“Amanda Wakes Up” book response and September selection!

Virtual Book Club
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It’s the last Wednesday Thursday of the month and you know what that means… my monthly book review! We read a new release called Amanda Wakes Up, Alysin Camerota’s newly released debut novel.

Plenty of people hate on e-readers like the Amazon kindle, but personally I like the convenience of tossing the durable device in my purse each day and not worrying about the page corners getting all messed up (I take book condition very seriously). Anyway, I do miss seeing and feeling the cover of a book, reading the blurbs on the back and reading the “about the author” on the flap of the dust jacket. For this book in particular I was feeling very resentful toward the protagonist and the subject matter. I was venting to Libby and she sent back a photo of the “about the author.”

Everything clicked into place.

This book has drawn lots of comparisons to The Devil Wears Prada. On the surface, I can see it: a semi-autobiographical account of working on the “inside” of big media. The books are pretty different, though. In Devil Wears Prada the author clearly has an ax to grind and writes with the intention of exposing her cold, cruel boss (Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue). The protagonist is extremely unlikable and does nothing but complain and victimize herself throughout (I am excluding the movie version which I love). Here in Amanda Wakes Up, we see actual character development as Amanda’s dream job puts her on a collision course from naive green journalist to the harsh reality of big dollar broadcast. She learns several lessons ranging from putting oneself in another’s shoes to standing up for what is right even if the risk is losing something important.

So, in the novel, Amanda gets her dream gig of morning anchor for a fictional cable news company called FAIR News. The company starts out as a noble attempt to be a station which covers each side of topics, but the producers quickly discover that repeatedly inviting a certain blowhard businessman-turned-politician onto their morning show brings outstanding viewership. Camerota is clearly indicting cable news, with FOX at the forefront, in giving a megaphone to certain people who really ought not to be running for office in the first place. That much is clear.

The lesson I learned was more about trying to get inside the minds of those who have different opinions than I do, even (especially?) if I believe those opinions to be wrong. Let me restate that: there are such things as wrong opinions, but telling someone they are wrong is not helpful unless we dig deeper. With the internet as our main news source followed by sensationalized 24-hour coverage on cable news, it’s kind of like a non-stop fire-hose of opinions curated to line up with our own. Sometimes opposing opinions are instilled and shaped by off-base nutjobs, but more often that not it stems from a real, heart-of-hearts concern or conviction. It’s important to find out why people believe what they do, especially if you want to change their mind.

As always, leave your comments below or link me to your review if you’ve already posted it on Goodreads or Amazon! I would love to read your take! 


Last night we held our monthly discussion group on Facebook. We actually got a lot more in depth but I’m having a difficult time organizing my thoughts into a post today. If you’d like to join us over there (normally the last Tuesday of the month), message me on Facebook to be added.

For September, nobody in our group floated any particularly grabbing titles, so we are each reading or own thing and we’ll still get together at the end of the month to check in. I will be reading The Girl Who Came Home (currently just 1.99 on Kindle) so I can return it to my coworker who lent it to me in the Spring. Please join along with me, Libby, and the rest of our group as we continue turning off the TV (or internet) to spend more time reading.

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“Three Wishes” book response and July selection!

Virtual Book Club
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It’s the last Wednesday of the month and you know what that means… my monthly book review! After heavy and lengthy books, the Virtual Book Club wanted something light and summery to read for June. I was grateful because although reading hard, important books, magazines, and the news is something we should all do for our own self-enrichment, sometimes an escape is necessary as well, and isn’t that what summer reads are for?

Not that Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty is all sunshine and roses. It’s actually kind of dark tempered with lots of light moments. There is a ton of slapstick humor running through the book; it lightens up the continually awful events happening to one or more characters at a time. The book contains overarching themes about sisterhood, secrets, hardships (relationships and childbearing), and what success really looks like.

The premise of the book centers around three triplet sisters in Sydney who are at different stages in their lives, despite being the same age. It takes place at Christmas, which can be a very stressful time of the year for those with complicated families. Twist: Christmas in Australia is in the middle of summer; this still qualified as our summer beach read!

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The Kettle family is complicated, but not in that way that families in books and movies always hate each other. The family was unique in that all three sisters, plus mother and father (divorced decades ago) and grandma all lived in the same city and generally all like one another. Unheard of in movies these days! The sisters are very close—a recurring theme in the book is that some characters think they are too close. When you’re a triplet, where do you draw the line between yourself and your family? Who comes first: sister or spouse/significant other?

