Friday, July 29, 2016

Night Film by Marisha Pessl

Night Film by Marisha Pessl 

Review by Lauren

source: personal copy; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryOn a damp October night, beautiful young Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley’s life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive cult-horror-film director Stanislas Cordova—a man who hasn’t been seen in public for more than thirty years.

For McGrath, another death connected to this seemingly cursed family dynasty seems more than just a coincidence. Though much has been written about Cordova’s dark and unsettling films, very little is known about the man himself.

Driven by revenge, curiosity, and a need for the truth, McGrath, with the aid of two strangers, is drawn deeper and deeper into Cordova’s eerie, hypnotic world.

The last time he got close to exposing the director, McGrath lost his marriage and his career. This time he might lose even more.

Review: I've heard really good things about this one and I kept seeing it when I worked in a public library. Finally, I found a cheap copy to buy and I made the time this summer to read it. First, I have to say that I thought it would all end a bit different. Basically, I really liked this book until the end. It's not bad, per se, but there is a place I thought the book was going to go and it didn't. Sigh. Who knows though? It might really work for you!

This is a difficult novel to explain, so I'd say go with the summary and then dive in! It follows Scott McGrath, a reporter who has gone after filmmaker Stanislas Cordova in the past and lost his career. He's now divorced and trying to take care of his young daughter when he can. After a few strange evenings though, Scott is back on the case though. Cordova's 25 year old daughter has committed suicide and Scott wants to know why. Was their merit to his earlier investigation? Does Cordova ham children, and did he hurt his own daughter?

Now, to imagine Cordova, I always thought of him as a recluse Hitchcock in a way. Someone that makes darker films, that shines the light on the darker side of humanity. Except Cordova eventually goes into hiding and releases these films in underground locations. People say they are horrifying to view and that the people that act in them often disappear afterwards. What's the truth? Is it all just a way of making people want to watch these films?

Along with Scott, he also investigates with two other young people, who have different reasons for wanting to know why Cordova's daughter, Ashley, killed herself. These are things you learn as the book goes on.

What I absolutely loved about this book is that it includes newspaper articles, photos, message boards, etc. It's a uniquely formatted book that really worked.

I read this book for the Unique Formatting Book Challenge I am currently hosting. Remember, if you have read/reviewed a Unique Format book this year, link up before Monday, August 1 and win $ to The Book Depository!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

ARC August: Read All the Books!

I have decided to take part in ARC August for the first time. This event is hosted by Read.Sleep.Repeat and the idea is to read as many ARCs as you can during the month of August. I'm already reading August ARCs that I have from BEA and Netgalley, but I have a few more, plus a TON of books to read/review for September, so I'd like to get through as many of these books as I can.

September Netgalley Reads:

Connection Error by Annabeth Albert
Leave Me by Gayle Forman
Say It Right by A.M. Arthur
The Talented Mr. Rivers by HelenKay Dimon
The Illustrated Book of Sayings by Ella Frances Sanders

September BEA Reads:

I shared a picture of my September BEA picks on Instagram after coming home from Chicago, so I'll just share a link here:

What are you hoping to get read next month? Will you take part in ARC August?


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

W.O.W.: Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

I haven't done a WOW post in awhile, but apparently I'm slacking on new posts lately, so I thought it was about time that I shared one! I keep track of certain books I want on Amazon and Goodreads, and this is one I found on Goodreads!


Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down by Anne Valente

Out: October 4, 2016

Add on Goodreads

Official SummaryThe lives of four teenagers are capsized by a shocking school shooting and its aftermath in this powerful debut novel, a coming of age story with the haunting power of Station Elevenand the bittersweet poignancy of Everything I Never Told You.

As members of the yearbook committee, Nick, Zola, Matt, and Christina struggle to capture all the memorable moments of their junior year at Lewis and Clark High School amid documenting a horrific tragedy—a deadly school shooting by a classmate. But the shooting is only the first inexplicable trauma to rock their small suburban St. Louis town. A series of mysterious house fires have hit the families of the victims one by one, pushing the grieving town to the edge.

