In Category: ‘Flipping Pages’

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yaaah!  It’s been a while since we did a Flipping Pages feature, but Jess has been hard at work flipping through so many pages to pick only the best for recommendations!   And there are a LOT of them this time around.  I just finished California myself and absolutely loved it!  Perfect for the last bit of summer!
Summer Travel Reading 0001 Flipping Pages: Traveling Without Leaving Home
Hey, There! It’s been ages! I’m transitioning into a semi-new job and was lucky enough to have the summer (well, July) off. Though I yearned to travel, I thought it better to stay home and get myself organized and rested after a really busy spring. But without realizing it, I actually traveled the world this summer and I’ve put together a list of my favorite spots (and the books that transported me there this summer), just for you! xoxo, Jessica
Post-Apocalyptic USA
California by Eden Lepucki and The Stand by Stephen King.
I’m crazy about both of these books. California got a ton of press, mainly because Colbert recommended it on his show and it’s next in my book club’s lineup. So, I was basically forced to read it. But I’m so glad I did. Lepucki paints a very realistic (and terrifying) portrait of America after a series of ecological and financial disasters and one couple who tries to survive in the wilderness, in complete isolation. The story, and the various characters’ secrets, unfolds slowly, but steadily, with bits of information cleverly and gradually imparted to the reader. I could not stop reading and read it over two sittings. Yay, vacation!
The Stand is a book I’ve been meaning to pick up after discovering King’s later work. I used to turn my nose up at him. It’s true. But I’m trying not to be a jerk and have to admit he’s a top-notch storyteller. The best, really. And The Stand is one long (1,200-pages!), adventurous ride across America as a military-engineered virus kills most of the population. It’s so much fun. Plus, one of the survivors is from Ogunquit, Maine, one of my favorite small towns!
Post-Apocalyptic London and the Surrounding Countryside
I didn’t know a whole lot about this book going in and I’m so glad. (I joked that M.R. Carey is actually Mariah Carey, but no such luck.) Since I don’t want to ruin the surprise, I won’t say a whole lot about this book, except that it’s about a little girl who is locked in prison. At first, we’re not sure why, or why she’s treated with as much caution as Hannibal Lecter. Finding out was a real treat, and this is my favorite novel within the genre…and I don’t even want to say which genre it belongs in!
New York and Florida
This is sort of a memoir about Schwalbe and his mother and their informal “book club”, after his mother is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. They use the last years of her life to discuss books they’re reading (often at the same time). Their discussions about books turn into deeper conversations, allowing them to also talk about their lives in general. It’s just the sweetest thing…to see how much literature has meant to Schwalbe’s family and how they make connections to their lives through certain books. His mother is also incredibly inspiring.
New Hampshire
The Last Policeman by Ben Winters.
How could I not read a mystery novel (the first in a trilogy) SET IN MY HOME STATE?! Aside that I had to believe a murder could take place in Concord, NH, TLP also takes place in the months before an asteroid will collide with Earth. I mean, that’s a lot of crazy, but Winters somehow grounds the novel and the characters in reality and I ate it up. I’m looking forward to reading the next two installments…before the world ends.
Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore.
Oh, Vermont, I just love you. And I ate up this book, about a scholarship co-ed (Mabel…even her name says “I’m poor”) who is invited to spend the summer at her uber-wealthy roommate’s family summer compound. The family has a lot of secrets. I mean, so many. And our gal Mabel wants to know all of them. So did I. And boy, were those secrets juicy. This was such a great summer read.
1980’s London
Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe.
This is a collection of Stibbe’s letters to her sister while she was a nanny for a family in London in the 80’s. In the letters, she describes her life and conversations with the family and I found myself laughing through the whole thing.
Tokyo, London, New York, Cape Town
The Three by Sarah Lotz.
This book creeped me out. Majorly. (I have a soft spot for genuinely creepy thrillers. They’re hard to find.) There are a series of plane crashes on the same day, and three children are the sole survivors from three of the crashes. But when they return home, the children aren’t the same as they used to be. And I cannot sleep anymore.
Ontario/Muskoka Lakes District
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki.
A sweet starting-to-come-of-age tale about a little girl whose family spends every summer at their lake house. She has a Summertime BFF and her parents fight a lot. She likes horror movies, which she probably shouldn’t be allowed to watch. It’s just darling. The Tamaki sisters perfectly capture that awkward slice of time right when childhood ends, but the teenage years have yet to begin.
This graphic novel by the famed New Yorker cartoonist is just perfect. With a dose of depressing. But not really. It’s about her aging parents and their last years of decline. Does that sound depressing? No! It’s really funny and touching and even thought-provoking. I particularly love Chast’s drawings and descriptions of her parents’ Brooklyn apartment, which they lived in for something like 50 years.
The Vacationers by Emma Straub.
This is the perfect summer vacation book…about a summer vacation. It’s not too heavy, not too serious, just the right amount of mystery and humor. You’ll finish it by the pool and feel accomplished, but you’ll find you’d much rather be by the pool in Mallorca. Can’t have it all.
Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and beyond
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan.
This is the fluffiest, guiltiest thing I read all summer and it hit the spot. Though it’s long, you’ll sail through it. A NYU professor’s boyfriend invites her to visit his family in Singapore…and when she arrives, she finds out he’s from one of the richest families on…the planet? And his family is not pleased to meet her. Scandal! It made me want to fly to Singapore and gorge myself on the famously delicious street food, which apparently you don’t have to be a Crazy Rich Asian to afford. Score.

