weekly wrap-up 3/29

Happy Sunday! How was your week? Are you living somewhere like me where it was gorgeous and warm last week…and now you’re back to snow? Excuse me, Mother Nature.

This morning has been a lovely, sleepy Sunday morning, with light slowly coming through my windows, delicious tea in my fox mug, and Houndmouth’s latest album on Spotify. I’m super pumped for this afternoon: my cousin’s daughter is having her first birthday party and not only am I thrilled at seeing my family, but it’ll also be like a mini high school reunion ♥ Although our ~group~ still keeps in touch through facebook and texts, a few of us have moved away so this will be the first time in a few years that we’ve all been together again! SO excited!

Okay, now on to the books:
I’m still listening to Big Little Lies and my only gripe with audible is that it doesn’t give me a percentage or a page number to show me how far into the book I am. I don’t put much stock in number of chapters – authors like Dan Brown and James Patterson are no strangers to 100+ chapters in their books, most of them being just a page or two. Big Little Lies has 84 and I’m currently on 31, so I can’t even guess how far into it I am. THAT SAID, this one is SO lovely – made even better by the narrator’s beautiful accent – and I’m kind of kicking myself for waiting so long to get to it!

One of the perks of being a bookseller is that I get to borrow anything I want. Earlier in the week Elizabeth Adler’s Please Don’t Tell caught my eye (I’m still on my thriller kick) and I’ve been working my way through it. To give you an idea of how much I’m enjoying this one, I’ll put it this way: Matt has spent the past four years watching me curl up and read. The other night he pointed out that I seem different with this one and that I must be enjoying it. It’s not going to get five stars, but it definitely is a fun and fast-paced read and I’m second-guessing Who Did It. I can’t wait to dive back in and finally find out who the killer is!

BOUGHT (not pictured)
Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall
Cassie and Hannah reviewed this one last year in their Favorite Factor feature and put this book on my radar. Recently Ellice got a copy and brought it to my attention once more. I’ve thought about borrowing it from the library a few times, but each time other books got in the way. THEN audible featured this book as one of their Daily Deals and after a quick text to Cassie I shelled out three whole dollars for it. Southern fiction, set in the 60s, and a nine-year-old narrator. This has Leah written all over it!

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! KEYSMASHES AND FAILS EVERYWHERE!! A God in Ruins is a companion novel to Life After Life, one of my top reads of 2013 and, seriously if you haven’t heard of LAL you need to crawl out from the rock you’re living under. This novel follows Ursula’s brother Teddy and I cannot wait to jump in! Thank you, Little, Brown!!

The Winter Family by Clifford Jackman
The Winter Family follows “a group of ruthless outlaws from its genesis during the American Civil War all the way to a final bloody stand in the Oklahoma territories.” UM. UMMMMM!!! Okay, 1. The Civil War. Yes. 2. Historical Fiction! 3. FAMILY SAGA. Is Doubleday a codename for my mom?? They get me. In this family there’s a psychopathic killer, an ex-slave, a child prodigy, bounty hunters, political thugs. Should I be concerned that I’m starry-eyed? Thank you, Doubleday!!

Have you read any of these? What are you reading right now?? Listening to? What did YOU get this week?

In Case You Missed It
Daryl Gregory dips into YA with Harrison Squared, a Lovecraft-esque novel about a boy, a strange town, a creepy cult, and sea monsters.

Jojo Moyes Giveaway! One Plus One (one of my top reads of 2014!) is out in paperback next week and it’s now time to announce the winner: JULIE! Congratulations!!

Jojo Moyes Giveaway!!

Today I have an A-MAY-ZING giveaway for you guys!! Jojo’s One Plus One comes out in softcover/trade paperback next week and I’m thrilled to be able to make some lucky reader’s day with a copy! (keep in mind that although the photo is a hardback, the giveaway is for the softcover – and, yes, the colors really are that bright!)

So what’s this book about?

Um excuse you, this is JOJO we’re talking about. You don’t need to know what the story is, you’re guaranteed a fantastic read. But since you insist:

Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight-in-shining-armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages . . . maybe ever.

A down-on-her-luck single mother who supports her kids by cleaning wealthy vacationers’ homes. The bullied stepson, the math-whiz daughter, and the phone call that could change their lives. There’s a self-made man who found himself in a compromising position and now could potentially face lawsuits – and worse. An attempt to lay low brings Ed to the coast, to his beach-front home where he runs into Jess, her children, and one slobbery pooch and decides to get on the right side of karma for once.

