Sunday, September 28, 2014

Book Spotlight: THIS OR THAT 2

Would you rather walk on hot coals or swim in the Arctic Ocean? Learn to fly a helicopter or learn to perform open-heart surgery? Be frozen and then thawed out in the future at the age you are now, or live forever? Welcome to the book of choices, where every answer brings you one step closer to discovering your hidden self. Want to find out your ideal career? The country that best suits your idea of the good life? The species of your inner animal? Through in-depth exploration and analysis of the inner workings of your mind, we'll peel you back layer by layer and you won't even realize it. In this hysterically fun and simple quiz book, you'll find out things about yourself that you don't even know we're asking. Each vividly colored page is so exciting, fun, and revealing that you will want to share with your parents, friends, and yes, even your brother and sister. So stop wasting your time trying to discover the true you—let us do it for you!

About the Book:

  • ISBN-13: 9781426317194
  • Publisher: National Geographic Society
  • Publication date: 9/9/2014
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 422,646
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

About the Authors:

JR Mortimer is a frequent writer for National Geographic Kids. 

Matt Bellace, Ph.D., has been a youth motivational speaker and stand-up comedian since 1995. Dr. Bellace has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology (subspeciality in neuropsychology), is a member of the National Speakers Association and the author of the book, A Better High. His "How to Get High Naturally" program encourages over a hundred thousand students a year to make healthy choices. Matt was a recurring comedian on truTV's "World's Dumbest." His stand up can be heard - and requested - on Sirius XM's Comedy Channels.

I am a big fan of NatGeo books, especially when trying to add some non-fiction to my kids' bookshelves. I am an even bigger fan of Matt Bellace. Professionally and personally, one would be hard-pressed to find a smarter, kinder, and more genuine man - it doesn't hurt that he's funny as hell. The kids will love this book! 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Gone Girl: Giveaway!

Enter to Win a Gone Girl Prize Pack!

- One copy of the movie tie-in book
- One $25 Visa gift card to see the movie in theaters (courtesy of 20th Century Fox)

Fill Out Form Below (you must scroll)

GONE GIRL – In Theaters October 3


About the film

Directed by David Fincher and based upon the global bestseller by Gillian Flynn – unearths the secrets at the heart of a modern marriage. On the occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) reports that his beautiful wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has gone missing. Under pressure from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick’s portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and strange behavior have everyone asking the same dark question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?

Release: October 3, 2014
Director: David Fincher
Screenplay by: Gillian Flynn, based upon the novel written by Gillian Flynn
Produced by: Arnon Milchan, Joshua Donen, Reese Witherspoon, Ceán Chaffin
Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry

Monday, September 22, 2014

Review: GI BRIDES by Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi

True WWII stories that touch the heart! 

Authors Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi have taken extensive interviews with real war-time brides and lovingly pieced their stories together into GI BRIDES. Transitioning back and forth among four different women and their sagas, readers are pulled into each woman's heartfelt tales of love, disappointment, heartache, trust, and perseverance. 

Once Americans entered the European theater during WWII, our men in uniform descended on Britain with an air of mystery, bravery, and Hollywood charm. How could the young women of Britain resist their invitations to dance or to see a movie? Many thought it was their patriotic duty to act as good hostesses to the Americans, even though many families warned their daughters not to get too close. Those warnings went unheeded as nearly 70,000 women crossed the Atlantic after the war was over to join their new husbands. All the women were looking forward to a new beginning full of hope and wonder, but not all the women were gifted with the Hollywood ending they wished for. 

Reading these narratives, I couldn't help but think of my friends' grandparents who married during the war, many of them still holding onto their British accents. It was these stories that made me fall in love with WWII fiction, and here is GI BRIDES bringing me full circle. 

Authors Barrett and Calvi weave together the narratives into a book that reads like fiction. 

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is as in love with WWII fiction as I am. 

Book Extras:
GI Brides on GoodreadsAmazon, IndieBound, and Barnes & Noble
Authors' Website:
TLC Book Tour Website

About the Book:
  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (September 2, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062328050
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062328052

About the Authors:

Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi are the bestselling authors of The Sugar Girls, which chronicled the stories of young women working in Tate and Lyle’s factories in the East End of London.

