22.9.16

book review (with cover mani!): this is your life, harriet chance!

You know that glorious moment when a book grabs you so hard from the jacket description that you start imagining the story before you've read a single page? Well that's what happened when I first saw THIS IS YOUR LIFE, HARRIET CHANCE!

I mean, how can you not instantly love a title that ends with an exclamation point? What a high energy start! I don't know one other book that has an exclamation point and that sucks! Because if there's an exclamation point in the title, the book has to be amazing, right?!

Non-spoiler alert: The title's exclamation point is totally appropriate!


I love an excuse to get crafty. Yay for YouTube origami tutorials! Haha!

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

With her husband Bernard now in the grave, seventy-nine-year-old Harriet Chance sets sail on an ill-conceived Alaskan cruise only to discover through a series of revelations that she’s been living the past sixty years of her life under entirely false pretenses. There, amid the buffets and lounge singers, between the imagined appearance of her late husband and the very real arrival of her estranged daughter midway through the cruise, Harriet is forced to take a long look back, confronting the truth about pivotal events that changed the course of her life.  

Jonathan Evison—bestselling author of West of HereThe Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, and All About Lulu—has crafted a bighearted novel with a supremely endearing heroine at its center. Through Harriet, he paints a bittersweet portrait of a postmodern everywoman with great warmth, humanity, and humor. Part dysfunctional love story, part poignant exploration of the mother/daughter relationship, nothing is what it seems in this tale of acceptance, reexamination, forgiveness, and, ultimately, healing. It is sure to appeal to admirers of Evison’s previous work, as well as fans of such writers as Meg Wolitzer, Junot Diaz, and Karen Joy Fowler.
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Harriet Chance is a crotchety, passive-aggressive widow. Suffice it to say, she's hard to like, but this book doesn't progress in a linear fashion, so shortly after being introduced to present-day Harriet, the story goes back to specific, defining moments in Harriet's life. And that's where THIS IS YOUR LIFE shines. Because underneath Harriet's prickly exterior is a woman whose life didn't turn out the way she'd imagined. She's a survivor and in order to keep going, she packed her hopes and dreams in a suitcase and then dropped said suitcase into a bottomless pit, never to be seen again. So really, it's no big surprise that, nearing her eighties, Harriet isn't a joy to be around.



But Jennie, you may be thinking, I thought you said this book had high energy! Remember all the exclamation points?!

And to that, I'd say, yes! The very unique and delightfully quirky element of this book is the way Evison used those energy-inducing punctuation marks. At the start of each flashback chapter, the first sentence ends in an exclamation point, and the POV changes from third-person to second-person--a literary choice that often falls flat for me--but here, it worked. Like, really worked. I was describing THIS IS YOUR LIFE, HARRIET CHANCE! to a friend and she said it reminded her of how a gameshow is introduced and you know what? She was absolutely right. Each flashback chapter is kind of like, Come on down to the showcase showdown!, complete with flashing lights and possibly a whaling siren. So whenever I reached a flashback chapter, I immediately felt a surge of optimistic enthusiasm. And that's pretty freaking cool because Harriet's life has some serious low points. Let me reiterate that: somehow, the upbeat introductions and turns of phrase were perfectly appropriate, even when dealing with more mature subject matter. I'm 70% sure Evison is a secret sorcerer, because he broke many-a-writing rules in this treasure. 

Also, and this observation is slightly out of nowhere, but the exclamation points reminded me of that Seinfeld episode where Elaine decided to excessively add exclamation points to a manuscript she was editing at Pendant Publishing, and anything that makes me think of Seinfeld is a super good thing.


via GIPHY
I'm nearing the end of my review now, and all I've mentioned is a repressed main character and perfect use of exclamation points, but there's still so much more about THIS IS YOUR LIFE, HARRIET CHANCE!, that you need to know. 