There’s so. much. to talk about with this book. I’m slowly working my way through Jojo’s novels and have loved every single one! One Plus One is my fourth and if you still need convincing here are a few quotes from last year’s review:

To say One Plus One is a road trip novel would be selling it short. Yes, technically, it is, but it’s about so much more. These are flawed, broken characters who, over the course of the book, discover what it’s like to love and be loved in return. My emotions ran the gamut: I laughed, I cried, I fretted over several choices made but stood in their corner through it all. While reading I lived and breathed these characters and now that it’s over, I’m left feeling like I’m six years old again and my best friend has just moved away. I cannot praise Jojo’s skill highly enough. She took a relatively ordinary story – single mom trying to support her kids – and turned it into something extraordinary.

One of my favorite things about any Jojo novel is the sheer amount of character growth. She has a no-holds-barred kind of attitude when it comes to her stories and seriously puts her characters through the wringer.

One Plus One is a phenomenal novel and firmly secures Jojo’s rank as one of my favorite authors. Are you a long-time fan? Read this. Are you still new to her work and feel a bit overwhelmed by all the love she’s received? Read this. Are you looking for a damn fine story? Read this.

Okay, sold! Now what?

GOOD FOR YOU! Before we get to the fun bits, there’s the boring mumbo jumbo: US only, I’ll announce the winner Sunday, March 29 and he/she will have 24 hours to reply. If I don’t hear back I’ll select a new winner.

Now the good stuff: simply fill out this form. THAT’S IT! Now go forth and spread the Jojo love – and good luck!

Harrison Squared by Daryl Gregory

Harrison Squared by Daryl Gregory
Pub. Date: March 24, 2015
Source: ARC via publisher (Thank you, Tor!!)
Summary: Harrison Harrison—H2 to his mom—is a lonely teenager who’s been terrified of the water ever since he was a toddler in California, when a huge sea creature capsized their boat, and his father vanished. One of the “sensitives” who are attuned to the supernatural world, Harrison and his mother have just moved to the worst possible place for a boy like him: Dunnsmouth, a Lovecraftian town perched on rocks above the Atlantic, where strange things go on by night, monsters lurk under the waves, and creepy teachers run the local high school.

On Harrison’s first day at school, his mother, a marine biologist, disappears at sea. Harrison must attempt to solve the mystery of her accident, which puts him in conflict with a strange church, a knife­wielding killer, and the Deep Ones, fish­-human hybrids that live in the bay. It will take all his resources—and an unusual host of allies—to defeat the danger and find his mother.
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Horror
Recommended for: Lovecraft fans!

One of the very first reviews ever posted on this blog was for Daryl Gregory’s Raising Stony Mayhall, a zombie (!!) novel. Before we go any further, let it be known that I am not a zombie fan. At all. Yet I gave this book five stars. It was absolutely wonderful: the setting (bouncing off the back on Night of the Living Dead as a sort-of sequel), the gorgeous writing (I had SO many passages and paragraphs and phrases highlighted in that book!), the character of Stony himself – a zombie taken in by a family as a baby and raised as their own. It was lovely (or as lovely and heartwarming as a novel about the undead can be) and I’ve been eager to get my hands on another novel of his.

Enter Harrison Squared. Harrison Harrison, known as H2, was just three when he lost his leg in a boating accident. Whenever questioned, he would mention it was a piece of shrapnel that tore his flesh, but if he’s honest with himself, the way he remembers it involved tentacles. And teeth. The same accident took the life of his father. Now his mother, a marine biologist, wants to head back to Dunnsmouth, the town that changed their lives thirteen years ago.

For Harrison it means a new school…and this school is like none other. The teachers are beyond bizarre, no one is allowed to enter the library, and the students have developed a sign language-esque way of communicating. The school is the least of his worries though: there’s a fishboy roaming around his house and the boat his mother took out? It was attacked and she’s missing. As H2 races against time to find his mother, he discovers there is definitely something weird going on in Dunnsmouth…and his childhood nightmares of sea monsters might not be in his mind after all.

This seems painfully obvious now (hindsight is always 20/20!), but I hadn’t realized Harrison Squared was YA. Sure the main character is 16, but so what? Plenty of adult novels feature teenage main characters and Raising Stony Mayhall was about a child (who eventually grows to an adult, but still), so I mistakenly assumed this was one of those novels. Nope. I don’t mind at all that Daryl Gregory decided to try his hand at Young Adult, I just wished he wouldn’t have watered down the voice so much. Harrison, a junior in high school, reads more like a 13- or 14-year-old. Not too much of a stretch, I suppose, but there you have it.

