Friday, October 12, 2018

What Made Maddy Run by Kate Fagan

From noted ESPN commentator and journalist Kate Fagan, the heartbreaking and vital story of college athlete Madison Holleran, whose death by suicide rocked the University of Pennsylvania campus and whose life reveals with haunting detail and uncommon understanding the struggle of young people suffering from mental illness today.

If you scrolled through the Instagram feed of 19-year-old Maddy Holleran, you would see a perfect life: a freshman at an Ivy League school, recruited for the track team, who was also beautiful, popular, and fiercely intelligent. This was a girl who succeeded at everything she tried, and who was only getting started.

But when Maddy began her long-awaited college career, her parents noticed something changed. Previously indefatigable Maddy became withdrawn, and her thoughts centered on how she could change her life. In spite of thousands of hours of practice and study, she contemplated transferring from the school that had once been her dream. When Maddy's dad, Jim, dropped her off for the first day of spring semester, she held him a second longer than usual. That would be the last time Jim would see his daughter.

My Thoughts
Such a tragic story of a life cut short.  Maddy "seemed" to have the perfect life, an Instagram story fit for a teenage princess.  But the truth lies beneath the smile that she put on for everyone, for the perfect Insta life.
This story in general touched me, knowing that my daughter deals with a high level of anxiety (and takes medication) due to school, grades, dating, work, etc.  I can see the pressure that she puts on herself for perfection and this book really makes me take note of her behavior, her words, her posts that much more.
I also spoke to her regarding this issue and I plan to have her read this next, being that she is college bound next fall.
The only parts that didn't really grab me per say, were the chapters that didn't really have to do with Maddy (maybe in theory) and her life.

Drink Selection
I want to pair this read with a nice warm glass of apple cider. 

Rating
Kate Fagan
About Kate
Kate Fagan is a columnist and feature writer for espnW, ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine. She is also an in-studio contributor for The Word, a digital video segment that examines hot topics in sports. Previously, Fagan spent three seasons covering the 76ers for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Her work was cited in the anthology of Best American Sports Writing 2013, and she has also been featured on Longreads, a site that curates the best in long-form journalism and fiction. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Link to Purchase


 


Thursday, October 11, 2018

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancĂ©, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.

My Thoughts
The first thought in mind when I really got into this book, OMG what if this happened to me?  What in the world would I do? To be honest I have no idea!  Such a terrifying story that ends in love but do they always? This would be my WORST and BEST nightmare all in one.
I personally feel that once a person goes through such a tragic event of "losing" someone in such a horrible way, characteristics of a person change for good and going back isn't really an option in the future.
Jesse needs to really get his feelings out there, communicate and understand that a lot happened in the 3.5 years he was gone and Emma has grown and changed.
The interesting question that lingers, would they have stayed together if the tragedy hadn't occurred? 

Drink Selection
I'm going to pair this read with a fall favorite, hard cider sangria.  Delish :)

Rating
Taylor Jenkins Reid
About Taylor
Taylor Jenkins Reid is the author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, One True Loves, Maybe in Another Life, and two other novels. She lives in Los Angeles. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @tjenkinsreid.

Link to Purchase


 


The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle




When Sabrina Nielsen arrives at her thirtieth birthday dinner she finds at the table not just her best friend, but also her favorite professor from college, her father, her ex-fiance, Tobias, and Audrey Hepburn.

At one point or another, we’ve all been asked to name five people, living or dead, with whom we’d like to have dinner. Why do we choose the people we do? And what if that dinner was to actually happen? These are the questions Sabrina contends with in Rebecca Serle’s utterly captivating novel, The Dinner List, a story imbued with the same delightful magical realism as Sliding Doors, and The Rosie Project.

As the appetizers are served, wine poured, and dinner table conversation begins, it becomes clear that there’s a reason these six people have been gathered together, and as Rebecca Serle masterfully traces Sabrina’s love affair with Tobias and her coming of age in New York City, The Dinner List grapples with the definition of romance, the expectations of love, and how we navigate our way through it to happiness. Oh, and of course, wisdom from Audrey Hepburn.


