Dear Daughter

Finished Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

As soon as they processed my release Noah and I hit the ground running. A change of clothes. A wig. An inconspicuous sedan. We doubled back once, twice, then drove south when we were really headed east. In San Francisco we had a girl who looked like me board a plane to Hawaii.

Oh, I thought I was so clever.

But you probably already know that I’m not.’

LA IT girl Janie Jenkins has it all. The looks, the brains, the connections. The criminal record.

Ten years ago, in a trial that transfixed America, Janie was convicted of murdering her mother. Now she’s been released on a technicality she’s determined to unravel the mystery of her mother’s last words, words that send her to a tiny town in the very back of beyond. But with the whole of America’s media on her tail, convinced she’s literally got away with murder, she has to do everything she can to throw her pursuers off the scent.

She knows she really didn’t like her mother. Could she have killed her?”

This is one of those books that’s nearly impossible to put down.   Be warned though that, like Gone Girl, the protagonist isn’t particularly likeable.  (Understatement.)

This book works on a variety of levels.  Like Janie, we’re not sure exactly who killed her mom (it could’ve been Janie.  We don’t know).  Honestly, though, that didn’t really drive the story for me.  I was more interested in Janie learning about who her mom was before she became a mom.  And I was also very curious about how long it would take for Janie to be found out.

In that particular way, it reminded me of Casey Anthony.  We don’t know where she is, but we know she’s probably somewhere in the US.  And that makes me wonder what kind of a life she has, because it seems like the whole country (justifiably, IMO) hates her.

How do you get a job or date or have friends when everyone knows who you are and thinks you killed your kid and got away with it?

At any rate, this book is very clever. I can’t wait to see what Elizabeth Little does next.  (This is her first novel.)

Highly recommended.

Prototype

Finished Prototype by M.D. Waters.  I received a copy from the publisher on Edelweiss.  (Spoilers for its predecessor, Archetype, in this review.)

Summary (from Goodreads):

The stunning debut that began with Archetype— and has readers buzzing—concludes in Prototype, when a woman’s dual pasts lock onto a collision course, threatening her present and future.

Emma looks forward to the day when she can let go of her past—both of them. After more than a year on the run, with clues to her parents’ whereabouts within her grasp, she may finally find a place to settle down. Start a new life. Maybe even create new memories with a new family.

But the past rises to haunt her and to make sure there’s nowhere on the planet she can hide. Declan Burke wants his wife back, and with a little manipulation and a lot of reward money, he’s got the entire world on his side. Except for the one man she dreads confronting the most: Noah Tucker.

Emma returns to face what she’s done but finds that the past isn’t the problem. It’s the present—and the future it represents. Noah has moved on and another woman is raising their daughter.

In the shocking conclusion to M.D. Waters’s spectacular debut, Emma battles for her life and her freedom, tearing down walls and ripping off masks to reveal the truth. She’s decided to play their game and prove she isn’t the woman they thought she was. Even if it means she winds up dead. Or worse, reborn.”

I can’t even adequately express how much I loved this book and its predecessor, Archetype.  And I am very, very sad that the series is only two books, because I will miss Emma and Noah very, very much.

I read these two books almost back to back (thank you, Penguin!) and I recommend that very highly.  It was so fantastic to see and be able to really appreciate the growth of Emma’s character.

She went from a timid person to an actual warrior.  (The timidity is understandable, because she had no memories—can you imagine having to figure out everything about yourself?  Let alone learning that the person you were trusting to help you navigate everything was a liar and creep?)

And oh, Noah.  I loved Noah.  I pictured him as kind of a Michael Biehn-type, circa original Terminator.  And I love his relationship with Emma.  Those two are absolutely perfect together, and the love they have for each other is completely swoon-worthy.

I hope M.D. Waters continues to be this prolific, because I already need many more books from her.  Preferably within a month or two.  That’s doable, right?

Highly recommended.

Things I’m Obsessed With

Welcome to the latest Things I’m Obsessed With!

Movies:

I’ve seen 22 Jump Street four times now.  I’m pretty sure I’ve seen 21 Jump Street about 30 times but this is pretty impressive given that I almost never get to the movies.  So there’s that.

TV:

I just binge-watched The Comeback and I absolutely love it.  I’d heard good things and when HBO announced there’d be a second season, I figured it was a sign that I should watch the first.  Except now I’m done with the first season and I’m not sure when the second season will start.  (Anyone know?)

So what are you obsessed with this week?

How #WomenAgainstFeminism Gave Me Hope For The Future (Really)

It’s not a secret that I’m a feminist.

Feminism has made my life better in a lot of ways: I am able to vote. I could, if I chose, own a house and I do own a car.  I was able to go to college and I have a career (as opposed to a job).  I have a credit card in my own name.  (These are excellent things, because I am not married and do not have the patience to be a teacher or the stomach for blood to be a nurse—the two most acceptable jobs for women while they were waiting to get married and have kids.  So it’s nice that I can live on my own and provide for myself.)