Matt, the son of the lead detective investigating the events, plunges into the case on his own, scouring the Internet to uncover what could cause a fire with no evident starting point. As their friend pulls farther away, Nick and Christina battle to save damaged relationships, while Zola fights to keep herself together.

Doesn't this just sound great? I'm fascinated by books that deal with school shootings, because it does happen. It's horrific, but it happens, and books sometimes help you understand a bit more. I like that this book seems to be more than just the shooting though. I also love a good mystery, which I'm assuming this one is, based on the summary.

What do you think? 

Monday, July 25, 2016

If You Were Me and Lived In...Elizabethan England + Giveaway

Thank you to The Children's Book Review and Carole P. Roman for allowing me to take part in this blog tour. This is a sponsored review, but all opinions (as always) are my own. I was sent a variety of books by Roman to look over, but since I'm allowed to focus on just one, I thought I'd share a book that I thought many of you might enjoy! 

If You Were Me And Lived In....Elizabethan England by Carole P. Roman and Illustrated by Paula Tabor

Review by Lauren

source: book from author for tour; all opinions are my own

Review: This book (and the others by Ms. Roman) are like a textbook and picture book all mixed in one. It's a great way to teach younger students about other countries or time periods. I thought Elizabethan England might be a time period that many of my regular readers would enjoy, so I'm going to focus on this book in particular. The story is written as if someone from that time period is telling a current child about how they lived. Hence the whole "If you were me..." This book focuses on the "reader" as if they are a female, but they talk about boys in this time period too, so it's good for both genders in the long run.

One thing that I really loved is that the book doesn't just give facts and an illustration, moving from one thing to another. Yes, there is plenty in information but it made it feel like an actual story in way, by talking about clothes in terms of what this girl and her family wears and showing the theater when her brother runs off to join a theater group instead of staying home and becoming a baker like his father. It's this type of storytelling that helps everything flow well, so it didn't feel like a dull textbook. 

I wouldn't say I'm an expert on this time period but I do know a bit about it, mainly having studied Shakespeare in college. However, there are so many fun little details that really make this interesting for any age. One tidbit/fact that's included is how the phrase "it's raining cats and dogs" probably came out! Do you know?

At the end of the book is a spread of actual people from this time period that are important and a little summary of who they are and what they did. Some obvious inclusions are Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth I, but others are included as well. After this, the book includes a Glossary that goes through and gives definitions for the various words mentioned in the book. I loved this because if you're teaching someone about this time period, they might not automatically know about The Globe Theater or the definition of ale. 

Overall, I enjoyed this one, and I thought the illustrations were done well. I'd recommend this for librarians, teachers, those who home school their kids, and anyone else who wants to share about certain countries/time periods with their children --- or even learn more about it themselves! 


 One (1) winner receives the grand prize: 



 A $50 Amazon gift card 

Value: $359.75 

Four (4) winners receive: A choice of one book from either series. 

Value: $10.99 + 

Giveaway begins July 20, 2016, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends August 20, 2016, at 11:59 P.M. PST. 

Giveaway open to US and Canadian addresses only. 

Prizes and samples provided by Carole P. Roman. 

 a Rafflecopter giveaway



What a fascinating way to introduce young children to the world as it was, so that they may begin to learn about their roots and how the world and the people in it have evolved. Yes, Carole P. Roman, thanks to you, it is time for readers to hop aboard their time travel machines. Where will they go first?

Readers will learn about things like housing, land, cooking, diet, clothing, and the jobs and hobbies people had in different times. Questions are often asked to inspire deeper thinking and encourage young learners to look for changes between the historical period and our current times. The end pages usually include more specific information about the importance of the time period itself, a list and brief biography of famous people, and a glossary of foreign words.

Discover Ancient Greece, Renaissance Italy, Elizabethan England, Colonial America, Ancient China, American West, and the Middle Ages.

Coming soon: Viking Europe and Mayan Empire

The complete series is available on Amazon.


In IF YOU WERE ME AND LIVED IN … AN INTRODUCTION TO CULTURES AROUND THE WORLD, readers learn what it is like to live in other countries, see famous architecture, celebrate a favorite holiday, discover popular names for both boys and girls, and they will be fascinated with diverse and rich history and colorful traditions. On the way, they might also learn a foreign word or two!

