Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Word from Wendy Wax

It was a real pleasure reading and reviewing Magnolia Wednesdays a few weeks back, and now I'm honored to host here at Bookish Mom Reviews the following guest post by it's author Ms Wendy Wax!

The Hat I'm Wearing

Like most working moms (that would be ALL of us, of course!) I’m a serious multi-tasker and wear a lot of hats. I’m the grocery shopper, the primary cook, the laundress, the chauffeur, the homework nag, the fan in the stands—whatever it takes at that moment to make our home and our lives run smoothly. I’m also a writer with deadlines and other professional responsibilities.

I’m both proud of and horrified by how many things I can accomplish in one day and have become somewhat addicted to the thrill that comes with crossing something off the daily ‘to do’ list. It’s a great psychological ‘pat on the back’ – something homemakers and mothers all too rarely get.

I have been known to whine on occasion, but mostly I’m OK with constantly juggling work and home.

However, who I am at any particular point in time can be confusing. (This is not an esoteric issue but one of name and identity.) Because I married late and was attached to and known by maiden name, I decided that I would keep it professionally and take my husband’s last name legally and socially.

So I stayed Wendy Wax for work and became someone else entirely in our personal life. As a longtime ‘W’ it’s been kind of nice to shoot up to the beginning of the alphabet, even though my days of being called on in class or lining up alphabetically are pretty much over. At the time I decided to split my identities, everything was separate and easily defined; I did talent work and video and film production then and my two worlds rarely collided.

But then I had children as one person and sold my first book as another. And the confusion inherent in having two distinct identities began.

After all these years of split personality, I still occasionally get confused.

Am I the baseball mom working concession, taking tickets or cheering from the stands?

Or the author in the bleachers staring down at her laptop instead of the game trying to complete one more chapter?

Am I the guest speaker whose audience will be enthralled by everything I say?

Or the mother who talks to walls because she lives in a house of males with highly selective hearing?

Am I out in the world driving car pool, shopping for groceries, and picking up the dry cleaning? Or am I the frantic writer on deadline, holed up in my office unshowered and still wearing pajamas?

Sometimes I have to stop and take a minute to figure this out. I need to get my name straight in my mind before I walk into that room.

I read an article recently about how important it is not to separate the parts of your life but let them all exist and flow together. But if I were unable to shut out my real world for long enough periods of time, I would never have completed a novel let alone eight of them. And there have been times when real life got tough, and it was nice to be able to retreat into the fantasy world I was creating. Reading is a great escape and so is writing.

Most of my novels are set in the suburbs and revolve around women living lives similar to mine.

My characters, like most of the women I know, tend to wear many hats and sometimes feel overwhelmed.

I’m not sure that there’s any solution to this, but if we ever meet and I hesitate slightly before I introduce myself, just know that it’s not at all about you.

It’s all about me trying to remember which hat I’m wearing. And whether it’s time to change it. -Wendy Wax, author of Magnolia Wednesdays

Monday, June 14, 2010

Magnolia Wednesdays by Wendy Wax

Magnolia Wednesdays by Wendy Wax

Top notch journalist Vivian Gray has it all. She’s got the investigative reporting career of her dreams and the most amazing boyfriend she could ever hope for. Life is perfect. But as quickly as success found her, so is Vivian left scrambling for some semblance of the life she knew. Chasing a lead, Vivian travels to the depths of a New York City parking garage in hopes of getting the undercover skinny on what could very well be a huge Wall Street scandal. However, things go horribly awry, and Vivian not only loses her jump on what could have been an incredible story, but she also is suddenly the laughing stock of America. Plus to make matters worse, Vivian finds herself on the outs with her network. Apparently being forty one makes her too old to draw the ratings they’re looking for, so they’re bringing in someone new- someone younger and fresher to take her place. Unwilling to just roll over and take the hit quietly, Vivian quits. She understands the position she’s in; it’s a nightmare. Lucky for Vivian it’s one that can most definitely not get any worse. Or so she thinks.

A call from her doctor quickly dispels that theory though. For what Vivian finds out is nothing short of shocking- she’s pregnant! With her longtime war correspondent boyfriend Stone, on assignment in Afghanistan, Vivian finds herself unable to burden him with the astounding news. It’s not that she will never tell him, but it’s a doozie and something she wants to wait for just the right moment share.

Down and out on her luck, Vivian discovers that finding a new job isn’t as easy as she’d expected. Apparently her old network isn’t the only one that sees age as being a stumbling block instead of a stepping stone of experience. And whether she planned for it or not, Vivian is pregnant and she simply must find a job if she’s got any hope of supporting herself. That’s why when a lowly gossip column position becomes available, despite her very nature to shy away from it in disgust, Vivian puts herself forward and claims the job as her own.

