Tuesday, February 18, 2020

ARC Review: Pretty as a Picture by Elizabeth Little

Pretty as a Picture
Author: Elizabeth Little
Publication: Viking (February 25, 2020)

Description: An egomaniacal movie director, an isolated island, and a decades-old murder--the addictive new novel from the bestselling author of Dear Daughter

Marissa Dahl, a shy but successful film editor, travels to a small island off the coast of Delaware to work with the legendary--and legendarily demanding--director Tony Rees on a feature film with a familiar logline.

Some girl dies. 

It's not much to go on, but the specifics don't concern Marissa. Whatever the script is, her job is the same. She'll spend her days in the editing room, doing what she does best: turning pictures into stories.

But she soon discovers that on this set, nothing is as it's supposed to be--or as it seems. There are rumors of accidents and indiscretions, of burgeoning scandals and perilous schemes. Half the crew has been fired. The other half wants to quit. Even the actors have figured out something is wrong. And no one seems to know what happened to the editor she was hired to replace.

Then she meets the intrepid and incorrigible teenage girls who are determined to solve the real-life murder that is the movie's central subject, and before long, Marissa is drawn into the investigation herself.

The only problem is, the killer may still be on the loose. And he might not be finished.

A wickedly funny exploration of our cultural addiction to tales of murder and mayhem and a thrilling, behind-the-scenes whodunit, Pretty as a Picture is a captivating page-turner from one of the most distinctive voices in crime fiction.

My Thoughts: Marissa Dahl is a film editor. She is also apparently somewhere on the autism spectrum. Things in her personal life have made her want to take a job just to get away for a while. Even though she had a previous embarrassing encounter with director Tony Rees, his job would get her far enough away.

She isn't expecting a sixteen page NDA and the need to immediately take off for an unknown location which turns out to be an island off the coast of Delaware. Rees is making a movie about a murder that happened in 1994 and some of the suspects and others are still there on the island which might be why the set has been plagued with a series of accidents. Rees's character explains why there have also been a larger than usual number of employees fired. Calling Rees a control freak understates his personality.

Marissa is more or less left to sink or swim as she tries to get a handle on her new job. The movie part should be easy because she understands movies. But dealing with the people involved is very hard for her. She doesn't follow conversations well. She doesn't understand jokes. She is incredibly shy. And she finds herself with a bodyguard who seems really accepting of her peculiarities.

Marissa soon has questions and two young girls who are the children of hotel staff drag her into their investigation into the original murder just in time for there to be a second murder.

I loved Marissa's character and her unique way of seeing the world. I also loved the way the book was laid out with insertions of a podcast done after the whole case was wrapped up which gives us another way of looking at what happened.

Favorite Quote:
Everything in the whole horrible world would be eight million times easier if we all just said what we meant and meant what we said and sure, we would probably have to sacrifice drama and comedy and irony and suspense, but honestly, the time we saved might be worth it. 
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, February 17, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Feb. 17, 2020)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

I will be combining my YA and adult reading and purchases on this one weekly roundup.

Other Than Reading...

This week started my annual doctor visits. I had my annual physical and annual mammogram. My doctor decided that I could take one less blood pressure medication - maybe. My blood pressure was pretty low when it was checked at her office. Since I had lost 31 pounds since I saw her a year ago, I can't say that I was surprised.

I'm scheduled to have blood work to check my cholesterol and A1C next Monday. I'll also have a blood pressure recheck. If my blood pressure is still okay, she wants to remove one other medication which adds potassium. I'm also meeting with my gastroenterologist next week. I'll be talking to him about medication too. I think the one my doctor wants to remove is there because the medication I take for my Crohn's leaches potassium.

Beyond a couple of medical appointments, I spent the week listening to my new audiobooks. Next week I'll have Spring Training baseball to watch which I am really eager to see.

Read Last Week

If you can't wait until the review shows up on my blog, reviews are posted to LibraryThing and Goodreads as soon as I write them (usually right after I finish reading a book.)






Currently

  • Lake Silence by Anne Bishop - I'm listening to my new Audible book.

Next Week




Reviews Posted




Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?

I bought all the audiobooks of The Others series from Audible.

What was your week like?

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Book Review: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
Author: Hank Green
Publication: Dutton (September 25, 2018)

Description: In his wildly entertaining debut novel, Hank Green—cocreator of Crash Course, Vlogbrothers, and SciShow—spins a sweeping, cinematic tale about a young woman who becomes an overnight celebrity before realizing she's part of something bigger, and stranger, than anyone could have possibly imagined.

The Carls just appeared.

Roaming through New York City at three a.m., twenty-three-year-old April May stumbles across a giant sculpture. Delighted by its appearance and craftsmanship—like a ten-foot-tall Transformer wearing a suit of samurai armor—April and her best friend, Andy, make a video with it, which Andy uploads to YouTube. The next day, April wakes up to a viral video and a new life. News quickly spreads that there are Carls in dozens of cities around the world—from Beijing to Buenos Aires—and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the center of an intense international media spotlight.

Seizing the opportunity to make her mark on the world, April now has to deal with the consequences her new particular brand of fame has on her relationships, her safety, and her own identity. And all eyes are on April to figure out not just what the Carls are, but what they want from us.