index Flipping Pages: Eleanor and Park

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Hello and Happy Summer! Let’s celebrate by transporting to the 80′s in this newly-beloved YA novel about an unlikely pair of teens who fall in love for the very first time. If you loved John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, this one is for you. Rainbow Rowell’s prose is more realistic than Green’s witty froth (to be clear, I love a bit of wit, but I like her dose of reality much more). Of course, the Romeo & Juliet comparisons abound. We’ll never get enough of this story, will we? This take is so satisfying, though, that it feels like something new. Eleanor and Park aren’t your completely typical teens. They have some serious problems that are dealt with so beautifully. And since the book is set in the 80′s, their love is cultivated over comic books and mix tapes. I mean, come on.

I’d suggest making a playlist of The Smiths and a little Joy Division to listen to while reading to get the full effect. Happy Reading!


This is another one of those books on my list from Jessica that is an absolute must read.  I haevn’t read it yet, but it’s on the list.  And after reading the review she just wrote, I’m already heartbroken for this little guy that I know very little about.  Must learn how to read more quickly…

wonder Flipping Pages: Wonder

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Oh, look, it’s another children’s book! What a treat! You guys, this book should be required reading for all humans. Basically, I feel like you shouldn’t be a certified human being until you’ve finished the last page of this sweet little gem. Because once you do, you see the world differently and you’ll always be a little bit kinder to everyone you meet. I seriously felt like the Grinch…my heart grew a minimum of two sizes once I’d finished.

The book is about a little boy named August who was born with severe facial deformities. For most of his childhood, he had to endure several corrective surgeries, so his parents home schooled him until the fourth grade. Now that his health is more stable, he’s finally able to attend a real school…and he’s terrified about what it’ll be like to come into contact with kids his age every day. The book chronicles his first year as a 5th grader. It’s such a lovely story of learning about empathy, kindness and compassion. You will root for August so hard, you will not want to put this page-turner down until you’ve seen him through…and then, you’ll be so sad to leave him behind once you’ve read the last page. (Have tissues on-hand.)

If you have kids who are a little older, maybe 4th-7th grade-ish, this would be a great book to read and discuss together. I’m thinking of having a couple of kids just so I can read this to them. Seems like a good enough reason to me!

Happy Reading,


I woke up this morning with a bit of time to spare before my 8:30 gym class.   I thought I’d read a quick chapter and then head out.  Then I decided to keep reading and hit the 9:30 class.  Then I gave up all hope that I would be leaving my bed before I finished this INCREDIBLE  book.   Five hours later, I flipped the last page to realize I was littered in tissues and absolutely starving.  I literally couldn’t put it down.   I cursed Jessica for recommending it and throwing my entire day into an unproductive mess.  And then I thanked her for making my heart so full I can barely contain it.  (How does she do that!?)  Seriously, read this post, then go buy this book.

mebeforeyou Flipping Pages: Me Before You

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Before we dive into this gem, a couple of questions:

1. Do you have a 2-3 day stretch of time in which you can neglect all responsibilities and do nothing but devour this book?

