Six caliente chicas are back again in the follow-up novel from The Dirty Girls Social Club by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez. This time, the friends are together for a reunion at a posh New Mexico resort, and the secrets each girl is keeping from one another makes this an engaging plot. Usnavys, a plus-sized married mother and sex blogger, is having an affair because she finds her husband too boring. Lauren, a successful journalist, is struggling with bulimia and a boyfriend who unbeknownst to her is also dabbling in something on the side. Rebecca, a magazine publisher, is coping with the fact that infertility may cause her to never have a child with her husband. Sara, host of her own TV show, is dealing with her abusive ex-husband that has re-entered her life. Elizabeth is struggling to make things work with her partner and their newly adopted son, all while her feelings are growing for fellow friend Lauren. And Cuicatl, the wild rock star, is struggling to stay on top of the charts and find a man to finally settle down with. Each woman’s personal story gives the reader something new, whether that be love, betrayal, fear, or despair.
Dirty Girls on Top by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez is a fast-paced tale giving readers an inside look on these different woman and the adversities they are facing. I found at times following six different story lines was a challenge, but the captivating tales were enough to keep me pushing through. I found towards the end I wasn’t able put the novel down, as a near tragedy hits the group and forces life decisions to be made. Dirty Girls will make readers think, tap into an emotional side, but still gives off a fabulous and funky chick lit vibe.
Do you wonder about how to get all the essential nutrients from your food? I know I do, and I often just turn to vitamins as my easy way out instead of investigating healthy food choices. Shape.com posted an article titled, ‘The Nutrients You Need,’ and lists 8 essential nutrients, and better-where to find them. Check out some of my favorites below, and head to Shape.com for the complete list!
Eat This: Walnuts & Almonds. Walnuts especially are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help stave off depression, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease. Shape recommends toasting the walnuts to help get more flavor, and toss in your salads or on top of yogurt.
Eat This: Kiwi. This fruit has been found to be the densest, which means they are high in vitamins and minerals. And research has shown that adults who ate two kiwifruits a day for a month lowered their triglycerides, which can lower the chance of heart disease.
Drink This: White Tea. White tea has been found to be even more powerful than healthy green tea, helping prevent cancer. Shape recommends buying loose white tea leaves such as Yinzhen Silver Needle White Tea.
Summertime is right around the corner (finally!), and my favorite accessory of the summer is sunglasses! I have three pairs from last season sitting in my car, but I decided I don’t like any of them anymore- of course. So I am looking forward to shopping for some new shades this week. Fitness Magazine put out an article on finding the best shape of sunglasses for your face. It’s a great article, with advice on the most flattering shapes for your face and even some suggestions thrown in there. My face is more of an oval shape, so my best glasses would be an aviator type. I never would have tried on aviators, but I will give them a shot when I shop! Check out the full article here to find your best sunglasses!
Photo Credit: Peter Ardito
Q: I read on your website that at first you didn’t try to make it as a writer for fear of failure. What finally made you change your mind and go for it? Partly it was failure of another sort. After going into debt to get a teaching degree, I realized that teaching really is the most important job in the world … but I’d never be happy in a classroom. And partly – mostly – it was because no matter what job I did, my brain insisted on making up stories. At a certain point, they just had to make their way onto paper.
Q: How did you celebrate landing your first publishing deal? I’d been dreaming about the Big Moment for years. There’d be a phone call, and I’d jump up and down with excitement, then I’d call my husband at home, and we’d pop open a bottle of Dom Perignon. (Which we’d have to buy first – I don’t exactly have Dom sitting around the house.) But it didn’t work out that way. My agent received an offer long before I expected to hear anything, but it was for much less than we’d hoped for, so we countered. Rather than celebrating, I spent the weekend worrying that the offer would be withdrawn (even though my agent assured me it wouldn’t). After a few days, the money got a little better, but before I’d decided to accept it, another editor jumped into the bidding. There was a lot of back-and-forthing until I wound up with a nice two-book deal. By then, the initial excitement had passed, and my husband was out of town on a business trip. I think we drank a belated bottle of champagne (nothing too expensive), but I can’t really remember.
Q: You write books for both teens and adults. What do you enjoy about writing for both? While the books are quite different, my experience of writing them is pretty much the same. I’ll start with a primary character and a unique situation and go from there. I do enjoy getting to write about a greater range of characters and topics, plus I get a kick out of my teen fan mail. Teens are far less inhibited about contacting authors than their adult counterparts (or maybe they just have more time). An awful lot of them request help with book reports.
