Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Book Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Evelyn's mood turns a bit darker. "I'm not a good person, Monique. Make sure, in the book, that that's clear. That I'm not claiming to be good. That I did a lot of things that hurt a lot of people, and I would do them over again if I had to."

"I don't know," I say. "You don't seem so bad, Evelyn."

"You, of all people, are going to change your mind about that," she says. "Very soon."

I'm going to be honest and say that Taylor Jenkins Reid is one of my favorite authors nowadays, so when I was able to get my hands on a very early e-galley of her newest novel, I was quite happy. The good news is, this novel is just as good as her previous ones, and it was quite a compelling read.

Official synopsis:
Book Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
From Taylor Jenkins Reid comes an unforgettable and sweeping novel about one classic film actress’s relentless rise to the top—the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.

Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Filled with emotional insight and written with Reid’s signature talent, this is a fascinating journey through the splendor of Old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means—and what it takes—to face the truth.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Quick Pick book review: Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty

Book review: Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty.
  • Opening lines: "That doesn't sound like a school trivia night," said Mrs. Patty Ponder to Marie Antoinette. "That sounds like a riot."

    The cat didn't respond. She was dozing on the couch and found school trivia nights to be trivial.
  • Reason I picked up the book: I've read a few of Liane Moriarty's books before (and reviewed two of them), and I knew the TV show would be on HBO soon.
  • And what's this book about?
  • Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

    Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

    Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.
    New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny.

    Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

    Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive. 
  • Recommended for: Anyone who likes murder-mysteries, or who is a fan of books like Gone Girl.
  • Favorite paragraph: For a moment, Celeste couldn't speak. Big blocky words filled her mouth. She imagined letting them spill out.

    My husband hits me, Renata. Never on the face, of course. He's far too classy for that. Does yours hit you?

    And if he does, and this is the question that really interests me: Do you hit back?

    "I'm fine," she said.
  • Something to know: Episode 1 of the HBO show aired last week, and so far I am liking it, although they've already changed some details from the book - the elementary school is called Otter Bay, rather than Pirriwee Public, for example. 
  • What I would have changed: Nothing that I can think of. I really liked how we flash back from present to past - we know one of the parents gets murdered, but we don't know by whom or what the circumstances are. The identity of the parent that gets murdered, as well as who was responsible, was something I didn't see coming, too. 
  • Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.
  • Where can I find this book? Click here to purchase on Amazon.
Shailene Woodley as Jane, Reese Witherspoon as Madeline, and Nicole Kidman
as Celeste, in HBO's Big Little Lies
credit: businessinsider.com

Monday, February 20, 2017

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Lifeblood (Everlife #2), by Gena Showalter {ends 2/27}

Killian's words echo through my mind. If I fight for you, I help my realm lose the war. If I fight against you, I lose you.

No middle ground.


My tears—such silly, useless tears—spill over my cheeks, leaving hot, stinging tracks in their wake. I thought I was prepared to give up everything for my realm of choice. I thought I could live with any consequences.

But the cost is already too high. 

I reviewed Firstlife, the first book in the Everlife series, last March, and I gave it 3.5/5 stars. It was an intriguing read, and when I heard it was going to be a trilogy, I couldn't wait to read the next book in the series, Lifeblood. Although I found it to be a bit more confusing than the first book, overall I did enjoy it.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Lifeblood (Everlife #2), by Gena Showalter
My Firstlife is over, but my Everlife is only now beginning.

With her last living breath, Tenley "Ten" Lockwood made her choice and picked her realm in the Everlife. Now, as the war between Troika and Myriad rages, she must face the consequences.

Because Ten possesses a rare supernatural ability to absorb and share light, the Powers That Be have the highest expectations for her future—and the enemy wants her neutralized. Fighting to save her Secondlife, she must learn about her realm from the ground up while launching her first mission: convincing a select group of humans to join her side before they die. No pressure, right?

But Ten's competition is Killian, the boy she can't forget—the one who gave up everything for her happiness. He has only one shot at redemption: beating Ten at a game she's never even played. As their throw-downs heat up, so do their undeniable feelings, and soon, Ten will have to make another choice. Love…or victory.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Quick Pick: The Young Wives Club, by Julie Pennell

Book review: The Young Wives Club, by Julie Pennell
  • Opening lines: Two thousand, one hundred and fifty-four people live in my town. There are ten restaurants, two stoplights, one grocery store, and three schools - Toulouse Elementary, Toulouse Middle, and Toulouse High. Not the most creative names, I know, but that's Toulouse for you.

    Life here is simple. All we need is a nice white dress for church on Sundays, and a shaded porch on a hot summer day. For us, heaven on earth is a run-down restaurant with a sticky floor that serves crawfish and sweet tea.
  • Reason I picked up the book: I received an e-copy to review, and it sounded interesting. I also really liked the cover art.
  • And what's this book about?
  • In Toulouse, Louisiana finding your one true love happens sometime around high school. If you’re lucky, he might be the man you thought he was. But as four friends are about to find out, not every girl has luck on her side in this charming debut novel perfect for fans of The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Desperate Housewives.

    Laura Landry’s quarterback husband was her ticket out of Toulouse. But when a devastating football injury sidelines him, they’re forced to move back to the small town she was so desperate to leave. As Brian starts drinking instead of rehabbing his knee, Laura must reevaluate what her future looks like…and if it includes her husband.

    For years, Madison Blanchette has been waiting for bad-boy musician Cash Romero to commit to her. When wealthy George Dubois asks her out, she figures she may as well wait in style. Life with George means weekend trips to New Orleans, gourmet meals, and expensive gifts. At first she loves how George’s affection sparks Cash’s jealousy, but when George proposes to Madison, she finds herself torn between two men…

    All Claire Thibodeaux wants is to be the perfect wife and mother. If she can do everything right she won’t end up like her mom, a divorced, single parent trying to make ends meet. But when Claire’s husband Gavin, a well-respected local pastor, starts spending late nights at work and less time in their bed, she can’t help but fear that history is about to repeat itself…

    Gabrielle Vaughn never thought she’d end up with someone like her fiancĂ©. The son of a prominent congressman, Tony Ford is completely out of her league—which is why she lied to him about everything from having a college degree to the dark truth about her family. She knows she has to come clean, but how do you tell the love of your life that your entire relationship is a lie?
    As these young wives come together to help each other through life, love, and heartbreak, they discover that there are no easy answers when it comes to matters of the heart.
  • Recommended for: Anyone who likes "chick lit" or easy reads.
  • Something to know: The book revolves around 4 women - all of whom are 18 to 22 years old - who are either married or about to be married. 
  • What I would have changed: The men in this book are all awful, but I liked that the women are all strong women who eventually realized which men were good for them and which men were not (ie, their self-worth wasn't dependent on having a husband). I'm not sure what I would have changed, this book was a little TOO "beach read"-y for me but I still overall enjoyed it. 
  • Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
  • Where can I find this book? Click here to pre-order - this book will be out on February 14.

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

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