Duncan studied English at Cambridge and now works as writer and editor, specializing in biography and memoir. Nuala is a writer and journalist. She trained at London College of Printing and has written for The Times, The Independent, the BBC, CNN and numerous Time Out books.

This review is a proud stop on the TLC Book Tour. 
Please visit the GI BRIDES for more information and additional reviews.

Friday, September 19, 2014

GONE GIRL: On Pinterest!

Pinterest just got more interesting!  Amy Dunne, from the Gone Girl movie, has her own Pinterest Page...and it is equal parts fascinating and creepy!  (Check out her personality quizzes!!)

Amy Dunne is missing. Her Pinterest page has been found.
Gone Girl's Amy Dunne has a Pinterest account you can explore. In the upcoming movie thriller Gone Girl by David Fincher, ‘Amazing Amy’ Dunne (Rosamund Pike) has gone missing and all eyes are on her husband Nick (Ben Affleck.) Everyone is wondering ‘Did Nick kill his wife?’

As evidence mounts and speculation rises, Amy’s past is coming into focus on Pinterest. What was she like? What were her interests? Did she leave any clues? Explore for yourself at  

GONE GIRL – In Theaters October 3

About the film
Directed by David Fincher and based upon the global bestseller by Gillian Flynn – unearths the secrets at the heart of a modern marriage. On the occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) reports that his beautiful wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has gone missing. Under pressure from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick’s portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and strange behavior have everyone asking the same dark question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?

Release: October 3, 2014
Director: David Fincher
Screenplay by: Gillian Flynn, based upon the novel written by Gillian Flynn
Produced by: Arnon Milchan, Joshua Donen, Reese Witherspoon, Ceán Chaffin
Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry

PS.  This is making me want to get back on Pinterest!!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Event: Brooklyn Book Festival


Attention readers in the Tri-State area! Next Sunday, rain or shine, is the Brooklyn Book Festival. 


The Brooklyn Book Festival is the largest free literary event in New York City, presenting an array of national and international literary stars and emerging authors. One of America’s premier book festivals, this hip, smart diverse gathering attracts thousands of book lovers of all ages to enjoy authors and the festival’s lively literary marketplace.

So grab the kids, and go share in the book love!! 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

This Is Where I Leave You Twitter Chat




1-hour Live Twitter Chat

Thursday, September 18

8:00 PM EST – 9:00 PM EST



Event Details:

The #TIWILYchat will run for 1-hour on Thursday evening, September 18.

The event kicks off at 8:00 EST and author Jonathan Tropper (@jtropper) will join infrom 8:10 EST – 8:30 EST for a live Q&A session.

We will be chatting about the film release and giving away amazing prizes from 8:30 EST – 9:00 EST

Prizing includes a Kindle Fire HDX 8.9”, $500 Visa gift card & more surprises!



Zippy Sandler, @zipporahs

My Twitter handle:

Alison's Book Marks, @AlisonsBookMrks

Any questions, let me know! See you on Twitter on Thursday! 


Monday, September 8, 2014

Book Club: This Is Where I Leave You


A few weeks ago, my book club was lucky enough to have been sent a lovely package from Warner Bros to read Jonathan Tropper's THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU, in anticipation of the new film starring Jason Bateman and Tina Fey. Included in the package (see how pretty?) were copies of the book, Moleskine journals, and five wine glasses.  (Warner Bros. knows a lot about book clubs! Books AND wine!)

What a fantastic book club read!  Some of us connected deeply to the characters in the book - especially the bossy older sister, Wendy!  Others in the group simply loved being allowed access to this family's hilarious fumbles and heartwarming bond.  You know you're reading a great book when you can laugh out loud one minute and have tears well up in your eyes the next.  For all the family's problems, there is a lot of love at the center.  This is all any of us hope for.  We do what we can for our children, and hope that in the end, they are there for one another through the laughter and the tears.

Below are some stills from the movie - we can't wait to have Book Club Movie Night and see THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU in theaters!  Stay tuned, I'm sure I'll give you my full review on the adaptation (I have very high expectations from this cast!!).