Q: What do you hope readers take away from your novels? If my readers come away from my books with a greater or different understanding of themselves or their worlds, great – but my only solid goal is to provide a happy escape from reality. The best letter I ever received was from a soldier’s wife. She said she and her best friend lived in constant fear for what could happen to their husbands in Iraq, but that they loved my books because they made them laugh and forget their troubles, at least for a little while.
Q: Just Like Me, Only Better will be out in April. What can you tell us about this book? I’m really excited about this book, and not just because in its review, Booklist called me “an author to watch.” (Up until now, apparently, I have been an author to ignore.) Just Like Me, Only Better tells the story of Veronica Czaplicki, a suburban single mom and substitute teacher who gets hired as a part-time celebrity double for an imploding young starlet named Haley Rush. Since Veronica is forbidden to tell anyone about her job, she must live a kind of double life: getting spray tans and going to film premieres during the day; eating macaroni and cheese and watching videos at night (because she can’t afford cable). The story is filled with twists and turns, Hollywood glamour and Hollywood dysfunction.
Q: Are you currently working on another novel? I’m writing a book about three women dealing with parenthood issues. The story is told from three different points of view, which is a first for me.
Q: Where do you find your ideas for characters and plots? I’m always looking for plot ideas, so pretty much everything that I read or observe goes through my “Can I use this?” filter. A few years ago, my husband told me about a business associate who bears such a striking resemblance to Jack Nicholson that people ask him for his autograph – and who has a daughter who works as an Angelina Jolie impersonator. I didn’t immediately say, “Hey! I’m going to write a book about a celebrity double!” But the inspiration was there when I needed it.
Q: What is one of your greatest personal achievements? I have a happy marriage and two great kids.
Q: What would be your advice to aspiring writers? Understand that it takes years to develop your craft, and don’t rush to publication. Also, be prepared to take criticism – and learn from it.
Q: You have lived a bit all over the US. Which was your favorite, and where would you love traveling to? After college, I spent five years in Boston. I love it there: the sense of history, the architecture, the intellectual spirit. I even like the weather. I never would have left, but I fell in love with my now-husband, which kind of messed up my plans. As for traveling, I went to France last spring – Paris and the Loire Valley – and I can’t wait to go back … someday.
Lucy Jo Ellis is just a small town girl trying to make it in the fashion world of New York City. When disaster strikes at one of the hottest fashion shows, Lucy Jo is blackballed from the fashion community and ready to give up on her designing dreams and head back to Minnesota. Wyatt Hayes IV, a Harvard-educated anthropologist, is looking for a comeback with a possible book deal and hoping to get revenge on his socialite ex-girlfriend. He decides to conduct a social experiment- turning underdressed, uneducated, and underpaid Lucy Jo into the belle of each and every ball. The city of New York is riveted by this new arrival, except for Wyatt’s ex, who is determined to figure out Lucy’s secret and spill it to all the top magazines.
The Overnight Socialite by Bridie Clark is a modern day story of Pygmalion, and the hate the antagonists feel for one another causes some hilarious scenes throughout their journey together. The writing is solid, and just when I kept thinking I would know the ending, I was surprised at the turn the plot would take. I thought this was a charming tale, with engaging characters and over-the-top parties that will keep chick lit readers hooked throughout.
In My Mailbox Week of March 28th
Title: Wedding Season
Author: Katie Fforde
Received: From Katie Fforde/St. Martin’s Press
Synopsis: Katie Fforde’s unique spin on romantic comedy is a blend of the sweet, the sad, and the sexy.” Patricia GaffneySarah is a wedding planner hiding a rather inconvenient truth she doesn’t believe in love. But as the confetti flutters away on the June breeze of yet another successful wedding season she finds herself agreeing to organize two more events, on the same day, and only two months away. And while her celebrity bride is all sweetness and light, the other bride, Sarah’s own sister, quickly starts driving her crazy with her high expectations and very limited budget. Luckily, Sarah is aided in her seemingly impossible task by two best friends, Elsa, an accomplished dress designer, and Bron, a multitalented hairdresser. All three are very good at their jobs, but romance doesn’t feature very prominently in any of their lives. As the big day draws near, every moment is spent preparing for the weddings, and they certainly haven’t got any time to even think about love; or have they?
Title: Just Like Me, Only Better
Author: Carol Snow
Received: From Carol Snow
Synopsis: Ever since Veronica’s husband found the love of his life-not her-she’s been a walking zombie with runny mascara. It doesn’t help that she keeps getting mistaken for Haley Rush-the Hollywood starlet whose dazzling life is plastered on every magazine.
When Haley’s manager offers Veronica a job as a celebrity double, it only takes a moment before she says yes. Veronica gets to drive Haley’s car, wear her phenomenal clothes-and have fun with her hot celebrity boyfriend, Brady Ellis. Too bad the job’s only part-time, and at the end of the day she has to return to her life as a cash-strapped substitute teacher and cub scout mom.
