Book–Matt’s world collapsed the day his mother lost her battle with cancer. And now he is losing his father to the bottle. Nothing is the same anymore. He suddenly feels older than all of his friends and nobody seems to understand what he is going through. When Mr. Ray offers him a job working with him at the funeral home, Matt’s first reaction is to say no. He really did not want to be surrounded by death, it would just remind him of what he lost.
But when Matt realizes that he has two options: work at the Cluck Bucket or work for Mr. Ray, he takes Mr. Ray’s offer. And he is surprised at how cathartic it was to watch another person struggle with their pain. Now, Matt cannot wait for another funeral. He even wears his black suit everyday so he is prepared for work. Then he meets Lovey, who has also dealt with pain and loss, and he begins to realize that maybe he is not actually alone in the world.
The Boy in the Black Suit is a great book about dealing with the loss of a loved one and learning to overcome your trials. It is beautifully written with diverse and funny characters. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading realistic fiction.
Book – As a connoisseur of all things memory-books, I love sinking my teeth into any novel focused on an amnesiac. My “Bookshelf of Memory” mainly contains adult fiction, but I’ve recently come across some prospective novels in the Young Adult and Youth departments. That’s how I happened upon Forgotten by Cat Patrick.
Every morning, London reads the notes she left herself the night before–general facts about her life, as well as specific details about homework, school, and important reminders for her daily life. Navigating high school is hard enough without waking up each morning with no memory of the day before. However, London’s curse is also a gift, for while she can’t recall the past, she sees “memories” of the future. She knows that her best friend will be unlucky in love, throwing herself at every guy she meets. She sees snippets of what the future holds for herself and others. Everything changes when she meets the new kid at school, Luke Henry, who in spite of her condition, London just can’t seem to forget.
The story had such an intriguing premise, but fell short of my expectations, mainly due to the high school romance scene. As a high schooler, I probably would have appreciated this book a lot more, but now I could have gone without the lovesick puppy romance. I wanted it to be more about London’s memories, and her crazy unique ability to see into the future.
Book – In Then and Always: A Novel, by Dani Atkins, Rachel Wittshire seemed to have it all: a drop dead gorgeous boyfriend, a close knit group of best friends, and a promising future heading off to college. But then tragic accident shatters everything, leaving the lives of Rachel and her friends changed forever.
Rachel was left physically affected by the incident; unrelenting painful migraines and memories plague her constantly. Five years later, Rachel’s life has continued but she never moved on from that night. When a wedding forces her to return to her old hometime, Rachel must face the path she left behind whether she wants to or not. A fall lands Rachel in the hospital, and suddenly she wakes up to a new reality that forces her to question everything she thought was true.
This novel deals with memory in a way I’d hadn’t experienced in a novel before, and it was a really intriguing read. It’s a simple story, but there was plenty of drama and a touch of romance to keep my attention. It’s about loss and moving on but also the age old question of What if? What if you could change the past? Is it ever too late to start anew? I would recommend this to anyone who wants a more lighthearted mystery/amnesiac drama with a romantic interest.
Book – Imagine waking up in the wrong body. Lying in a hospital bed with strangers gathered round–a man who claims to be your husband. Life As I Know It by Melanie Rose explores this unique scenario, in which Jessica wakes to a nightmare, trapped in the wrong body. The last thing she can remember is talking to the cute guy at the dog park and lightning striking her. She wakes up in the body of Lauren Richardson, mother and wife. The doctors insist this is who she is and she is simply suffering memory loss from the accident. But Jessica knows in her heart that this woman is not her. Against what she knows to be true, Jessica goes home with the Lauren Richardson’s husband.
When her head hits the pillow at her unfamiliar “home,” Jessica wakes up again in the hospital, but this time back in her own body, where the cute guy from the dog park has been waiting for her. She is so relieved to find that it was all just a dream. However, as she goes to sleep after the exhausting day, once again Jessica wakes up in the body of Lauren Richardson. Each time she falls asleep, Jessica switches lives, from her own to the rich high life of Lauren, husband to Graham, and mother to three young children.