My Thoughts
What an amazing read.  It was the read that I needed on that given day.  It struck a cord and I read it in less 24 hours. 
There were so many parts that really tugged at me - when I was younger I was always the one to "make it work", even if it wasn't healthy I was determined.
I loved the points that spoke of knowing that things will not always be at their full potential, that you must realize that true happiness is accepting that 95% pf the time life is imperfect.
Without giving too many details away, the ending really got to me and I was on the verge of all out tears which is very rare for me.  This ending (just slightly before the ending), wow. 

Drink Selection
I'm going to pair this delightful read with champagne, after all, we are celebrating Sabby's birthday.

Rating


Rebecca Serle
About Rebecca
Rebecca Serle is an author and television writer who lives between New York and Los Angeles. Serle most recently co-developed the hit TV adaptation of her young adult series Famous in Love, now on Freeform. She loves Nancy Meyers films, bathrobes, and giving unsolicited advice on love. She can be found on twitter: @RebeccaASerle

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Friday, October 5, 2018

#BloomBlogWeek Giveaway!


I am doing a blog post today as part of Blogger Appreciation Week with Tall Poppy Writers.


For my regular readers and for new readers, here's a little fun info about me!




For those of you who are new here, thank you for stopping by Books and Wine are Lovely! I have this blog as well as a group/page on Facebook  and Instagram.
I first decided to establish my own blog with the helpful advice of my dear friend Hilary Grossman who's book Dangled Carat was the first book I ever reviewed and I was hooked! 
I have many authors who request to be on my blog and others that I seek out do to LOVING their books!
 I try to review at least 1 book a week, I participate in blog tour stops, host interviews and of course have giveaways like the one below!

I'm be giving away:



Here are just a few of my favorites for you to win today! 

Good Luck!

Bethany xoxoxo



Tuesday, October 2, 2018

#FashionVictim by Amina Akhtar



Fashion editor Anya St. Clair is on the verge of greatness. Her wardrobe is to die for. Her social media is killer. And her career path is littered with the bodies of anyone who got in her way. She’s worked hard to get where she is, but she doesn’t have everything.

Not like Sarah Taft. Anya’s obsession sits one desk away. Beautiful, stylish, and rich, she was born to be a fashion world icon. From her beach-wave blonde hair to her on-trend nail art, she’s a walking editorial spread. And Anya wants to be her friend. Her best friend. Her only friend.

But when Sarah becomes her top competition for a promotion, Anya’s plan to win her friendship goes into overdrive. In order to beat Sarah…she’ll have to become her. Friendly competition may turn fatal, but as they say in fashion: One day you’re in, and the next day you’re dead.
  

My Thoughts
What a crazy read, but I really enjoyed it.  In parts, it really did remind me of The Devil Wears Prada but this version has horror mixed into it.
Fashion is cut throat, literally. 
It also has a splash of mean girls as well, Sarah by far is Queen Bee and is nasty to Anya and the others and makes them bow to her every whim.  Will she get what she deserves in the end?  There are so many twists and turns to this book - it can be intense at times but not overboard.
There are fashion disasters, murder, cheating, torture, you name it, it's all inside!

Drink Selection
 I'm pairing this book with a creepy cocktail fit for this time of year - The Black Cauldron!

Rating
Amina Akhtar
About Amina
Amina Akhtar is a former fashion writer and editor. She’s worked at Vogue, Elle.com, Style.com, NYTimes.com, and NYMag.com where she was the founding editor of The Cut blog. She’s written for numerous publications, including Yahoo Style, Fashionista, xoJane, Refinery29, Billboard, and for brands like Bergdorf Goodman and H&M’s 10 Years of Style tome. After toiling in the fashion ranks for over fifteen years, she now writes full time in the desert mountains, where she’s detoxing from her once glam life. #FashionVictim is Amina’s first novel.

