divorce

She Reads Fall Book Tour: The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

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My Review:

Wow.  This book has it all: family dysfunction, family secrets, marital affairs, sibling rivalry, suicide, survivor’s guilt, divorce, and shame.  The Bird family all experience the majority of their heartbreak in their family home.  After the death of the Bird’s matriarch, the family comes together to clean out their home.  Along with it, many family memories come up to the surface and the Bird family members have to address everything they buried underneath all their pain and shame.

It is interesting that the family is named “Bird”, the matriarch’s favorite holiday is Easter, and the biggest tragedy actually happens on Easter.  The Bird family all do their best to escape the family nest, but to embrace their future, every one of them has to visit their past.  Sadly, their past isn’t all Easter eggs wrapped in color foil.  The items in the house (as the mom was a hoarder), are signs of the sadness that was hidden underneath each item.  Lorelei (Bird’s matriarch) states that the items all represent a specific time and place with a memory that she wants to remember long past a picture can provide.

Meg is the oldest daughter, followed by Beth, and their twin brothers: Rory and Rhys.  Lorelei is a mom with her own obsessive compulsive tendencies, stemmed from a childhood of sexual abuse.  The patriarch (Colin) is rather aloof and quiet, doing what he needs to so that he can pacify Lorelei.  Vicky is the neighbor, who is married with 2 daughters.  Each one has their issues, leading up to the family tragedy, with evidence that shows the family was already cracking long before that event.

There are so many layers to this story, with so many rabbit trails that Lisa Jewell takes readers through.  With amazing writing techniques, Lisa Jewell manages to bring each different story and show their relevance and importance to the overall storyline.  I would love to talk about Bethan (Beth) and her black outs, because there is so much she saw and really holds the largest piece to the puzzle after her mom dies.  I think there are some family secrets of incest and the abuse Beth sees and experiences, passes on to the relationship she has with someone in the family.  There are so many layers to this story, and is a book that will become a book club favorite!  It’s a long book, but every single page is worth it.

supreme cupcake rating 6

A huge thanks to She Reads for selecting one fantastic book for us to read!  No forms of compensation were given.   

I would like to thank Lisa Jewell and the publisher,  Atria Books (A trademark of Simon & Schuster) for providing me with this book, free of charge, for review.

To read more reviews of all the She Reads selection for the Books of Fall, click here

Review: Heart Like Mine by Amy Hatvany

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Synopsis:

Thirty-six-year-old Grace McAllister never longed for children. But when she meets Victor Hansen, a handsome, charismatic divorced restaurateur who is father to Max and Ava, Grace decides that, for the right man, she could learn to be an excellent part-time stepmom. After all, the kids live with their mother, Kelli. How hard could it be?

At thirteen, Ava Hansen is mature beyond her years. Since her parents’ divorce, she has been taking care of her emotionally unstable mother and her little brother—she pays the bills, does the laundry, and never complains because she loves her mama more than anyone. And while her father’s new girlfriend is nice enough, Ava still holds out hope that her parents will get back together and that they’ll be a family again. But only days after Victor and Grace get engaged, Kelli dies suddenly under mysterious circumstances—and soon, Grace and Ava discover that there was much more to Kelli’s life than either ever knew.

Narrated by Grace and Ava in the present with flashbacks into Kelli’s troubled past, Heart Like Mine is a poignant, hopeful portrait of womanhood, love, and the challenges and joys of family life.

My Review:

Told in alternating viewpoints, the storylines switches from past and present throughout the book.  Surrounding around the death of Kelli, mom to Ava and ex-wife to Victor, everyone struggles to come to terms with the aftermath and try to understand what caused Kelli’s untimely death.  While there were moments I could understand Grace’s feelings, most of the time I just couldn’t connect with her. I really wanted to hear more from Kelli and Ava, as Ava comes to terms with losing her mommy.  I think the alternating viewpoints diluted the characters and made it difficult for me to stay interested in the storyline.  Overall, it was a book that didn’t resonate with me and I found myself comparing it to another book that I did connect with.  I’d suggest you read the book and decide for yourself if this is a book for you!  And…because it is important to have differing views, I’ve attached links to a couple of other reviews for this book. Perhaps, they had a completely different experience!