Because yes, the book explores Harriet's life, teasing readers with the hope that she'll somehow turn it all around, or at least understand how she became who she is, but there's also a healthy serving of mystery when decisions of days gone past are finally examined and explored. And with Harriet's estranged daughter on board with her, sharing a room the size of a walk-in-closet, they have no choice but to confront the hamper of dirty laundry they've been lugging around for so long.

I giggled, teared up, and ultimately felt uplifted by this book, so if you're looking for an engaging, heartwarming family saga told with gusto and spunky prose, then add THIS IS YOUR LIFE, HARRIET CHANCE! to your TBR list. Or better yet, just go pick up a copy, because then you'll get to have this fun cover on your bookshelf! It's like the awesomeness never stops!!

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For this mani, I used:

China Glaze - Too Yacht To Handle, At Vase Value, White On White, and Boho Blues
Julep - Amy, Dawn, and Sam
Seche Vite - Quick Dry topcoat 
Tools - piCure pOlish brush no.10, thin straight striping tape from What's Up Nails

And for more, non-book-related manis, check out my IG page! (@jennieshaw)



1.9.16

book review (with cover mani!): the girl with the lower back tattoo

I’ve been a fan of Amy Schumer for a while. She’s funny, smart, and doesn’t apologize for who she is, which makes her one of those celebrities I’m sure I’d be friends with IRL (if you could only see the party I’d have with my imaginary celeb friends, guys. Haha!). I’ve been looking forward to THE GIRL WITH THE LOWER BACK TATTOO ever since I learned of its imminent descent into bookstores, and now I’m at that level of delusion where I think Amy and I were destined to be friends. Because holy smokes is she ever amazing!

Side note: Don’t worry, Amy. I won't act on those delusions and continue to admire you from afar…but not in a stalker-y way, obvi. I SWEAR I AM NORMAL PLEASE DON’T FEAR ME. However, we do both think that white chocolate is fake chocolate, so we have that as a launching point for a potential friendship. Haha!



 The back jacket, from Goodreads:

The Emmy Award-winning comedian, actress, writer, and star of Inside Amy Schumer and the acclaimed film Trainwreck has taken the entertainment world by storm with her winning blend of smart, satirical humor. Now, Amy Schumer has written a refreshingly candid and uproariously funny collection of (extremely) personal and observational essays.

In The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy mines her past for stories about her teenage years, her family, relationships, and sex and shares the experiences that have shaped who she is—a woman with the courage to bare her soul to stand up for what she believes in, all while making us laugh.

Ranging from the raucous to the romantic, the heartfelt to the harrowing, this highly entertaining and universally appealing collection is the literary equivalent of a night out with your best friend—an unforgettable and fun adventure that you wish could last forever. Whether she’s experiencing lust-at-first-sight while in the airport security line, sharing her own views on love and marriage, admitting to being an introvert, or discovering her cross-fit instructor’s secret bad habit, Amy Schumer proves to be a bighearted, brave, and thoughtful storyteller that will leave you nodding your head in recognition, laughing out loud, and sobbing uncontrollably—but only because it’s over.
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I’m not a reviewer who typically quotes portions of a book because, frankly, they always sound out of context. You know, because plucking a quote from an arbitrary place literally removes the passage from its context, but in this book, there were so many mic drop moments that I found myself slipping in bookmarkers to remember certain parts. (In case you’re interested, they consisted of a band-aid wrapper, a cue card with my grocery list (ripped into several pieces) and a prescription receipt.) And for one of the first times ever, when I went back to read them, the excerpts made sense without explanation--a mark of a true mic drop moment, if I've ever seen one. And trust me, guys and gals, these mic drop moments are important. So although I could've focused on the humour, of which there is plenty, the parts that touched me were more than witty quips and self-deprecating jokes, and that's what my review will discuss.


For instance, from page 237, Amy writes: “Life is full of pain and disappointment. I’ve made a whole career out of pointing this out and reliving it in ridiculous ways so everyone can laugh and cry along with me. I wish my mother understood this too. It’s relaxing sometimes, just being human.”

