Monday, April 8, 2019

Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase Blu-Ray Giveaway!

**“Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions I share are my own.”**

I grew up reading Nancy Drew. I was a HUGE Nancy Drew enthusiast as a matter of fact. When I was in second grade, I convinced my friends to "play Nancy Drew" with me. I always had to be Nancy, of course, they could be Bess and George.

That's why I'm so excited to get a chance to watch the new Nancy Drew movie with Sophia Lillis. I loved her in IT and I think she's a great choice to play Nancy!

I'm excited to offer YOU a chance to win this new Blu-Ray! To enter, simply play the game below and leave a comment telling me how long it takes you to escape the Escape Room. Make sure you leave a valid email address so I can easily contact you.

And here's a little bit more about the movie:

The iconic mystery solving teenager from the classic Nancy Drew books is back with an all-new feature length film that will keep you guessing until the very end! Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release Nancy Drew And The Hidden Staircase on Digital starting March 26, 2019 and Blu-ray™ Combo Pack & DVD on April 2, 2019. Executive Produced by Ellen DeGeneres, the film stars Sophia Lillis (IT and “Sharp Objects”), Sam Trammell (“True Blood” and “This is Us”), and Linda Lavin (“The Good Wife” and“Alice”) and follows Nancy Drew in her new town, making new friends and on a mission to solve the case! The film carries a suggested retail price of $19.99 for the Digital, $19.98 for the DVD and $28.98 for the Blu-ray Combo Pack.

After the death of his wife, Carson Drew decides to leave Chicago behind and make a fresh start with his daughter in River Heights. But for 16-year-old Nancy Drew, life in a small town is mighty dull. She longs for excitement, adventure, and the chance to make a difference. Nancy gets that opportunity when she is asked to help solve the ghostly activity at the Twin Elms mansion. Can she help explain the creaking footsteps, exploding lightbulbs and the ominous creature? Is it the handiwork of high-school bully Derek Barnes? Or is it possible that the ghost of original owner Malcolm Colfax is back for revenge? Recruiting her best friends George and Bess, along with local “mean girl” Helen, Nancy Drew is on the case!

Welcome to the Interactive Nancy Drew Escape Room - to escape, you must solve riddles and find items to uncover the three numbers needed to open to door. Good Luck!

• In the Mystery Match Video Puzzle, use your mouse to click + drag puzzle pieces to unlock clips from the film.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

All the Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson

All the Beautiful Lies Cover

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

I needed to escape into an engrossing read this weekend to both take my mind off unalterable life circumstances as well as reintroduce myself to reading, something I seem to have stopped doing very frequently. There's a host of reasons for that I will probably discuss at some future distant time, but I am glad to say this weekend I was able to complete a whole book! Even though it was mostly a book read for the pleasure of reading and of escape, it stills feels like a huge accomplishment.

Peter Swanson describes his book, All the Beautiful Lies as a gothic novel with a monster at the heart of it and that's a pretty accurate way of describing it. The book starts with a death and with a young college student, Harry, returning to the small town his father lives in to grieve his death. His mother died long ago so the visit home only reunites him with his stepmother, a woman he has an uncomfortable relationship with due to her younger age and attractiveness.

His stepmother, Alice, is another character we get to know through flashbacks to the past. Alice has an unhappy family life until her mother remarries and then Alice starts to see her new stepfather as her savior.

Meanwhile, in the present, Harry learns that his father's death was likely not an accident and an investigation ensues in which he learns more about his father's life and the many things he didn't know before.

It's been cold here and this book was the perfect way to curl up lose track of the present. I can't say any of the characters were particularly likable but the book does make you think a little in its own way about the many ways we use one another and the stories we tell ourselves about our lives and the people we love. I haven't read any of Peter Swanson's other books, but I wouldn't hesitate to pick up another in the right circumstances.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Spectrum

I've been meaning to come by the old blog for some time to write some reflections on my life over the past year. It has been incredible and so much more than I anticipated heading into it. It was both very painful and very rewarding and I thought writing about it would help me make more sense of it as writing has so often in the past.

Then someone with a completely different life wrote a post that did a pretty good job of expressing my feelings...on Instagram of all places and so I'll just steal her concept. There's a human tendency to want to wrap up a unit of time, like a year, with some sort of definitive judgement. This was a good year, or a learning year, or a hard year. But really when I look at 2018, I see as Kaitlyn wrote, the spectrum. There were moments where I learned that I could do things I never knew I could, I had new experiences I never dreamed I'd have, met new people, worked incredibly hard to create something, learned about where my heart lies when it comes to work, and I loved. Hard. Not a person necessarily, not a job per se, but a team and a belief in building something together.

