Mini mini-review: Lies You Wanted to Hear

Lies You Wanted to Hear by James Whitefield Thomson
November 5, 2013
Paperback, 416pgs
ISBN-10: 1402284284
Source: egalley from the pblisher

About the book:
Lucy’s two young children have been gone for nine years now, an unbearable burden that haunts her even more because of her role in what happened. You can hardly see a glimpse of that carefree girl Lucy was before she married Matt. She was a magnet for men who were bad for her—men like Griffin. With shattering, unthinkable turns that will wrench every mother’s heart, this suspenseful story probes the issue of how well you know the person you married. How much can you trust them with your heart—and with your future?

My thoughts:
A bit slow at first, but the history build up was necessary- I realize that after really getting into the heart of the book. The plot was very interesting.  I have never read a book like this before and the mystery of what would happen kept me pressing on for answers. What happened and what would come of Lucy's kids was interesting. It really is the only reason I kept reading in the beginning.
I didn't love the ending, I really wish the author added more to what happened after the conclusion of the mystery.
Overall the meat of the story was good but the beginning and ending left much to be desired.

About the author:
James Whitfield Thomson grew up on the North Side of Pittsburgh and attended Harvard College on scholarship. After graduation he served in the Navy as navigator of a supply ship off the coast of Vietnam. Jim earned a Ph.D. in American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, writing his dissertation on the detective novelist Raymond Chandler. Following a brief stint teaching literature in academia, he joined a start-up venture as a salesman. The company's rapid success allowed him to retire early and devote himself to writing. He has published stories in a number of literary magazines including Agni and The Ledge and has been a Massachusetts Council for the Arts grant recipient. Jim and his wife, Elizabeth, live in a Victorian farmhouse outside of Boston and have five globe-trotting children. "Lies You Wanted to Hear" is his first published novel. You can find him on Facebook or at www.jameswhitfieldthomson.com

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

Book image and book synopsis from Netgalley.com
Author information and image from Amazon.com


Picture Me mini review

Picture Me by Lori Weber
James Lorimer & Co
March 1, 2014
Paperback, 168pgs
ISBN-10: 1459405102
soucre: egalley from the publisher
About the book:
When a well-meaning English teacher has overweight student Krista read aloud a poem about body image titled "Barbie Doll" in class, she ignites a simmering bullying event based on Krista's appearance. Krista's best friend, and witness to the event, Tessa, is suspended for fighting to defend her friend. The girl who bullies Krista seems unaffected by the incident at school and more concerned with what an older guy thinks of her. But as the three characters' paths intersect, their inner lives are revealed. Each emerges as a much more complicated individual than their simple bully, target, and witness labels.out the book:

My thoughts:
Very touching quick read. The themes of bullying and accepting yourself are great, especially for young girls. Also liked the inclusion of how the girls were affected by their fathers no longer being present in their lives. The honesty of war and how it can change a family are also well played out in this novel. Will definitely recommend this book to my female students. It could also be a great read aloud to the class to open the discussion of bullying, society's view of body image, and other themes.
About the author:
LORI WEBER has published poetry, short stories, and essays in several Canadian literary journals and collections. She has also writtern several YA novels. She lives in Pointe-Claire, Quebec.

~ Jenna

Image and book synopsis from Netgalley.com
Author information from Amazon.com


4 stars to Far From You

Far From You by Tess Sharpe
April 8, 2014
Hardcover, 352 pgs
ISBN: 1423184629
Source: egalley from publisher

About The Book:
Sophie Winters nearly died. Twice.
The first time, she's fourteen, and escapes a near-fatal car accident with scars, a bum leg, and an addiction to Oxy that'll take years to kick. 
The second time, she's seventeen, and it's no accident. Sophie and her best friend Mina are confronted by a masked man in the woods. Sophie survives, but Mina is not so lucky. When the cops deem Mina's murder a drug deal gone wrong, casting partial blame on Sophie, no one will believe the truth: Sophie has been clean for months, and it was Mina who led her into the woods that night for a meeting shrouded in mystery.
After a forced stint in rehab, Sophie returns home to a chilly new reality. Mina's brother won't speak to her, her parents fear she'll relapse, old friends have become enemies, and Sophie has to learn how to live without her other half. To make matters worse, no one is looking in the right places and Sophie must search for Mina's murderer on her own. But with every step, Sophie comes closer to revealing all: about herself, about Mina and about the secret they shared.