Preach, girl, yesssssss!

More Bob’s Burgers GIFs on my personal blog!

And then from 314: "Beautiful, ugly, funny, boring, smart or not, my vulnerability is my ultimate strength.”

Oh man, did that one make me ugly cry, and right at the end, too. It takes so much for me to be vulnerable. Whenever I try, it’s like wearing a mohair sweater without seven layers of clothing underneath—itchy, uncomfortable, and suffocating. So Amy pointed out a significant truth in that regard, because it takes great strength to be vulnerable, and considering that this entire book was Amy being vulnerable, for hundreds of thousands of complete and utter strangers, it was humbling, which morphed Amy from a comedian to some kind of yogi on top of a mountain. A weed-smoking, cursing, beardless yogi, but a yogi all the same. She spoke to my heart, guys. Right to my damn core. 



Because Amy didn’t have to write the chapter about her history with sexual assault, nor did she have to delve into what it’s like to have a parent with a severe illness, and she sure as shit didn’t have to share insights from the abusive relationship(s) she survived. Those aren't the sorts of stories that people expect from Amy, but in typical form, she couldn’t care less about people's judgement of her. 

In fact, I suspect that Amy wrote this book to specifically cast a light on places that need attention, and by sharing her experiences in a relatable way, she does just that. Plus, right at the end of the book, Amy lists information where you can get involved in advocating for stricter gun control, should you live in the USA. So basically, Amy used her platform to bare her soul in order to make us think and then act

Make no mistake, Amy. I heard you. And now it's your turn, folks! Pick up this book and read it. Then, pass it along to others, because this is a book that needs to be read by as many people as possible. 

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For this mani, I used:

OPI - Samoan Sand
Fingerpaints - Black Expressionism
Glisten and Glow - HK Girl Topcoat
Tools - piCture pOlish detail brush No. 9

And to see more, non-book-related manis, check out my IG page! (@jennieshaw)


26.8.16

book review (with cover mani!): the singles game

Of all the sports in the world, tennis is my favourite. I love the cute outfits, emphasis on sportsmanship, and hitting the crap out of something within a confined space. Also, there's the scent of freshly popped tennis balls. Mmmm. Haha! In addition to those elements, I love Lauren Weisberger, so it's no surprise that I picked up THE SINGLES GAME.

I'd like to give a special shout-out to a pair of super cool teachers who let me sneak onto their private
tennis club's courts so I could take this picture. Teachers really are the best. YAY FOR TEACHERS!

The back jacket, from Goodreads:

The new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Devil Wears Prada and Revenge Wears Prada—a dishy tell-all about a beautiful tennis prodigy who, after changing coaches, suddenly makes headlines on and off the court.

Charlotte “Charlie” Silver has always been a good girl. She excelled at tennis early, coached by her father, a former player himself, and soon became one of the top juniors in the world. When she leaves UCLA—and breaks her boyfriend’s heart—to turn pro, Charlie joins the world’s best athletes who travel eleven months a year, competing without mercy for Grand Slam titles and Page Six headlines.

After Charlie suffers a disastrous loss and injury on Wimbledon’s Centre Court, she fires her longtime coach and hires Todd Feltner, a legend of the men’s tour, who is famous for grooming champions. Charlie is his first-ever female player, and he will not let her forget it. He is determined to change her good-girl image—both on the court and off—and transform her into a ruthless competitor who will not only win matches and climb the rankings, but also score magazine covers and seven-figure endorsement deals. Her not-so-secret affair with the hottest male player in the world, sexy Spaniard Marco Vallejo, has people whispering, and it seems like only a matter of time before the tabloids and gossip blogs close in on all the juicy details. Charlie’s ascension to the social throne parallels her rising rank on the women’s tour—but at a major price.

