All posts by Kelly

Big Little Lies

Finished Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal. . . .

A murder… . . . a tragic accident… . . . or just parents behaving badly?
What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.   But who did what?

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.”

I absolutely loved this book!  It seems like every time I read a Liane Moriarty book, it’s better than the one I read before it; she’s definitely a must-read author of mine. I’ve also bought her backlist but haven’t had a chance to read those books yet (but soon!).

I love the way that the story unfolds gradually and that quotes from other parents are interspersed in the chapters.  It definitely added to the feeling of trying to figure out what was going on.  (I was also so afraid that one of the characters I loved would be the one that ended up dead.  Obviously I’m not going to confirm/deny that, but there was a definite tension for me while I was reading this.)

I love that her characters aren’t perfect.  I love Madeline but she has a temper and holds grudges (we would be best friends).  The fact that they’re flawed makes them seem much more human and much more identifiable.

Highly recommended.

Things I’m Obsessed With

Welcome to the latest Things I’m Obsessed With!

Books:

We’re about two weeks from the re-release of Isla.  I feel like I’ve been waiting FOREVER for this book (and I think it’s been about four years, because I got Lola at my second BEA, so…) and I’m so happy that it’s almost here.

Also, I’m starting to plan my 2015 Books to Watch For feature.  It’s pretty heavy on Spencer Hill books, but there are some great ones coming out.  AND I have some amazing non-SHP authors lined up, too.  I’m very excited at sharing these books with you. :)

Movies:

I have been in the mood for horror movies lately and I’m very excited for Oculus to come out on Tuesday! I didn’t see it in the theater, so I’m hoping to see it over my weekend.

TV:

I’m really liking the show Girl Meets World! It’s not a great show, but I think it’s really cute and sweet.  And it’s nice to see Cory and Topanga together again.  And it helps that I’m pretty much always home on Fridays (as opposed to at work) so I can get into the habit of watching it.

So what are you obsessed with this week?

The Bridge From Me to You

Finished The Bridge From Me to You by Lisa Schroeder.  I received a copy from the author for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“Lauren has a secret. Colby has a problem. But when they find each other, everything falls into place.

Lauren is the new girl in town with a dark secret. Colby is the football hero with a dream of something more. In alternating chapters, they come together, fall apart, and build something stronger than either of them thought possible–something to truly believe in.”

I’ve never seen Friday Night Lights but this book is what I imagine it to be like.  If I’m correct, I need to start watching that show as soon as possible.

Because this book is about football, at least in part, and it made me wish that I actually understood and watched the sport (at least a little).  This is the highest praise that I can give anything, ever, because I am someone who absolutely hates sports.

This book is for people who love football and people who don’t.  It’s basically for anyone who likes a great story.  :)   I went into this book with super high expectations because I have loved everything Lisa Schroeder has ever written (YA or middlegrade; verse or prose) and this book is no exception.

It’s told from alternating perspectives.  Colby and Lauren are perfect for each other, but they don’t know it yet.  This isn’t a case of insta-love, although they are instantly drawn to each other.  It’s more that they each make the other person better and (possibly because they’re complete strangers) they don’t really have preconceived notions of the other person and they also don’t really have a persona that they have to protect either.  Does that make sense?  For example, with Lauren, Colby doesn’t have to pretend that his entire life is football.

I love Colby and Lauren, but I also love their families…and their friends! Lauren’s new friend Stasia is fantastic but I especially love Colby’s best friend Benny.  (Benny may or may not have made me cry.)

This book is magic.  To get me to care about (and even LIKE) football, it would have to be.

Highly, highly recommended.

Forget Me

Finished Forget Me by K.A. Harrington.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

An edge-of-your seat psychological thriller with a romantic twist

On the three-month anniversary of her boyfriend Flynn’s death, Morgan uploads her only photo of him to FriendShare to get some closure—but she’s shocked when the facial recognition software suggests she tag him as “Evan Murphy.” She’s never heard of Evan, but a quick search tells her that he lives in a nearby town and looks exactly like Flynn. Only this boy is very much alive.

Digging through layers of secrets and lies, Morgan is left questioning everything she thought she knew about her boyfriend, her town, and even her parents’ involvement in this massive web of lies.”

