Happy & You Know It
Author: Laura Hankin
Narrator: Laura Hankin
Published: May 19, 2020
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: March 24-31, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars
A dark, witty page-turner set around a group of wealthy mothers and the young musician who takes a job singing to their babies and finds herself pulled into their glamorous lives and dangerous secrets….
After her former band shot to superstardom without her, Claire reluctantly agrees to a gig as a playgroup musician for overprivileged infants on New York’s Park Avenue. Claire is surprised to discover that she is smitten with her new employers, a welcoming clique of wellness addicts with impossibly shiny hair, who whirl from juice cleanse to overpriced miracle vitamins to spin class with limitless energy.
There is perfect hostess Whitney who is on the brink of social-media stardom and just needs to find a way to keep her perfect life from falling apart. Caustically funny, recent stay-at-home mom Amara who is struggling to embrace her new identity. And old money, veteran mom Gwen who never misses an opportunity to dole out parenting advice. But as Claire grows closer to the cool women who pay her bills, she uncovers secrets and betrayals that no amount of activated charcoal can fix.
Filled with humor and shocking twists, Happy and You Know It is a brilliant take on motherhood—exposing it as yet another way for society to pass judgment on women—while also exploring the baffling magnetism of curated social-media lives that are designed to make us feel unworthy. But, ultimately, this dazzling novel celebrates the unlikely bonds that form, and the power that can be unlocked, when a group of very different women is thrown together when each is at her most vulnerable.
Can you imagine you are in a band right on the verge of superstardom and then you are kicked out? This is what happened to Claire. And now she is struggling to make a living and comes across this mommy group that needs a musician for the babies’ enrichment. Do these mommy groups actually exist and do they exist as they do in this novel? Maybe in the rich, upper-class neighborhoods like this novel takes place in. And not just a mommy group, but a paid musician to sing songs to the babies while the mommies gossip and drink?
I came across this one on my Libby app and decided to give it a shot. At about 50% in I was debating on DNF’ng (Did Not Finish) as I am not a mom and was identifying more with Claire the struggling single musician versus the mommy group. I kept going and then at about 65% in the novel went in a direction I was not expecting, which did keep me listening. My ‘favorite’ mom was Amara.
The direction the novel goes in gives a different feel from the beginning of the novel and the moms are far from perfect themselves. Life is not as happy as they make it seem at first to Claire. Now, I feel I can’t say more about the direction it goes in without giving spoilers, but if you pay attention to things going on, you might see what will come.
The author also narrated the novel, and I felt she did a good job with her narration. This might not be for everyone, but I can see some readers enjoying it more than others. I awarded it 3.5 stars, so it was just over a ‘good’ read for me.
Today I am sharing my review as a part of the blog tour for The Book of Us by Andrea Michael. If you enjoy women’s fiction at all, then this is one you must read! It is also available now!
The Book of Us is a story of the complexity of forgiveness and the friendships that change our lives forever. Perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult, Jojo Moyes and Diane Chamberlain.
We’ve got some important things to talk about. It’s time.
Cass and Loll used to be inseparable. They met at university and they made sense, like two halves of a whole. They had planned their lives around each other, writing down their dreams in The Big Book of Our Life – the things they wanted to achieve, the places they’d go after they finished university. But then one night changed everything.
Seven years later, Loll receives a letter from her old friend. The coming year will be the year they both turn 30, but Loll might be making it to 30 alone. Cass has cancer. Loll had believed she would have her whole life to come to terms with Cass’ betrayal, but time is running out. Cass’ final wish is to complete The Big Book of Our Life, but has enough time passed to heal old wounds?
