This Chick's Audio Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I know, I know, I’m really late to the party for this book. I always like to say, it’s never to late to read a great book and it’s certainly always ok to talk about it!

Monique Grant is a writer for an entertainment magazine when she gets called into her boss’s office and is told that the famous screen star Evelyn Hugo wants to do a feature on some gowns she’s donating for charity, and she has asked specifically for Monique to write the story. When Monique meets Evelyn, she’s told that it’s actually not a feature that she wants her to write, it’s her memoir. As she tells the story of her life, and her many marriages, she reveals many things about herself but always holds back from telling Monique why she was chosen to tell this story …until the very end. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was as good as I’d hoped and as good as the hype. Alma Cuervo, Julia Whelan, and Robin Miles did an amazing job making me forget I was listening to a book and not watching a movie.

I really don’t want to spoil the story or what each of her marriages represent and how they molded Evelyn’s future. Instead I’m going to talk about impressions the book made on me.

This novel draws on many similarities from some famous marriages, the most famous of which was Elizabeth Taylor for her many marriages. As the narrators navigated through each husband and why Evelyn married that person, some for love, some for hype, one was her best friend, I couldn’t help but think if that was really common. With the advent of the internet, social media, and of how easy it is for a star to now engage with their public and change their image (Miley Cyrus’s most recent implosion of a marriage and self control comes to mind) it was fascinating to take this journey into the past when you had to manipulate people and the press. I didn’t mean to go on a tangent but I’ve always found that era fascinating and seeing this story through modern eyes puts a spin on what women and certain groups of that era might have had to do to make their way.

Evelyn’s life from childhood to mature woman was centered around her body image and what power that body could bring to her. I never realized how powerful a pair of breasts could be, it made me a tad bit uncomfortable to think that men could be so superficial. In an age where women had to balance their sexuality with an act of innocence so they didn’t appear a whore I guess those breasts would bring you a kind of power you wouldn’t normally be able to grasp as a woman in that time. Think of how Marilyn Monroe was lauded for her figure yet played the part of an airhead. It really puts into perspective how far the women’s movement has come, yet we are still experiencing inequality. Not that I’m an actress, but the whole Harvey Weinstein powermonger rapist opened my eyes to how the movie business even 5 years ago was still controlled by men of that ilk, but back to the book.

Monique’s tale about her own life is told in smaller snippets in between Evelyn’s monologue and we see her gain her own power through her negotiations with her magazine, as well as her relationship with her husband. She learns from Evelyn and even though there’s this secret of why she’s been chosen to write this memoir hanging over her head, you can see her admiration grow. It makes the reveal at the end even more impactful. I was looking for the answer to this secret Evelyn had hanging over Monique’s head and didn’t even come close to figuring it out. The story was wonderfully told, beautifully narrated, and shockingly good. My mom always says to never rush a good thing and I’m glad I waited to read this novel until all the hype had passed and nothing could spoil my pleasure. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Opinions from around the Blogosphere

“I just loved this book, plain and simple. I think it would make a fantastic book group choice, as there’s so much to mull over and think about. I’m pushing this book on a few key bookish friends so I can talk about it with them!” Bookshelf Fantasies

“I was in love with the setting, moving back and forth between Los Angeles and New York. Reading about the ’50’s-’90’s and how much everything has changed since then, it was hypnotizing and alluring. Having the whole story come together and wrap up in 2017 was just the absolute perfect bow-tie on top.” Hunida’s Blog

Click this link to purchase!* The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo: A Novel

Copyright 2020 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase the book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chicks WFH Wednesday- Week #1

Hi from Nashville, Tennessee! This week Nashville and most of the US have joined the majority of Europe in instituting Social Distancing in order to try to “slow the curve” of the COVID-19 or Coronavirus. What is Social Distancing? It is working from home, staying 6 feet away from another person, minimizing your contact with society, and with washing your hands (ALL THE TIME) hopefully helping to halt the spread of the virus.

Working from home, or WFH, sounds great but in the last week I’ve definitely learned that there are more con’s than pro’s.

WFH PRO’S AND CONS

Feeling like I’m on vacation- Normally when I’m “at home” it’s because I have the day off, it’s the weekend, or occasionally I’m sick. When any of these things happen I have free reign over what I can do with my time. I might read, write on my blog, watch TV, bake, run errands, etc. 830a-530p are my work hours and with the exception of an hour for lunch I should be working.

