Tag Archives: contest

Review AND Giveaway: Up For Renewal by Cathy Alter

WIN A COPY OF UP FOR RENEWAL!  See the review for details. CONGRATS to JESS of Book Reviews by Jess; She’s the winner!

renewalTitle: Up For Renewal

Author: Cathy Alter

Genre/Pages: Memoir/336

Publication: Atria Books; July 2008/Washington Square Press (re-release); July 2009

Rating: 3.5 BOOKMARKS

A year in the life of a woman who has committed herself to change, taking advice from glossy magazines on the big Fs: fashion, fitness, food, finance, and, ultimately, FINDING herself.

I’m a huge fan of essays and memoirs–Jen Lancaster, Bill Bryson, David Sedaris–are some of my favorite nonfiction writers.  I have laughed my way through so many memoirs that deciding to review Up For Renewal was a no-brainer–it was a memoir AND the premise hooked me!

At the age of 37, Cathy Alter’s life wasn’t exactly going according to plan.  Recently divorced and spiraling down a bleak pathlittered with sexual conquests and take-out food containers, Alter commits herself…to change.

Over the course of one year, Alter focuses on improving herself.  Each month she tackles a different aspect of her life–fitness, finance, fashion, relationships.  Using the magazines as her holy grail and life map, she charts a new course for herself and learns that sometimes it’s necessary to cross choppy seas to get to a safe harbor. 

An entertaining read, Alter doesn’t sugarcoat her bad behavior, nor does she apologize.  She takes responsibility for her actions–good and bad–and is able to learn and move on.  Though I had difficulty relating to some of Alter’sbehaviors, I enjoyed the memoir and found her writing to be witty and easy to read.  Her tirades against Saran wrap had me snorting with laughter.

That said (and since there is a giveaway associated with this review), some readers with more Victorian sensibilities might be a bit put off by profanity and adult situations.  Consider this fair warning.  For the rest of you corrupt little scoundrels, carry on!

For a chance to win a  copy of Up For Renewal, simply leave a comment and tell me which magazines you love to read.  Contest ends Friday, September 4th at 8pm EST. 

Thanks to Minjae Ormes for the review copy!

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Giveaway: You’ve got to be in it to WIN it!

Are you looking for a fun and sassy read to usher in summer?  Look no further because I have just what the doctor ordered! 

looseNadine Dajani’s newest novel, Cutting Loose, introduces “three women who are as different as could be–or at least that’s what they think–and the men who’ve turned their lives upside as their paths collide in sizzling, sexy Miami…”

I’ll be reviewing this book on Friday and have one copy to give away.  To be entered in this giveaway, please leave a comment and tell me what YOU do to realax, or ‘cut loose’.  I’ll select a winner with Random.org on Monday, June 8th.  International bloggers welcome!  Good luck!

And the winnerS are…

Thanks to everyone who entered to win the Jessica Darling series.  As a last minute bonus, I was also able to give away two copies of the first book in the series–Sloppy Firsts–as 2nd and 3rd prizes!  Random.com selected the following winners:

Congratulations BOOKISH PATTY for winning the entire series!  You’ll really enjoy these books.

Congratulations are also in order for Debbie of Suburb Sanity and Heather of Book Addiction who each won a copy of the novel that started it all–Sloppy Firsts

Thank you to everyone who participated!  Let’s do this again soon!

Review (and Giveaway!): Perfect Fifths

perfect_fifthsTitle: Perfect Fifths (Jessica Darling Series)

Author: Megan McCafferty

Genre: Fiction*; 304 pages

Publication date: April 14, 2009

Publisher: Crown Publishing

Rating: 4 Bookmarks**

Perfect Fifths is the final book in the Jessica Darling series.  It picks up three years after Fourth Comings; Jessica (now 26) and Marcus are reunited in a chance encounter at Newark Liberty International Airport.

After buying the first book on a whim a few years ago, I was lured in by the protagonist, Jessica Darling, a then-teenager from New Jersey.  Her acerbic wit had me laughing from page one.  She finds temptation in a boy named Marcus Flutie and their on-again, off-again relationship spans the series.    The good girl/bad boy conundrum spoke to me on a personal level and I was eager to find out how things would play out.

McCafferty tells her story using dynamic and credible characters who grow and change as the series progresses. The dialogue is realistic and the storyline is believable.  Sexual tension between Jessica and Marcus runs high, creating suspense and frustration for the characters and readers alike.

The first four books are written journal and letter-style from Jessica’s point of view.  As readers, we’re limited to seeing plot events and characters as she does, which colors them significantly.  I found myself wanting to kick Jessica in the shins on several occasions because she didn’t make the decisions I would have.

In Perfect Fifths, McCafferty switches to third-person omniscient point of view and we finally(!!!) get to see into the mind of enigmatic Marcus Flutie!  Marcus dispels some of the myths that have been perpetuated in the previous books and we learn the motivations behind some of his past actions.

A new character is introduced and is reminiscent of young Jessica.  Minor characters from the other books resurface and play bigger roles.  McCafferty brings the story full-circle, tying up all of the loose ends.  We get resolution with Jessica’s friends and, of course, with Marcus…though it may not be what readers were hoping for.

I couldn’t put the fifth book down and stayed up reading it until 2:30 in the morning.  Then I re-read it twice more, savoring the story and interaction between the couple.  It was such a pleasure to take this literary journey with Jessica, Marcus, and the whole cast of characters that Megan McCafferty crafted.  This series belongs in your TBR pile.

And now on to the CONTEST!!  Simply leave a comment below and you will be entered to win the entire Jessica Darling series–all 5 books!  The deadline is 10pm EST on Monday, 4/20 and a winner will be chosen at random.  ONE entry per person and this contest is open to everyone–even international friends.  Good Luck!!!

firsts

helpings1

charmed

fourth

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Many thanks to Megan McCafferty and Crown Publishers.

* This series is sometimes classified as YA fiction but the books span 10 years of Jessica’s life, ending on her 26th birthday.  The series deals with sophisticated themes and the nature of the story lends the books to a wider audience.

**To fully appreciate this particular novel and all the references and entendres, the books should be read sequentially.