2. Are you stocked up on Kleenex?

If you’ve answered “yes” to both of the above, please proceed. You will not be sorry. You will cry buckets. You will question whether or not you’re living your life to its fullest potential. You will realize (but not care) that you’ve accomplished nothing between the time you opened this book to the time you finished it. Nothing.

Me Before You is about Louisa, whose life has stalled. She still lives with her parents, who depend on her salary to live, and has just been laid off from her job as a waitress in a coffee shop. She’s got no ambition, no dreams beyond not letting her family starve. So, she takes a job as a caregiver to Will, who’s only recently had an accident which left him a quadraplegic. He is also suddenly living with his parents, after leading a life of non-stop adventure, promise and privilege. Though the two are from the same country village, their paths would never have crossed if Will wasn’t suddenly dependent on others for even the simplest of tasks. Forced to spend countless hours together, the two eventually explore together what it would take for each of them to lead a full and happy life.

This is the sweetest, most emotional and hopeful book I’ve come across in a long time. Before you’ve reached the 100th page, you find that you care about the characters in it as much as you care about the real people in your life. And you desperately want for them to find whatever it is they’re looking for. Because of that, you cannot stop reading, even though it might be past midnight and you have to work in the morning, or maybe you forgot to eat all day and you’re trying to feed yourself without taking your eyes off the page and you’re not so great at finding your mouth with a fork. No, you’ll keep reading. Everything else can wait. xo, Jessica


images Flipping Pages: The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Guess what, guys? I’m recommending another YA novel! And I’m totally ok with it. You will be, too, once you read this book because it is pure, solid, way more than 24-karat gold. It’s about one of my favorite topics in the Universe: young love. And one of my least favorite: cancer. I know, major downer. But this is so much more than a book about teenagers with cancer. First, the main characters have fun names: Hazel and Augustus. They meet at a support group for teens battling cancer and they fall in love. Deep, hazardous, wild, throw-everything-else-out-the-window-because-this-is-it love. Hazel is our narrator and after about 3 pages, YOU will be deeply in love with her. I know a kid with cancer narrating a book doesn’t sound like a great time, but she’s just perfectly lovely. She gets that life is still happening around her, she gets the cruelty of her malady, she knows how much everything sucks, but she hangs on to her sense of humor through it all. She and Augustus hit it off because of their shared sense of humor that skews dark. They begin talking frequently and they decide to read each other’s favorite books (for me, this is not just romantic, but borders on pornography…shared love of books? Please!)

Teachers are already using this book in the classroom, and for good reason. It’s so relatable. Pick it up today!

Happy Reading,


I only read books that Jess recommends to me.  Because she knows me well, knows what I might like and has never steered me wrong.  She has me reading a super dark and heavy book that she has assured me will change my entire life.  My reward for all this life altering heaviness will be Miss Buncle’s Book, which she promises will pull me out of the dumps and back to a happy medium!

images Flipping Pages: Miss Buncles Book


Miss Buncle’s Book by D.E. Stevenson

I was so delighted to discover this book, which was originally published in the 1930′s. I think it’d be the perfect gateway for those who want to get started on Austen, Dickens, Eliot, Gaskell and all the other great British classics you never read in high school. First, it takes place in the 20th century, so we’re not going so far back as to be a shock to the system. Cars and telephones exist, but people still have maids, they take the train into “town” and they invite each other for tea. Second, it’s just so much darn fun. By the end, you’ll feel confident and anxious to read some more popular Classics.

Miss Buncle’s Book is basically charm book-ified. Miss Buncle, of the title, has lived in the same tiny English village all her life. Her income isn’t quite what it used to be, so she writes a book in the hopes of making some extra cash. She doesn’t feel quite creative enough to invent a world in which to set it, so the book is about her village and all its inhabitants, though she’s changed all the names. When it’s published under the name John Smith, her little book causes such a ruckus among her neighbors, who immediately recognize themselves in the barely-disguised characters and set out to find the author hiding within the village. I found myself laughing the whole way through at the insane lengths her neighbors go to smoke out the traitor, all the while underestimating poor Miss Buncle. This book is guaranteed to brighten a winter weekend, which is roughly how long it’ll take to breeze through the pages!

