Friday, October 14, 2016

Book Review: The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett, by Chelsea Sedoti

  • Opening lines: The first thing that happened was Lizzie Lovett disappeared, and everyone was all, "How can someone like Lizzie be missing?" and I was like, "Who cares?" A few days later, there was talk about Lizzie maybe being dead, and it was still kinda boring, but not totally boring, because I'd never known a dead person before.

    After that, I started to get fascinated by the whole situation, mostly because I noticed a bunch of weird stuff. Which was how I figured out Lizzie Lovett's secret.
  • Reason I picked up the book: I had downloaded it from NetGalley, and had a short work trip to Vegas this past weekend. 
  • And what's this book about?
  • Hawthorn wasn’t trying to insert herself into a missing person’s investigation. Or maybe she was. But that’s only because Lizzie Lovett’s disappearance is the one fascinating mystery their sleepy town has ever had. Bad things don’t happen to popular girls like Lizzie Lovett, and Hawthorn is convinced she’ll turn up at any moment—which means the time for speculation is now.

    So Hawthorn comes up with her own theory for Lizzie’s disappearance. A theory way too absurd to take seriously…at first. The more Hawthorn talks, the more she believes. And what better way to collect evidence than to immerse herself in Lizzie’s life? Like getting a job at the diner where Lizzie worked and hanging out with Lizzie’s boyfriend. After all, it’s not as if he killed her—or did he?

    Told with a unique voice that is both hilarious and heart-wrenching, Hawthorn’s quest for proof may uncover the greatest truth is within herself.

  • Favorite paragraph: I pulled out a map, and Enzo examined the sections I'd highlighted. A breeze rustled the leaves on the trees. Birds and bugs gave us their own soundtrack. It felt like I was in the place I was meant to be, doing exactly what I was meant to do. Enzo and I were on the edge of an important discovery. Lizzie Lovett went into the woods and never came out. But I would. I would come back with all her secrets.
  • Recommended for: Anyone who likes mystery stories and/or coming of age stories about teens.
  • Something to know: This book almost reminded me of Mean Girls meets Twilight in a weird way (except Hawthorn thinks that Lizzie may have changed into a werewolf, so there are no vampires here).
  • What I would have changed: I would have given a little more background on Lizzie. Avoiding spoilers, but I wanted to know more why she made one of the choices she did, which is revealed at the end of the book. 
  • Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
  • Where can I find this book? Click here to pre-order on Amazon - this book will be in stores and online on January 3, 2017.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Fractured, by Catherine McKenzie {ends 10/16}

He wants me to tell them about that morning.

I've done that before. Told the police, Detective Grey, and his sidekick, more than once. I've read over my statement enough times to memorize it, but now I have to put it away. I have to forget that this is a repeat and tell it like it's an original broadcast.

Or it will sound rehearsed.

It will sound like a tale I'm telling.

I've reviewed a few of Catherine McKenzie's books before, and they're always very good; this one was no exception. The timelines here were interesting, as well - one chapter would be from a few months previous, and the next chapter would be in present day, where something bad has happened but we don't entirely know what, just yet.

Official synopsis:
Julie Prentice and her family move across the country to the idyllic Mount Adams district of Cincinnati, hoping to evade the stalker who’s been terrorizing them ever since the publication of her bestselling novel, The Murder Game. Since Julie doesn’t know anyone in her new town, when she meets her neighbor John Dunbar, their instant connection brings measured hope for a new beginning. But she never imagines that a simple, benign conversation with him could set her life spinning so far off course.

After a series of misunderstandings, Julie and her family become the target of increasingly unsettling harassment. Has Julie’s stalker found her, or are her neighbors out to get her, too? As tension in the neighborhood rises, new friends turn into enemies, and the results are deadly.

In this novel, we learn that Julie and her family had to move away from the Tacoma, WA area after her book, The Murder Game, was released, because an old law school classmate of hers started stalking her. The author of this book, Catherine McKenzie, is actually going to release The Murder Game on November 1st, as Julie Apple (Julie's maiden name), which I'm now looking forward to reading as a companion book to this one.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Small Great Things, by Jodi Picoult {ends 10/14}


"I don't want her or anyone who looks like her touching my son," the father interrupts, and he folds his arms across his chest. He's pushed up his sleeves while I was out of the room. Running from wrist to elbow on one arm is the tattoo of a Confederate flag.