Caught between two worlds–the one that is her life to live, and the one of obligations to a young family that relies on her support–will life ever return to normal for poor Jessica?
Books – Whether the sun is finally shining bright, or you’re cooped up inside because of the restless weather, these two reads are perfect for relaxing indoors and out. Save one for the beach, and one for the rain!
Good In Bed: A Novel by Jennifer Weiner
Meet Cannie Shapiro, a quirky young woman navigating through her twenties. A talented reporter for the Philadelphia Examiner, Cannie has made a good life for herself, and her adorable pup, Nifkin. Things might not be perfect, but that’s life, right? Until her ex-boyfriend Bruce humiliated her by publishing an article about her, titled: “Loving a Larger Woman.” Somehow, the article manages to catapult miserable Cannie into the best time of her life. With surprises around every corner, could Bruce’s article actually be the best thing to ever happen to Cannie?
Copygirl by Anna Mitchael and Michelle Sassa
Described as “Mad Men meets The Devil Wears Prada,” this book was obviously at the top of my list. Kay works at a prestigious ad agency in New York City, an incredible opportunity. But it’s hard being a girl in a sea of frat-boy office bros. At least she has her work partner Ben, a close friend from college who she’s also secretly in love with. While the guys are off living the glamorous life of partying and girls, Kay is working hard to dream up the perfect pitches. Lately though, her work just hasn’t been paying off, and her boss is breathing down her neck with threats of replacing her. The last thing Kay wants is to be a copygirl, but things are going downhill fast. Does she have what it takes to make it to the top?
Book – In a society obsessed with the newest Apple gadget, it’s not hard to imagine what the future holds for us in technology. Apple watches and Google Glass are slowly starting to emerge while our smartphones grow bigger and bigger each year. Soon, perhaps everyone will be carrying around an 8-in tablet to fit their every need, with cellphones obsolete. Once the watches and glasses really take flight, will the next big thing be completely virtual devices? Something implanted in our skin that monitors our health as well as fulfilling all our tech needs with some sort of virtual projection? Oh what fun the future holds!
The technology we find in Free to Fall doesn’t seem so fantastical considering how dependent we have become on our smartphones and millions of apps. The events of this novel take place in the near future. Apple has become obsolete, replaced by Gnosis and its life-changing technology called Lux. Lux is a high-powered personal decision-making app that guides you towards the best decisions. Following Lux’s recommendations will lead you to a happy, and fulfilling life.
Like everyone else, teen Rory Vaughn does not stray from the guidance of Lux, consulting the app for every choice she makes in her daily life. When she is accepted to a prestigious boarding school, Rory can’t wait for the happy future she’s been promised. Yet something feels off once she arrives at the elite academy. After meeting a local outsider named North who refuses to use Lux, Rory begins to question everything she’s ever known.
Movies – I enjoy a good film about cooking, food adventures, and or anything that features cooking. Food and movies go hand in hand. Here are couple of films without fail always make me hungry.
The first one always makes me crave brie with pears, and fried egg sandwiches with a good beer. Spanglish, star Adam Sandler as a chef of a small restaurant. The movie is about boundaries and relationships, where they should start and end. Cultural and family dynamic differences are the major cause of drama in the movie. But it’s his fried egg sandwich that gets me every time.
Next on the list is Chef. It stars Jon Favreau as a chef who loses it after a bad review and his rant goes viral causing him to rethink his career and family responsibilities. This sends him from LA to Miami with his ex-wife and son, and into a new venture, the food truck business. While driving the truck back to LA, various stops are made and include beignets from New Orleans and brisket from Austin. Brisket looks amazing and this film makes me want tostones (pressed fried plantains with garlic sauce) and yuca with garlic and vinegar! Mmm!!!