So when  I woke up and logged on to Twitter and saw that it was trending, I thought it was a joke.  And then I read the entries, which are things like “Because I like to make my boyfriend a sandwich” and “Because I shave” and “Because I don’t get abortions” and “Because I don’t hate men” and then I got sad.

And then, of course, I got angry.

Women weren’t allowed to vote until 1920.  My grandmother was born in 1918, to put that in context.  We haven’t even been able to vote for 100 years yet.

Before 1974, women couldn’t have credit cards in their own name.  Think about that.  If you were a woman, you’ve only been able to have a credit card for 40 years.

But you know, whatever.  It’s way better to make guys sandwiches.  Because feminists never do nice things for other people, probably because we’re too busy singing Ani DiFranco and Tori Amos songs and debating the best way to kill all the men and make it look like an accident.  (Carbon monoxide poisoning was my vote, but Headquarters didn’t like that idea.)

But this post isn’t about that.

Instead, as I kept reading and gritting my teeth and wondering why Fox News gets to dictate what feminism is, I started seeing other Tweets.  I saw teen boys who identified as feminist and read thoughtful columns and all of a sudden, I felt better.

We know what feminism is, and we know what it’s not.  Let the haters hate.  Let the people who get their opinions from Fox News be as willfully ignorant as they choose.

Our job isn’t to change minds; it’s to change the world.  And we’ve got this.  When you have the next generation on your side, you know you’re doing things right.  It’s why I knew that gay marriage would be legal in my lifetime (at least in any state I’d want to live in).  We’re right.  And of course the other side is scared and mean: the world is leaving them behind. I’d be scared and mean, too.

So it’s fine.  You keep doing you and talking about how we’re all ranty and horrible.  We’ll be over here, getting shit done.

Like No Other

Finished Like No Other by Una LaMarche.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Fate brought them together. Will life tear them apart? 

Devorah is a consummate good girl who has never challenged the ways of her strict Hasidic upbringing.

Jaxon is a fun-loving, book-smart nerd who has never been comfortable around girls (unless you count his four younger sisters).

They’ve spent their entire lives in Brooklyn, on opposite sides of the same street. Their paths never crossed . . . until one day, they did.

When a hurricane strikes the Northeast, the pair becomes stranded in an elevator together, where fate leaves them no choice but to make an otherwise risky connection.

Though their relation is strictly forbidden, Devorah and Jax arrange secret meetings and risk everything to be together. But how far can they go? Just how much are they willing to give up?

In the timeless tradition of West Side Story and Crossing Delancey, this thoroughly modern take on romance will inspire laughter, tears, and the belief that love can happen when and where you least expect it.”

I absolutely loved this book.  It’s smart and sweet and, best of all, didn’t go for an easy story or ending.  When I say that, I mean that it would have been very easy for Devorah to renounce her faith and/or family or for Jaxon to decide that he would be willing to convert.  Devorah’s faith is a huge part of who she is, and it would be incredibly unrealistic for her to decide that she was willing to walk away from it (and from her family) to be with a guy.

This is a love story, yes, but it’s also a story of how each character grew up and became adults instead of children.

I absolutely adored this book and hope to read Five Summers soon. (Thanks to the miracle of Penguin’s First to Read program, I may even have read it by the time this review is live on my blog.)

Highly recommended.

 

Frog Music

Finished Frog Music by Emma Donoghue.

Summary (from Goodreads):

From the author of the worldwide bestseller Room: “Her greatest achievement yet…Emma Donoghue shows more than range with FROG MUSIC–she shows genius.” — Darin Strauss, author of Half a Life

Summer of 1876: San Francisco is in the fierce grip of a record-breaking heat wave and a smallpox epidemic. Through the window of a railroad saloon, a young woman named Jenny Bonnet is shot dead.

The survivor, her friend Blanche Beunon, is a French burlesque dancer. Over the next three days, she will risk everything to bring Jenny’s murderer to justice–if he doesn’t track her down first. The story Blanche struggles to piece together is one of free-love bohemians, desperate paupers, and arrogant millionaires; of jealous men, icy women, and damaged children. It’s the secret life of Jenny herself, a notorious character who breaks the law every morning by getting dressed: a charmer as slippery as the frogs she hunts.

In thrilling, cinematic style, FROG MUSIC digs up a long-forgotten, never-solved crime. Full of songs that migrated across the world, Emma Donoghue’s lyrical tale of love and bloodshed among lowlifes captures the pulse of a boomtown like no other.”

This is another review where I can’t be very specific because the story reveals itself in a very specific way and I don’t want to ruin anything for you.

This book reminded me a lot of the other books of hers I’d read and is not at all like Room.  So if you’re expecting another Room, this is not your book.

But this is an amazing piece of historical fiction, which is how I originally know Emma Donoghue (I’ve read The Sealed Letter and Life Mask, in addition to Room).

These are based on real people and I enjoyed the afterword at the end of the book, which gave more information on those characters.

Highly recommended.