2 Memoirs-One from Someone Who Escaped a Cult and Another Who Part of a New Culture: Real Housewives of BH

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Product Details

  • Print Length: 416 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (February 5, 2013)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers

Synopsis:

Jenna Miscavige Hill, niece of Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige, was raised as a Scientologist but left the controversial religion in 2005. In Beyond Belief, she shares her true story of life inside the upper ranks of the sect, details her experiences as a member Sea Org—the church’s highest ministry, speaks of her “disconnection” from family outside of the organization, and tells the story of her ultimate escape.
In this tell-all memoir, complete with family photographs from her time in the Church, Jenna Miscavige Hill, a prominent critic of Scientology who now helps others leave the organization, offers an insider’s profile of the beliefs, rituals, and secrets of the religion that has captured the fascination of millions, including some of Hollywood’s brightest stars such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

My Review: 
Wow!  This book is detailed into the life of Jenna Miscavige Hill, niece to David Miscaige (CBO).  Jenna is so brave as she delves into the darkest and most corrupt system that claims to be a church.  It is harrowing to read that at the age of 2 she was raised at a camp of sorts for children, whose parents had dedicated their lives to the Sea Org.  With Jenna’s parents away, somewhere within the organization, Jenna is indoctrinated into the beliefs and different levels within Scientology.  There are so many moments that Jenna truly wants to embrace the lifestyle and sacrifice she has made as a Sea Org member (signing the billion year contract), however she soon can’t ignore or excuse the red flags that keep popping up.  Over time, Jenna loses family members who are classified as “SP’s”, and she is alone with only the guidance of her Aunt Shelley and a few other higher-ups.  However, there comes a point where Jenna truly wants her life, her independence, and sees the organization’s corruptions, abuse of power, and leaves the organization.
There were many times I was just shocked by the depravity and isolation Jenna and others like her, experienced.  Scientology isn’t a religion, it’s a way to gain higher power based on the money you give and who you are (star power).  The sheer torture of working non-stop for little to no pay, the separation from family and friends, the cut-offs from those who dont’ support Scientology, and the paranoia surrounded by those in higher ups who fear that the organization’s image will be tarnished, motivates those in upper positions to abuse their power, demote people from their level, and really becomes more man based than God based.  While Scientology doesn’t believe in God, they really look to LRH as the man with the plan.  With some basic psychology 101 and e-meter readings, individuals are coerced through fear, removal of benefits ( like making a phone call), and falling behind a level (even if you already reached a level, you can possibly be stripped of it to start all over).  Education is primarily centered around the teachings and not formal education (traditional schooling).  So, there is a catch.  If a person moves through all the levels, which costs thousands of dollars, by the time the highest level is reached to Clear-the person may feel rather stupid learning about the aliens and Xenu that they stick with it b/c of all the money invested.  Likewise, with education-if a child is raised in Scientology, he/she will be behind educationally and may not feel useful in the outside world.  So, in many ways this religion does cause a sense of learned helplessness and a person becomes dependent on someone in higher position to be validated.  With so many secrets and trying to keep people in control, those in the Sea Org don’t want tv, interact too much with the outside world, and become truly dependent on the organization.
Reading all the Jenna endured, I am amazed and inspired by her courage, tenacity, and willingness to ask questions-even when others didn’t want her to.  Jenna brought great points to the forefront and one can only hope that people will look more deeper into the secrets and abuse that Scientology has done to its members.
Overall, this was an incredible read and Jenna wrote this book in terms that non-Scientologists could understand, but that Scientologists would also understand and know that her experience is true.  I hope that her book opens eyes and creates changes within the organization and the individuals that make up the “religion”.
4-cupcake1

Product Details

  • Print Length: 258 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1476707626
  • Publisher: Gallery Books (February 12, 2013)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
Synopsis:
She’s the brutally honest breath of fresh air on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, known for her dramatic divorce, her barely-there clothing, and her inability to keep her mouth shut. So why should she change now? Brandi Glanville tells all in this hilarious, no-holds-barred memoir.Fans have been waiting for Brandi’s scoop on one of the biggest divorces of the decade, since her husband of eight years abandoned her and their two sons to marry country singer LeAnn Rimes. Not only does Brandi spill the beans about her side of the split, the lovable housewife shares the incredible wild ride that took her from a life in the ghetto to Hollywood’s most elite circles. For the first time, Brandi talks about how she escaped a rough neighborhood on the outskirts of Sacramento and stumbled into a successful modeling career that swept her into a world of Paris Fashion Weeks, private jets, and uncircumcised penises. Before she knew it, Brandi was the perfect Hollywood trophy wife—at least until her marriage exploded.Today, the refreshingly filter-free housewife and unapologetic mom is the newest full-time cast member of Bravo’s juggernaut franchise, where she often elicits raised eyebrows and gossip from her costars for her refusal to be the scorned ex-wife, to be bullied, to change her sarcastic sense of humor, or—on most occasions—to wear a bra. Sassy, raunchy, and compulsively readable, Drinking and Tweeting perfectly captures Brandi’s open-book attitude, as she dishes about everything from her DUI, her cheating ex, her one-night stands, and the secret plastic surgery that made her “seventeen” again. You’re sure to enjoy every page of this funny, upbeat, honest tale. Clear your schedule for an afternoon and grab your favorite cocktail, a comfy seat . . . and maybe a Xanax. But that’s for later.
My Review:I love Brandi’s crude sense of humor and she is so smart.  So, put together beauty, talent, smart, and wit, and mix it with an ugly divorce, and you’ve got this great book.  Brandi is quite honest and very brutal at times.  There were moments I cringed, but just as quickly, her wit shines through.  If anyone reads this book, they will forever remember these two words: Vaginal Rejuvenation.  Her ex lost some jobs, got a woman that is trying to morph into his Brandi, and Brandi got a new vjayjay and a book!  Love that.  While she is quite honest about the heartache, postpartum depression, anxiety attacks, and life rebuilding, I would have loved more detail on how she overcame PPD and about her post divorce.  She has admitted that this book was written shortly after her divorce, so her emotions were raw and she was filled with anger, however it would be better had she added some chapters on her “happily ever after”.  It would have also been so much more personal had she included some photos of her early modeling years, her married life, and her life post divorce. All in all, this is a great book and one that many will enjoy, especially if you love RHOBH like me!4 rating