The story itself definitely pays homage to Lovecraft and his works as well as Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Each chapter features a line or two from the poem and essentially summarizes that chapter in a way that made me giddy with delight. Something strange is going on in Dunnsmouth and no one’s talking, especially not to an outsider like Harrison. I don’t want to spoil anything, but let’s just say there’s a old diary, a ghost, and lots of sea monsters involved.

The characters were fine, though nothing particularly special. Harrison’s disability gets him into some hairy situations more than once. The majority of the teachers are big ol’ slimeballs. Lydia, a fellow classmate, initially gives Harrison the cold shoulder (as does the rest of the school – and town, for that matter), but she eventually comes around and invites Harrison to ‘study groups’ where he discovers his classmates aren’t exactly the sheep he pegged them for. Harrison’s Aunt Sel lives for silky clothing and wine – so NOT a person you would want watching your child but oh-so-fun to read about!

A creepy religion, a wicked fun plot, and sea monsters all made Harrison Squared a pretty great read. Bravo to Mr. Gregory for not turning this one into a romance (not so much as a hint of it here, guys), though the ending was severely disappointing. I certainly hope this is going to be a series, because the way it ended was more than a cliffhanger – it felt like it ended halfway through a chapter and that’s just not fair! That said, I think Daryl Gregory is a fantastic writer and his books are a ton of fun. Harrison Squared is actually a prequel to We Are All Completely Fine, which features an adult Harrison as a Monster Hunter – um why isn’t this one in my hands already??

weekly wrap-up 3/22: BLUE.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Yep, I’ve decided it’s time for me to finally see what all the fuss is about with this one. I’ve heard some pretty good things from friends I trust, so we’ll see how it goes!

Windfallen by Jojo Moyes
aka Foreign Fruit (which I nearly bought as well – thanks for the heads up, goodreads!) At the moment I have four Jojos under my belt and I’m slowly working my way through the rest of her novels. Absolutely, completely, 100% one of my all-time favorite authors ♥

Aunt Dimity and the Summer King by Nancy Atherton
eep, this is the 20th volume in the Aunt Dimity series! You know those series you’ve been eyeing for years, the series you plan on reading someday? Aunt Dimity is that series for me, so when the publicist reached out to me about this one I pounced (and most likely used a few more exclamation marks than necessary – if you’ve ever received an email/text from me you know I’m basically 95% !!!!s) Thank you, Viking!!

Harrison Squared by Daryl Gregory
I had received an ARC of this one a few months ago (check back next week for my review!) and Tor was nice enough to send along a finished copy. A creepy cult-like religion, sea monsters, and one REALLY odd town made this one a ton of fun! One of my first reviews on this blog was one of Gregory’s earlier novels and I’ve been meaning to read more of his books since then. He typically sticks to Adult, but this YA was seriously great. Thank you, Tor!!

Scent of Triumph by Jan Moran
The publicists at St. Martin’s know me a bit too well, one of them in particular. She always knows JUST what I’d love and sends me some amazing books. WWII fiction makes me heart beat a little faster and this one follows a French perfumer as she leaves her son behind in war-torn Poland and makes the trip across the Atlantic, hoping to start a new life in America, ultimately mingling with Hollywood’s elite. YES. Thank you, St. Martin’s Press!!

Undertow by Michael Buckley
The start of a new trilogy, the rise of ocean-dwelling warriors, Coney Island. I have NO idea what this book is going to be like, but it certainly sounds interesting! I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it being compared to The Outsiders, but I have a good record with HMH’s books, so! Thank you, HMH!!

Have you read any of these? What books did YOU get this week??

In Case You Missed It
My second reread of the year: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. If you know me you already know how this went.

Who’s ready for another round of GoodReads Recommends?? This time we’re looking at Contemporary Thrillers!

GoodReads Recommends: Contemporary Thrillers!

It’s time for another round of GoodReads Recommends, a semi-regular feature where I highlight books GoodReads suggests on their recommendations page based on other books I’ve read/shelved. FUN STUFF.

At the moment I’m on a Thriller kick. Last summer’s Dear Daughter was such a great read and I’ve since recommended it to multiple friends. Then, earlier in the month, I received a copy of Luckiest Girl Alive which I’ve already read and loved (keep an eye out for my review in May!) I’ve been craving something similar, a good ol’ fashioned suspense novel, something I can sink into on a lazy afternoon. I’m currently listening to my very first Liane Moriarty (!!!) and oh my gosh it’s so good. So, yeah, I am ALL about Thrillers right now.