Explore Mexico, France, South Korea, Turkey, Norway, Kenya, Australia, India, Greece, Peru, Russia, Portugal, Hungary, Scotland, China, Italy, Egypt, and Brazil.

Coming soon: Poland and Israel

This complete series is available on Amazon.


Carole P. Roman is the award winning author of the nonfiction series of children’s books, If You Were Me and Lived in … . The first title in the collection, If You Were Me and Lived in…Mexico, won the Pinnacle Award for Best in Children’s Nonfiction in 2012. If You Were Me and Lived in…Russia and If You Were Me and Lived in…France were finalists in the Indie Fab Foreword Review Book of the Year. Norway and South Korea have also been named as Book of the Year with Rebecca’s Reads and Children’s Reader’s View Book of the Year. Roman has also found success with her Captain No Beard children’s books. Her debut, Captain No Beard: An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate’s Life, was named a Kirkus Best of 2012, received a Star of Exceptional Merit, and won the Pinnacle Award in 2012. Roman lives on Long Island with her husband and very near her children.



Friday, July 22, 2016

Leave a Mark Auctions: Seeking Sponsors + Publicity Help

I mentioned this a few weeks ago, I believe, but I wanted to remind you because are a little over a week away before the Leave a Mark Auctions come back!!! Be sure to follow the blog, or bookmark the site, so you can be on top of all the auctions! If you win any of the auctions in August or September, then your money will benefit First Book. If you win any of the auctions in October, November, or December, your money will benefit The Trevor Project.

I'm hoping that the more followers I get, the more I'll be able to offer some fun giveaways too. I want to support those of you who follow, spread the word, and who bid when you can! This is all about helping charities and I hope you will join me. The blog has all the details on how things will work, as well as some information on the history of the auctions. If you are new to my blog, you might not remember these auctions, but for those that do, I hope you're excited for their return!

Sponsors: Do you have an online shop or service you want to promote? I'm offering space on the blog. I don't have set prices right now, but all of this money will help me with shipping costs since most of the authors mail the books to me to THEN send out to the winner! Since all the money the winner donates goes to the charity, that means the shipping costs come from me, so I'd love to get some help with that! If you happen to know of anyone that might be interested in this, please send them my way! You can email me here: lauren51990 AT aol DOT com and put "Auction Sponsor" in the subject line.

If you would be willing to blog about the auctions or tweet, it would mean a great deal! If you have contact with any authors who may want to donate an annotated book, please do let them know! The more, the merrier! Of course, if you ARE an author and reading this, get in touch too!

Finally, I'd be happy to do a guest post or even answer some questions about the auctions if you would post about it on your blog! I'd really like to spread the word as much as possible!


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Reaper's Fire by Joanna Wylde Excerpt Reveal

Alicia here, with an excerpt from Joanna Wylde's newest book in her Reapers Motorcyle Club series.



New York Times bestselling author Joanna Wylde returns to the “wild and raw”* world of the Reapers MC with the story of Gage and Tinker…

The club comes first.

I’ve lived by those words my whole life—assumed I’d die by them, too, and I never had a problem with that. My Reaper brothers took my back and I took theirs and it was enough. Then I met her. Tinker Garrett. She’s beautiful, she’s loyal, and she works so damned hard it scares me sometimes . . . She deserves a good man—one better than me. I can’t take her yet because the club still needs me. There’s another woman, another job, another fight just ahead.

Now she’ll learn I’ve been lying to her all along. None of it’s real. Not my name, not my job, not even the clothes I wear. She thinks I’m nice. She pretends we’re just friends, that I’ve still got a soul . . . Mine’s been dead for years. Now I’m on fire for this woman, and a man can only burn for so long before he destroys everything around him.

I’m coming for you, Tinker.