Lauren Weisberger’s novel brings us exclusive behind-the-scenes details from all the Grand Slam tournaments: the US Open, the French Open, the Australian Open, and Wimbledon. Charlie Silver jets around the globe, plays charity matches aboard Mediterranean megayachts, models in photo shoots on Caribbean beaches, walks the red carpet at legendary player parties, and sidesteps looming scandals—all while trying to keep her eyes on the real prize. In this sexy, unputdownable read about young tennis stars who train relentlessly to compete at the highest levels while living in a world obsessed with good looks and Instagram followers, Charlie must discover the secret to having it all—or finally shatter the illusion for good.
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THE SINGLES GAME has a lot going for it. Charlie is the kind of character you'd want to grab a beer with--or a water with lime because Charlie's in training--and her drive is apparent right away. Recovering from a severe injury is no joke, and adding the pressure of coming back as good, if not better, than before the injury could've crippled Charlie. But she isn't the sort of gal who'd just give up on her dream. Nope. Not her style at all. In fact, Charlie wants to climb the rankings so badly, she hires Todd Feltner, who's pretty much the worst. I mean, he's also the best when it comes to coaching players who win Slams, but as far as being an actual human being with feelings, he stinks. But Charlie's willing to do what it takes, even if she has to change who she is. And oh man, does Charlie get caught up in the superstar game, both on and off the court, which brings me to another ace aspect of THE SINGLES GAME: the tennis.


Having played tennis since childhood and being lucky enough to have attended the Rogers Cup and French Open (Roland-Garros), I've seen the game from both sides of the net. Rest assured, folks, you're getting the real deal here. Weisberger describes every detail of the game in such technicolour that I pictured myself watching Charlie from the stands at Wimbledon, while sweating with her as she tried to win match points. This book is in-your-face tennis, guys and gals, which is frickin' awesome, and the second reason you've got to read it.


The other characters who help Charlie achieve her dreams are the third reason you need to pick up THE SINGLES GAME. Although this book appears to be about Charlie's rise to the top, it's actually about Charlie deciding what sort of person she wants to be, and her brother, father, and hitting partner are the grounded relationships that offer her a mirror. The banter between them is relatable, and I really enjoyed the inside jokes and heartfelt memories. I also think it's important to note there's a Level 10 Smokeshow of a Spaniard you'll get to drool over. Hello hottie! Haha!

So for reals, people, what else do you need to know? Just buy it already! And if you want to add to your reading experience, snap the lid off a fresh container of tennis balls and take a big whiff. It'll set the perfect mood. ;)

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For this mani, I used:

Julep - Monaco
Fingerpaints - Paper Máchë
ORLY - Mirrorball
China Glaze - Celtic Sun
OPI - My Silk Tie
Glisten and Glow - HK Girl Topcoat
Supplies: loose hex glitter and circular rhinestones
Tools: trimmed striping brush, wax crayon for rhinestone application


To see more, non-book-related manis, check out my IG page! (@jennieshaw)





18.8.16

book review (with cover mani!): this savage song

This book, guys. 

This. Book.

It was tense, insightful, gorgeously written, and positively bursting with interesting moral dilemmas. I read it quickly, even though I didn't want it to end, and now it feels like ten lifetimes until the next book is slated for release. But isn't that the best-slash-worst way to start a series? Of course it is! (Unfortunately. Haha!)





The back jacket, from Goodreads

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwaba young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

___

Before I get into my review, I think I should share something: I'm a sucker for the name August. Especially when August is a male character, because it makes me think about the movie August Rush, which has one of the best soundtracks ever. So the combination of a male character named August and the musical-ish story of THIS SAVAGE SONG gave me the warm and fuzzies right away. That said, those warm and fuzzies didn't last long because this book is downright dark

But dark is how I like my YA, so as far as I'm concerned, this book was a total win. I mean, Kate takes no crap from anybody, even if it means getting her hands dirty, there are monsters everywhere, and her world is on the brink of total anarchy. Meanwhile, August is a sympathetic outsider who just wants to belong. But like the back jacket states, he's also one of the monsters. 

