The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti
The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett 
by Chelsea Sedoti (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: The first thing that happened was Lizzie Lovett disappeared, and everyone was all, “How can someone like Lizzie be missing?” and I was like, “Who cares?” A few days later, there was talk about Lizzie maybe being dead, and it was still kinda boring, but not totally boring, because I’d never known a dead person before.

After that, I started to get fascinated by the whole situation, mostly because I noticed a bunch of weird stuff. Which was how I figured out Lizzie Lovett’s secret. But I’m probably doing that thing again where I get ahead of myself and skip all over the place, which I’m trying to stop.

So the beginning, or the beginning for me at least, was when I found out Lizzie Lovett was missing. It happened like this: It was Monday morning, and I needed an excuse to stay home. I was dreading school even more than usual, because the Welcome Back dance had been on Saturday, and I was probably the only senior at Griffin Mills High School who didn’t go, and everyone would be talking about it while I sat there thinking, Wow, I’m a loser.

THE BLURB: A teenage misfit named Hawthorn Creely inserts herself in the investigation of missing person Lizzie Lovett, who disappeared mysteriously while camping with her boyfriend. Hawthorn doesn’t mean to interfere, but she has a pretty crazy theory about what happened to Lizzie. In order to prove it, she decides to immerse herself in Lizzie’s life. That includes taking her job… and her boyfriend. It’s a huge risk — but it’s just what Hawthorn needs to find her own place in the world.

MY THOUGHTS: Oh, the memories, not all of them great, that The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti brought back. In the words of Charles Dickens, ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.’

It is so easy to forget how self centred we are at seventeen. But don’t worry, Hawthorn Creely and her classmates will remind you. I defy you to read this book and not be reminded of your own teenage years. Of course you might not have had a band of hippies come live in your backyard, but no doubt your parents found other ways to embarrass you in front of your peers.

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett deals with a lot of issues teenagers face; low self esteem, depression, suicide and bullying, both face to face and on social media. There are many good life lessons in this book.

“There’s no such thing as a normal high school experience, Thorny. You assume everyone else is happy all he time and living an ideal life. You don’t get that other people are pretending too.”

“Don’t confuse being popular with being interesting”

“Sometimes, there are things that are really hard to do, and it sucks the whole time you’re doing them. But you also know it’s the right thing, and you might be making a huge difference for someone else.”

This was a touching book. It is a book that has a place in every high school library. It is a book that every parent of teenagers should read, so that we can remember what high school was really like.

I listened to this book on audio via Overdrive, very well narrated by Jessica Almasy. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1627384349

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London Noir by Ann Girdharry

London Noir by Ann Girdharry
London Noir (Kal Medi #2) 
by Ann Girdharry (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: I suppose the realization I was different stole up on me slowly.

There were signs from early on, if I’m honest. Like my first year in primary school when Mirabella wet her knickers in front of the whole class – the girls were mortified and the boys laughed and I was excited.

So, yeah, I knew I was different. To survive, I learned to act like my friends and I’m so good, pretty much everyone in my life would say I’m normal and I like that because it means I’m clever.

One thing I’ve learned is that when you’ve wanted something for a long time, your mind makes tracks in the sand showing exactly how it’s going to turn out. You anticipate your own excitement, your own arousal, and what the other person will say and do. Those tracks start out delicate and then solidify with each replaying of the fantasy, until they get to be as firm as a rail track. The fantasy can keep me occupied for months only, at some point, I have to have the real deal – the flash of horror in their eyes, the desperate urge to plead for mercy, bowels voiding and dribbling down a leg. It’s the helplessness that grabs me – when they realize there’s absolutely nothing they can do. It’s the best drug in the world.

And with me, it’s the eyes that are captivating. The windows of the soul – unable to lie in the final moments.

THE BLURB: Memory loss, nightmares, the urge to kill – Sophie has it all.
Is it Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder? Or something more sinister? Kal is about to find out…

After a near-fatal road accident, Kal helps a young girl in trouble. The girl’s friends are being murdered one by one. Why? And who by?

Kal must kick start herself out of her downward spiral to save the young stranger.

But Kal is in the grip of the London Cartel and is someone after the girl, or is the girl after someone?

Crime suspense thriller. A stand alone novel. The second in the Kal Medi series.

MY THOUGHTS: I hadn’t read Kal Medi #1 before reading London Noir by Ann Girdharry. I think it would have helped, as there are numerous references to events that occurred in that first book that are not adequately explained, like what had happened to put Marty in hospital in a coma or why Kal was in the grip of the London Cartel. So I don’t really recommend this as a stand alone book. But if you do read London Noir without reading Good Girl, Bad Girl, then chances are you will do what I am doing, and lay your hands on a copy of #1 anyway.