It was almost seven that evening when I felt the AC kick back on. I’d been lying on my back on the (relatively) cool tile floor behind the counter, staring up at the pressed-tin ceiling and trying to remember why I hadn’t already moved back to Seattle.
In Seattle it rained.
Cool breezes blew off the bay and the lush greenery covered everything with its shaded canopy. People didn’t really need air-conditioning, but if they happened to have it and it broke, there were lots of repair men available.
Of course, Seattle also had Brandon. Not only that, my dad didn’t want to move, and I’d come to realize I couldn’t leave him here alone. It wasn’t safe for him, not since Mom died.
At least the AC was working again, blowing down from the ceiling vent across my sweaty body, reminding me that while the world might not be crawling with perfect men, at least there were still a few useful ones running around. Cooper Romero was a keeper, and it had nothing to do with how sexy he was . . . although the fact that he was sex on a stick—make that sex with a stick—didn’t exactly diminish his appeal.
When I’d dragged him up to the black tar roof to show him the ancient AC, I’d expected him to make a run for it. Any sensible man would. Instead, he’d spent the whole afternoon busting his ass to save my chocolates—Oh God, I wish that were code for something more exciting—officially qualifying him as a superhero in my book.
As for me, there wasn’t much I could do once I got all the sweets safely downstairs into the basement. There weren’t any customers walking in off the street, and seeing as I couldn’t make or ship candy in a 102-degree shop, I’d alternated between attempting to read a book, looking over orders I couldn’t fulfill on my laptop, and bringing Cooper glasses of iced tea. I’d been nervous around him at first, but you can only stay nervous for so long when you’re sweating like a pig—there’s a certain freedom in knowing you look like hell and there’s no saving your hair. I’d thrown my arm across my eyes in a pathetic attempt to block out reality toward the end.
When cold air started flowing into the room, I could’ve cried with relief. He’d never had a chance to fill out the application form, and I’d long since decided it didn’t matter. Unless he was an ax murderer, I’d give him the apartment and the job.
Might give it to him even if he was, to be honest.
“It’s working again,” Cooper announced, and I jerked, startled. Shit, had I fallen asleep? Opening my eyes, I looked up to find him standing over me. Dear God in heaven—that was one hell of a bare chest.
Holy. Shit.
I’d taken note of his build when he first walked in the shop, but everything under his shirt had been theoretical. Now there was six-foot-plus of raw sex appeal right there, all sweaty and sculpted and . . . well, let’s just say I’d be stopping off on the way home to pick up some fresh batteries.
That’s when the situation hit me—Cooper Romero was the hottest man I’d met in forever, and he’d just found me lying on the floor in my own sweat and filth like a dog. Typical luck. I scrambled to my feet, pretending I wasn’t totally embarrassed (I was) and not in the least bit freaked out by how unspeakably attractive this guy was. Okay, “attractive” wasn’t quite the right word, because it implied a certain level of polish and class that just didn’t fit Cooper at all.
Brandon was attractive.
I’d lick him all over and massage his butt if he asked. He stared down at me, his eyes carefully blank, making it very clear he wasn’t asking. Story of my fucking life. Sitting up, I pushed myself to my feet without bothering to dust off. Lost cause at this point.
“Not sure how much life the AC has left,” he said slowly. “I managed to get it going, but fixing it right would cost more than it’s worth and then some.”
Of course it would.
“I just need to get through the summer,” I told him, wiping a finger under my eye. My perfectly applied, vintage-style makeup had melted, leaving me with a clown face. Fortunately I’d (mostly) given up on caring three hours ago, right around the time I’d discovered the floor tiles were cooler than the rest of the room. “After that, I’ll worry about the furnace and by next summer I might not even be here anymore.”
“Really?” he asked, cocking a brow. “You selling out?”
“Not sure,” I told him. “I’m not thinking that far ahead right now. Things are very iffy with my dad . . . I think he’s got some—”
No. I couldn’t say it. Saying it out loud made it too real, plus the last thing I needed were a bunch of rumors flying around town. So far we’d kept dad’s situation mostly to family and friends.
Shaking myself, I smiled at him. “Thank you so much for fixing that. I’m not even sure what I would’ve done—I can’t afford to miss a week’s worth of orders. Not only would it put me behind, it would burn my customers.”
He nodded, studying me thoughtfully. God, he really was beautiful . . . Nothing like Brandon’s polished sophistication. No, Cooper gave off more of a warrior-tossing-you-over-his-fearless-steed kind of vibe. Yeah, like that would end well, because my track record with men was so fucking perfect, right?
Pull your head out of the gutter. He probably has a girlfriend.
At least I could finally lock up this hellhole of a shop and get a shower.
“Thank you so much—you have no idea how much I appreciate it.”
“No, but the whole throwing yourself at my feet thing was a subtle hint,” he said, and I realized he was teasing me. Was he flirting? I couldn’t decide if that kicked ass or scared the shit out of me.
“Anyway, it’s getting late,” I told him, feeling suddenly awkward. “I’m going to grab some dinner down the street, and then I could take you over and show you the apartment.”