Social interaction- I’m the Marketing Manager for Nashville Ballet, so normally I work on a team and have constant interaction as we complete projects. The only personal interaction I have right now?

Meet my new team members! Sam on the left and Nash is on the right. I love them to death, but they also think I’m on vacation.

Personal space is gone. LOL.

ALL THE SNACKS!- I’m now a week into this WFH situation and I’m doing a little better with this issue, but it took me eating a box of Ginger Snap cookies in two days to see that I needed to take control of my eating habits. Leave the cookies on the shelf and grab the apple, Deb. That’s my new mantra.

Worry- After my first couple of days freaking out over all of the news exposure and going to the store and waiting in super long lines to get my share of toilet paper, milk, and bread I decided to do my thing, wash my hands and tune it out. At least until the 4p news where I’d find out the latest virus growth rate and store closures in the US. I’ve read my share of post-apocalyptic romances and this true life scenario is scaring the bejeezus out of me. So, watching the news does not make for a very productive day.

As an aside, I have to say that this all reminds me of Rebecca Zanetti’s Scorpius Syndrome series. The further you read in the series the more alpha the heroes get but the gov’t is corrupted by this virus also. You can only hope we aren’t headed in that direction…. It’s actually a good series, but a little life-like for me right now. I’ll drop the link below in case you are interested.

Synopsis: With nothing but rumors to lead her, Lynne Harmony has trekked across a nightmare landscape to find one man—a mysterious, damaged legend who protects the weak and leads the strong. He’s more than muscle and firepower—and in post-plague L.A., he’s her only hope. As the one woman who could cure the disease, Lynne is the single most volatile—and vulnerable—creature in this new and ruthless world. But face to face with Jax Mercury… . Mercury Striking (The Scorpius Syndrome)

I’ve mentioned a couple of the con’s and given you a good post apocalyptic book rec, but what are the pro’s?

MOM- My mom is in the top percentile at risk if she does catch the coronavirus. She’s 78 and has pretty bad asthma. Living in a multi-generational home, I was worried that I was going to have this virus attach itself to me at work and bring it home to infect my mother. I guess that could still happen because even though we are all limiting our involvement with the outside world we do occasionally venture out to the store and my husband who works in the newsroom at a local tv station still has to go into work every day. BUT we are doing what we can. We aren’t eating out, we’re not going to movies, we aren’t going to a concert, etc. Well, now you can’t do any of those things anyway, but over the last week we didn’t. I feel like my family has been proactive. That’s all you can do.

Spending even a moment more with my babies is a joy. If I’m feeling down I just reach out and get a kiss or a hug and it makes me feel better. If my dog wasn’t an 85 lb ball of energy I’d request that I take him to work once a week. He’s such a love bug.

Baking!- Maybe I can knock out a couple more of my Bouchon Bakery recipes. It would have to be something I have all of the ingredients for but I think I’ve some basics in the house.

Maybe I’ll even have time to read a book. Hmmmm. I bet I can find the time to do that one first!

I hope everyone is staying safe, keeping your distance, and washing your hands. We’ll get though this and I think come out on the other side an even better world than we are right now.

xoxo!

Deb

This Chick Read: Smoke Bitten (Mercy Thompson #12) by Patricia Briggs

A deadly fae creature escapes Underhill, it’s bite allowing it to take over the host body and wreak havoc, killing everything around them and gaining more power from that chaos. When two people close to Mercy become inhabited it turns personal and Mercy must find a way to kick the host out without getting more people killed.

As with most of the novels in this series, there are a couple of storylines running simultaneously. Not only does Mercy need to figure out the puzzle about how to stop this fae creature, she also needs to find out what’s been bothering her husband, and Alpha, Adam. The last couple of novels have been about Mercy’s evolution and I really loved how Smoke Bitten shifted focus back towards Adam and Mercy’s relationship.

My love for Urban Fantasy is closely followed by my love of a good romance and their union is one of my favorite’s in the Urban Fantasy world. This novel has Mercy and Adam face, as a couple, many of the insecurities and fears that we in our normal lives can identify with, even if theirs take the shape of actual monsters. Sometimes my own inner fears take that shape and reading Adam and Mercy’s story and seeing how they battle those physical monsters makes me feel a little better. Isn’t that why we read fiction? We can slay dragons through the actions of our favorite hero’s and learn things through their words and actions?