Book Extras:
Visit the official website
Like This is Where I Leave You on Facebook
Follow @wbpictures on Twitter and Instagram

This Is Where I Leave You – In Theaters September 19

The dramatic comedy “This is Where I Leave You” is directed by Shawn Levy, and based on the hilarious and poignant best-selling novel by Jonathan Tropper. It features a starring ensemble cast including Golden Globe winner Jason Bateman (“Arrested Development”); Golden Globe and Emmy Award winner Tina Fey (“30 Rock”); and two-time Oscar® winner, multiple Golden Globe honoree and 2013 Emmy Award nominee Jane Fonda (“Klute,” “Coming Home,” HBO’s “The Newsroom”).

When their father passes away, four grown siblings, bruised and banged up by their respective adult lives, are forced to return to their childhood home and live under the same roof together for a week, along with their over-sharing mother and an assortment of spouses, exes and might-have-beens. Confronting their history and the frayed states of their relationships among the people who know and love them best, they ultimately reconnect in hysterical and emotionally affecting ways amid the chaos, humor, heartache and redemption that only families can provide—driving us insane even as they remind us of our truest, and often best, selves.

Genre: Dramatic Comedy
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Starring: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, Kathryn Hahn, Connie Britton, Timothy Olyphant, Dax Shepard and Jane Fonda
Directed By: Shawn Levy
Screenplay By: Screenplay by Jonathan Tropper, Based on the novel "This Is Where I Leave You" by Jonathan Tropper
Produced By: Paula Weinstein, Shawn Levy, Jeffrey Levine; Executive Producers Mary McLaglen, Jonathan Tropper

Judd Altman played by Jason Bateman
Wendy Altman played by Tina Fey
Hillary Altman played by Jane Fonda
Phillip Altman played by Adam Driver
Paul Altman played by Corey Stoll
Alice Altman played by Kathryn Hahn
Penny Moore played by Rose Byrne
Tracy Sullivan played by Connie Britton


Sunday, September 7, 2014

This Is Where I Leave You: Book Club Reading Guide

Reading Guide

1. Discuss Judd Foxman, the novel’s protagonist, from his very ironic and dry sense of humor (shared also by his brothers and sister), to his anger and vulnerability regarding his wife’s infidelity, to his conflicted emotions regarding his immediate family. What was your first impression of the protagonist/narrator of this novel? What did you find the most engaging aspect of his character? Did you find any aspect of him off-putting?

2. What was your first impression of Judd’s wife, Jen? Because you see her almost entirely from Judd’s perspective, was there any chance to see her as a sympathetic character before Judd finds her so? Do you think that Judd and Jen have a chance at salvaging their relationship, with or without a baby girl to raise?

3. Discuss Judd’s mother and her relationship with each of her children. Do you think that Hillary Foxman was truly a bad mother? Was there any real irony in her being a child-rearing guru? What was your opinion of her character?

4. One of the largest subjects of the book is parenting. Discuss the various parents in the book (Judd and Jen; Wendy and Barry; Hillary and Mort; Linda) and consider the statement (or statements) that Tropper makes about the responsibilities of a parent to his or her child, and, conversely, the responsibilities of a child to his or her parent.

5. Similarly, what comment is Tropper making about the role of trauma and tragedy in our lives? Almost every character in this book suffers or has suffered: Phillip from his neglected/overindulged childhood; Judd from his wife’s infidelity; Horry from his brain damage; Paul from the Rottweiler attack; Wendy from her unhappy marriage; and Alice from her infertility. What does their unhappiness, and the way each person copes with that unhappiness, teach us?

6. Most of the characters in this novel struggle against living up to an ideal established either by themselves or by a friend, family member, or spouse. Judd fails to be the perfect husband, brother, and son; Jen fails to be the perfect wife; Wendy fails to be the perfect mother and Alice fails to become a mother at all. Mort and Hillary Foxman, it turns out, fail their children spectacularly in some ways while succeeding in others. What do the lives of these characters reveal to us about perfectionism, ideals, and our expectations for ourselves and others?