A small, knowing smile crossed his face, and I realized he thought I was hitting on him.
“No,” I said quickly, mortified. “I wasn’t asking you out. Omigod, this is weird.”
“What, you aren’t turned on by a man who smells like old socks?” he asked lightly, raising his arm and giving a sniff. He was joking, but the sweat wasn’t a turnoff. Nope. Not even a little bit. “If that’s not enough for you, the roof tar on my ass should be a big attraction.”
Closing my eyes, I bit back a groan. He started laughing. Not in a cruel way, but companionably, which I guess made sense because both of us were disgusting as hell. Of course, now I wanted to check out his ass, but I managed to keep my eyes on target (mostly) when I answered him.
“Well, it’s sexy but I’ll manage to control myself somehow. I do want to grab dinner, though, and we need to figure out the apartment details.”
“I’ll take the place, doesn’t matter what it is,” he replied. “I’m in a hotel and it’s getting old. I’d love to move in on Sunday, but I can’t go look at it right now—gotta get my ass cleaned up. Meeting up with someone later.”
Of course he was, because men who looked like Cooper didn’t spend Friday nights alone.
“Sounds great,” I told him, refusing to show any disappointment. “Just text me when you’re ready, and I’ll get you the key.”
He opened his mouth to say something, but a sudden pounding against the locked shop door caught us both off guard. I spun around to find Talia Jackson glaring at me through the glass. Talia and three of her skankier friends, including Sadie Baxter, a girl I used to babysit when I was in college.
A girl who was now twenty.
“Cooper!” Talia shouted. “What the fuck are you doing?”
I glanced at my new handyman, startled. Talia Jackson and her brother, Marsh, were two of the nastiest people I’d ever met. Marsh was president of the local motorcycle gang, a group called the Nighthawk Raiders motorcycle club. The club had been around most of my life, but it was only in recent years that they’d turned really bad. I mean, they were never the kinder, gentler sort of bikers, but I’d never been actively afraid when I’d heard a motorcycle, either.
Now? Let’s just say we’d all gotten a little edgy.
“That’s my girl,” Cooper said, and something deep down inside of me died a little. Of course he’d go for someone like Talia. She might have the heart of a deranged circus clown—you know, the kind that survives by eating the souls of innocent children—but she was hot.
Really hot.
Not only that, she was slutty, and while I wasn’t into the whole slut-shaming thing (like I had room to judge after the bachelorette party debacle . . . ugh), I wasn’t naive enough to think he was attracted to her personality. Cooper Romero might have a sweet smile, and he’d fixed my AC, but now I had proof positive that he’d never be into a girl like me.
Specifically, a grown-up with curves.
All righty, then. Probably for the best anyway.
“Just a sec!” I called to her, determined to take the high road, then I grabbed my keys so I could open the door. She pushed inside with her posse, and I do mean pushed. Little bitch shoved me so hard I nearly knocked over the display of antique Russian teacups my mother had lovingly collected. (So far as I knew, she’d never sold a single one of them, but it’d made her happy.)
“Careful,” I warned, and Talia turned on me.
“What did you just say to me?”
“Babe, let’s talk,” Cooper said, catching her arm and pulling her into his body. She squealed, going from aggressive to flirty in an instant.
“You’re all sweaty. It’s sooo disgusting.”
I noted she wasn’t trying to get away. Cooper smiled down at her, a hint of something feral in his eyes. Yeah, okay—whatever smile he’d been giving me, it hadn’t held any of that kind of intensity.
Yours truly was officially chopped liver.
“I was just about to head out and grab a shower,” he told her. “Wanna come with me?”
She pouted. “I can’t. The girls and I need to get fixed up. I’ll see you at the bar, though, right?”
He looked down at her, offering a sexy, indulgent smile. “Can’t wait.”
“Perfect,” she said, reaching around to grab his ass for a quick squeeze. Then she turned and strutted back out without a word to me, her gaggle of girls following like well-trained geese. Sadie gave a little finger wave on the way. The door closed behind them with a cheerful little jingle, and I wondered why the hell I even bothered with Hallies Falls.
I missed Seattle.
So what if it had Brandon? I could drown him in Lake Washington. Problem solved.
“Sorry about that—Talia is a little high-strung,” Cooper said.
“Oh, I know all about her,” I replied, hoping I didn’t sound as catty as I felt. Cooper didn’t seem to notice.
“I’m new to town, but she’s been showing me around,” Cooper continued, stepping over to stand in front of me, hands shoved deep in his front pockets. “I should get going.”
“Of course—don’t let me keep you. What time do you think you’ll be in touch tomorrow?”
“Afternoon work?”
“No problem. Looking forward to hearing from you.”
He nodded and pushed through the door, walking down the street without a second look back. I locked up behind him, wondering why all the hottest guys were douchebags. Not that Cooper had acted like a douche, but he had to be my age or older—late thirties—and Talia was the same age as Sadie. She was also a raging bitch. There was only one reason a man like him would date a girl like that, and it had nothing to do with personality or character.
Cooper Romero might be beautiful, but obviously he was shallow. Suppose it was too much to hope for a man who could fix an air conditioner and have a soul at the same time.