Smoke Bitten moves several storylines forward. In addition to Mercy and Adam’s relationship, their relationship to Aidan, Mercy’s place in the pack, and her “friendship” with the fae all take a big step forward. By the end of the book I felt like a lot was accomplished, so not only did I love the story but I had that feeling after you eat a great meal. Full, but not stuffed like I’d overeaten. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❣️

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review and it is honest!

Click this link to purchase!* Smoke Bitten (A Mercy Thompson Novel)

Copyright 2020 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you should purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

It’s Monday, what are you reading? (3/16/2020)

It’s Monday and the world is in the midst of a pandemic. I am working from home and practicing social distancing. Picking up a book is a great way to forget about the stresses of our lives. So, what book will you pick to help you escape? This post originated over on Book Date , so thanks for the idea and letting me continue on the discussion.

JUST FINISHED

Another wonderful installment in the Mercy Thompson series!

JUST STARTED

Yep, another fantasy series that I love! The Crown of Shards series has a great heroine and a lot of action adventure. It’s a lot of fun!

What book are you reading this Monday?

The Reading Chick Also Bakes: Bouchon Bakery-Cream Puffs

How often does a person make Pate A Choux? For this person, it’s when you get to the Pate A Choux chapter in the Bouchon Bakery cookbook. At first, I was pretty excited about making Cream Puffs. I mean, come on, who doesn’t love a great cream puff? I do! At least I did until I tried to make my own. It wasn’t all bad, but boy was this a lot of work for something that, and I quote “are best as soon as they are filled, but can be refrigerated for 1 hour.” Umm, 1 hour?

I actually thought making the dough was pretty easy. There are only a few ingredients, flour, water, eggs, butter, salt, and water.

Essentially, you cook the water, butter and salt on the stove until the butter is melted and then add in the flour to create a paste. I’ve seen this done a thousand times on The British Baking Show or a Food Network baking production and thought it seemed pretty simple. In fact, it was. I got it to the correct consistently, threw it into the mixer and started adding the eggs. Having never made this before, I wasn’t too sure what I ended up with was correct, but not knowing for sure, I put the dough in the molds I bought and threw them into the freezer. Yes, this is another recipe where you can take them out one at a time to cook. Too bad I didn’t do that.

First confession! “Transfer the dough to a pastry bag and pipe into the mold.” Yeah, I didn’t do that. I was just so tired! It took much longer than I thought to make the dough, and I was almost positive I did something wrong. I just spooned the dough in. It wasn’t pretty.

I left these in the freezer until the next weekend when I thought I’d conquer the “Cookies for Cream Puffs.” These are not real cookies! they are some kind of crumbly mix of brown sugar, flour, and a very small amount of butter than I was supposed to roll out and then cut into nice round shapes to place on the top of the cream puffs. The idea being to create a crunchy outer layer to contrast nicely with the soft puff.

You can tell from looking at this dough that it was one hot mess. I rolled and froze, rolled and froze, and then just gave up and took the cream puffs out of the freezer, placed them on a pan, put cookie dough bits on top and threw them into the oven.

While these were cooking I started making the Pastry Cream. It’s not a Cream Pull without that cream, right? I’ve made pudding’s and custards from scratch before so I actually found this to be a pretty easy process. However- 2nd confession- I was supposed to use whole milk, and we only had 2% milk in the fridge. Guess what? It worked anyway. It may not have been as luscious as if I’d used whole milk, but you can still get a pretty good pastry cream. The hardest part of this process was putting the cream through the sifter to get the chunks out. I got impatient and just ended up dumping it all into the bowl to chill.

This time I did actually use the pastry bag and you know what? No longer afraid of it. I found these reusable bags that you can wash out and it was really quite easy!

So, I take the puffs out of the oven and I’m pretty pleased! I think they rose the way they were supposed to? I will admit, there was a second batch that was slightly bigger and they collapsed. Note to self, leave the bigger ones in a little longer than the smaller. Once these had cooled, and the pastry cream was also cool, I piped the cream into the puffs.

You can’t tell, but there are cream in those puffs! Here’s the problem. No one felt like eating them! We all had one to taste and then I put them in the fridge where they got kind of soft and doughy. Not good. So, be warned, they are really serious about that time in the fridge. No more than one hour, otherwise all of that hard work will go to waste.

I worked so hard, over two weekends on these, and I have to admit, I was disappointed! I think I had profiteroles in my head and the cream just didn’t do it for me. I’d much rather of had ice cream! LOL.