Ann Girdharry had me hooked from the beginning. In fact at the 7% mark my comment was ‘WOW!’. Of course, this frenetic pace could not be maintained, although London Noir continued to be a fast paced book and a quick read. And while I didn’t always find Kal’s actions believable or at all rational, I was happy to suspend belief and just enjoy the read.

3.5 stars for London Noir by Ann Girdharry

Thank you to author Ann Girdharry for providing me with a digital copy of London Noir for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2124446897?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Weycombe by G.M. Malliet

Weycombe by G.M. Malliet
Weycombe 
by G.M. Malliet (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: What happened to Anna could so easily have been an accident. She could have been running flat out on her chubby legs, minding her own business, when some solicitor speeding by on his way to his office in Walton-on-Thames, anonymous in his ventilated helmet and ubiquitous black bike shorts, pushed her off the path, sending her rolling downhill and breaking her neck. That time of year, the path could be slick with wet fallen leaves. She might simply have slipped and fallen on her head.

That is certainly how it could have happened. Except that of course she was murdered, dead before her body came to rest at the edge of the river.

THE BLURB: Weycombe is the chocolate-box village of everyone’s dreams. For American Jillian White, a gated life of pleasure and comfort with her titled English husband was a fantasy come true.

But the murder of a local estate agent mars the village’s so-pretty surface. Are people actually dying to live in Weycombe? Jill investigates, piecing together clues along the snaking paths and winding lanes of her adopted village. She knows truth has many versions, depending on who is doing the telling. And that few can be trusted in Weycombe, where nothing is as perfect as it seems.

MY THOUGHTS: After reading the synopsis, I thought I was in for a cosy Agatha Christie like read. But it seems G.M. Malliet is very clever. She has written a chameleon of a novel. To start with, she uses her acerbic wit to paint a portrait of life in an English village. Even at slightly over half way, I made the following comment- “This is so not about murder. It is an amusing, sometimes laugh out loud hilarious, tongue-in-cheek, slightly bitchy poke at life in an English village. The murder is merely the vehicle.”

Yes, I was well and truly sucked in. For, almost without me noticing, the story turned in on itself in the second half and became something far more sinister. This was definitely not Christie!

This is a book that I read with a smile on my face, especially at the end. Although I picked up the odd hiccup with continuity, this was an uncorrected ARC and so I would expect these minor imperfections to have been corrected before Weycombe is unleashed on the public.

All in all, a very enjoyable read that kept my interest from the first page to the last. I have added all this authors other works to my reading list.

Thank you to Midnight Ink via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Weycombe for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2153334557?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

The Liars’ Asylum by Jacob M. Appel

The Liars' Asylum by Jacob M. Appel
The Liars’ Asylum 
by Jacob M. Appel (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: My best friend that spring was Lacey Moretti. Soon enough we would drift apart, our natural differences overcoming our common history, so when I saw her at the twentieth reunion last year, where Lacey gulped champagne from a slipper and made a sloppy pass at every unhitched male within groping distance, I could hardly remember what had drawn us together on long-ago evenings studying the polarity of magnets and the trajectories of cannon balls. Yet in those final months at Laurendale, we were truly inseparable–so much so that when a third former classmate sensed the tension between us at the reunion, she’d confessed she’d always suspected we’d been lovers. The reality was that we’d both been far too innocent for anything like that. – Prisoners of the Multiverse

The wipers swept the windshield hypnotically, and when the rain stopped, the rubber blades scraped furiously across the dry glass. I didn’t even register the sound until Sheila reached across the steering column and snapped them off.
“What can a forty-six year old man possibly see in my mother?” she demanded. “I’ll tell you what! He’s either after a green card or he’s after her money. ”
“Or both, ” I offered.
Sheila glared at me. “Don’t you dare take her side. ”
“I’m not taking sides, Sheila. ”
“How can you not take sides?” she snapped. “That’s like not taking sides about the Holocaust. Not taking sides is the same thing as taking sides. ”
Sheila had worked in the creative division at an advertising agency before we married. She has a winning slogan for every argument. – Good Enough For Guppies

THE BLURB: SHORT STORY COLLECTION: The frustrations of romantic love in its various guises—a domineering kindergarten teacher for a dashing artificial foliage designer, a suicidal physicist for his star student, a dialysis patient at a sleep-away camp for the camp owner’s daughter—provide the common theme for the stories in Jacob M. Appel’s seventh collection. We meet a psychiatrist dabbling with infidelity during a crisis in which rain turns into truth serum, a Finnish-American soldier charged with facilitating his commanding officer’s extra-marital affair, and a couple transporting a wealthy, “locked-in” patient across the Piedmont to his new nursing home. Appel’s literary short fiction offers a quirky window into the pangs and promise of love.