Happy Reading,



9780374192716 Flipping Page: Love Bomb

Love Bomb by Lisa Zeidner

Jordana, as we all know, goes to a ton of weddings. I do not. And I love weddings. They’re really some of the best people watching you can find. Yes, they’re generally a celebration of two lives coming together, two families uniting, and that crazy little thing called love.  But they’re also hotbeds of family disfunction, awkward moments and all the interesting stuff that happens when two families with all their inherent quirks, plus a gaggle of friends and random co-workers, end up all under the same roof…with cocktails in their hands. This is why I love weddings. All the good stuff happens at them. Plus, you get to dress up!

So, now that it’s definitely NOT wedding season, wouldn’t it be fun to attend vicariously? Lisa Zeidner’s Love Bomb fits the bill perfectly, because it’s such a fun read about a wedding you’d be crazy to want to actually attend. We get to see the wedding, which takes place in the bride’s mother’s living room, from its various guests and vendor’s points of view. As the ceremony begins, a terrorist, dressed in a wedding gown, army boots and a gas mask, interrupts and holds everyone hostage. (Let me just pause to say that reading about this sort of situation, in which a small and unlikely group is tossed together for an indeterminate period and must work together in order to survive, is my very favorite. I should probably also pause to think about what this says about me, but let’s not.)

The terrorist is definitely female and she says she’s holding the wedding hostage in order to get a message across to someone who’s wronged her, but she doesn’t say who that person is. All she wants is an apology. After she’s locked the group within the room and taken all of their cell phones, they frantically try to figure out who she is, and who amongst the guests is most likely the person she’s so darn angry with. There are lots of ex’s within those walls, so their feelings about one another provide oodles of hilarity, but my favorite is when all of the therapists, and there are plenty among the hostages, start diagnosing the terrorist. Then, they bicker about the diagnoses and possible treatments. I mean, come on…that’s pure comedy. By the end, you’ll be glad you’ve never been to a wedding quite this exciting, but you’ll also be glad you read about one.

Happy Reading! xo, Jessica


where d you go Flipping Pages: Whered You Go, Bernadette?

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

My usual steadfast reading habits tend to trail off a bit during the holiday season. You know: parties, shopping, wrapping, tree-trimming, baking up a storm? But this year, I tore it up! And I’ll tell you why. I had my head stuck in some pretty awesome books! (Side Note: I do most of my reading on a Kindle. I know, I was opposed to it at first. Now, I’m completely in love with this little gadget. It fits in my purse, weighs NOTHING and goes absolutely everywhere with me. Have I sung it’s praises before? It’s possible. Jordana is hooked, too. Hardcovers feel like a workout now! All those pages that need ACTUAL TURNING! Sigh.)

So, I’ll admit up-front that I’ve been putting off reading Where’d You Go, Bernadette. One of my many, many quirks is that I turn my nose up at books that get too much hype and this book was everywhere last year. I don’t even know why I finally gave in, but I’m so glad I did. Maria Semple used to write for a ton of TV shows I’ve loved over the years, including Arrested Development, which is possibly the funniest thing I’ve ever laid eyes on. I did a bit of digging (ok, a 10-second Google search) and found she was also a writer on Beverly Hills, 90210. Boom! This lady-writer needs to adopt me so we can brush each other’s hair while eating macaroons. (The kind with coconut, not the French ones. Let’s be real.) So how bad could this book really be?! Even the cover is interesting! Why am I such a jerk sometimes? Siri, remind me to find a therapist!

Don’t read this book with Arrested Development specifically in mind, though. Yeah, it’s completely quirky. Its namesake, Bernadette, might be one of the strangest (and most lovable) characters I can think of, which I suppose relates to AD. Also, don’t look for Brenda or Dylan here. They’ve been gone for a long time. Let’s leave them in peace.