Marie stops talking.

For a moment, I honestly don't understand.

And then it hits me with the force of a blow: they don't have a problem with what I've done.

Just with who I am.

I'm a huge fan of Jodi Picoult's books, so when I saw that Small Great Things, her newest, was available on NetGalley in late May/early June, I was thrilled. I read it and later finished it while on vacation, and I'm excited to now share this book with you.

Official synopsis:
A woman and her husband admitted to a hospital to have a baby requests that their nurse be reassigned - they are white supremacists and don't want Ruth, who is black, to touch their baby. The hospital complies, but the baby later goes into cardiac distress when Ruth is on duty. She hesitates before rushing in to perform CPR. When her indecision ends in tragedy, Ruth finds herself on trial, represented by a white public defender who warns against bringing race into a courtroom. As the two come to develop a truer understanding of each other's lives, they begin to doubt the beliefs they each hold most dear.

I'll be honest and say this book was hard to get through, because Picoult really gets into the minds of her characters, and writes in first-person. Some of the chapters were from the POV of Ruth, the African-American nurse who Turk, the white supremacist, and his wife Brittany were suing. The other chapters were from Kennedy, the public defender who was representing Ruth at trial, and the third POV chapters (the hardest to read) were that of Turk's, the white supremacist who has a Confederate flag tattoo. 

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Beautiful, by Christina Lauren {ends 10/11}

I don't know what I would have done with a man like Jensen back in my real life. 

Would I have been able to let him in? Or would I have been all chatter and booze, jokes and chaos? Would he even have looked at me, with my every-colored hair, vibrant bird tattoo, and wildly bright skirts?

No, I thought. There were no other circumstances under which a man like Jensen would look twice at a woman like me. And even if he had, I wouldn't have had the faintest idea what to do with his attention. 

This is the last book in the Beautiful series, by Christina Lauren, and I'm definitely going to miss it! Their books (it's actually two people, writing as one pseudonym) are always fantastic. This novel does give closure to all of the couples who have been featured in the series, though, which I liked.

Official synopsis:
Featuring the entire BEAUTIFUL series cast for one final hurrah!

A free-spirited girl in need of a break.

A man weighed down by responsibility.
A road trip vacation where all bets are off.
Oh, and a lot of wine.

After walking in on her boyfriend shagging another girl in their place, Pippa Bay Cox ditches London for the States to go on a drunken road trip with Ruby Miller and some of her Beautiful friends.

Scaling the career ladder is the default way to deal with heartbreak—and to just deal—for Jensen Bergstrom. Absolutely buried by his drive and workload, he rarely takes time for himself. But when his sister Hanna convinces him to join the gang on a two-week wine tour, he has a rare moment of cutting loose. Of course, it’s only once he’s committed that he realizes the strange girl he met briefly on the plane is coming along, too. She might be too much for him…or he might realize his life has become too small and needs her to make it bigger, crazier.

With this circle of friends there’s always something going on: from Chloe and Sara’s unexpected personality swaps to Will’s new domestic side to Bennett’s text message barrage and George’s own happily-ever-after. In short, their adventures in love, friendship, and hilarity are nothing short of Beautiful.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Triple Love Score, by Brandi Megan Granett {ends 10/3}

Vegetarian, Montessori School Teacher, vitamin crazy, Suburu driving, Oregon living. Hipster, she thought, a health-nut hipster. A far cry from the boy she remembered. And until the morning, she thought she really liked him. Not that she had ever stopped liking him. It was more that she forgot about liking him for a while. Forgot about waiting for him to come back. Sitting home her entire twenty-first birthday just in case he showed up again like magic or even just called.

This is one of Brandi Megan Granett's first novels, and it's done very well; I especially liked the Scrabble board pictures woven throughout the story.

Official synopsis:
What happens when you stop playing games?