I read Kim Harrington’s book The Dead and Buried last year and absolutely loved it.  (You may remember that I compared her to Mary Downing Hahn.)  This book is nothing at all like that.

I don’t have a 100% accurate comparison for it, but the closest I can get is that this is kind of Hitchcock in terms of secrets and mistaken identities and shady goings-on.  (Sort of like Vertigo, but not.)

The thing I appreciated the most is the fact that, while Morgan is still hung up on Flynn’s death, it’s mostly because she feels responsible.  They’d dated for two months and she liked him, but he wasn’t the great love of her life.  I feel like it would have been really easy to go in that direction and I appreciate the restraint.

This book is very suspenseful and also fun.  (I also appreciate that I didn’t see the twists coming.  It’s a nice change.)

Highly recommended.

Virgin

Finished Virgin by Radhika Sanghani.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Okay, I admit it…I didn’t do it.

Yet.

This is normal, right?  I mean, just because everyone I know has talked like they’ve already done it doesn’t mean that they’re telling the truth…right?

It’s not like I’m asking for that much. I don’t need the perfect guy. I don’t need candlelight or roses. Honestly, I don’t even need a real bed.

The guys I know complain that girls are always looking for Mr. Right—do I have to wear a sign that says I’m only looking for Mr. Right Now?

Sooooo…anyone out there want sex? Anyone? Hello? Just for fun?

I am not going to die a virgin. One way or another I am going to make this happen.

Hey, what have I got to lose? Besides the obvious.”

I wanted so much to enjoy this book and I just couldn’t do it.

I expected to be able to empathize with Ellie because (true confessions time!) I lost my virginity at 20, a week before my 21st birthday.  I didn’t really feel like a freak, as Ellie does, but I was also one of the last people I knew to have sex.

Basically, I was just left very underwhelmed by this book.  I didn’t get a huge sense of Ellie as a person; it just seemed like all she wanted to do was have sex—and not because sex was great, but because she felt like the literal last virgin in the world.

Radhika Sanghani is definitely a good writer and (depending on what her next book is about) I would probably read something else by her.

It seems like a lot of people did enjoy it, though, so if you’re interested, definitely judge for yourself.

American Blonde

Finished American Blonde by Jennifer Niven.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

A fearless and spirited pilot conquers Hollywood. Now can she survive movie stardom?

In 1945, Velva Jean Hart is a bona fide war heroine. After a newsreel films her triumphant return to America, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer promises to make her a star. They give her a new life story and a brand new name. As “Kit Rogers,” she navigates the movie sets, recording sessions, parties, staged romances, and occasional backstabbing that accompany her newfound fame. She also navigates real-life romance, finding herself caught between a charismatic young writer and a sexy and enigmatic musician from her past. But when one of her best friends dies mysteriously and the most powerful studio in the world launches a cover-up, Velva Jean goes in search of the truth— risking her own life, as well as her heart, in the process.

Set during Hollywood’s Golden Age and peopled with a cast of unforgettable characters, American Blonde will mesmerize readers of The Chaperone as well as fans of the Velva Jean series.”

One thing you should know that the synopsis doesn’t make clear: this is the fourth book in a series.  It’s also the one I started with.  It works as a standalone, for the most part, but there are a lot of references to events from earlier books and I think I would have appreciated it more if I had read the other three books.

(Related note: so Velva Jean is a pilot during World War II and a spy.  And now a famous actress—and singer, because yeah, she can sing, too.  That is quite the life for someone who’s still, I’m guessing, only in her twenties.)

The first part of the story dragged a little for me, but I think that’s because I hadn’t read any of the others.  Once she got to Hollywood and we saw a little bit of the studio system, I liked this book a great deal more.

(Related note: I know it’s true, but I still can’t wrap my head around the studio system idea—stars used to be under contract with specific studios and if you were under an MGM contract, you were likely only going to be allowed to be in MGM movies.  You could be loaned to another studio, but it was very rare.  I think the way of doing things now is much better.)

This was a very interesting book and I enjoyed it, but I never felt like I connected to Velva Jean.  I do think she’s had a fascinating life, and I would like to read the third book, which deals with her time as a spy.

I did get Jennifer Niven’s 2015 YA release (All the Bright Places, which is not a Velva Jean book) and am very excited to read that.

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.