 Are you ready for Gage and Tinker’s story?
Reaper’s Fire releases on August 9th!

Google Play:

Have you heard?
Reaper’s Property by Joanna Wylde has a NEW COVER!

Meet Horse & Marie for ONLY $3.99 (normally $7.99)

Author’s Note: This book was originally released through a small publisher in 2013. This independent edition has been lightly edited, and contains a bonus short, “Sticky Sweet” (originally published on the author’s website) and a Q&A with the author.

About the Author

Joanna Wylde is a New York Times bestselling author and creator of the Reapers Motorcycle Club series. She currently lives in Idaho.

Stalk Her: Website | Facebook | TwitterGoodreads

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Bridge the Gap: The Doll's House by M.J. Arlidge

The Doll's House by M.J. Arlidge

Review by Lauren

source: personal copy; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryA young woman wakes up in a cold, dark cellar, with no idea how she got there or who her kidnapper is. So begins her terrible nightmare.

Nearby, the body of another young woman is discovered buried on a remote beach. But the dead girl was never reported missing - her estranged family having received regular texts from her over the years. Someone has been keeping her alive from beyond the grave.

For Detective Inspector Helen Grace it's chilling evidence that she's searching for a monster who is not just twisted but also clever and resourceful - a predator who's killed before.

And as Helen struggles to understand the killer's motivation, she begins to realize that she's in a desperate race against time . . .

Review: I don't read a lot of series because I find I don't keep up with them, but I'm trying to do my best to read these as soon as I can as it's seriously one of my favorites series. These novels are just so good if you love a great mystery/thriller. The Doll's House is the third book in the Helen Grace series, and each title is based off a nursery rhyme of sorts (the first was Eeny Meeny, the second Pop Goes the Weasel, and the fourth one out now is called Liar Liar). This is a series based in the UK, so they get the book's releases earlier than the U.S. Regardless, I'm doing my best to keep up!

When it comes to these series, I love how it follows not just Helen Grace but other important people in the book so you get a wider view of things. You follow other police officers, you get the victims (especially the girl being kept in the 'doll's house' in this one) and even the criminal! The latter's point of view is usually creepy, yet really fascinating. It's nice to get a look into their mind on why they do the things they do. For this criminal, why is kidnapping women and keeping them locked in a underground basement of sorts? Why is keeping them "alive" by using their phones to randomly tweet or text a family member? What does he gain from this and how can he keep his identity secret after all these years?

