in love with these two as individual characters, as well as their love story.

All the Bright Places had a huge impact on me and has been one of my favorite books EVER written. This is a less devastating story (thank goodness for no tears), but still just as important and thought-provoking. Jennifer Niven is wonderful at showing unique perspectives and writing about diverse characters. Listening to her passion while speaking about the book at a BEA panel only made me realize that more. She is not telling this story to “make fun” of anyone, but to bring awareness to peoples’ differences and make us all a little more sensitive to those around us. Her books are great for discussions as well.

So, I’m done with my rant/rave here, but I will be posting more closer to the release date in October about my actual thoughts about the book (after a re-read I’m sure). If you picked up a copy of this at BEA or BookCon, READ it and SHARE it with someone who will love it!

Here is a photo of the manuscript I received….it is the first one I’ve ever been sent and I adore it!

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Book Expo America (BEA)–Day 2

The second day of BEA was a little less intimidating since I kinda knew where things were and how things worked. I was also super-pumped because Thursday was the day to meet my favorite person there, Jennifer Niven (more in a bit on that)! I didn’t rush myself to get down there early and I didn’t really miss out on getting tickets for anyone that I felt was super important, so I was okay with that. I was also already exhausted, so I wanted that extra rest.

The first line I got in was for David Levithan, whom I have actually met at MASL (Missouri Association of School Librarians) once before, but I love his books and have a lot of students who do as well. I picked up the new Dash & Lily book and got this cute picture with him. The first Dash & Lily book was a Gateway award nominee my first year as a high school librarian, so I think I need to re-read it before I tackle this one, as I can’t remember many details (it happens when you read too many books!).

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I am a fan of Melissa de la Cruz’s Witches of East End series and I LOVED the Descendants movie on Disney Channel, so I went ahead and got a copy of the first book signed to go along with my copy of the second book I would get later. I can’t wait to read both! I didn’t get to talk to her much, but she seemed pretty entertaining.

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Amazing, how quickly your morning can go by at this kind of thing…I guess when each line is long, it takes up a lot of time. I did grab some copies of ARCs and browse in between, but it was time to line up for Jennifer Niven, so that was my tunnel vision. I wanted to get in line early, because I didn’t want to take any risks of not getting to see her. Just the week before, she had sent me a private message on Twitter thanking me for my support and asking me if I wanted to read an early copy of her new book. I have been a huge fan since reading All the Bright Places before it even came out (thanks Netgalley!) and was thrilled to accept her offer. I didn’t realize I was going to get another copy at BEA, but that is just more love for me to share. Upon meeting Jennifer, I told her who I was and she thanked me and gave me a big hug. It made my day for sure! I look like a goofball in the picture because I was so excited. After leaving her signing, I went to another booth and then came back to the Penguin booth to get in line for another book, but I saw Jennifer standing off to the side and stopped to chat again for a bit. She is a sweetheart and is super pretty to go along with it! Oh, also, I already finished her new one, Holding Up the Universe, and am equally as obsessed as I was with her first one. You are going to get annoyed with my raves to come! (Review soon)

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I got in the line for Jodi Picoult next, it wasn’t crowded yet, but I knew it would get that way! About 5 minutes after getting in line, it started multiplying quickly. I was thankful I had the foresight to get there early. I have been reading Jodi’s books for years, and think I have read them all, except for the ones with her daughter, which are on my TBR pile. I also recommend her books to my colleagues, family, and friends all the time. I can’t wait to read this one, so I can recommend it as well.
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The whole time I was in the line for Jodi Picoult, I was eyeing the chairs in the Panel area and couldn’t wait to sit down for the YA session with Jennifer Niven, David Levithan, David Arnold, and Chelsea Sedoti. The only one I hadn’t heard of was Chelsea, but she sold me on her new book and I can’t wait to read it. I also thought it was super cute that she was so nervous. I was hoping by this point that Jennifer Niven wasn’t getting a  little worried that I was being stalker-ish. 🙂 And this wasn’t even the last of our interactions, I’m a fangirl, what can I say?! Anyway, the panel was great and I enjoyed their discussion and interactions with one another. The two Davids were rather funny together. Plus, sitting down was oh-so-wonderful!
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So, here’s the Day 2 stash…it’s a great one! I didn’t mention Replica above, but I was excited to get it too. It looks really neat…but, man, that line was a bit cray. Stood there for a LONG time, I bet it will be worth it!  Stay tuned for more about BEA Day 3, BookCon, and reviews of these wonderful books over the next several months. By the way, anyone in need of a tote bag or twenty?!