One More Night

Finished One More Night by Lauren Blakely.  I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Your presence is requested for another installment in the tale of Julia and Clay, two red-hot lovers. Come inside their world of passion and suspense once more for a deliciously erotic and heart-poundingly dangerous story of pearls, handcuffs, thieves, mobsters, poker and pleasure in the city of sin…

Happy endings don’t come easily. They’re hard-won and Clay Nichols is going to have to keep earning his…
Now living together in New York with her debt safely paid off, sexy bartender Julia Bell and hot-as-hell entertainment lawyer Clay thought their future was clear sailing.
But life doesn’t work that way and the fiery lovers run into a slew of new challenges as Clay tries to put a ring on it. Trouble looms in every corner–trouble from clients, trouble with timing, and, most of all, trouble from her past returns on their trip to Vegas. A dangerous man who knows much more about Julia than he should surfaces in Sin City where they’re supposed to be enjoying a weekend getaway. Following her in the casino, watching her every move at the pool, targeting her as she plays poker.
Too bad Clay is called away repeatedly, leaving Julia alone in a sprawling hotel full of dark corners, back rooms, and unsavory characters. Can Clay save her from danger one more time, and then finally get down on one knee? Or will he be too late for the woman he adores?
Read on in ONE MORE NIGHT, a novel in the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Seductive Nights series packed with more sex, more dirty talk and more danger. And per your request, the recipe for Julia’s award-winning cocktail, the Purple Snow Globe, has finally been revealed in this ebook!”

This was slightly different in tone than the earlier two Clay and Julia books.  They’re already much darker than most of her other books, but this is the darkest yet.  As the synopsis states, there’s a sense of danger all through this book, and while we know it’s coming, we don’t know who the danger is.

But while there are a lot of tense moments, there’s also a lot of the romance (and steamy scenes) we’ve come to expect from Clay and Julia (and from Lauren Blakely’s books in general).

I’m hoping for more Clay and Julia, but I also can’t wait for every other book she writes.  I love that she’s very prolific.

Highly recommended.

Those Who Wish Me Dead

Finished Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

The newest thriller from Michael Koryta, New York Times bestselling author

When 13-year-old Jace Wilson witnesses a brutal murder, he’s plunged into a new life, issued a false identity and hidden in a wilderness skills program for troubled teens. The plan is to get Jace off the grid while police find the two killers. The result is the start of a nightmare.

The killers, known as the Blackwell Brothers, are slaughtering anyone who gets in their way in a methodical quest to reach him. Now all that remains between them and the boy are Ethan and Allison Serbin, who run the wilderness survival program; Hannah Faber, who occupies a lonely fire lookout tower; and endless miles of desolate Montana mountains.

The clock is ticking, the mountains are burning, and those who wish Jace Wilson dead are no longer far behind.”

First to warn you, I don’t want to discuss the plot too much because it runs the risk of ruining it and you don’t want any aspect of this book to be ruined.

I absolutely loved this book.  I read it over the course of my vacation and it was the best/worst decision I could’ve made.  I didn’t have much free time for reading and it was so hard to walk away from these characters and plot (even though I had a great time).

So I would advise you to learn from my mistake and read this when you have time to read it all in one gulp, because that’s what you’ll want to do.

Like all of his books, this novel is completely intense and the last hundred pages especially are impossible to put down (that’s when I finally basically told Jen to do whatever she wanted to do and that I couldn’t do anything until I was done).

The easy comparison to this book is to The Client, but it’s a lot better.  (No offense to The Client, which I enjoyed when I read it.)  I think the main reason this book completely surpasses that one is the characters. I liked Mark Sway but I love Jace.  Everything about him is believable, including the fact that he’s so obviously a kid who’s way, WAY out of his depth.

But I love everyone—Ethan and Allison and Hannah and all the characters you’ll meet here.  Even the Blackwell brothers, who are the creepiest killers since Anton in No Country For Old Men—they’re unlike anyone I’ve ever seen and I guarantee they’ll give you chills, too.

Highly, highly recommended.

Landline

Finished Landline by Rainbow Rowell.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now.

Maybe that was always besides the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?”

I am so in love with Rainbow Rowell’s books.  I’ve read all four and they are all so different but all are excellent.

I could relate to Eleanor & Park and Fangirls, but this book was different for me.  I’ve never been married and I’m not anyone’s mother, so I was a little worried initially.  I shouldn’t have been.

This book is amazing and perfect and I didn’t need those relationships to appreciate it.

I loved Georgie and the fact that she had a career and a family and didn’t apologize for it.  (And I loved Neal and the fact that he was comfortable enough to be a stay at home dad and that the two of them were just this fantastic couple.  We didn’t see it so much in the present day but I loved the conversations between present-Georgie and past-Neal.)

And I love the fact that this book absolutely made sense and it didn’t feel cheesy or contrived (like, say, Peggy Sue Got Married).

Highly, highly recommended.

Vacation, Day 10

This was my last day of vacation, but also a great one.

We met my friend Christa and her husband Zack and their baby Jamie for lunch and it was really fun. If you get the chance to hang out with them, do it. :)

Then Jen and I went to see Deliver Us From Evil, because if I can see a horror movie, I DO see a horror movie. It was fun but not that scary (although there were definitely scary parts).

Then we went home and watched Teen Witch, as you do.

Now back to reality…