My Thoughts:
I was shocked to find how deeply this book moved me. Far From You is a haunting tale that settles into your bones. Sophie is a character that is so dynamic and grows beyond imagination as the story unfolds. I was impressed with the authors ability to mold a character that shed so many skins but still felt honest.
Mina is also an astounding character, even when she is told from a rose tinted pair of glasses.
I loved the back and forth in time that this book is formatted- it adds to the mystery and helps to captivate the audience. I was also surprised by the ending and thrilled that I wasn't able to pinpoint where the author was going until the very end. The story's unpredictability kept the story moving and the twists exciting.
The depth of character and the magnitude of the story overall made this an enjoyable, thrilling, entertaining, and breathtaking read.

~ Jenna
Image and book synopsis provided by Netgalley


We Were Liars is beautiful

Random House / Delacorte Press
May 13, 2014
Hardcover, 240pgs
ISBN-10: 038574126X
Source: egalley from the publisher

About this book
New York Times bestselling author John Green describes We Were Liars as "thrilling, beautiful, and blisteringly smart . . . utterly unforgettable."
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

My Thoughts
This book was a stunning.
I was immediately sucked into the story.
We Were Liars is a beautifully written suspense novel that entrances the audience.
Cady drew me in and the rest of the liars kept me hanging on. The book didn't seem like a mystery, which added to the intrigue. I was curious to find out where it was going and what we would learn as Cady recovered her memories.
Lockhart created a backdrop of bliss to play this twisted story upon. On the surface, everything seems beautiful. The water reflects the beauty, but soon, ripples appear. Cascading doubt, fear, and lies into this beautiful beautiful family. Old money, power, and vanity all tie this story into it's tight little bundle of lies.
Questions float on the surface while their answers lie in the depths. What is Cady hiding? Why can't she remember? Why are the liars acting so strange? What about the Aunts?
All these questions are answered as We Were Liars is unwrapped.
The poetic writing was incredibly descriptive and engaging. Beautiful writing skills enhanced this novel.
Overall this was an incredible read that I finished within a mere 48hrs.

About the author

E. LOCKHART is the author of four books about Ruby Oliver: The Boyfriend List, The Boy Book, The Treasure Map of Boys, and Real Live Boyfriends. She also wrote Fly on the Wall, Dramarama, and How to Be Bad (the last with Sarah Mlynowski and Lauren Myracle). Her novel, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, was a Printz Award Honor Book, a finalist for the National Book Award, and recipient of the Cybils Award for Best Young Adult Novel.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

Author image from Amazon.com

Book image, book synopsis, and author information from NeGalley.com


The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off

The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off by Carolyn Brown
Sourcebooks Landmark
April 2014
Paperback, 320 pgs
ISBN: 1402287038
Source: ARC from the publisher

About the book:
It’s Fried Green Tomatoes meets Bridget Jones’s Diary in Carolyn Brown’s latest women’s fiction novel: The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off! With her unique Texas drawl and cast of quirky characters, Brown brings laugh-out-loud humor to a poignant women’s fiction novel, centered around three cousins working through some of life’s toughest situations…

In the small town of Cadillac, Texas, business is booming at Bless My Bloomers, the fancy lingerie shop run by Carlene Lovelle and her cousins, Alma Ray and Emma Grace. But irony strikes when Carlene discovers another woman’s silk bikini underwear in her husband’s briefcase. Carlene recognized them, not because they were hers, but because the hussy had bought them in her shop! Lenny Joe had crossed the line and no one, not even the Good Lord, can help him out of the fix he’d put himself into.
For ten years, Lenny Joe’s team has dominated Cadillac’s Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off.  But with Carlene’s Bless My Bloomers team now in the ring, it’s anyone’s game—and when there’s pride and food involved, things are bound to get messy!
With a cast of eccentric characters inhabiting the small tight knit town, Carolyn Brown’s signature wit is tinged with a Texas twang you won’t forget. At its heart, The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off showcases the poignant side of female friendship… and the unexpected power of a big bowl of award-winning chili.

