After I Do: A Novel Book Review

When we say ‘I do”, the hope is that this will be the one and only time we walk down the aisle. But that is not always the case.

After I Do: A Novel, by Taylor Jenkins Reid, was published in 2014. Lauren met her husband, Ryan, in college. After 11 years together and six years of marriage, their relationship is falling apart. The only solution is to separate for a year. Nothing is off limits, except for contacting one another.

Though her friends and family are being supportive, this is a path that Lauren has to walk by herself. Along the way, she starts to question her ideas about marital life and if it is worth it to try again with Ryan.

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This book is amazing. I felt everything that Lauren was going through. Despite everything, she still loved her husband. It was just a matter of working through the kinks and hoping that there would be some sort of reconciliation between them.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

After I Do: A Novel is available wherever books are sold.


Daisy Jones & The Six Book Review

Music, like all art, has the power to bring people together. But ego and personal issues have the same power to pull us apart.

Taylor Jenkins Reid‘s 2019 novel, Daisy Jones & The Six is the story of a fictional band from the 1970s that hit it big before mysteriously breaking up. Daisy Jones came up of age in Los Angeles in the late 1960s during the heyday of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Blessed with a beautiful face and a singing voice that is unparalleled, her path to a successful music career is not too far out of reach.

Also gaining notice is the band The Six. Led by Billy Dunne, their path the fame and fortune are equally assured. As their first tour is getting off the ground, Billy’s girlfriend, Camila announces that she is pregnant. With the pressure of his personal and professional life compounding, Billy starts to lose himself to the temptations of the road.

When Daisy and Billy meet, the music they make is electric. What happens behind the scenes becomes a narrative that lives on long after they have gone their separate ways.

I loved the Behind the Music narrative structure. Though I’m sure that it was daunting to write, the author has created a story that is alluring, powerful, and truly one of the best books I have read in a long time. I never thought that Jenkins Reid could top herself, but somehow, she has.

I love how flawed and human her characters are. Daisy for one is hard to like. But we do so anyway because she is magnetic and we understand her, even if we don’t agree with her. I also appreciated Camila. Though she could have been created as the standard musician’s spouse who stays in the background, she is not that. She has a voice, and a backbone and is not afraid to use either.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Daisy Jones & The Six is available wherever books are sold.

Best Books of 2022

  1. Carrie Soto Is Back: Taylor Jenkins Reid‘s latest novel about a nearly over-the-hill tennis star took my breath away.
  2. I’m Glad My Mom Died: Jennette McCurdy’s memoir of her childhood, her career, and her abusive mother made me grateful for my parents, warts, and all.
  3. Hollywood Ending: Harvey Weinstein and the Culture of Silence: The revelations in this book are damming.
  4. What Souls Are Made Of: A Wuthering Heights Remix: The book takes Wuthering Heights in a new direction, deepening the narrative and an understanding of Bronte’s era.
  5. The Matchmakers Gift: A Novel: Lynda Cohen Loigman‘s latest novel about a Jewish teenage matchmaker in the early 20th century and her skeptic granddaughter is pure gold.
  6. The Princess and the Scoundrel: The book tells the story of the wedding and honeymoon of Princess Leia Organa and Han Solo after the destruction of the Empire in Return of the Jedi.
  7. The Weight of Blood: This reboot of Carrie adds racism to the mix, making Stephen King‘s novel even more relevant than it already was.
  8. Gangsters vs. Nazis: How Jewish Mobsters Battled Nazis in WW2 Era America: Their tactics may not have been exactly legal, but standing up against antisemitism is nothing to sneeze at.
  9. Madam Speaker: Nancy Pelosi and the Lessons of Power: This biography of Nancy Pelosi is a reminder of the barriers she has broken and the legacy she will leave behind.
  10. His Name is George Floyd: One Man’s Life and the Struggle For Racial Justice: The murder of George Floyd forced the world to face its racist past.

Here’s to the books we read in 2022 and the ones we will read in 2023.

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Carrie Soto Is Back: A Novel Book Review

Anyone who excels in sports obviously needs both passion and drive to succeed. But at what point are friendships and relationships in general sacrificed to reach the top?

Carrie Soto Is Back: A Novel, by Taylor Jenkins Reid, was published in August. Raised by her widower father Javier, Carolina “Carrie” Soto is a tennis wunderkind. The Serena Williams of her day, she ascends to fame and glory at an early age. But Carrie is also solely focused on the game. Nothing else matters except for the win. By the time she reaches her twenties, she has claimed every championship title that is available to her.