So who's the good guy/gal? 

Who's the bad one? 

What the frick is happening?

It's a genius idea, when authors create characters with sliding scales of light and dark. Mostly because it makes me hella nervous, which explains why I read this book so quickly. 


Another bias I have to admit is that I'm bananas about books that blur the line between right and wrong. The messier the morality, the better the book, and THIS SAVAGE SONG is messier than messy--think, glitter-bomb-in-a-tornado messy, only the glitter would be pointy and sharp and probably murder you. Schwab's concept is deliciously complicated, in that regard, and it makes meaningful points about the world that we, the reader, live in. But, you know, in a subtle way because nobody likes a book on a soapbox. 


Plus, there are creepy childhood singsongs. And no love-triangles (which is a pretty common occurrence in YA). Oh, and I can't forget the atmospheric amazingness. Did I feel like I was actually in Verity? Yup. I totally did. And trust me, it was terrifying. 

Add that all up and you've got the makings of a seriously incredible series, which leaves me conflicted because I want to scream READ THIS BOOK NOW, but then you'll be stuck waiting with me. But hey, misery loves company right? So let me know when you read it and we can commiserate about the excruciating wait. Probably over cupcakes. Because cupcakes make even the most painful wait, bearable. 

*buys one million cupcakes*

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For this mani, I used:

OPI - A Man-Darin Is Hard To Find, I'm Not Really A Waitress, and Matte topcoat
Fingerpaints - Black Expressionism and Paper Mache
Julep - Dawn
Tools - piCture pOlish #9, trimmed striping brush, and a triangular makeup sponge

And for more, non-book-related manis, check out my IG page! (@jennieshaw)




11.8.16

book review (with cover mani!): I let you go

This book has been all over the place and I just wasn't sure about it, but when a copy was forced upon me by my favourite bookseller, who was all: Why haven't you read this yet?!, I decided to give it a try. I'm happy to report that yet again, Steph was right on the money, because it was incredible!

*points*



The back jacket, from Goodreads:

In a split second, Jenna Gray's world descends into a nightmare. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life forever.

Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating . . .


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To put it plainly, the subject matter of I LET YOU GO is heartbreaking, but if you can connect with Jenna like I did, you'll be mesmerized by her voice. I think it would've been easy to overdo certain emotional reactions, considering the tragedy, and yet, Jenna's grief is relatively quiet, resting just beneath the surface. Naturally, it comes to the forefront every so often, which is when I'd feel tears sliding down my face, but for the most part, Jenna tries to look forward. 

Because above all else, Jenna is a survivor, but there's more to life than just surviving. She wants to start over and create another life for herself. But how can the human soul recover from such despair? Jenna begins to address that question within the early chapters, and for the rest of the book, we follow Jenna as she tries to figure it out. 



Unfortunately, that's about all I can tell you about I LET YOU GO, because surprises abound in this baby, popping up in unexpected places to give you pulses of anxiety and quash any notion you had about sleeping even though you have a big meeting the next morning. So instead, I've put together a few GIFs that accurately capture my emotional reading experience; the circle of feelings, if you will.

1. Heartbreak


2. Surprise

https://tmblr.co/ZjsrOx16NNphl

3. Brain-explosion


Repeat those expressions four times and that's how I got through I LET YOU GO. The writing is riveting, evocative, and downright bananapants, which built the plot to the highest levels of insanity while cracking open my Grinch-y heart. I admire authors who make me squirm in my chair, which is why I'm now an official member of the Clare Mackintosh Fan Club. Because holy squirm-fest! I even found myself leaning forward as I read, because relaxing in a chair felt disrespectful to the stress-eating stakes.


