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Book 15 of 52: Ladies' Night by Mary Kay Andrews

I did not pick Mary Kay Andrews' Ladies' Nightbecause of the author. I'd never heard of her before the galley of her book, which comes out in June, showed up at my house. I certainly didn't pick it because of the cover - pink with drink umbrellas (I'll add a cover picture when I'm not writing on my iPad). And I absolutely did not pick it because of its title which, after reading the book on my flight to Seattle, seems to dumb down the book.

No, I picked it for this description from the back of the book: "Rising lifestyle blogger Grace Stanton's life gets torpedoed..."

Well hello there.

As some of you may know, I write for Runner's World magazine. I got so fed up with terrible/unethical/bad advice dealing running bloggers, and their posts with 15,000 pictures each - even one where the runner went through the finish line multiple times to get *just* the right post-race photo - that I pitched a story on how to not be a bad running blogger.

The end story was a flip of that, about how blogging can help your running (it's not online). That's typical for me. Most of my articles for them start with something that bugs me and turns into a piece that can be helpful to readers.

After writing that story, I stopped peeking at those bad running blogs, and bad lifestyle blogs, and bad mommy blogs. A group of fellow runners like to share these posts and mock them, but I didn't find it to be worth the hassle or the time. Besides, I have a feeling that most of these bloggers are hiding behind their DSLR cameras, putting on a show about how perfect their lives are, how great "the hubs" is, and how everyone should be like them when, really, their lives are big messes that can't be completely covered up by pretty pictures (for the best take on this kind of stuff, check out Cheaper Than Therapy. She has actual stuff to say while also poking fun at the blogging community. And she likes beer).

Which is exactly the case for Grace Stanton, the main character in this book. She runs a blog called GraceNotes, which she started when the housing market went bust in Florida because her interior design work went bust with it. The blog took off, bringing in $20,000 a month in ad revenue. Grace's husband, who is her employee, squeezes out even more by trading editorial space for discounts on their home, free stuff, etc. - another bugaboo I have with some of these bloggers who write about products like they're the best thing since sliced bread but don't disclose that they were paid to write such nice things about it.

Everything seems to be going on just fine until Grace finds her husband with his pants down (literally) in the company of her personal assistant. That leads Grace to drive his $175,000 Audi into their pool. That gets Grace into more than just hot water with her soon to be ex-husband, but also a anti-woman judge who orders Grace to take divorce counseling classes. That's where Ladies' Night comes in - the women in the group (plus one man) start having drinks post-class at Grace's mother's dive bar.

This isn't all light fluffy stuff, even though some of the characters are archetypes (the slutty assistant! The heartless husband!) In one therapy session, their counselor asks the group to remember a good time they had with their exes. It's a good reminder for me, fresh from a breakup, that there WERE good times. My ex is watching my dog while I'm away. After I dropped her off, I hung out in his kitchen to borrow some WiFi (mine's not hooked up yet) while he made his dinner. That reminded me that I wasn't crazy for having dated him, or for living with him. We did like each other, even if the relationship end didn't work out. It was a good feeling, though, yes, still a bit awkward.

I liked this book. A lot. It'll be a big beach read - literally. It's 685 pages. With no WiFi for my flight, I read most of those 685 pages on the way over to the left coast. I even dug the renovation stuff in the book (Grace ends up working on a 1920s Florida home, the exact kind I'd have bought if I'd moved to Tampa - the book takes place in that general area though more on the Gulf Coast).

It'll be published on June 4.

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