Great Giveaway & Book Review: Another Piece of My Heart by Jane Green

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One (1) winner will receive:

  • $50 Williams-Sonoma Gift Card

·         A copy of Another Piece of My Heart

 

About the Book

From the New York Times bestselling author of JEMIMA J, and THE BEACH HOUSE, comes Jane Green’s most emotional and powerful novel yet: a story that explores the complications of a woman marrying into a ready-made family, and the true meaning of motherhood.

Andi has spent much of her adult life looking for the perfect man, and at thirty-seven, she’s finally found him.  Ethan–divorced with two daughters, Emily and Sophia–is a devoted father and even better husband.  Always hoping one day she would be a mother, Andi embraces the girls like they were her own. But in Emily’s eyes, Andi is an obstacle to her father’s love, and Emily will do whatever it takes to break her down. When the dynamics between the two escalate, they threaten everything Andi believes about love, family, and motherhood—leaving both women standing at a crossroad in their lives…and in their hearts.

ANOTHER PIECE OF MY HEART is a novel that illuminates the nuances and truths about relationships and is Jane Green at her absolute best.

My Review:

I was immediately pulled into the storyline.  Today, it is very common for children to belong to blended families. Providing a glimpse into the story of one familly that is dealing with the effects of alcohol, drugs, teen issues, infertility, adoption, and trying to stay together.  Told through the perspective of the step-mother, biological mother, teenager, and author, the reader is able to get a better understanding behind each character’s thoughts, behaviors, and motivations.

Jane Green does a remarkable job at keeping the storyline authentic, as she covers real life issues, in a fast paced story.  The story doesn’t seem bogged down or too water downed.  There were times where it was difficult to understand and like some of the characters.  However, Jane Green then shows the individual perspective of that particular character, and the reader soon can empathize with her, too.

Reading from Andi’s perspective, the reader is able to truly understand her desire to have children, feel her pain each month that she finds out she isn’t pregnant, and feel her struggles as she tries to make peace with the oldest teen, Emily.  However, Emily appears as this rebellious teen.  As a reader, I could sense the anger and understand her frustration as she tries to keep the family together, be a wife and mother to her husband’s children, and struggles with her own issues of fertility.  However, Emily often argues with her, is dismissive towards her and the family, appears to be a manipulator, and just an overall rebellious teen. Reading from Emily’s perspective gave the reader an opportunity to understand her motives, the struggle she has of dealing with an alcoholic mother, trying to fit in at school, feeling her father doesn’t listen to her, and seeing Andi as fake and wanting her father and younger sister without her being a part of the family.

The family dynamics are truly realistic and it’s a story that gives a well rounded view of a blended family and it’s issues.

I highly suggest this book to those who love contemporary fiction, reading about families, enjoy books told through multiple point of views, and deal with complex issues that aren’t always so black and white.

*This book was provided for free by Big Honcho Media.

No monetary or forms of compensation were given.  The opinions are solely my own.

About the Author

Jane Green is the author of twelve bestselling novels, dealing with real women, real life, and all the things in-between, with her trademark wisdom, wit and warmth. She contributes to various publications, both online and print, including Huffington Post, The Sunday Times, and assorted Anthologies.  Passionate about both food and the home, most weekends see her cooking up a storm in her home in Westport, Connecticut, where she lives by the beach with her husband and their many children.

Link Up!
www.JaneGreen.com

https://twitter.com/janegreen

http://www.facebook.com/authorJaneGreen

Enter the Giveaway:

Begins March 5, ends March 13, 2012.

Simply post a comment with your name and email.  A winner will be chosen randomly and will be notified. 

One (1) winner will receive:

  • $50 Williams-Sonoma Gift Card

·         A copy of Another Piece of My Heart