Six years after announcing her retirement, Carrie decides that it is time to re-enter the game one last time. The problem is that she is nearly 40, out of shape, and playing against competitors who are younger and stronger than she. In addition to that internal pressure, the press believes that her time in the sun has set.

While trying to get back to where she was, Carrie is forced to reckon with the hardest thing of all: her heart. Can she open up, live a little, and win for the final time? Or is she done for good?

Jenkins Reid does it again. I was holding my breath throughout the novel, waiting to find out if she reaches her goal. What makes Carrie interesting as a character is that she is unlikeable. As a female, even in 2022, that is extraordinary.

I wanted to dislike her for her singlemindedness and her inability to see past the nose on her face. Instead, I was rooting for her. I wanted Carrie to prove to everyone that she still had it.

I’m the first to admit that I know next to nothing about tennis. The author brilliantly balances the details of playing while telling a story of a woman whose internal flame still burns as brightly as it ever did.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely. It is one of my favorite books that I have read in 2022.

Carrie Soto Is Back: A Novel is available wherever books are sold.

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Maybe in Another Life: A Novel Book Review

We make choices every day. It could be as simple as the coffee we drink in the morning or as complicated as the person we want to spend our lives with.

Maybe in Another Life: A Novel, by Taylor Jenkins Reid, was published in 2015. Hannah Martin has just returned to her native Los Angeles. Needing a fresh start after her life in New York City has crashed and burned in spectacular fashion, she is temporarily living with her best friend Gabby and Gabby’s husband Mark.

During an informal reunion at a local bar, Hannah runs into Ethan, her high school boyfriend. When the clock strikes midnight, Gabby is ready to call it a day. But Ethan is not ready to go home and offers to give Hannah a ride home if she is willing to stay a while longer. Hannah could leave with Gabby or hang out with Ethan. This one decision may have the power to change the course of her life.

From there, the narrative takes off into two parallel storylines with different consequences and endings. The question that Hannah has to ask herself is not only where does she want to her life to go, but who will be by her side?

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I enjoyed this book. The author does a good job of creating a dual storyline, which is not as easy as it appears to be. I was hooked immediately, eager to dig into Hannah’s story. The only problem is that in some sections, my editor’s brain turned on. I wanted to read this book for pleasure, not use the imaginary red pen to point out what needed fixing.

Do I recommend it? I would say yes.

One True Loves Book Review

We are often told that we can only have one true love. But what happens when fate throws us a curveball and we have more than one?

One True Loves, by Taylor Jenkins Reid, was published in 2016. Just a year after her wedding to her high school sweetheart, Jesse, Emma has it all. A job that she loves, opportunities that take her far from the New England town that she grew up in, and a husband that is her world. Then she gets the news that no one ever wants to hear: Jesse is killed in a helicopter accident.

Needing to move on from her loss, Emma returns to her hometown and eventually starts dating again. Three years later, Emma is engaged to Sam and has settled in her new life. When her husband is found alive, Emma must make a choice. She could either continue with Jesse where they left off or start a new chapter with Sam.

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This book is really good. The author takes the love triangle, which is one of the cornerstone narratives within the romance genre, and elevates it. Emma is more than the woman who has to choose between two men. Her choice is a major life decision. I would not blame her if she went back to her husband. It is a very tempting thought, especially when our spouses/romantic partners are lost in a dramatic and violent manner. But, there is also a recognition that three years has passed. No one stays the same forever, we do change over time, regardless of whether we recognize it or not.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo Book Review

It has been said that all that glitters is not gold. The same could be said about Hollywood.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid, was published back in 2017. Back in the day, Evelyn Hugo was an A list movie star. But her time in the spotlight has long since passed. After years of living quietly in the background, Evelyn is ready to tell her story. She chooses Monique Grant, a young writer to be her scribe.

Monique has a lot on her plate at the moment. Her marriage is all but over and her career is stuck in the mud. Though she is not entirely sure why she has been chosen, Monique seizes upon the opportunity that has been handed to her. Evelyn’s life story is full of ambition, forbidden love, and friendships that were unexpected. Along the way, Monique discovers that she and Evelyn are connected in ways that surprise them both.

Sometimes, stories about old Hollywood, whether they be fiction or non fiction, can veer off into two different voices. They can either be a tabloid-y tell all, or sound like comes straight out of the studio PR department. I really loved this book. I loved the characters, I loved the narrative, and I loved the twist that was absolutely perfect.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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