Link to Purchase


Blog Tour Stop - Just the Two of Us by Michelle Scott


Starla wasn’t trying to steal her older sister’s boyfriend. In fact, she was fighting him off when Janice caught the two of them alone in the dark. Unfortunately, love-struck Janice didn’t see it that way and tried to end her life. Although she didn’t succeed, her suicide attempt left her brain damaged, and it became Starla’s responsibility to care for her. Four years later, the sisters’ peaceful lives are interrupted when Nick, a handsome, young attorney, moves in upstairs. Seeing that Janice is attracted to him, Starla keeps herself out of the picture. After all, she hurt her sister before, and she’s not about to do it again. Yet as much as Starla tries to ignore her feelings for Nick, she can’t bury them entirely. Especially not when he seems to be choosing her over her sister.  

Two Kinds of Love


This past week, I had two conversations about the same topic: falling in love.

The first conversation was more of an on-line chat with two other writers.  We were talking about a story in which two characters meet for the first time.  The first character, a young woman, had all the earmarks of a successful relationship.  Her fiancĂ©e was a decent man who had given her an enormous wedding ring (planets could have orbited around it, said the author.)  However, when she met the young hero of the story (a fairy prince who had been banished to Earth), she realized that she’d never been swept off her feet until that moment.  I’m not sure where the story is going to go after that, but I can’t wait to find out!

The other conversation was with my daughters.  We were talking about chemistry between men and women.  ‘You know,’ my younger daughter said, ‘that moment you realize a guy is hot.’  They both asked me if I’d felt that way about their dad when we first me.  Of course, I said, ‘Definitely!’  However, that was a long time ago.  I still find my husband handsome, but now our love is different.  More mellow, I guess I’d say.  But even though we don’t have that lusty, heart-pounding kind of love, what we have now is much stronger and deeper.  It’s something I’d never change.

In Just the Two of Us, Starla’s first crush was involved someone despicable who used her teenaged infatuation to hurt her.  It’s something that Starla thinks she’ll never get over, so she locks herself away emotionally from men.  That is, until Nick comes along.

Although it isn’t exactly insta-love, there are sparks.  Starla likes the fact that a playful spirit hides underneath Nick’s buttoned-up exterior.  Nick, on the other hand, loves Starla’s whimsical nature.  Sure, they argue about whether or not its proper to have a purple bathtub full of bright-yellow marigolds at the entrance to their businesses, but they come to an agreement.  And as they spend time together, their initial attraction becomes something deeper.  At long last, Starla finds a man whom she can trust.

Whether its chemistry or something slow burning, love is wonderful in all its forms.  Let us all be lucky in that aspect.
Michelle Scott
About Michelle
Maybe it's because of my Halloween birthday, but I've always been attracted to scary stories. On the other hand, I love romances as well. Once I discovered that these two genres existed side-by-side in urban fantasy novels, I was in heaven! Urban fantasy is like chocolate and peanut butter: a perfect, to-die-for combination that I can never get enough of.

I've been writing since childhood, but earned my bachelor's degree in psychology and my master's in English literature. When I'm not writing, I'm a straight-laced English teacher at a two-year college in Detroit. I've been married to Mr. Right for over twenty-five years. I also have three teenaged children: a boy and two girls, all of whom have threatened to never speak to me again if I turn them into characters and put them into my books.
  
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Monday, October 1, 2018

Blog Tour Stop - Chasing Petalouthes by Effie Kammenou






The Gift Saga concludes with the next generation coming into the forefront of the story during their tumultuous years between adolescence and adulthood.

 

Evvie has lived through more tragedy than a young girl should ever endure, having lost both her father and a most beloved grandmother at a young age. Her rebellious ways are her only defense to mask the ever-present pain in her heart. Closing herself off emotionally, Evvie vows to never let anyone into her heart. But will her determination to keep everyone out see her lose the only person who could heal her broken soul?

 

Over-achieving, focused, talented, determined to succeed. Those are the traits Stella envies in her siblings and cousins. Her insecurities and lack of confidence stunts her ability to realize her own worth. When an older, handsome young man claims her as his own, Stella believes she has finally found who she has been looking for—someone to love her enough to mold her into the best version of herself. But has she fallen in love too quickly for a man she barely knows anything about?

