Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Quick Pick: The Real Liddy James, by Anne-Marie Casey

The Real Liddy James book review, by Anne-Marie Casey
  • Opening lines: Liddy knew Mrs. Vandervost had been crying because she emerged from the corridor bathroom with her sunglasses on. 
  • Reason I picked up the book: The synopsis sounded interesting, and it was available on NetGalley. 
  • And what's this book about?
  • An exuberant new novel about a modern-day superwoman who leans in so far she falls over.

    Liddy James is forty-four, fit, and fabulous. One of New York's top divorce attorneys, a bestselling author, and a mother of two, she glides through the courtrooms and salons of the Manhattan elite with ease. Despite a devastating divorce from her first love, literature professor Peter James, Liddy, Peter, and Peter's sympathetic new partner, Rose, have formed a modern family to raise Liddy and Peter's truculent teen and Liddy's adorable, if fatherless, six-year-old. With her lonely and impoverished childhood far behind her, to the outside world Liddy's life is perfect.

    Until it isn't.

    When Rose announces an unexpected pregnancy, Liddy's beloved nanny takes flight, a high-profile divorce case becomes too personal, and the bill for a roof repair looms, Liddy realizes she may have finally bitten off more than she can chew. Long overdue for time off, she takes her sons and heads to Ireland to retrace her family's history. But marooned in the Celtic countryside, things are still far from simple, and Liddy takes on a stormy neighbor, an unorthodox wedding, and a surprise guest before she's willing to admit that even she might have forgotten just how to be the real Liddy James.
  • Favorite paragraph: Rose remembered a scornful debate she had participated in during her freshman year about women like Liddy, professional women whose lifestyles were balanced precariously on the subjugation of other women, women like Lucia, who were their servants. (For two and a half decades, Rose had self-consciously scrubbed her own toilet bowls; the moment she was forbidden to, Peter had greeted with cash and open arms the two undocumented Eastern European maids who came for four hours every week). But now she knew that Peter's unpaid sabbaticals, the renovations to the house, the new car, had all been lubricated by his ex-wife's salary, and the lifestyle Rose enjoyed was wholly dependent on the continued labors of Liddy. 
  • Recommended for: Anyone who likes stories about untraditional families. 
  • Something to know: Nothing. 
  • What I would have changed: Nothing. 
  • Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
  • Where can I find this book? Click here to purchase.

    *Disclosure: I received a galley of this book from NetGalley. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Quick Pick: My Not So Perfect Life, by Sophie Kinsella

  • Opening lines: First: it could be worse. As commutes go, it could be a lot worse, and I must keep remembering this. Second: It's worth it. I want to live in London; I want to do this; and commuting is part of the deal. It's part of the London experience, like Tate Modern.

    (Actually, it's not much like Tate Modern. Bad example.)

    My dad always says: If you can't run with the big dogs, stay under the porch. And I want to run with the big dogs. That's why I'm here.
  • Reason I picked up the book: I love all of Sophie Kinsella's books, especially the Shopaholic series, so I was pleased to see that NetGalley had a copy of her newest book.
  • And what's this book about?
  • Part love story, part workplace drama, this sharply observed novel is a witty critique of the false judgments we make in a social-media-obsessed world. New York Times bestselling author Sophie Kinsella has written her most timely novel yet.

    Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle—from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she’s trying to negotiate. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she's desperate to make her dad proud. Then, just as she’s finding her feet—not to mention a possible new romance—the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away—until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.

    Sophie Kinsella is celebrated for her vibrant, relatable characters and her great storytelling gifts. Now she returns with all of the wit, warmth, and wisdom that are the hallmarks of her bestsellers to spin this fresh, modern story about presenting the perfect life when the reality is far from the truth.
  • Favorite paragraph: I crawl to the side of the swamp and dip my head in the fresh water of the adjoining pond, trying to calm my adrenaline rush. OK. Regroup. This was not the plan. I have to keep it together. This may be Demeter, but she's a guest too. I cannot be having a mud fight with her. I mean, it really wouldn't sound good on TripAdvisor.
  • Recommended for: Anyone who likes chick lit, and/or who is a fan of Sophie Kinsella's books, or wants a fun read. 
  • Something to know: The Goodreads plot synopsis is actually worded different from this one (which I got off of NetGalley), although obviously the book is the same.
  • What I would have changed: Nothing. 
  • Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.
  • Where can I find this book? Click here to pre-order on Amazon - the book will be in stores on February 7, 2017.

    *Disclosure: I received a galley of this book from NetGalley. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Livia Lone, by Barry Eisler {ends 11/27}

It was the end of the rice harvest when the men came to the village and took Livia and her sister Nason. Livia was thirteen. Nason was eleven. Their parents had sold them. 

I have never read any of Barry Eisler's novels before, but this one was very good; based on this one alone, I'd like to read more of his books.