The Book of Us
Author: Andrea Michael
Published: March 6, 2020
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: May 30-June 8, 2020
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
The Book of Us is a story of friendship, love, betrayal, the healing power of forgiveness and much more. Cass and Loll met in college and became inseparable until something happened one night to throw the two apart. Years later Loll finally hears from Cass and the news is not good: Cass is dying from cancer. This news brings the two former friends back together for a final adventure. When they were younger they created a ‘book of life’ which consists of things that they MUST do together. Despite their issues and one big unexpected surprise we find out about early on which becomes a part of the journey, the two very differently flawed ladies come together to travel in several different countries working to finish their planned adventures in their shared ‘bucket list’. Yes, they clash some due to the past and their personalities. Will they be able to move on and enjoy the time that Cass has left?
I enjoyed this novel. The Book of Us is all about Cass and Loll, whose personalities are extremely different, but somehow became the best of friends in college. Despite the fallout and years apart the two ladies come together for this last adventure. I also joined in on the journey with Cass and Loll and hoped they could mend broken fences before it was too late. I have always wanted to go to Australia and was envious that they went there (despite the extremely long flight!)
You know where the ending of the novel is going to go, but it is not about the ending, it’s about the journey.
Come join Cass and Loll on their adventure together and see what happens!
About the Author:
Andrea Michael writes books to explore complicated relationships. Having trained in using writing for therapy, she really believes in the magic of stories to change your life. Failing that, sparkling wine and obnoxious sing-a-longs also do the trick.
Andrea works in content marketing, and runs Writing for Wellbeing workshops. She lives in Hertfordshire with her fiancé and their crazy cat, and can be found reading in a comfy corner or digging something at the allotment.
You may also know her from her romantic comedies written as AL Michael.
Andrea is represented by Hayley Steed at Madeleine Milburn. The Book of Us is her thirteenth book. She’s hoping it’s lucky.
The Year We Turned Forty
Published: April 26, 2016
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: May 2-8, 2020
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
If you could repeat one year of your life, what would you do differently? This heartwarming and hilarious novel from the authors of The Status of All Things and Your Perfect Life features three best friends who get the chance to return to the year they turned forty—the year that altered all of their lives, in ways big and small—and also get the opportunity to change their future.
Jessie loves her son Lucas more than anything, but it tears her up inside that he was conceived in an affair that ended her marriage to a man she still loves, a man who just told her he’s getting remarried. This time around, she’s determined to bury the secret of Lucas’ paternity, and to repair the fissures that sent her wandering the first time.
Gabriela regrets that she wasted her most fertile years in hot pursuit of a publishing career. Yes, she’s one of the biggest authors in the world, but maybe what she really wanted to create was a family. With a chance to do it again, she’s focused on convincing her husband, Colin, to give her the baby she desires.
Claire is the only one who has made peace with her past: her twenty-two year old daughter, Emily, is finally on track after the turmoil of adolescence, and she’s recently gotten engaged, with the two carat diamond on her finger to prove it. But if she’s being honest, Claire still fantasizes about her own missed opportunities: a chance to bond with her mother before it was too late, and the possibility of preventing her daughter from years of anguish. Plus, there’s the man who got away—the man who may have been her one true love.
But it doesn’t take long for all three women to learn that re-living a life and making different decisions only leads to new problems and consequences—and that the mistakes they made may, in fact, have been the best choices of all…
I just had my big 40th birthday at the end of April and thought that this novel would be a good one to start my new decade of life, and it was! The authors, Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke have been BFFs for many years and written quite a few novels together, but this is the first one of theirs I have read.
The Year We Turned Forty focuses on three ladies (Jessie, Gabriela, and Claire) who have been friends forever. They have all just recently turned 50 and are given a special opportunity to go back ten years to the year they all turned 40 and re-live that year. This was the year that changed everything for the ladies in different ways and they all have their reasons for wanting to go back. But will going back in time and making different choices make life better or worse? And what ultimate choice will they make?
This is a thought provoking and also very enjoyable novel. Who hasn’t thought about if you could go back and change something? If given the opportunity, would you actually do it and what happens to the rest of the world with changing just one decision???? One decision can change so much, and it might not actually be for the better.
The Year We Turned Forty may have been my first novel by ‘Liz & Lisa’ but it will not be my last. I will be reading them again!