So if you decide to pick up I LET YOU GO, do yourself a favour and don't start right before you go to bed. Not unless you've got some sick days at work left, anyway, because the rest of the world will quickly seem insignificant once you turn that first page. Oh, and don't read any reviews. I've been noticing some reviews for this book include spoilers, which is the meanest thing ever (OMG STOP DOING THAT, PEOPLE). You've got to read this one without any prior knowledge of anything, except the warning that your dogs probably won't get walked and kiddos will have to fend for themselves. Not to worry, though, you can make it up to them later with bacon strips and a trip to the water park. Respectively. Haha!

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For this mani, I used:


China Glaze - Man Hunt and Immortal
Julep - Kenna
ORLY - White Tips
Fingerpaints - Black Expressionism
OPI - Matte topcoat
Tools - saran wrap technique, piCture pOlish nail art brush #9, triangular makeup sponge

And for more, non-book-related manis, be sure to check out my IG page! (@jennieshaw)






2.8.16

book review (with cover mani!): I like you just fine when you're not around

There’s a very cool Summer Reading Challenge happening, open to anyone, where the goal is to read books written by writers who belong to the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. If you look up from this post, slightly to the right, you’ll see a tab labeled: WFWA. Click on it to learn about the awesomeness! Anyway, I love having a list to pick from, and when I saw I LIKE YOU JUST FINE WHEN YOU’RE NOT AROUND, my giggle had me pressing “buy now.” Because funny titles are the best. 


The back jacket, from Goodreads:

Everything is falling apart in Tig Monahan's life. Her mother's memory is going (dementia), her boyfriend is gone (Hawaii), her absent sister shows up long enough to have a baby (and then leaves again, without the baby) and her job as a therapist has disappeared after a contentious couples' therapy session goes horribly and honestly sideways. Oh, and then there's the whole thing about the family secret that nobody saw coming.

But Tig is a survivor (she hopes) who manages to stumble and step her way to a new job, new truths, new outlooks and a new lease on life.

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I’m not sure I need to leave a review, because if the back jacket description isn’t enough to have you sprinting towards your bookseller of choice, then this probably isn't the book for you. I mean, what other life-altering awful thing can happen to Tig? And the book hasn’t even started yet! Don't be scared of the awfulness, though, because while this book tackles majorly intense events, the delightfully humourous tone keeps things light.



Okay, so maybe I lied. This book is actually pretty heavy. However, Tig is such a wonderfully quirky character that even in her darkest moments, she can see the light. And yes, her humour is, at times, a defense mechanism, but there’s also a very relatable pragmatism that Tig possesses. When one extraordinarily awful thing happens to a person, it can consume them. Drag them down. Possibly even drown them. But when there are several extraordinary awful things to juggle and you're all alone, there’s no choice but to get up and just do it. Tig is the perfect manifestation of that sentiment--the Nike of women's fiction characters, if you will. Haha! Don’t get it twisted though, she’s an emotional basketcase, wound tighter than a harp string and liable to snap at any moment, but all of the external problems that Tig has to deal with force her to look within herself, whether she wants to or not. The only way out is through and fortunately, Tig seems to understand the process, so through it, she goes. 

It’s a bumpy ride, that’s for sure, and there’s a 95% chance you’ll cry when reading about Tig's ups and downs, but you’ll laugh too. In fact, I’d even gather to say that you may learn a little bit about yourself, because this book is like that friend who sits you down and holds up a mirror, lovingly exposing the parts of you that need tweaking. What you do with that information afterwards is up to you, of course, but either way, you'll get to know yourself better. 

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For this mani, I used:

OPI - Red My Fortune Cookie and Matte Top Coat
Julep - Amy, Dawn, and Linda
China Glaze - Turned Up Turquoise
ORLY - White Tips
Tools - saran wrap technique, small dotting tool, and piCture pOlish brush #9





26.7.16

book review (with cover mani!): pasta wars

There are few things I love more in fiction than a strong woman and a rough-around-the-edges man, but one of those things is pasta. So naturally, the combination of a strong woman, rough-around-the-edges man and pasta made me all kinds of hand-grabby for PASTA WARS. Because pasta

*restrains grabby hands to take picture*



The back jacket, from Goodreads:

Slim, successful, and soon to marry the man of her dreams, Katie Cravens is leading the life she always wanted. As the face and CEO of Pasta Pronto, a Carbs for the Calorie-Conscious line of frozen food, Katie chooses to live life like one of her Slimline Spaghetti dinners no mess, no surprises, and everything tied up in a neat little package. But when Katie's fiance runs off with another woman and a quality control fiasco sends her customers running for the hills, it's time for Katie to make a change.