Would I make these again? Not even for a dinner party. It took way too long, had to many moving parts and the shelf life is too small. I’m glad I did it the one time, but it’s not happening again!

Until the next recipe!

Deb

Click this link to purchase! Bouchon Bakery (The Thomas Keller Library)

This Chick Read: Fumbled (The Playbook #2) by Alexa Martin

Poppy Patterson left her hometown at sixteen. Kicked out because of her pregnancy, she found a new home with her aunt in Denver. Now in her 20’s, Poppy is raising her son alone and working as a waitress in a nightclub when Wide Receiver, T. K. Moore is seated at her table. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem except that T. K. is the father of her son… and he doesn’t know it.

This second chance love story had everything the first novel had, and I ate it up. Two great lead characters, wonderful female friendships, and a renewal of a love story that should never have ended. I like that they were an interracial couple and whereas this is a fictional novel I felt like some of the problems they’d see in real life as an interracial couple also played out in this book. However, the biggest conflict in this book was portraying the consequences of head injuries in the NFL. I really liked how real that made Poppy and T. K.’s relationship and how she struggled with helping him see how much his personality had changed since high school. I thought that topic was really relevant. Especially after reading the author’s bio and knowing that her own husband played in the NFL. It may be a real topic in her own household (?).

Once again Alexa Martin hits a home run. Poppy was a female protagonist that a reader loves. She fell on hard times but never gave up, worked hard, and put herself in a place she can be proud of. T. K. was a little more stereotypical but I really liked him once he got past the shock of being a father. This story was a little more serious than the first but once Poppy was introduced to her WAGS group those friendships brought out the fun and funny.

Again, if you haven’t read this series and you are a fan of contemporary romances, you must pick them up! I do think the first couple of books could be read as stand alone’s. After all, I read the third novel first. There’s a tiny bit of backstory with a couple of other characters but I think you can catch on pretty quickly and enjoy the story on it’s own. However, if you’ve got the time to read them in order go for it! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Opinions from around the Blogosphere

“I really enjoyed reading the book, both times. It made me happy. It’s a good book. Right after I finished it the first time, I read book 1 of this series called Intercepted, which was also really nice.” The Wordy Habitat

“I thought the book was kinda rushed but I didn’t get bored and I’m definitely looking forward to the final book of the trilogy.” My World of Books

Click this link to purchase!* Fumbled (Playbook, The)

Copyright 2020 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I will receive a small stipend.

This Chick Read: In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

Manhattan lawyer Dannie Cohan has her life mapped out to the minute and tonight is the night her longtime boyfriend David will ask her to marry him. That night she has a dream that is dated five years in the future. In that dream she is married to someone else. Skip forward to 4 1/2 years from that night and Dannie is still not married to David. Is that dream about to become a reality?

I way oversimplified the synopsis in the above paragraph but this is one of those stories where if you give too many details away you’ll spoil the surprises for other readers. I don’t want to do that! I can tell you a little bit about the characters. Dannie and Bella are best friends but they couldn’t be any more different. Dannie is structured, realistic, and has a plan for everything in her life. Bella is an artist, a dreamer, and falls in love constantly. They are the yin to each other’s yang and are always there to support each other through life’s ups and downs. They have one of those girl relationships that I’ve always envied. Even through life’s difficulties, anything is forgivable.

In Five Years synopsis fools the reader into thinking this is a love story between a man and a woman. It is kind of, but even more so is that it’s a love story between Dannie and Bella. Not a romantic love, but despite that, it’s a love that transcends life. In Dannie’s case, it’s a love that her fiance David can’t compete. Dannie’s journey through this novel is eye opening and actually uplifting despite the box of kleenex I used. Yes, this is a sad story, but despite that I felt like Dannie had revealed something inside of herself that would help her live her life more fully than she had which is a good way to end a story.

Be prepared for some twists and turns as this is not the novel you think you are going to read, but it’s a story that will make you think as you read it. Sometimes that is a bad thing, but in the case of In Five Years it worked. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review and it was honest!

Click this link to purchase!* In Five Years: A Novel

Copyright 2020 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I will receive a small stipend.

It’s Monday, what are you reading? (3/9/2020)

I can only hope that this week is a little better than last week. I can’t think a tornado will hit twice in one area (knock on wood). I had an ARC due this Tuesday that was a tear jerker. I’m not sure if it was because I’d had an abnormally emotional week? I did go through a TON of kleenex and sniffled my way through to the finish late last night. This post originated over on Book Date , so thanks for the idea and letting me continue on the discussion.