MY THOUGHTS: I have a special place reserved both in my heart and on my shelves for Jacob Appel’s books. I have almost the full set and they are on the shelf right beside my favorite reading chair. It is a collection that I dip into frequently and The Liars’ Asylum will take pride of place amongst them.

This is yet another wonderful collection of eight short stories from an extremely talented writer. The focus in this collection is love. But they are not your traditional love stories. They range from tales of first love to that of a last love, and everything in between. And don’t expect happy ever after. There is duplicity and truth, desire and rejection, hope and despair, success (of sorts) and failure.

Appel demonstrates an excellent understanding of human character. From the young couple who become more interested in scoring points over each other than in the truth of their relationship, to the desperate for a husband Aunt Jill, all these characters are people we know, we can relate to and, if we are honest, there is probably more than a little bit of ourselves in there too.

Appel has a wonderful sense of the ridiculous which he crafts into clever and believable stories. Another winner from a favorite author.

Publication date is October 15, 2017.

Thank you to author Jacob M Appel, Black Lawrence Press and Netgalley for providing a copy of The Liars’ Asylum for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2101863772

The Promise Girls by Marie Bostwick

The Promise Girls by Marie Bostwick
The Promise Girls 
by Marie Bostwick (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by

 

EXCERPT: Three weeks into the book tour, Joanie still isn’t used to the silence of television studios, ponderous silence that feels like being closed in a concrete box with wall so thick no noise from the outside world can penetrate, just as no sound emanating inside can escape. Joanie can scream as loud as she wants and no one will hear her.

Joanie, Meg, and Avery, and their mother sit in upholstered side chairs, like the ones you see in the waiting rooms of doctors offices, motionless, waiting. Avery is so little her feet can’t touch the floor, but she doesn’t kick her legs or even fidget.

The audience is still as well. They stare at Joanie and her little sisters in a way that makes her think about people at the zoo staring through the glass at the reptile house, waiting for the snakes to do something interesting.

Soon they will – she will. If she doesn’t lose her nerve.

THE BLURB: Every child prodigy grows up eventually. For the Promise sisters, escaping their mother’s narcissism and the notoriety that came with her bestselling book hasn’t been easy. Minerva Promise claimed that her three “test tube” daughters–gifted pianist Joanie, artistic Meg, and storyteller Avery–were engineered and molded to be geniuses. In adulthood, their modest lives fall far short of her grand ambitions. But now, twenty years after the book’s release, she hopes to redeem herself by taking part in a new documentary.

Meg, who hasn’t picked up a paintbrush in years, adamantly refuses to participate, until a car accident leaves her with crushing medical bills. While she recuperates in Seattle, the three sisters reluctantly meet with filmmaker Hal Seeger, another former prodigy. Like them, he’s familiar with the weight of failed potential. But as he digs deeper, he uncovers secrets they’ve hidden from each other–and a revelation that will challenge their beliefs, even as it spurs them to forge their own extraordinary lives at last.

MY THOUGHTS: Family secrets and lies. Always a winner with me, especially when it is as well written and captivating as The Promise Girls by Marie Bostwick. This is the first time I have read anything by this author, but it won’t be the last. She will be joining my very short list of ‘go to’ authors for when I want a rest from the murder and mystery that is my normal fare.

I can say it no better than this- “Reading Marie Bostwick is like wrapping yourself up in a warm, hand-crafted quilt. Her books, rich in character and plot, are stitched together by a skilled wordsmith.” –Debbie Macomber, #1 New York Times bestselling author.

In her letter at the end of the book, the author writes that this book is incredibly special to her, a rare instance when she finished the final manuscript and ‘felt entirely, completely, incandescently happy’with her work. I felt the same way. This is a ‘feel good’ book. A book about family and love, and how easy it is to lose your way in spite of, or perhaps because of, best intentions.

Bostwick has woven a captivating story around a very different type of family. And she has done it well, giving us a look at a childhood that under no circumstances could be termed normal, until it all blows up in their faces, and then we meet the sisters again as adults, all living lives very different than what we might have expected.