Her company's salvation presents itself in the form of a partnership opportunity with the legendary Ristorante Caramelli of Rome, and Katie has no other choice but to jet off to Italy to convince gorgeous, hotheaded co-owner Luca Caramelli that she's a worthy partner. Gaining Luca's respect proves harder than Katie could have ever imagined, however, when he insists that she must learn how to cook and how to eat true Italian food before he will ever agree to their companies partnership.

Katie and Luca's tension in Italy mounts into a fierce public rivalry that erupts back in the States with a nationally televised cooking competition. As Katie tries to channel her inner Mario Batali to win the competition, she must choose between the flavorless prepackaged life that she worked so hard to maintain and the mouth-watering uncertainty of a life chock full of carbohydrates and Caramellis.


___


I’ve been a fan of Elisa Lorello for quite some time. Her writing is next-level fantastic and her works illuminate the complexities of relationships while pushing my feeling buttons to the point where I end up ugly crying on an airplane, much to the delight horror of the elderly man sitting next to me (note: this is a true story). Although PASTA WARS is a bit more lighthearted than her other books, I'm happy to report that all of Lorello's fantastic-ness remains intact. (Yay!)


Katie was a relatable hot mess of sad (because nothing is sadder than a hot mess not realizing the degree of their hot mess-ness) and Luca was passionate, cranky, but oh so lovely to imagine, even when he stormed from a room. Or was it especially when he stormed from a room? Haha! Either way, the setup for chemistry was akin to that of a slacker seventh grader’s final project: explosive. Kaboom!

And don’t even get me started on the food. Holy awesomesauce! Literally. Because all of the sauces Luca makes sound freaking incredible. The level of description—what to chop, peel, grate, and drizzle—read like a cookbook. I was honestly left believing that if I followed along, I too could create Luca’s drool-worthy concoctions. And it's just the best when I feel like I’m in the action, kneading and whisking and tasting sweet vine tomatoes alongside flavourful basil. I mean, yum, right? Granted, I was more like Katie than Luca, being that I’m not the greatest chef, but I swear that when Luca melted butter in a pan, I could smell it. Unfair, really, because I wasn't able to eat the delectable treat he nonchalantly whipped up. Like, can a girl get a scone with fresh berries, please? 


So in sum, PASTA WARS matches a relatable female hot mess with an equally relatable hot hunk of man mess and they make pasta together. I seriously don’t know what else you need to know about this book. Just pick it up already! But you should probably have Italian food on standby before you start reading or you’ll be chewing the pages in a vain attempt to taste the deliciousness. (Take my word for it, though, the paper just ends up tasting like paper. Haha!)

I'd also like to give a special shout-out to Elisa for sending me a copy of PASTA WARS. Until January of 2017, it's only available at Barnes & Noble and being from The Great White North, we don't have B&N. *cues weeping* If you're like me, being that you don't have access to B&N, now's the time to scroll through your American contact list and see who can get you a copy. January's a long time away, folks! Especially for a super fun book like this! 

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For this mani, I used:

OPI - A Good Man-Darin Is Hard To Find, Towel Me About It, CIA: Colour Is Awesome, and My Silk Tie
Fingerpaints - Paper Mache and Black Expressionism
Julep - Mackenzie
Glisten and Glow - HK Girl Top Coat
China Glaze - Immortal
Tools - trimmed striping brush, piCture pOlish nail art brush #9

And for more, non-book-related manis, be sure to check out my IG page! (@jennieshaw)