I Love You More by Jennifer Murphy
“One man. Three wives. The perfect murder.” Picasso is 12 when her father is murdered and her mother is the prime suspect…until police discover his second wife…and the his third. These women claim they have never met but Picasso knows the truth. One of the wives is pregnant with Oliver’s fourth child, another wife showed up at the house carrying the same purse as Picasso’s mother. Jealousy and revenge are the driving force behind this novel and I almost grabbed this one on audible before deciding on Big Little Lies.

The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford
Dana was the last person to see her neighbor alive. Suffering from bipolar disorder, Dana sometimes finds she has holes in her memory, including just what happened the afternoon she last saw Celia. The evidence starts to point to Dana and she begins to wonder if she really did murder her friend…or is there a killer in their neighborhood? I try to avoid comparisons, but this one is likened to two novels I desperately want to read: The Silent Wife and Before I Go to Sleep. Also, Dear Daughter has a similar plot in that Janie isn’t sure if she actually was the one to kill her mother.

The Butcher by Jennifer Hillier
After a string of terrible and gruesome murder, the Beacon Hill Butcher was finally tracked down and killed. Now, thirty years later, the cop responsible for the Butcher’s death has retired and has given his Victorian house to his grandson. As Matt begins renovating the house he comes across a locked crate and uncovers dark family secrets. His girlfriend Sam fares little better: her mother was murdered and despite the crime taking place two years after the Butcher’s death, she’s convinced he did it. This one definitely sounds like something I’d enjoy, those the reviews are super polarizing – and the consensus seems to be that Hillier’s other works are better.

The First Wife by Erica Spindler
After marrying her knight in shining armor, a woman discovers his first wife disappeared under mysterious circumstances. On a trip to Logan’s sprawling estate in Lousiana, Bailey’s perfect world begins to crumble. Rumors surrounding the first wife, talk of other woman in the area who disappeared, and now another woman who has gone missing. Bailey begins to realize how little she knows about her husband. OH I LOVE DARK SECRETS and this one sounds fantastic. Also, it features a guilty pleasure of mine: a status difference. Logan is from the upper crust while Bailey is working class all the way.

The Bullet by Mary Louise Kelly
A French literature professor is shocked to discover a bullet is lodged near the base of her skull. She has never been shot – how did it get there?? Initially her parents are confused as well until they finally tell her the truth: Caroline was adopted when she was three after her parents were murdered. A stray bullet had found its way into Caroline’s neck and the doctor’s simply stitched up the wound.Thirty-four years later Caroline wants answers about a life she never knew. She heads to her hometown only to discover the case has gone cold, there were no suspects, no one charged. There was never any evidence…until now. The bullet in Caroline’s neck could finally prove who murdered her parents. Okay, so admittedly this sound a little far-fetched, but it also sounds deliciously fast-paced and exciting!

Before He Finds Her by Michael Kardos
One a Sunday evening in September 1991, Ramsey Miller threw a block party and murdered his wife and daughter. What everyone doesn’t know is that the daughter is still alive. Now eighteen and living as Melanie Denison, she has spent the last fifteen years in the Witness Protection Program. Never allowed to attend school dances, travel, or even have Internet at her house, Melanie finally has had enough. Tired of following such strict rules, she rebels, starting up a relationship with a teacher and now, ten week pregnant, she decides to take matters into her own hands. She doesn’t want her child to grow up sheltered and hidden away, so she returns home to track down her father…unless he finds her first. Okay, so this one is even more far-fetched than The Bullet (because of course the one thing you should be doing while pregnant is tracking down a murderer!) but it’s received great reviews!


Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight
The body of an infant is discovered, but no one knows who she is or how her body ended up in the wood’s near the university’s campus. Molly, a freelance journalist, is tasked with covering the story and what is uncovers is more than she bargained for. Ridgedale has some serious skeletons in its closet, including a string of unreported assaults that go back decades. Cassie first brought this one to my attention and we’re usually SPOT ON with our tastes. This could totally be an episode of Law & Order.

Those Girls by Chevy Stevens
The three Campbell sisters know to keep their heads down and avoid their father’s fists. One night, however, a fight gets out of hand and the sisters know they need to get out now. When their truck breaks down in a small town, they find themselves in an even worse situation, ultimately deciding the only way to stay safe would be to adopt new identities. Eighteen years later their past catches up to them and they have nowhere left to run. EEEEE!! Chevy Stevens is another author whose works I almost grabbed on audible. Her stuff sounds GREAT and there were so many GR rec’d that I wanted to include here!