But when real sparks fly with Brady, is it a fantasy come true or a disaster in disguise?
Title: The Cinderella Curse
Author: J.L. Penn
Received: From J.L. Penn
Synopsis: This is the hilarious tale of a girl who whacks a witch, gets cursed, and becomes a pumpkin at midnight. Sound strange? She thinks so.
Cindy had a fairy tale life – well, not literally – but she was pretty and popular. Then one fateful autumn day, while picking apples, she encountered a real-life witch. After accidentally clocking the witch on the head with her basket of apples, the angry witch put a spell on her. As Cindy would soon find out, she was destined to live out her nights turning into a pumpkin at midnight. Talk about a crimp in your social life!
There is only one antidote for Cindy’s terrible curse – if only she knew what it was. Hilarity ensues as Cindy attempts to lead a normal life as a part-time pumpkin.
Who says you have to feel guilty for having some dessert? I will always have a sweet tooth, so even though I am trying to eat better, I just can’t cut out the chocolate! I found a fabulous recipe in the March edition of Fitness Magazine (page 150), and it is a much healthier version of my favorite pie, which is French Silk. This recipe is for Chocolate Cheesecake, and the ingredients and recipe can be found below. So have your cake and eat it too!
Makes 14 Servings
½ cup crushed graham crackers
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
¾ cup fat-free milk
2 8-ounce packages reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
1 8-ounce package fat-free cream cheese, softened
8 ounces fat-free sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
- In a bowl, stir together the graham crackers and butter. Press the mixture into the bottom of an 8-inch spring form pan. Chill while preparing the filling.
- In a saucepan, sprinkle the gelatin over the milk; let stand for 5 minutes. Stir over low heat until the gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat; cool for 15 minutes.
- In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with a mixer until smooth. Beat in the sour cream, sugar, and vanilla; gradually beat in the gelatin mixture. Divide the cream cheese mixture in half; gradually stir the melted chocolate into one half.
- Spread half of the chocolate mixture on the crust. Spoon half of the remaining cream cheese mixture onto the chocolate mixture in small mounds; swirl them together with a butter knife.
- Spread the remaining chocolate mixture on top. Spoon on the remaining cream cheese mixture, and swirl again. Cover; chill for 6 hours or until set.
- Loosen the cake from the pan with a knife before removing the side of the pan. Cut the cake into wedges; top with chocolate swirls.
The Hills is finally coming to an end. After 6 seasons following the breakout show Laguna Beach, the reality/scripted MTV series will be shutting off the cameras. “We are lucky and honored to have worked with this cast and tell their stories for this long, and we are grateful to the many dedicated fans who have stuck with us over the years. We owe it to those fans, the cast and the show to go out on a high note. And this season will deliver on that goal in terms of drama, story, real emotion and an organic culmination of this saga,” says MTV’s President of Programming Tony DiSanto said in a statement. Season 6 begins airing episodes on April 27th, but right now the big question is if Lauren Conrad will return for the last episodes. After all, it began with Conrad being filmed during high school for Laguna Beach, then following her move to LA on The Hills. Will you be watching the series finale?
Photo Credit: Jesse Grant/Getty
I can’t believe I’m finally saying this, but it seems that spring could be just around the corner! I thought we would never get past this dreadful winter, but now that I’ve actually seen the sun and have gotten my hopes up for decent weather, I want to take advantage. I have started taking walks outside around my work building during my breaks instead of sitting cooped up in the break room. I saw on Shape.com that they have posted a walking workout. Titled ‘The Walking Diet’ the article talks about how walking and/or hiking can help get you into summer shape. I have done the workout once so far, and I definitely recommend giving it a try if you can get outdoors! Head to Shape.com to view the complete workout.
Photo Credit: Janet Lee
Lately, I’ve been really upset with my pores. I never had an issue with acne until just recently, and one thing I’ve noticed that I have enlarged pores especially around my forehead and cheeks. I tried a few different remedies to see which worked the best, and I have to say I am really liking the Biore Deep Cleansing Pore Strips. Just twice a week, I stick the strips onto my forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin, and let them sit for about 10 minutes. Once stripping them off, I can see everything it took off- whiteheads, oil, dirt. It’s kind of disgusting really looking at the dirty strip, but I feel like they are really effective. And the oil on my face has significantly decreased after only 2 sessions with the strips. The best part for me is they are relatively inexpensive. I got a box with 8 strips for only $7.99 at the drugstore.
The next product I am going to try is also from Biore, and is the Steam Activated Cleanser. The SteamActiv beads helps open the pores, better removing acne causing dirt and oil. Look for that review in a few weeks!