Monday, March 20, 2017

My Husband's Wife by Jane Corry



*I received a review copy from the publisher with no expectation of anything other than an honest review.

Suggest a thriller or mystery (or a horror story!) to me and chances are I'll be interested. I love the kind of reading that keeps me gripped, guessing, turning the pages. So when a pitch arrived in my inbox for My Husband's Wife by Jane Corry, I was interested.

The tagline reads, "an eye for an eye, a wife for a wife." I mean come on. How intriguing?

I did enjoy the book. It's the story of Lily a young woman who is recently married. She's also a lawyer who is starting out in the trenches and taking on a case of a man accused of murdering his girlfriend. It's a difficult case, but because he reminds her of her brother she's drawn to him and feels an increased connection and sense of empathy for him. Her own marriage isn't what she wishes it was--she and her husband struggle, but she does try to make it work. And baby-sitting for a little girl next door, Carla, who is from Italy (this book is set in England) helps to bond them in some ways. The girl herself is struggling to come to terms with her own life but enjoys sitting for Lily's husband Ed to draw.

There's an event and then a huge time jump and then some more stuff happens! I hate to give away too many plot details. But the premise of the book was interesting and kept me with it which made up for the fact that the writing itself was very serviceable. There were times I felt the tension could have been drawn out and the language is basic and functional but doesn't necessarily draw the reader deep into the characters or action. Even still, I finished the book.

Amy

Saturday, March 11, 2017

TV Rec: Timeless


We live in a time where there are more TV shows than ever before to watch. It can be really hard to make a choice--many shows have shortened seasons and yet there are so many to choose from. And there's only so much time. We like to read, see movies, and have a life as well!

In any case, I will from time to time still write about some shows I'm watching that I think are worth checking out. Over the past couple of weeks, I finally got a chance to watch Timeless. Timeless has already completed it's first season (at 16 episodes) and there is no guaranteed of a second season at this point. Still, you can watch the full first full season on Hulu or NBC.com. And watching on these platforms at this time is the best thing you can do to help bring about a second season!

What makes Timeless such a fun show is the history. It's a time travel show and I'm not for a second going to pretend there's a lot of logic to the way time travel works. If the past is "changed" there is often very little consequence to the world in the present of our characters. The premiere episode introduces this concept with very real consequences, but the subsequent episodes very rarely reflect this. So with that out of the way, the history is FUN!

The premise of Timeless is pretty straightforward, there's a bad guy going back in time to change history with a stolen time travel ship and a small team (a pilot, a military man, and a historian) are assembled to chase after him in "the Lifeboat" another time travel ship and stop him from causing too much damage. The cast is great led by the wonderful Abigail Scott of Rectify and Suits and have a very enjoyable chemistry and banter. They visit many familiar and known times in history to varying degrees of success. They have a full wardrobe of authentic costumes at their disposal for their trips and they interact with many famous and known characters from history as well as those who are lesser known.

Understandably, a woman going back in history will find certain restrictions on her freedom and Rufus, the pilot, is a black man. Which is important because it allows us to access history from his viewpoint. His reluctance to go back in time is established in the first episode and it's also possibly true that the show doesn't make things as difficult for him as it might be. (however, I think that's true for all the characters, this IS fiction) Still, through Timeless we learn about important characters in the past--often women and people of color.

The show also utilizes enjoyable guest stars to play the characters in history. And...it's just a lot of fun.

There is a huge overarching conspiracy theory and still a lot of questions about how time travel works. The show is a good time, though, and I flew through all 16 episodes rather quickly.

Amy

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly Givewaway!

Thanks to Disney for providing me with a copy of Lost in a Book and Belle's Library as well as providing this prize pack!

Are you excited for the Beauty and the Beast live action film? It has certainly been exciting to see many iconic scenes come to life. One of the things I always loved about Belle and the reason she's one of my personal favorites is that she's a bookworm!

In celebration of this wonderful reality and the upcoming film, Disney Press is releasing several Beauty and the Beast books. I'm excited to offer a giveaway here!


About the book: Smart, bookish Belle, a captive in the Beast's castle, has become accustomed to her new home and has befriended its inhabitants. When she comes upon Nevermore, an enchanted book unlike anything else she has seen in the castle, Belle finds herself pulled into its pages and transported to a world of glamour and intrigue. The adventures Belle has always imagined, the dreams she was forced to give up when she became a prisoner, seem within reach again.

The charming and mysterious characters Belle meets within the pages of Nevermore offer her glamorous conversation, a life of dazzling Parisian luxury, and even a reunion she never thought possible. Here Belle can have everything she ever wished for. But what about her friends in the Beast's castle? Can Belle trust her new companions inside the pages of Nevermore? Is Nevermore's world even real? Belle must uncover the truth about the book, before she loses herself in it forever.