But it was also hard. I made some poor decisions that resulted in real consequences. I made what I thought was a friend who unlocked some part of me that had been long bound up tight and all the repressed hurt and brokenness of my life came spilling out. It wasn't always pretty. I've had to face my own issues with more clarity than ever before. I lost big time and then I had to try to hold my head up every day and pretend that I was okay with my new reality and the way my world--that once felt like it was big and expanding was suddenly shrinking.

I kept thinking that if I pushed through the end of 2018, I'd be okay in 2019. And I was okay for a lot of the end of 2018, though I had setbacks. I thought 2019 was going to be amazing. Instead, I've been sick every day of 2019 with a lingering and persistent cold. 2018 ended with the death of my grandma and my feelings are somewhat complicated about it. There have been setbacks at work. I feel tired and alone.

For 2019, I have certain things I want to achieve, but I guess, most importantly, I want to feel the same sense that the year was important when I look back. I realize that it may just be tiny small steps taken over the course of many days, but I need to progress. This life is short. My life gets shorter by one day everyday. I need to make it matter. And I do think, if you read that tweet, that going where the love is is my 2019 goal. I hope I make it.

A Few Recs from 2018:
The Good Place--I don't watch nearly as much TV as I used to, but this show just hits the spot. It always makes me feel better about the world and life and our relationships to each other. It also makes me laugh out loud which is rare. I just LOVE it. If you haven't watched, please do!

The Haunting of Hill House--to me this show was horror perfection. It's incredibly smart television, moving, scary, touching. I it.

This piece about how the soul doesn't want to be fixed, but witnessed blessed me so deeply when it entered my life I can't overstate it. Because I'm a pretty transparent person, the times I was in pain this year were pretty obvious and there were people I respect who offered a lot of unsolicited advice that didn't really help at all. If you can sense someone in pain and you can't understand it or you think if they just did this one thing it would be better!! Maybe just stop and instead offer the comfort of your caring presence.

Jessica Dore's Twitter account. I'm not even really into Tarot at all, but her therapeutic words have given me moments of peace and great insight. Thanks to whoever retweeted her onto my timeline.

My other favorite account this year has been Blair Braverman. She tells the sweetest stories about her race dogs and this one in particular just hit right in the heart. Such wonderful freeing love!

Here's to 2019 and an increased presence on the blog, a safer more loving world, and growth. Always growth.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Sadie by Courtney Summers

Girls, girls, girls. Missing girls. A much explored topic in literature, but Sadie brings a unique take.

We live in an age of podcasts where true crime stories are among the most popular subjects explored. Maybe Serial popularized this trend, maybe not, I'm not well versed enough in the history of podcasts to know, but it is one I listened to which helped me to understand half of the format of Courtney Summers's compelling and gripping new read. Sadie, a story of a girl gone missing, is told in part through podcast transcript and in part through the first person perspective of Sadie herself in the days leading up to her disappearance.

I have always found Courtney Summers books to be "unputdownable" and to sweep me up into the emotional reality of the characters very quickly. I like that she has a fondness for writing girls who aren't mainstream pleasant, but full of the jagged edges of life which manifest in all the ways pain does manifest for girls. Anger, violence, control, manipulation. Exploring how girls react to the unique torments the world has for them in light of the patriarchy, in light of being girls, is still not as explored as it should be and remains an area I love to read about.

Writing the book in half podcast format also allowed Sadie to touch upon the exploitation of such stories, of such pain for the consumption of others. Why are we drawn to these stories? It's worth thinking about the ways in which we use the pain of others for our entertainment.

Giving away the plot is not something I'm interested in doing, so instead I'll leave you with this. The writing in this book is equal parts incisive and poignant. I felt every ounce of Sadie's pain even if her unique circumstances don't look anything like my own. Of course I recommend this book, I'm just sorry we'll probably be waiting another three years for the next?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A Friendly Town that's Almost Always by the Ocean by Kir Fox and M. Shelley Coats

blog tour banner for a friendly town that's almost always by the ocean

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

I love middle grade novels that employ a fresh sense of adventure and creativity. I feel there is something about books in this age group that allow them to be creative and innovative in fun ways and A Friendly Town That's Almost Always by the Ocean is no exception. This book is utterly charming while still having the kind of heart that you want a book like this to have. The story isn't sacrificed for the creativity, so to say, though it's format is quite different.