It’s not a pretty job, but it’s one Vivian believes she can handle. She’ll have to do it discreetly of course, or risk making an even bigger name for herself, and not in a good way. And she really has been meaning to visit her sister down South in the Georgian suburbs. What better time than now? She can kill three birds with one stone. She can hide out from all the recent unwanted media attention. She can spend some time with her family. And best of all, it’ll be the perfect cover for her less than honorable research she intends to do to write her new column Postcards from Suburbia.

If only she’d known then how terribly wrong she was.

The goldmine of possible column ideas is simply unprecedented here in suburbia. Even Vivi, as her sister Melanie likes to call her, wasn’t prepared for the limitless, rant worthy wealth. Be that as it may, Vivi begins to find herself being drawn in more and more by the people she’s come to know as friends here in the Atlanta suburbs. Noting her initial impressions wrong, Vivi finds she’s starting to understand and even appreciate some of the formally foreign nuances of suburbia. The trouble is, she still has a column to write. So, personal feelings of guilt aside, if she expects to bring home a paycheck Vivian must continue to come up with something to write about, never mind the repercussions that could entail if she’s ever found out.

It’s a roller coaster of emotions and constant string of stupid mistakes. But at the end of the day, it’s Vivi’s life. And she’s hoping against all hope that it’ll not end up toppling over leaving her grasping for straws. Yet only time will tell…

Magnolia Wednesdays is by far one of the best books I’ve ever read, and certainly the best I’ve had the privilege to read so far this year. Written with what seems a flawless ease, this story was riveting and completely one hundred percent realistic. It’s written as a work of fiction, yet could easily be based on someone real’s life. For you see, the suburbs described in this story could just as easily been here in my town in Oklahoma as opposed to Georgia. The calls Vivian made on how life revolves around status and kids was very true. Of course, like Vivi discovers in the story this is not always a bad thing. There can certainly be too much competition and schedule overload, but these alone are not pigeon holed to the ‘burbs either.

I found Wax’s point of view refreshingly honest, and I loved how well thought out Vivian’s story was. It was carefully designed to show real life through the eyes of both the outsider and the insider, and that made it so much fun to read. The thoughts and actions that defined Wax’s characters were the same ones that exist in the real world on a daily basis. It was easy to relate to the women in Magnolia Wednesdays because of the time and care spent in developing them and their stories. I could understand and relate to them. I could feel their joy and sense their pain. In short, it was amazing.

This was my first introduction to Wendy Was, and now that I’ve been given a taste of her delicious brilliance I cannot wait to see what fine wonders her others titles bring to the table!!!

Many thanks to Joan Schulhafer and Caitlin Brown for this chance to read and review Magnolia Wednesdays. It’s been a real pleasure!

~Bookish Mom, aka Rebekah C

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Postcards from a Dead Girl by Kirk Farber

Postcards from a Dead Girl by Kirk Farber

Sid used to be in love- still is in a sense. But the day his girlfriend Zoe left him she took a little piece of Sid with her. Therefore, when scenic postcards, from faraway venues they were supposed to visit together, start showing up in his mailbox the already unbalanced Sid really begins to come undone at the seams. Reason being, Zoe didn't just up leave- she's dead. So how is she mailing him postcards from a trip she couldn't have possibly have ever taken?

Determined to understand what is going on, Sid throws himself head first into the mystery- going a little more crazy each day that he does. Skipping work, inventing health issues, and traveling the globe; all are a means to an end if Sid has anything to say about it. The trouble is, Sid needs help. The neurotic behavior is taking over every aspect of his life, and sadly his downward spiral is bound to come to a bone jolted end all too soon.

Wanting nothing but the best for her brother, Sid's sister tries to be supportive but lacks the ability to break through his delusional shell. Maybe a new girlfriend would be just what the doctor ordered. Getting Sid to accept this and understand how important letting go of his past is may be harder than originally expected. However, maybe if she keeps on him while still allowing him the necessary time for self discovery Sid will manage to come out on top. But hey, if all else fails, he'll always have his dead mother's spirit, which stays in a wine bottle in the cellar, to keep him company.

I'm not sure what to make of this book. It was a quick and easy read, quite quirky and entertaining. Yet somehow I felt lost at the end. I mean, I really enjoy a good twisted tale that leaves you, the reader, grappling with the facts and trying to figure it all out. A well written tale that leaves some mystery without being totally transparent is a huge literary turn on, but for me personally I think I took a wrong turn and lost the connection. It's just that there were certain aspects that made perfect sense, while others left me completely in the dark saying "huh???". I can't necessarily fault the author on this one though. It's entirely possible that the author failed to fill in a detail or two; yet, just as likely is the fact that the disconnect could have been in my own head.

All the same, I truly enjoyed Kirk Farber's Postcards from a Dead Girl, and I'm glad to have read it. Thank you to my contact at Harper Perennial for offering the review copy! =)

~Bookish Mom, aka RebekahC