7. Also, compare and contrast the various romantic relationships in this book: who, do you think, had the most admirable or lasting relationship? Who had the most realistic one? Who had the most insurmountable problems? (Is there such a thing as an insurmountable problem, especially looking at problems from Phillip’s point of view?)

8. For all of their faults, is the Foxman clan a likeable group of people? What makes them an endearing group of people? Who did you like the most, and who did you find the least appealing, and why? Were there any characters you would have liked to see developed further?

9. Throughout the book Judd has recurring nightmares that often involve a prosthetic limb. Discuss the way these dreams acted as elements of foreshadowing and symbolism throughout the narrative. Consider, too, how they reflected Judd’s emotional state as the novel progresses.

10. What did you think of Judd’s exit at the end of the shiva? Was his disappearance in Phillip’s Porsche realistic? Appropriate? Did you find it a satisfying resolution to the book?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

This Is Where I Leave You Featurette

Monday, September 1, 2014

Review: Early Decision by Lacy Crawford


Anne is a private college applications consultant.  For those of us who have no idea what that is, Anne is hired by wealthy families (because who else could pay such a fee?) to help put together their high school seniors' college applications packages, including help with the essays, personal statements, Common Application, deadlines, freak-outs, frantic phone calls, and everything in between. 

Anne's clients are wealthy, powerful, and leave nothing to chance.  "They refuse to play with a deck that wasn't stacked.

Early Decision follows Anne during a typical applications season and five high school seniors.  Readers bear witness to the parents' reactions and overreactions of their children's essays, which are printed within the text of the book so readers themselves can see the progression from trite and uninspired, to complex and well executed. Not only do the essays grow and mature in this story, though.  The students themselves go through a transformation, in spite of, or thanks to, their parents' pressures. 

Anne's feeling is that students must make the switch between the people they are, having always been told what to do, to the students and adults they will become, taking ownership of their futures, and making their own decisions. Ideally, once that switch is made, it comes through in their essays, admissions committees fall in love with the applications, and the students make the most of their four year colleges.  At least in an ideal world...

Early Decision definitely had me thinking and questioning this entire process.  I am the parent of two young boys, and college seems like a distant, enigmatic, trial.  My own college applications process was random and chaotic, as I had zero guidance from parents and counselors.  I was a kid that needed, that begged, for a push. Unfortunately, Lacy Crawford did not seem to agree with parents that pushed their floundering children; nor did she agree with the parents who overestimated their child's abilities, as they pushed too hard. As you can imagine, I had a difficult time agreeing with the judgments of Anne, the college applications expert.

Since Lacy Crawford presents this college application process from several dramatic points of view, Early Decision will give book clubs something to sink their teeth into! 

Thinking about my own book clubs, and the different stages of schooling our children are in - some of us have young children, others have sons and daughters in colleges, and the variety of colleges among the groups is overwhelming, especially considering all of these kids all grew up within a few miles of one another - there is so much we could discuss. Were the parents too hard on their kids?  Were the kids too coddled? Were the working moms (once again) crucified for not being around more? Would you hire a college applications consultant?  I should also point out that one woman in my book club actually works for the admissions office of a college - I can't wait to hear what she thinks of Early Decision

Applying to college is a fiercely competitive business.  Readers who see college as part of their children's future will find this book fascinating, enlightening, as well as a bit frightening. 

P.S. Even though Lacy Crawford spent 15 years as a college applications counselor, she insists that this book is a work of fiction.

Book Extras:
Author website, Facebook, Twitter
Goodreads Page
Entertainment Weekly Review
Harper Collins book page

About the Book:
Early Decision: Based on a True Frenzy by Lacy Crawford
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow PB
  • Language: English

photo credit: Kenneth Dolin
About the Author: (from publisher)
For fifteen years Lacy Crawford served as a highly discreet independent college admissions counselor to the children of powerful clients in cities such as New York, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and London. Her “day jobs” included serving as senior editor at Narrative Magazine and director of the Burberry Foundation. Educated at Princeton and the University of Chicago, Lacy lives in California with her husband and two children.

This review is a proud stop on the TLC Book Tour. 
Please visit the Early Decision Tour Page for more information and additional reviews.
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