Tortilla Soup stars Hector Elizondo as a chef and father of three women. Hector has lost his taste and needs others to taste the food as he preps. The food shots of the films are gorgeous and tempting. His red snapper and nopales (cactus) make me crave breakfast by the ocean in Puerto Vallarta, MX. It also reminds me of my aunt in Mexico making fresh flour tortillas and huevos con chorizo (eggs and sausage). It always takes me back to when I was a kid!
For dessert I give you Chocolat starring Juliette Binoche. A movie about a wandering women and her young daughter who come to a small French village to open up a chocolate shop on the eve of lent. Her hot chocolate drink is rich and thick the way it is traditional made in Spain. She uses her chocolate to change the lives of the citizens of this small village. It is only right for them to change hers as well. She also makes a chocolate with a kick from chili peppers. It’s a good thing I know a place that sells chocolate jalapeno ice cream. Hope I didn’t make you too hungry.
Book: One does not forget their childhood best friend. Especially if their childhood best friend was kidnapped. Emmy will never forget Oliver, her next door neighbor and best friend. She will also never forget the day Oliver’s father took him out for a day of fun and never returned him. The whole town remembers. Emmy’s parents remember and responded by keeping her close, afraid that something similar would happen to her.
10 years later, Emmy is a high school senior, with a secret she is keeping from her over-protective parents. 10 years later, Oliver is finally found and comes home. How do you react when your childhood best friend returns home after being missing for 10 years? What should you say? What can you do? Can you go back to how things were before? These are the questions that plague Emmy’s mind as Oliver returns to the house next door.
As Emmy and Oliver reconnect, they realize that their friendship and their connection did not diminished over the last 10 years. Robin Benway is a fantastic writer as she weaves this adorable story together along with the mystery of what happened to Oliver all those years ago.
Emmy and Oliver is a romance, mystery, coming-of-age story. It is about family. Its about growing up. Its about love, lost and found.
Movie– I watched this emotional drama during my “Alexander Skarsgård” phase, following my seven season binge on True Blood.
What Maisie Knew is the heartbreaking story of a young girl subject to the wrath of her parents’ divorce. Hungry with greed, Maisie’s parents (played by Julianne Moore & Steve Coogan) force their daughter into the midst of a heated custody battle. Thrown from house to house, parent to parent, Maisie is repeatedly neglected and forgotten, with no sense of stability in her life.
Her mother, a hot-headed rockstar and her father, a distant art dealer, are too wrapped up in their own little worlds to provide a supportable life for their young daughter. Living in environments subject to drug addiction and neglect, Maisie is often left in the care of her longtime nanny, and the mother’s boyfriend (Alexander Skarsgård).
I didn’t expect to get so emotionally wrapped up in the sorrowful and whirlwind life of Maisie. The acting was spot on in this film–I adore Julianne Moore, and obviously Alexander Skarsgård. Maisie is played by newcomer Onata Aprile, who I thought did a fantastic job capturing the complexity of the character. All I wanted was for someone to give her the love and care she deserved. Heartbreakingly mesmerizing, grab some tissues, just in case.
TV Series –
After reaching the end of my favorite television series, Parks and Recreation, I was in dire need of finding a new show to fill my void. Parenthood turned out to be that show.
Parenthood is like Modern Family, in that both shows have a strong focus on family dynamics and relationships. Parenthood, however, concentrates on more serious content, things that test the bonds that hold a family together. The show follows the day to day trials and tribulations of the Braverman family. Zeek and Camille have raised four children, who are now grown with their own families. Crosby is a carefree guy who lives on a houseboat, enjoying his limitless freedom. Julia is partner at a prestigious law firm, trying to juggle work while raising a young daughter with her husband. Sarah wants to make a fresh start, taking her teenage kids and moving back into her childhood home with her parents. And finally, Adam, the eldest of the Braverman children, and caretaker to everyone, including his wife and two children.
What makes this series special are the intense bonds shared by the members of the Braverman clan. Together, this family endures everything that life throws their way. I would strongly recommend Parenthood to anyone who loves realistic family dramas. I was completely invested in each of the main characters, and though fictional, their stories often left me tearful.
10/10 would recommend to friend.