Official synopsis:
Seattle PD sex-crimes detective Livia Lone knows the monsters she hunts. Sold by her Thai parents along with her little sister, Nason; marooned in America; abused by the men who trafficked them…the only thing that kept Livia alive as a teenager was her determination to find Nason.

Livia has never stopped looking. And she copes with her failure to protect her sister by doing everything she can to put predators in prison.

Or, when that fails, by putting them in the ground.

But when a fresh lead offers new hope of finding Nason and the men who trafficked them both, Livia will have to go beyond just being a cop. Beyond even being a vigilante. She’ll have to relive the horrors of the past. Take on one of the most powerful men in the US government. And uncover a conspiracy of almost unimaginable evil.

In every way, it’s an unfair fight. But Livia has two advantages: her unending love for Nason—

And a lifelong lust for vengeance.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Good Behavior, by Blake Crouch {ends 11/8}

She sipped her drink and stared at the napkin the barkeep had left on the table. Four handwritten four-digit numbers. Took her thirty seconds to memorize them, and a quick look around confirmed what she had hoped—the window washers and the hotel guests remained locked and absorbed in their own worlds. She lifted the napkin and slid the keycard out from underneath it, across the glass tabletop and into her grasp. Then shredded the napkin, sprinkling the pieces into the hissing water.

I was interested to read this book, which ended up being a collection of 3 short stories, because TNT is premiering a TV show of the same name this month. I had heard about the TV show at BlogHer this year, as well, since they had a booth there. The stories ended up being pretty interesting, and the show should be good too.

Official synopsis:
The bestselling author of Dark Matter and Wayward Pines, Blake Crouch’s Good Behavior centers on Letty Dobesh, his favorite character creation of all time, and will be available in print and eBook from Thomas & Mercer on November 15th. TNT’s new television series (of the same name) starring Michelle Dockery also launches November 15th at 9pm ET/PT.

Featuring a special introduction and “behind-the-story” commentaries on the adaptation from Crouch, as well as a look at his earliest inklings of Letty in journal entries from 2009, both book formats will include photos from the set, and the eBook will feature video scenes from the new TNT series. Readers will transition seamlessly between Letty’s adventures on the page and Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery in live action as she brings the character to life on screen.

Fresh out of prison and fighting to keep afloat, Letty Dobesh returns to her old tricks burglarizing suites at a luxury hotel. While on the job, she overhears a man hiring a hit man to kill his wife. Letty may not be winning any morality awards, but even she has limits. Unable to go to the police, Letty sets out to derail the job, putting herself on a collision course with the killer that entangles the two of them in a dangerous, seductive relationship.

Good Behavior comprises three interlinked novellas, The Pain of Others, Sunset Key, and Grab, which together form a novel-length portrait of Letty Dobesh.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Survivor's Guide to Family Happiness, by Maddie Dawson {ends 11/3}

Of course there were other things. He snored sometimes. He left his toothbrush on the sink. He left little balls of socks in the living room. But the main thing wrong was that he'd had so much--well, so much life before me He'd watched his wife give birth twice, and he'd had new babies to hold and he'd helped toddlers learn to walk, and he'd had family dogs and cats, a couple of houses over the years, and plenty of cars, and besides all that, he'd owned a business for ten years.

And me? I was simply this aging kid who'd floundered around and who was still waiting for life to happen to me. 

But I ached to be with him, as though he was the only one who could teach me how to live in the world and not be afraid. He knew how to be married, and how to fall down and get back up again, and how to sing along to the radio as though his heart had never been broken at all. 

This book often made me laugh out loud - one of the women, Nina, was quite funny. The novel tells the story from three POVs - Nina's, Lindy's, and Phoebe's - and because of that, we get to "hear" from all three of the main characters in the book.

Official synopsis:
Three women, three lives, and one chance to become a family…whether they want to or not.

Newly orphaned, recently divorced, and semiadrift, Nina Popkin is on a search for her birth mother. She’s spent her life looking into strangers’ faces, fantasizing they’re related to her, and now, at thirty-five, she’s ready for answers.

Meanwhile, the last thing Lindy McIntyre wants is someone like Nina bursting into her life, announcing that they’re sisters and campaigning to track down their mother. She’s too busy with her successful salon, three children, beautiful home, and…oh yes, some pesky little anxiety attacks.

But Nina is determined to reassemble her birth family. Her search turns up Phoebe Mullen, a guarded, hard-talking woman convinced she has nothing to offer. Gradually sharing stories and secrets, the three women make for a messy, unpredictable family that looks nothing like Nina pictured…but may be exactly what she needs. Nina’s moving, ridiculous, tragic, and transcendent journey becomes a love story proving that real family has nothing to do with DNA.

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.
*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

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.