So, the book is told from the point of view of Bernadette’s teenage daughter, Bee, after Bernadette has disappeared. It’s comprised of emails, letters and her own accounts of the events leading up to and after her mother vanishes. She’s trying to put it all together to figure out what happened. Sweet, right? It’s really a book about a family whose members have lost touch with one another. Bee’s father works inhuman hours at his big-shot job with Microsoft. Bernadette spends most of her time alone in a trailer she’s placed on the outskirts of the property. She has very little contact with anyone, barely leaves the house and has gone so far as to hire a personal assistant in India to do all of her bidding remotely. The house they live in is an old school for girls, “old” being the operative word here. It’s crumbling state mirrors the state of the family that inhabits it. By the middle of the book, you find yourself rooting so hard for these people to work out whatever they need to in order to function together again. And it’s dead funny the whole way through.

Don’t be a jerk like me. Pick it up!


So, I’ve been a bad blogger.  Clearly, as the beginning of her post indicates, Jess wrote this before the holidays began.   And I forgot about it.  But, let’s look at it this way.  The holidays are a busy time and you probably wouldn’t have seen that post, but now that everyone is back to work, you will see this one, then you will enjoy this AMAZING book and your life will be better.   Enjoy!

The Family Fang Flipping Pages: The Family Fang


The Family Fang, Kevin Wilson

The holiday season is currently breathing (heavily) down my neck and I thought, Hey, let’s read a book about a totally bizarro family to make myself feel better about my own gang of weirdos. That book, my friends, is The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson. I’ve described this book to friends as “weird in the best way possible.” And not to worry, Fang is just the family’s last name. There isn’t a single mention of vampires. Or werewolves, just in case you were wondering.

Annie and Buster are the Fang siblings. Their adult lives are simultaneously in ruins and they’re each forced to return to their childhood home. Their parents, Caleb and Camille, are performance artists who, back in the day, worried that having children would hinder their artistic process. Offspring could mean the end of their careers. But one day, when Buster and Annie are little, Caleb is inspired to incorporate the kids into their performances. They go on to secretly record a series of mall “performances” which basically consist of the kids causing a huge scene, getting everyone’s attention and creating oodles of tension and awkward social interactions. For example, the kids pose as a band and sing (horribly off-key) to their mall audience. Once a big crowd gathers, Caleb and Camille, posing as strangers, begin to heckle the band. Various other members of the audience either defend the kids, or join in the heckling. The only way Annie and Buster manage to dodge these performances, is to grow up and move far away. So, when they return, things get interesting.

See? Your family was never this weird. Or humiliating. You can read this book, enjoy its quirky-ness, laugh and cringe along with the Fangs’ mishaps while (just maybe) feeling a surge of affection and appreciation for your very own crew of oddballs. xo,


leftovers Flipping Pages: The Leftovers

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta

Here in LA, autumn is just starting to show itself and we’re bearing down on the end of the year, with everything it brings: holidays, parties, cold weather. And according to the Mayan calendar: the end of days! (I’m not one to believe such things. No, I’m more the cynical type, I like to picture those old Mayans just getting lazy and giving up their little calendar project. Similar to several crafting projects I’ve abandoned over the years.) In the spirit of 2012, I thought we should read a “the world is at an end!” book. Fun!

I have to admit, I’ve never read any of Tom Perrotta’s books before. I’m aware of his rep as a titan of the suburban novel and liked the movies that were adapted from his novels, particularly Election with Reese Witherspoon. The Leftovers is set mostly in the small town of Mapleton after the Sudden Departure, a rapture-like event in which millions of people across the world simply disappeared at the very same moment. They just ceased to exist while going about their daily routines. No one knows exactly what happened to them, though there are countless theories. Everyone left behind has to deal with their losses and somehow get on with living in a world of complete uncertainty. The main focus is on the Garvey family, which fell apart in the wake of the Sudden Departure. Kevin is mayor of Mapleton and pushes for speedy healing and forward progress, though his wife abandoned their family to join a religious cult whose members must take vows of silence and take up chain smoking. His son goes off to follow a prophet called Holy Wayne, who heals through hugs and his daughter stays at home, but finds it difficult to remain her old, studious self. The concept is so fascinating and you find yourself imagining how you’d react in a similar situation. I was particularly surprised and pleased to find that the story builds to a satisfyingly suspenseful ending. It’s a book one can happily read whilst tucked into a cozy corner, wrapped in a blanket and drinking tea. Go for it.

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