About the Author: Jennifer Donnelly is an award-winning, best-selling author of books for young adults and adults, including the Waterfire Saga: Deep Blue, Rogue Wave, Dark Tide, and Sea Spell. Her other young adult novels include These Shallow Graves, Revolution, and A Northern Light, winner of Britain's prestigious Carnegie Medal, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Young Adult Literature, and a Michael L. Printz Honor. She has also written Humble Pie, a picture book, and the adult novels The Tea Rose, The Winter Rose, and The Wild Rose. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley. You can visit her at www.jenniferdonnelly.com, or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @jenwritesbooks.

Visit the official site for Lost in a Book to learn more about the book. You can also follow Disney Hyperionon Twitter to keep up with all the news about these books, as well as follow Disney Books on instagram for some extra visual bookish beauty in your life.

Another great book included in this pack is Belle's Library which includes a lot of really great quotes in a beautiful little book.



Here's the full list of books included in the prize pack:
Lost in a Book
Belle’s Library
Art of Coloring: Beauty and the Beast
Tale as Old as Time
A Twisted Tale: As Old As Time
The Beast Within
The Isle of the Lost and Return to the Isle of the Lost
Kingdom Keepers: The Return (3-book series)
Star Wars trilogy (3-book series)
Percy Jackson & The Olympians (5-book series)
Tales from the Haunted Mansion: Volume 1

To enter, you must be a resident of the United States and fill out the following form. Entries must be received by March 17, 2017 at midnight EST. Winner will be notified via email.









Amy

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Giveaway: The Lost Book of the Grail by Charlie Lovett


Charlie Lovett's new book, The Lost Book of the Grail, is released today and I am very happy to have three copies to offer on giveaway! This giveaway is open to US residents only.

About the Book: In THE LOST BOOK OF THE GRAIL (Viking; On-Sale: February 28, 2017; ISBN: 9780399562518; Price: $26.00), his fourth and most ambitious book yet, Lovett gives us his whimsical take on the legend of King Arthur and the Holy Grail.

THE LOST BOOK OF THE GRAIL is a deftly layered mystery written in the bold, questing spirit of Arthurian tales. Set in the fictional English cathedral city of Barchester, the novel chronicles the story of Arthur Prescott, a middle-aged, obsessive bibliophile and Holy Grail fanatic, who for years has haplessly worked to uncover a long lost secret about the cathedral’s past and its connections to King Arthur. But it’s not until Arthur meets Bethany Davis, a beautiful young American Millennial with a penchant for modern technology, that his quest takes on new meaning. Soon Arthur and Bethany’s search takes on grave importance, leading the pair to discover secrets about the cathedral, about the grail, and about themselves that neither expected.

Imbued with reverence and mythical storytelling, THE LOST BOOK OF THE GRAIL is a mystery of the kind that’s wildly popular in the entertainment world—think Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and National Treasure, not to mention Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code—yet deeply ruminates on timeless themes like faith, perceived truth, and how the past has informed the present day. Here Lovett provides a wholly entertaining story that will not only make you smile and laugh, but also think—prompting readers to reconsider the important roles that spirituality, family, and, yes, reading, play in their lives.

To enter, just fill in the form below by March 10, 2017.




Sunday, February 5, 2017

Five Things That Made Me Happy This Week

We live in a trying time. This is perhaps always true, but for myself, the first month of the year has been a challenge. Between sifting through legitimate issues and problems, panic and misinformation, I have realized I need to step back from the immediacy of a constant stream of news and focus. It doesn't help that I have my own personal issues to contend with.

When things are hard it's the little things...the little pop culture things that have nothing to do with my own life that often provide a bit of respite and pleasure and so this year I'm going to try to recap the things I enjoyed the most in the previous week! For this week, I made gifs to go with it, but I can't promise I'll do that every week.

1) The Good Place was renewed!


I loved this show a lot for it's generally good heart, good humor, clever cliffhangers. The ratings weren't totally awesome so it was a bit unsure if it would live to see another season, but it will! I really recommend catching up on the show if you can.

2) TWD aired a promo that featured a smiling Rick and Michonne!


The first half of the seventh season of The Walking Dead was a bit dark. Okay really dark. And there is still a huge foe that our heroes must face. It's a resistance. But they are willing to start making that fight together. And my favorite characters smiling (and being in love) is still a great thing!

3) Carlos Martinez signed an extension with the St. Louis Cardinals.


Cardinals had some bad news with the punishment for the hacking incident being handed down but managed to cheer us all up by signing our favorite young pitcher to an extension. Martinez has a lot of talent and a lot of personality so it's nice I won't have to watch him on another team!