 

Chasing Petalouthes (Chasing Butterflies) is the coming of age story of two flawed, young women who push their way out from the confines of the cocoons they’d built around themselves and discover how to soar.

 Can be read as a standalone. For the full emotional impact on the character's live and histories, read Evanthia's Gift & Waiting For Aegina.



Effie’s Thoughts on Tradition
  
Even as a very young girl I was not only proud of my Greek heritage but I also enjoyed all the traditions that went along with it. To me, everything we did was just a little different from the others around me, and that made it unique and special.
          Easter seemed to be the holiday that stood out the most as it was almost always a week or more later that the “other” or American Easter. And for Greek Orthodox Christians the day didn’t simply come and go with a quick trip to church and a meal. Our lives revolved around the entire forty days of lent with dietary restrictions and frequent church services. During Holy Week, we would attend church once or twice a day as each service represented a different event in the last days of Christ’s life.
          One would think a youngster would hate this. It’s not an easy week. But I loved it. On Palm Sunday the youth group would form crosses out of palms for the priest to hand out, and on Holy Thursday we would stay up late into the night adorning the structure that represented the tomb of Christ with thousands of flowers.
          But as a child, a teen or even a young adult I truly didn’t appreciate what went into keeping those traditions alive. Everything was laid out before me, prepared and organized by someone else—my mother. She worked tirelessly to make each holiday perfect. She cooked and baked all the traditional Greek foods and pastries while trying to attend church, clean the house take care of three girls and often hold down a job. Did I mention that on Easter Eve our services start at eleven in the evening and go until about one–thirty in the morning? After that we break our fast with a traditional Greek meal. Yes! At two in the morning. That is another thing I love about our Greek traditions. That, and the beautiful resurrection service that takes place outside of the church.
          My mother passed away in 2012 and being the oldest daughter I felt it was my duty to carry on the traditions that were so important to her. Letting go of these customs would be like losing another part of her and no one in our family was willing to do that. Mom was proud of where she came from, but she loved this country too. Preparing the foods she grew up with, keeping the rituals and listening to the music, was her way to hold onto her childhood and the beautiful memories of her youth.
          Throughout The Gift Saga, holidays and traditions hold a special importance in the story. In Waiting For Aegina, the five friends come from different backgrounds, but the beauty of this is how they come together to celebrate and honor each other’s customs.
          Tradition is about history, memories and family. In your own family, it may not even be related to a heritage but simply a practice your family has been doing for generations. Never let those special moments slip away. It’s the difference between taking an ordinary day and making it extraordinary.
Effie Kammenou
About Effie

Effie Kammenou is a believer that it is never too late to chase your dreams, follow your heart to change your career. She is proof of that. At one time, long ago, she'd thought that, by her age, she would have had an Oscar in her hand after a successful career as an actor. Instead, she worked in the optical field for 40 years and is the proud mother of two accomplished young women.

Her debut novel, Evanthia’s Gift, is a women’s fiction multigenerational love story and family saga, influenced by her Greek heritage, and the many real life accounts that have been passed down. She continues to pick her father’s brain for stories of his family’s life in Lesvos, Greece, and their journey to America. Her interview with him was published in a nationally circulated magazine.

Evanthia’s Gift: Book One in The Gift Saga was a 2016 award finalist in the Readers Favorite Awards in the Women’s Fiction category. Waiting for Aegina: Book Two in The Gift Saga is Kammenou’s latest release.

Effie Kammenou is a first generation Greek-American who lives on Long Island with her husband and two daughters. When she’s not writing, or posting recipes on her food blog, cheffieskitchen.wordpress.com, you can find her cooking for her family and friends.

As an avid cook and baker, a skill she learned from watching her Athenian mother, she incorporated traditional Greek family recipes throughout the books.

She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater Arts from Hofstra University.

Member of Women's Fiction Writer's Association & Romance Writers of America

For updates on promotions and the release of Book Three in The Gift Saga

Follow Effie on Twitter @EffieKammenou
www.facebook.com/EffieKammenou
Link to Purchase