The Doll's House is just another exciting mystery in the series. I never quite know what's happening and it's intriguing to go along on the case with the police officers. I also love getting to know more and more about our detective, Helen Grace, and what motivates her, as well as how she does her job after experiencing so many serial killers and other 'bad guys' in her career!

Since I live in the U.S, a Bridge the Gap book for me would be one where the author is NOT from my own country. This counts as Arlidge is a British author and sets his series in the U.K.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Review by Lauren

source: copy from BEA '16; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s works, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

Review: This was one of the first books I read after coming back from BEA and man, is it good! This was a definite 5-star read for me and I don't give out a TON of those. I love a good mystery/thriller and this book definitely kept me reading and wondering. I had no idea what was going on until all was revealed in the end, and I think it was done very well.

Lo is a great character, because she's someone you can easily like and relate too. She's a travel reporter who just wants to progress her career, but she's not sure how to do that. When her boss can't go on the inaugural cruise for the new ship Aurora, Lo is given the task and it's a big deal. She could really do things for her career if all goes well, especially since a lot of other top reporters will be cruising with her.

Unfortunately, something almost immediately goes wrong. Lo wakes in the middle of the night, swearing she heard a scream. Then she hears a splash, almost as if someone had tipped a body overboard. She goes onto her balcony but can't see anything, until she notices a streak of blood on the door next door. Of course, no blood is there when security finally make it to investigate. The room next door is spotless, even though Lo met a woman there just that evening, and the room had been full of clothes and makeup. Everything was gone, and Cabin 10 is meant to be empty. Nobody is missing. So what did Lo see and hear? And will anyone believe her?

A possible murder on a cruise is a great idea. If everyone is accounted for, then did a murder actually occur? And if it did, the murderer is probably still on board. Lo realizes this. She knows if she makes too much of a fuss, they could come after her, but she also can't forget the woman she borrowed mascara from. If she was dead, she had to figure out who killed her and bring justice to the case.

Like I said before, this was a 5-star read for me and it's one I'd definitely push on anyone who wants a really good mystery that leaves you guessing and your heart pounding! It's very much a novel of suspense. I must read the author's book before this one!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

Review by Lauren

source: personal copy; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryWith three hit shows on television and three children at home, the uber-talented Shonda Rhimes had lots of good reasons to say NO when an unexpected invitation arrived. Hollywood party? No. Speaking engagement? No. Media appearances? No.

And there was the side-benefit of saying No for an introvert like Shonda: nothing new to fear.

Then Shonda’s sister laid down a challenge: just for one year, try to say YES to the unexpected invitations that come your way. Shonda reluctantly agreed―and the result was nothing short of transformative. In Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes chronicles the powerful impact saying yes had on every aspect of her life―and how we can all change our lives with one little word. Yes.

Review: The only show I've ever watched by Shonda Rhimes is Grey's Anatomy, but that doesn't matter when it comes to this book. This is something that everyone should be reading, though I can see how it might work best if you're a woman like Shonda or even a working mom, again like Shonda. I'm a woman, yes, but I'm not a mom yet. Despite this, I loved this memoir. It's not a story of how Shonda became as successful as she is or how she grew up with all her siblings, etc. though these are things that are touched on. Instead, this is a story about a certain time in Shonda's life when she realizes that she says no to everything. She decides to set herself a challenge: for one year, say yes to every invitation that comes her way.

These invitations are university commencement speeches, going on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, starring in an episode of TV, and more. While we can't always relate to some of the things that Shonda says "yes" to, the spirit is the same for everyone. Do not let the fear of embarrassment or not enjoying yourself stop you from saying "no" to every offer that comes your way. Sure, it's not always wise to say "yes" to everything, but the more you do, the more you realize things about yourself. You can accomplish more in your life by saying yes. I loved the philosophy, because I know what it's like to be nervous in social situations or trying something new. Before I read this book, I had already been trying to do more and experience more, but this is definitely a great reminder that it's okay to put yourself out there sometimes.

While full of great information and an interesting look at how saying "yes" can benefit you, this is also a relatively short memoir. It's an easy one to read and savor, so check it out!