Do you like Thrillers?? What are some of your favorites?

#ReRead2015: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Last week I treated myself to a beautiful hardback of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. If you know me you know I worship Dahl above all others and although I own very well-loved (aka battered, taped-together) copies of his books, I couldn’t resist picking up the hardback. Surprisingly it was Matt who convinced me to grab it! He’s constantly trying to get me to get rid of books, find places to put the ones I have (I have a little office area/reading nook and there are books everywhere – the floor, the windowsills, it’s a nightmare). So when I sent him a text asking if I should grab it (and for $1 too!), I never expected him to reply with a hearty YES. ♥

WHEN I First Read

Back in 3rd grade I had the most amazing teacher. She introduced me to Roald Dahl and throughout the school year she used his novels in class and I met characters I would love forever: The BFG, James, Danny. She really must have made an impression on my class because years later when I was a Senior, I decided to read The BFG. So many classmates saw what I was reading and throughout the day they came up to me and went on and on about their love of that book, memories from our elementary reading class, etc. :)

WHAT I Remember

For the most part, everything. Or, rather, the movie (Gene Wilder’s version, not Depp’s tyvm). I know Dahl wasn’t a fan of the original, but it’s one of the few movies that, if it’s on tv, I will drop EVERYTHING to watch. There were a few trivial things I had forgotten: Charlie’s dad works in a toothpaste factory, the Oompa Loompa backstory, but for the most part I remembered everything and diving back into the story was like being wrapped up in a favorite blanket. Comfort read to the max.

WHY I Wanted to Re-Read

I had just found that hardback and Roald Dahl is an all-time favorite. His classics are just so easy to slide into and they hold up SO well.

HOW I Felt After Re-Reading

Bittersweet is the best word I can think of. Those days in 3rd grade opened my eyes to authors who would ultimately become my world. It also made me want to track down a copy of Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator for a reread (I’ve only read it once and that was back in elementary school). I only remember bits and pieces, certain scenes here and there, so jumping into that story again would be wonderful. Also, I want to watch the movie and sing along – I have the soundtrack on my ipod and I have NO REGRETS.

WOULD I Re-Read Again

Absolutely. A reason I wanted that hardback is so that one day I’d have something to pass down to my kids (in the meantime I’ll be spreading the Dahl love to my nieces). I loved this book just as much as I did when I was 7 and I know I’ll still love it when I’m 70. ♥

weekly wrap-up 3/15

Beware the Ides of March! Not quite sure what today will hold but Pi Day was definitely awesome. Pies, puppies, and weather so warm I drove around with the windows down. ♥

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
I found a beautiful hardback (complete with Quentin Blake illustrations obvs!) and couldn’t pass it up. If you know me, you know how I feel about Dahl.

Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy
Two Southerns families “touched by an evil that has been passed between generations.” OOH. It looks like this one alternates between the 1950s and the 1930s so I’m already intrigued, and Lori Roy won an Edgar Award (yep, named after Poe!) for one of her earlier novels. Small town in the South, dual eras, dark secrets, definitely a Leah read! Thank you, Dutton!!

Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris
I’ve never read any of the Sookie novels, I’ve never watched True Blood. I typically don’t read Paranormal (and have only a few Urban Fantasy authors I trust), but I’ll have to see what this one is all about. A town that isn’t exactly what it seems…and that’s really all I’m getting from the blurb. The reviews aren’t all that great, but I’m hoping it’ll have a Cainsville feel to it. Thank you, Ace!!

Have you read any of these? What books did YOU get this week??

In Case You Missed It
Alice Hoffman’s Middle Grade effort, Nightbird was a magical little slip of a novel that certainly charmed me, but at times it felt like a children’s book written specifically for adults. I can’t imagine handselling this one to a child, though the parent might enjoy it!

7 reasons YOU should be reading Seraphina and Shadow Scale I took a break from my usual review style and essentially fangirled all over these two books. DRAGONS, PEOPLE. Don’t be like me and wait years before finally reading this series! I ended up marathoning both back-to-back last weekend and it was the best decision ever.

#HailToTheKing: Rage my second #hailtotheking novel was a total dud. Sorry, Stephen. I wanted to love this one (especially since it’s barely 100 pages) but I was bored out of my mind. If you’re participating in this challenge, our first check-in is now up and there’s a link to it in the post!