4) NBC aired Powerless and it's adorable


With The Good Place being done for the year, I was sad about no comedies to watch. I have a very particular taste so while I tried a few popular options, I didn't really like them. Critics didn't like this one, but I found it adorable and even somewhat timely. Vanessa Hudgens in particular is great. Looking forward to seeing more!

5) Meryl Davis and Charlie White participated in Art on Ice


I'm a huge ice dance fan as those of you who follow me on Twitter know! Current competition has been a bit disappointing for me this year with hard outings for my favorites and a retirement by one of my favorite young teams. So it was nice to finally see some video of Davis and White at Art On Ice with a beautiful performance to Adagio for Strings.

So what little things made you happy this week? (personal life stuff or pop culture please! this is our escape space)
Amy

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Catching Up on Contemporary YA

I read some great YA books last year that would fall into the contemporary category and I wanted a chance to talk about them! (yes I'm still catching up on last year!)

I Was Here by Gayle Forman

I always forget until I'm reading her books the kind of writer Forman is...that she has the ability to grab me right in my heart. She is thoughtful and perceptive and her books really make me care about the characters. I Was Here was no exception. The subject matter is incredibly heavy as it deals with suicide and those left behind. Cody's best friend kills herself and Cody finds it such a shock that she wants to find out why. The depth and anguish felt true to life and while there was a romantic development I struggled with, I ultimately loved this book. It's not an easy read but it felt worth my time for helping me to understand even more how hard life is, the influence we have on each other and the importance of forgiving ourselves.


Torn Away by Jennifer Brown

Whenever national disasters happen, we often think of them for a news cycle and then they fade from memory. Torn Away is the story of Jersey who endures a horrible tornado in her midwest town. Going from the catastrophic storm itself to the unthinkable aftermath, Jersey's is the story of someone who loses their entire life in the storm. Like Hate List, this book made me cry a lot as Jersey struggles to make sense of her life in the aftermath, the memory of those she's lost, and finding a new place for herself in the world. Riveting and emotional, I definitely recommend this one!


The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr

I love Sara Zarr's books and this was no exception. Lucy is a piano protege until a family loss makes her want to stop forever. But when her brother starts getting taught by a new young teacher, she finds herself interested in returning to playing. But is this new teacher just using her? Lucy struggles with finding her own creative voice, autonomy over her gift and growing up in this book that is thoughtful and considerate of the many emotional depths in a young girl. I love how Lucy comes to take ownership over her playing AND her decisions in a way that is extremely satisfying. Recommend!


Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

I enjoyed this book in that I was completely gripped by it while I was reading it. My emotions and mind were engaged. But there's a twist that once I realized it, I felt overall frustrated with the book. I really don't want to go into more detail than that, but it was still a great read!


Amy

Monday, January 16, 2017

Leopard at the Door by Jennifer McVeigh


History of the continent is something I'm woefully under educated in, and so I welcomed the chance to read Jennifer McVeigh's new book about the Kenyan revolution in the fifties. The book definitely proved to be a good read and timely, too. Of course, by saying it's timely, what I mean to acknowledge is that we can often draw from the historical in other situations and see ways it relates to our current situations. So even though this was a different time, with different countries involved, some of the mindsets and struggles still feel real to our struggles today.

Rachel's mother died when she was twelve and her father sent her back to England to be raised by her grandparents. But Rachel misses Kenya and as soon as she graduates she heads back to the country. But in the six years she was gone things have changed and new tensions have emerged in the country. For the Europeans (namely English) still living there, the threat has expanded to involve them as a revolutionary group is rising in power. Meanwhile, things have also changed for Rachel's family. Her dad is living with a woman who has taken over the farm in many respects. She and Rachel don't get along right away, and that adds to the general unease in the story.

McVeigh's writing is quite lovely even beautiful at times, especially when she writes about Rachel's forbidden feelings for a man on the farm. The violence and sense of foreboding are well woven into the story...while you can predict where the story will hit its climax, the dread of getting there is an important part of the experience of reading it. Kenya springs to life on the page, the animals all around, the real danger. And the racism that allows the condition to exist is brought to life...obviously in some of the characters, but also in Rachel. This story is very much about her grappling with injustice of a colonized Kenya all the while being an Englishwoman who loves the land and considers it home. It's an interesting predicament, and illustrates the complexity of the human experience. Still, some things felt so familiar about the situation, about the obstinance of the British government, the simple refusal to consider things from another's point of view....

The novel is also relatively quick paced even though it comes in around 400 pages. I was never bored but I had a lot to learn about the background and everything was fresh and new to me.

I enjoyed reading this book and being immersed in the world it offered. I did receive a review copy from the publisher.
Amy