My thoughts:
This is one of those books that brought me outside my comfort zone. I don't normally read "chick-lit" so I was hesitate to accept this book. However, I decided it was time to branch out and I dove in. I found this book endearing and engaging. I never would have thought a book that chronicles a bunch of southern women (don't forget, I'm NY born and bred) and their trials and tribulations would interest me as much as The Red Hot Chili Cook Off did. I have not read any other of Carolyn Brown's books, so I can't compare, but I can say that the town of Cadillac and those who reside there is incredibly fun. I laughed and (gasp!) even teared up at some of the drama that ensues. Being from NY, it was also neat to be transported to a place that I have never experienced. After reading this book, I feel like I know Cadillac, Texas and totally get Southern living (yea yea, I know that I don't really, but that is just how good Brown did describing the town and the life of these women).
The plot didn't draw me in as much as the characters and the whole idea of the rich southern belles did. I believe it was that aspect of the novel that kept me engaged more than the plot line of the divorcee one-upping her ex. However, the love and romance that was scattered throughout the book is great- not over done and just the right amount of spice. I was pleased with how it enhanced the story and wasn't just there for the hell of it.
This is a very humorous book and I found myself giggling a lot. I was rooting for the girls and cheered on their efforts at their lingerie shoppe and their quest to win the cook off. Brown did a great job of making the reader align with Carlene - we hate Lenny and all that he stands for. The epic rivalries between the girls and families is also an addition to boost our hate for the ugly souls and mold our love for the good. When it comes down to it, this is a story of good versus bad and making your own way. Plugging along when you feel like you can't move another inch. It is inspiring, funny, and full of big bold characters!
About the author:
Carolyn Brown is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author with more than sixty books published. She writes bestselling single title cowboy and country music mass market romances, as well as women’s fiction. Born in Texas and raised in southern Oklahoma, Carolyn and her husband now make their home in the town of Davis, Oklahoma. For more information, please visit www.CarolynLBrown.com

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

Image, book synopsis, and author information provided by the publisher


How I Got Skinny

How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love. Now that is an epic title for a book. Especially a book targeted at young adult readers, specifically girls. Sounds a bit vapid though, doesn't it? However, that is an assumption that is incredibly off-base. Ken Baker wrote a great novel for young women.

About the book
Running Press Teens // April 22, 2014
“Thick. Heavy. Big-boned. Plump. Full-figured. Chunky. Womanly.” To Emery Jackson, these phrases are just nice euphemisms for the big “F” word of “fat.” But to her workout fiend dad, underwear model sister, and former Laker Girls mother, they are unacceptable states of being.
Emery’s cash-strapped family’s solution? Signing up for a reality TV show in which Emery will have to lose fifty pounds in fifty days in order to win a million dollars.
As the pounds start to drop and the ratings skyrocket, Emery feels the weight of success. And she must figure out how to turn the truths she uncovers—about beauty, love, fame, and family—into the keys to more than just fortune.

My thoughts
I was pitched this book for review from the publisher, along with another title (Summer on the Short Bus by Bethany Crandell - you can find that review here) and was kind of on the fence about it. The title sounded like something I wouldn't be drawn into and the synopsis didn't add much spark to my interest. The title sat on my TBR pile for a few weeks before I got to it this weekend- and devoured it in one sitting.
Blown away.
I was so impressed with this ya novel. It isn't about a vapid girl looking to shed weight and become famous - it is about a girl who is aching inside and gets on a reality tv show to help her family. Turns out, she is helping more than her family. She is helping herself become the strong, healthy, independent, happy young lady she is. She is helping innumerable amounts of young women who watch her vlog posts. She is helping others who are in need of getting fit and healthy. She is helping the world and she doesn't even realize it until she is knee-deep in the reality of reality tv.
Emery is a tough kid. Putting up walls helped her survive being overweight. Now she is shedding weight and breaking down those walls. As a main character, I found her incredibly real and inspiring. So much so that I honestly think this needs to be required reading for teenage girls. She promotes self-love, growth, fighting stereotypes, and building each other up instead of breaking each other down. It is impressive. I can guarantee that young girls will relate to her character, without a doubt. The characters that Baker has developed are genuine and easy to understand. They grow as they story moves forward.
In addition to the great character development, I was wholly impressed with the way the story was portrayed. It easily could have been a Mean Girls or Clueless style tale, but what Baker really did was write a book about the struggles of overweight teenagers (specifically girls) and make it as honest as possible. It shows the inner workings of the teenage mind, the inner workings of family and sibling rivalry, the drama of high school, and of course the reality of "reality" television. The morals of the story are plenty. Get healthy for you (not anyone else), trust your gut, challenge the norm, stand up for yourself and others, be kind, and treat every day like gold. Baker crafted a moving story that I think is very powerful, especially for teenage girls. I think this will remind them that what they feel about their bodies ins't abnormal, but that it also isn't healthy. It will shed some light on all the things us adults tell the kids about society, but they refuse to hear. I really want young girls to read this book, it is a wonderful story and one with so much power to change the reader.
About the author
Ken Baker is an E! Entertainment Television News Correspondent. He is the author of "Fangirl," and his memoir, "Man Made: A Memoir of My Body," is the inspiration for the upcoming film "The Late Bloomer." He lives (and writes) in Hermosa Beach, California. You can visit him online at kenbakernow.com or via Twitter @kenbakernow.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair an honest review. Book synopsis, author information, and image from Amazon.com