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Book Expo America (BEA) 2016–Day 1

I had the great fortune of being able to go to Book Expo America (BEA) this year, since it was held in Chicago, which is only a train ride away for me. Since it is usually in NYC, I had not even considered it an option in the past. Since it is moving there again next year, I might need to try to save money! I guess that means I had a good time! Though I am thoroughly exhausted and am not sure how long it will take me to recover, I am so glad I went to both BEA and BookCon. For the next few posts, I will be covering my different days there and filling you in on my experience.

Day 1, Wednesday, May 11:

My day started at 1:30 am, leaving to drive over to Carbondale, IL to catch the 3:15 am train to Chicago Union Station. I have taken this train before to Chicago and it is a pretty good experience. It is the train that runs from New Orleans, and it is a comfortable car. You have plenty of room to stretch out, they do their best to keep you in a pair of seats by yourself, and they keep the lights turned down for sleeping. Unfortunately, I got stuck sitting across from a big man who took full advantage of sleeping (and snoring loudly!) for the whole 6-hour ride. I think he forgot where he was, he kept letting his phone ring without answering it, and even had the nerve to fart, yes FART, when he woke in the morning. Seriously?! You are in public, dude!

Anyway, I arrived in Chicago right at 9:00 am and took my first Uber ride–thanks, Mildred!–to the Convention Center and hotel. I was kind of terrified of Uber, mostly because I was afraid I would have to make awkward conversation…that’s the kind of thing that scares me, haha, but it was a fine experience. I was able to check into the hotel early and had a nice conversation about my hometown in Southeast Missouri with the lady working the front desk. She drives through pretty often to visit family and was asking me about places to stay and things to do. From there, I unpacked and headed down to the convention center to explore before it officially opened.

For the first day, the show floor was only open for the afternoon and there wasn’t as much going on as far as author visits, but there were a few I wanted to meet. While standing in my first line of many waiting for the showfloor to open, I met a few other bloggers and chatted with them a bit. (Shout-out to Nikki at Take Me Away blog, Amber at Du Livre, and Jessica at A Great Read) Once the floor opened, the chaos began. I quickly learned what to try and pick up and what to not touch…trust me, those publishers are on the ball! In some situations, it was hard to tell what was on display and what was being given away (talking to you, Harlequin!), so I got scolded a few times.

First stop after doing some exploring, was the line to meet and get See Me signed by Nicholas Sparks. This was exciting as a fan of his books, but I have to admit he was the only one the whole time that didn’t give you the opportunity to get your book personalized, which was a bit disappointing. I met some fun people in that line that I ran into a few more times. I left their cards at home today, so I will have to see if I can share their info on my next post. Anyway, here I am with Nicholas Sparks.

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Next up, I headed over to the line to get a copy of Unashamed by Lecrae, hoping that I can find one of my high school students that this book would have a healthy impact on. We also have classes that read memoirs/biographies for their curriculum, so I am always looking for ones that will interest my students. Lecrae is performing at my town’s fair this year as the headliner, so it will mean even more. He and his publisher were even nice enough to ask me to come back at the end of his signing and they gave me another copy that he signed to the high school library.

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Scott McCreery was next, since I watched him while on American Idol and have a friend who is a fan now. I had this copy signed to my friend, but was able to snag another copy a different day to add to the one we already ordered for my school library. Again, I am always looking for memoirs/biographies that will be of interest.

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So, by this point, I was already exhausted, and knew it was going to be a tiring couple of days, but I was already excited about my finds. This picture shows all the things I was able to get on Day 1…knowing that was only a half day’s worth of things, I was pumped for Day 2. There are some good ones in here that I am excited about, including a new one by Room author Emma Donoghue.

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Exciting stuff, huh? Keep watching for posts from Days 2 & 3, as well as my day at BookCon.