 

Thank you to Kensington Books via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Promise Girls for review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on

Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite

Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite
Her Last Secret 
by Barbara Copperthwaite (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: The time had come to expose all the secrets, no matter what.
If only she had the courage to do so. If only the family was strong enough to survive it. If only she didn’t do something stupid herself.

THE BLURB: There are some secrets you can never tell.

The last thing to go through Dominique Thomas’s head was the image of her teenage daughter’s face and her heart lifted. Then the shot rang out.

They were the perfect family. Successful businessman Ben Thomas and his wife Dominique live an enviable life, along with their beautiful children; teenager Ruby and quirky younger daughter, Mouse.

But on Christmas Day the police are called to their London home, only to discover a horrific scene; the entire family lying lifeless, victims of an unknown assailant.

But when Ruby’s diary is discovered, revealing her rage at the world around her, police are forced to look closer to home for the key to this tragedy.

Each family member harboured their own dark truths – but has keeping their secrets pushed Ruby to the edge of sanity? Or are there darker forces at work?

This dark, gripping psychological thriller will have you holding your breath until the very last page. Fans of Behind Closed Doors, Sometimes I Lie, and The Girl on the Train will be captivated.

MY THOUGHTS: I hate abandoning a read. I know how much effort goes into giving birth to a book. And I tried, I really tried. I struggled through to 57%, but it just got harder and harder. I found it all very contrived and predictable. I felt nothing for any of the characters. While it is not necessary for me to like the characters, it is necessary for me to feel something. I recently read a book where I couldn’t stand any of the characters, but I rated it 4-stars because the plot was great, and there was atmosphere and I felt involved. None of this happened with Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite. Nada. Zilch.

I know I am in the minority here, so if you have read and enjoyed Barbara Copperthwaite in the past, or you are intrigued by the excerpt or the blurb, then please read Her Last Secret and let me know how you feel about it.

Apologies and thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or my ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my blog sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

And a note to whomever decides what to put on the cover, it is really irritating that we are constantly being told that a book is gripping and we won’t be able to put it down. We’re big people. Let us make up our own minds on that. Also endless comparisons to Gone Girl, or Girl on the Train tend to put my teeth on edge. Let the book stand or fall on its own merit.

Friday Favorite – The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

Looking for something to read over the weekend?

Nothing on your book radar that is screaming “read me!”?

Check out my Friday Favorite  – it may not be new, it may not even be by an author you have ever heard of, but it will be a book that has captured both my imagination and my heart.

Up until now, my Friday Favorite has been a book that I read some time ago, but that has stayed in my heart and my mind for one reason or another, and is ensconced on my bookshelves marked as a ‘keeper’.

This week is different. This week I read The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman, a book that has only just been published this week. And I loved it. Several days after finishing it, the characters are still in my head. I am going to make Aunt Isabelle’s rosemary lemonade this weekend. Other delicious ideas are tucked away for future use. So take a look at The Rules of Magic. It is an unusual book, but in the nicest possible way.

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
The Rules of Magic (Practical Magic, #0) 
by Alice Hoffman (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: ‘Once upon a time, before the whole world changed, it was possible to run away from home, disguise who you were, and fit into polite society. The children’s mother had done just that.’

THE BLURB: Find your magic

For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man.

Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk.

From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Back in New York City each begins a risky journey as they try to escape the family curse.

The Owens children cannot escape love even if they try, just as they cannot escape the pains of the human heart. The two beautiful sisters will grow up to be the revered, and sometimes feared, aunts in Practical Magic, while Vincent, their beloved brother, will leave an unexpected legacy.

MY THOUGHTS: I was bereft when I finished The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman. I wanted to go right back to the beginning and start all over again. This is a fairy story for adults. It is bewitching, enchanting and compelling. I want to move in with the Owen’s family, to be embraced by them, to become one of them.

Just as Mrs Russell was instantly in thrall to Vincent when she spied him in the kitchen, I was instantly in thrall to Hoffman’s writing. Alice (may I call you Alice?) writes in a lazy, indolent fashion that slowly seduces the reader, leaving one feeling languidly intrigued.

I scribbled pages of notes as I read, highlighted sections to quote. But as I prepared to write this review, I realised that, taken out of context, they mean nothing.

If you think this book is about witchcraft, you are wrong. Yes, there are black cats and spells and potions, but that is not what this book is about. It is about acceptance, of ourselves and of others. It is about family, and it is about love. And if you do not read The Rules of Magic then you will miss out on a wonderful book which really is all about finding the magic in yourself.

I am going out to buy a hard copy of this book for my shelf. It is a ‘forever’ book. I am also going to read everything by this author that I can lay my hands on.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or my ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2115763233?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1