Miranda Shane lives a quiet life among books and letters as a professor in a small upstate town. When the playing-by- the-rules poet throws out convention and begins to use a Scrabble board instead of paper to write, she sets off a chain of events that rattles her carefully planned world.

Her awakening propels her to take risks and seize chances she previously let slip by, including a game-changing offer from the man she let slip away. But when the revelation of an affair with a graduate student threatens the new life Miranda created, she is forced to decide between love or poetry.

Miranda, a poet, is in her late 20s, and works at a local university. She starts making poetry using Scrabble board, under the name "Blocked Poet," and soon her social media channels start to become extremely popular.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

GIVEAWAY: Piper, Once & Again, by Caroline E. Zani {ends 9/18}

Piper, Once & Again was published in paperback this past July, and I have a chance for one of my lucky readers to win a copy, courtesy of the author!

If you don't want to wait to win a copy, too, you can purchase your copy here.

Official synopsis:
Longing for something just beyond her grasp ... a successful equine insurance agent living in 21st century Massachusetts, Piper struggles with relationships, patience, scents, and living in 19th century France.

Through tragedy, betrayal and a mother’s religious-driven fear, Piper must learn to intuitively understand the messages all around her. The scents of burnt raisins, freshly washed baby skin and the ethereal lavender fields of Provence, France reach out from a century ago to guide her on a journey she wasn’t aware she was on. And the shards of memories that ride on those scents – Friesian horses, a cradle in the corner of loft, an old man inhaling the scent of perfume on pristine white gloves – what could they possibly mean?

Follow Piper on this enlightening spiral through time, unconditional love, unbearable loss, unbelievable discovery, and a question of forgiveness, as she tries to find the one man who can help her unravel this tapestry woven before she took her first breath. 

See why she is indeed Piper, Once and Again.

*side note: I had to google "equine insurance agent," and I asked the author about the definition, too ... people actually do purchase insurance on their show horses! Interesting.

Monday, August 29, 2016

GIVEAWAY: The Jungle Book (2016) on Blu-ray/DVD {ends 9/7}

The Jungle Book is out on Blu-ray and DVD today, August 30th, and I have the chance for one of my lucky readers to win a copy!

I reviewed the movie on my film blog this past April, and I gave it a "Yes" review and 4 stars out of 5.

About the movie:
Audiences were mesmerized by Disney’s live-action epic adventure “The Jungle Book,” which has earned more than $935 million at the global box office to date. Critically acclaimed, Jon Favreau’s stunning live-action reimagining of Walt Disney’s animated classic, will be available early on Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere on August 23, and on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and On-Demand on August 30.

Venture behind the scenes with in-depth bonus features that reveal the innovative filmmaking technology used to create the richly immersive jungle world and characters; Follow the journey of the film’s only on-screen actor, charismatic newcomer Neel Sethi (Mowgli); Delve into a candid and humorous scene-by-scene audio commentary with director Jon Favreau and meet the all-star voice cast who help bring the film’s colorful characters to life, as well as the musicians who accent the adventure with a majestic music score.

The all-star cast includes Bill Murray (“Lost in Translation”) as the voice of Baloo, Sir Ben Kingsley (“Learning to Drive,” “The Walk”) as Bagheera and Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years a Slave,” “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”) as the voice of mother wolf Raksha. Scarlett Johansson (“Avengers: Age of Ultron”) gives life to Kaa, Giancarlo Esposito (“Breaking Bad”) provides the voice of alpha-male wolf Akela, Idris Elba (“Beast of No Nation”) roars as the voice of Shere Khan, and Christopher Walken (“The Deer Hunter”) lends his iconic voice to King Louie.

Directed by Jon Favreau (“Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2,” “Chef”) and produced by Favreau and Brigham Taylor (executive producer of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” “Tomorrowland”), “The Jungle Book” is a live-action epic adventure based on Rudyard Kipling’s timeless stories, inspired by Disney’s classic 1967 animated film and centered on Mowgli (Neel Sethi), a man-cub who’s been raised by a family of wolves. But Mowgli finds he is no longer welcome in the jungle when fearsome tiger Shere Khan (voice of Idris Elba), who bears the scars of Man, promises to eliminate what he sees as a threat.