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One of my favorite things in Three Wishes was that Moriarty included these little asides narrated by bystanders observing the Kettle family and then relaying the vignette to someone else. It reminded me of the asides interspersed throughout When Harry Met Sally. Although to us our families may seem screwed up, to others they seem sweet and normal. To me they served a dual purpose: One, don’t underestimate the struggles someone is going through just because they seem okay; and two, something that seems huge and all encompassing at the moment could blow over and isn’t really worth getting so worked up about. Perspective!

[Possible spoilers here but I’m being pretty vague] I feel that the book never really answered the “who is more important, sisters or husbands” question, but it did push each triplet sister to grow in their own way. The one with an apparently perfect life learned to ask others for help. The freespirit matured in a visible way (although, maybe she was secretly mature the whole time?) and the codependent one learned independence and self-discovery.

I wonder what I’ll learn next year? I am (gulp) creeping up on 30 this September, after all.

As always, leave your comments below or link me to your review if you’ve already posted it on Goodreads or Amazon! I would love to read your take! 


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Last night we held our monthly discussion group on Facebook. I ran it (!) and we had the BEST time posting celebrities who we’d like to cast in the movie version of this book. It’s great to hear other perspectives on themes and events in a book while it’s fresh in our minds. If you’d like to join us over there (normally the last Tuesday of the month), message me on Facebook to be added.

For July, our group voted on runner-up books from the past few months. We will be reading One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul, who is a feature writer for Buzzfeed. Some reviews draw positive comparisons to Mindy Kaling (which we did as a group last September) so I am really looking forward to this collection of short stories. Please join along with me, Libby, and the rest of our group as we read together.

“A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” book response and June selection!

Coming off of grim dystopian novel A Handmaid’s Tale, we all decided to read something sweeter for April and May. Confession: I nominated this book, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and didn’t realize how long it was (500+ pages) so we extended the book club by a month (hence no post at the end of April).

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I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn several years ago and remember being quietly moved by it. I was eager to revisit it and find out if the feeling was still true. It was.

This is Betty Smith’s first and most famous novel, largely based on her own experience growing up in a poor immigrant family, after the turn of the 20th century but before World War I. The book is written in third person but focuses mainly on the main character, Francie, and secondly on her family, the Nolans: mother Katie, father Johnny, and brother Neely. The premise of following along as an 11-to-17 year old girl grows up in desperate poverty sounds quite grim, but Francie’s rich inner world and constant childlike-but-wise observations on the world around her are constantly charming and heartwarming. In this way, we can all take a lesson from this and reflect on the beautiful in the everyday.

“Then I’ve been drunk, too,” admitted Francie.
“On beer?”
“No. Last spring, in McCarren’s Park, I saw a tulip for the first time in my life.”

The thing I liked most about the writing in this book is how often Smith would lay out the story or moment, and then at the end let us enter into the character’s reflection at the end. She would summarize dinner and the evening routine in the Nolan household, maybe one without enough food to go around, and then slip in something poignant like Katie thinking to herself, “It’s a hard and bitter world. They’ve got to live in it. Let them get hardened young to take care of themselves.” Peeking into the inner lives of the characters, even side characters from time to time, connected me more to each of them and reminds me that we all aspire to be more and we have inner lives that only some of us bring to daylight.

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As the book progresses, it does so slowly at times, and rapidly at times, just how I felt as I grew up. And, although the world in the book was 100 years ago, there are so many relatable everyday moments. There are still those universally relatable moments—sibling jealousy, the struggle of a horrible teacher, the worries about not fitting in at a new job. I’m sure I will read this again every few years to remind me that every life is a journey, even if it doesn’t seem to have a straight direction, and that I should pause and reflect on the small things in my life from time to time.

“If there was only one tree like that in the world, you would think it was beautiful. But because there are so many, you just can’t see how beautiful it really is.”

As always, leave your comments below or link me to your review if you’ve already posted it on Goodreads or Amazon! I would love to read your take!


Virtual Book ClubLast night we held our monthly discussion group on facebook. I love setting aside time to hear other perspectives on themes and events in a book that was fresh in our minds. If you’d like to join us over there (normally the last Tuesday of the month), message me on facebook to be added.

For June, our group selected by vote Three Wishes by the ubiquitous Liane Moriarty. I’ve never read anything by this author but she is wildly popular, so I’m sure it will be good. Please join along with me, Libby, and the rest of our group as we read together.