Davy moves to Topsea which is unlike any place he has ever been before and certainly unlike his last home. He's been facing a lot of changes in his life and he's trying to adjust, but Topsea's differentness presents quite a challenge to him. For example, he finds out his locker is at the bottom of the swimming pool!

The book is full of charming characters with their own quirks and in between chapters focused on these characters you can find historical anecdotes about Topsea as well as letters, articles from the school newspaper and so forth. The illustrations are also full of character and add just the right touch to the book.

Will Davy adjust to Topsea? Read this delightful book to find out! I do think this sort of book would make an EXCELLENT read aloud book so that is also something to consider for the family.


Saturday, April 7, 2018

Autonomous by Andy Marino

Blog Tour Banner for Autonomous by Andy Marino
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

If you've been following the news lately, you know that as a country we are finally starting to come to terms with a topic that has been begging to be discussed in more depth for awhile. Data management. In exchange for the opportunity to use many tools on the world wide web, we've exchanged the rights to our data. And I do think that for a lot of people we don't fully realize how adept technology is at tying it all together. It can be shocking, then, when in order to verify our identity for something we realize just how much is known about us.

And it can be a weapon as we're realizing. We passively engage and use many tools and live our lives. Meanwhile, others are figuring out how to use their knowledge of us against us in order to achieve their own goals.

So with these interesting topics in mind, I was delighted to participate in a blog tour for Autonomous. Autonomous is not just about our data though that is certainly a lot of it, but also combines the subject with our increased technology in the area of artificial intelligence, specifically self-driving cars.

William Mackler is just an ordinary teenage boy who miraculously wins a driverless car and a dream road trip with his friends--the last summer before they head off to college. They are all excited for various reasons to do it and they quickly head off on what they think will be a dream trip. However, several things happen along the way that reveal the car is more than just a regular car and they feel they are losing control. Not only of the car, but their futures and friendships.

The characters in the book were all pretty fun and I was able to feel sympathetic towards their various situations. I liked how the story touched on a lot of relevant issues concerning technology and data while still being futuristic and fun.

The plot took some turns I didn't expect, and the overall theme ended up being a little different than I anticipated. I appreciated that! It was fun, it made me think, and kept me engrossed.

If you like fast action packed stories and are interested in fiction that draws from some of the current slate of issues we face without being too preachy, I think you would enjoy this book.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Final Girls by Riley Sager

Final Girls by Riley Sager

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest thoughts.

I love horror. It's my favorite genre because it consistently keeps me entertained. I like how in horror you can examine your very real fears often in settings that are unreal which makes it feel safer. I also like the fight and will to survive. And a good jump.

Lately there's been an increase in turning slasher stories into longform stories. It sounds counter-intuitive and it is in many ways. Still, I enjoyed the TV shows Slasher and Scream more than I enjoy the typical slasher film. They allowed me to dig in deeper with the characters, care about them more, and thus be more invested in the stories and their outcome. Plus because the narrative needed to be sustained over time, they each had a great "who's the killer?" mystery. So when two fiction books came out last year with the same theme, I was interested. A lot interested.

One of them was Final Girls. If you know horror, you know in slasher films there's a trope where basically a bunch of people get butchered but one girl survives. She's the final girl. Apparently, the term was coined in 1992 by Carol Clover in her book, Men, Women, and Chainsaws Gender in the Modern Horror Film.

So last woman standing, final girl. This book centers on Quincy, a final girl who doesn't remember a lot about the night a lot of her friends got killed. She's one of three in the nation, and she has since moved on building a successful website/blog and maintaining a relationship with a significant other. News comes that one of the final girls has killed herself which sets in motion a series of events that forces Quincy to take another look at her life and what happened in the woods all those year ago when her friends were killed.

Final Girls is an engaging read. I enjoyed it. It's a good mystery with interesting developments. It's fairly quick paced and I was able to get engrossed in it easily. The ending is very satisfying with some delicious irony.

It goes back and forth between the past and present but not every chapter or anything like that, mostly when it fits within the current timeline's narrative to do a flashback.

I liked it, but I also wish it had been more, if that makes any sense. I'll be looking for more books in this genre and I will definitely read more from this author.