JUST FINISHED

Grab your box of kleenex! This is a great story about a wonderful friendship and finding the meaning of love.

JUST STARTED

I am loving the audio books in this series. Thank goodness it’s a long series!

What books are you reading this week?

Deb

It’s been a long week…

Tuesday night around midnight a tornado ripped through Nashville. Starting in a popular historical neighborhood called Germantown, jumping the river into East Nashville and then staying on the ground for 60 miles through Mt. Juliet and Cookeville. Was it a blessing or a curse that it happened in the middle of the night? There was a school that had considerable damage, so I guess a blessing because if there had been kids in that school hundreds could have been injured and died. That it happened in the middle of the night meant if you had awakened to the sirens you could find your safe place, but some people were ripped out of their homes and died. 24 of them.

I live in the city of Nashville and thankfully saw little damage. However, my husband and I have an Airbnb in East Nashville and we had guests staying in it the night it hit. Our place was in the path of the tornado but a block away it veered east and our block was skipped. Our guests were ok. I can’t even tell you the relief I felt.

I’m in a Facebook group for Airbnb’s in Nashville and this woman told her story about her home getting hit in Germantown. Their guest had to be cut out of the host Airbnb because she was framed in by bars. That guest was fine, and in fact, stayed to help clean up the area. I’m tearing up as I write this because that is only one of the many wonderful stories that I’ve heard in the aftermath of this storm. Thousands of people are donating, bringing food and water, cooking and giving out free bbq, cleaning debris, putting tarps over holes in people’s roof’s, and so much more. I’ve always loved the city of Nashville and these stories only make me love it that much more. The people here are really that special.

Here are a few photo’s from the damage from the storm. These building’s span businesses, low income property, and homes. These people’s lives have been disrupted in a huge way. There is an organization who has handled the majority of volunteers, donations, etc. If you feel like donating to help Nashville’s recovery please do!

Hands on Nashville

#Nashvillestrong

This Chick Read: Undercover Bromance (Bromance Book Club #2) by Lyssa Kay Adams

When Liv walks in on her celebrity chef boss sexually harassing a hostess in his restaurant she rushes to the girls defense only to have the chef fire her and blackball her from getting another job despite her reputation as a great pastry chef she starts plotting revenge. She finds an unlikely ally in Braden Mack one of her brother in law’s friends. Not only does he fight by her side but their chemistry has him fighting for her heart, but he needs his bromance book club’s advice because nothing is working! Undercover Bromance is as fun as the first novel, but a depth that this reader found to be gripping, emotional, and actually very personal.

First the characters. Liv is gun shy when it comes to men. She had a father who left she and her sister when they were very young and that taught her to never trust a man. It also turned her into a fighter. She’s a woman who does not stand by and accept what is obviously wrong. What I loved about her the best is that she fought on behalf of others in this novel. Yeah, sure, she got fired, but she herself wasn’t sexually harassed. She saw it happen and wanted the truth to come out and the chef to bear the consequences of his actions. Braden Mack was clueless when it came to women, which made him charmingly endearing, but he also was a man that wouldn’t stand for a person to be treated improperly. You’ve got to love that! The two of them together provided a lot of heat, but even more importantly, humor! This was a novel that really needed a good laugh to counter the serious subject matter, and it really delivered! I laughed so hard I cried through the last 50 pages of this book.

It used to be that these types of topics weren’t mentioned and especially weren’t tied to a romance novel plot! Sexual harassment has been pushed aside, closeted, wiped under a rug, etc. Introducing this topic as the main plot of a romance novel made this one stand out. The premise of these Bromance Book Club novels is that a group of guys read romance novels to help them figure out their problems with women. Cute theme, right? How exactly does that apply to this topic? Well, Liv wasn’t your usual lady so it actually worked well and the altercations between she and her ex-boss turned this into a kind of romantic suspense plot which worked really well.

I thought this novel hit it out of the park on many levels. It introduced an important subject, provided a great love story, and made me care about the characters. It also made me laugh out loud which is always a winner in my book. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❣️

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest.

Click this link to purchase!* Undercover Bromance (Bromance Book Club)

Copyright 2020 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- If you purchase this book through the above link I will receive a small stipend.