Compulsively entertaining and powerfully relevant, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing grapples with big themes, including how the social internet is changing fame, rhetoric, and radicalization; how our culture deals with fear and uncertainty; and how vilification and adoration spring for the same dehumanization that follows a life in the public eye. The beginning of an exciting fiction career, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is a bold and insightful novel of now.

My Thoughts: Twenty-three year old April May has worked late at her job and is on her way home when she encounters a strange art installation - a ten-foot tall statue. Being an art major, her first instinct is to call one of her fellow classmates to come see it and bring his cameras so that they can post their find on social media. Little does she know that her middle of the night impulse will bring so many changes in her life and in the world.

Turns out the statue that she names Carl is just one for sixty-four Carls who have appeared simultaneously in cities around the world. They were the first to publicize the find and they have big plans to capitalize on April's new-found celebrity. They come up with a plan to market her and get an agent and begin trying to understand what the Carls are all about.

April wants to think that they are benevolent but there is a growing faction that believes the Carls are the first step to invading the Earth. And there are some confusing finds that make everyone question what the Carls are for.

Besides the statues which are made of materials unknown on Earth, there is the Dream which seems to be infecting humanity and which contains puzzles for humanity to solve.

This was an intriguing first contact story. It was also a great story about the way fame changes people. I enjoyed reading the story which is primarily told from April's point of view as though it was her story of what happened when the Carls appeared.

The ambiguous ending allows lots of room for individual interpretation of the events. The writing was crisp and the story flowed well. I found it intriguing and couldn't put it down.

Favorite Quote:
Human beings are terrible at accepting uncertainty, so when we're ignorant, we make assumptions based on how we imagine the world. And our guess is so obviously correct that other guesses seem, at best willful ignorance -- at worst, an attack.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Friday Memes: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

Happy Friday everybody!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City ReaderThe Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Beginning:
Look, I am aware that you're here for an epic tale of intrigue and mystery and adventure and near death and actual death, but in order to get to that (unless you want to skip to chapter 13--I'm not your boss), you're going to have to deal with the fact that I, April May, in addition to being one of the most important things that ever happened to the human race, am also a woman in her twenties who has made some mistakes.
Friday 56:
Then I remembered that email I'd sent to the woman at UC Berkeley. I checked to see if she'd replied. She had, actually, like twelve days ago. I hadn't seen it--her reply had been buried by everything else and I'd totally forgotten about our conversation.
This week I am spotlighting the first book I bought in 2020 - An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green. It was a Kindle Daily Deal. Here is the description from Amazon:
In his wildly entertaining debut novel, Hank Green—cocreator of Crash Course, Vlogbrothers, and SciShow—spins a sweeping, cinematic tale about a young woman who becomes an overnight celebrity before realizing she's part of something bigger, and stranger, than anyone could have possibly imagined.

The Carls just appeared.

Roaming through New York City at three a.m., twenty-three-year-old April May stumbles across a giant sculpture. Delighted by its appearance and craftsmanship—like a ten-foot-tall Transformer wearing a suit of samurai armor—April and her best friend, Andy, make a video with it, which Andy uploads to YouTube. The next day, April wakes up to a viral video and a new life. News quickly spreads that there are Carls in dozens of cities around the world—from Beijing to Buenos Aires—and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the center of an intense international media spotlight.

Seizing the opportunity to make her mark on the world, April now has to deal with the consequences her new particular brand of fame has on her relationships, her safety, and her own identity. And all eyes are on April to figure out not just what the Carls are, but what they want from us.

Compulsively entertaining and powerfully relevant, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing grapples with big themes, including how the social internet is changing fame, rhetoric, and radicalization; how our culture deals with fear and uncertainty; and how vilification and adoration spring for the same dehumanization that follows a life in the public eye. The beginning of an exciting fiction career, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is a bold and insightful novel of now.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Book Review: Bridge of Dreams by Anne Bishop

Bridge of Dreams
Author: Anne Bishop
Series: Ephemera (Book 3)
Publication: Roc; 1 edition (March 6, 2012)

Description: When wizards threaten Glorianna Belladonna and her work to keep Ephemera balanced, her brother, Lee, sacrifices himself in order to save her—and ends up an Asylum inmate in the city of Vision, far away from all he knows.

But a darkness is spreading through Vision, perplexing the Shamans who protect it—and Lee is the only one who can shed any light on its mysteries...

My Thoughts: This is Lee's book. He has spent his life as a Bridge - connecting different landscapes - and as a support for his sister Glorianna Belladonna. However, the changes that have gone on in his sister's life have made him feel both jealous and unnecessary.

After an angry fight, he is determined to get away. But he is overtaken by wizards who want to use him to get to his sister. The only way he can think to save her is to deny her and travel a bridge to a place he has never seen. There he is tortured and blinded by the wizards until they put him in the asylum which houses those who are mentally ill.

Lee meets Danyel who is a shaman for his people and who, unknown to himself, is a Guide similar to Belladonna and Michael. Lee also meets Zhahar who is one aspect of a tryad who was sent to this new world - Vision - in order to form a connection for her world.

There is a romance between Lee and Zhahar that has also sorts of troubled - mainly from her end - since a tryad falling in love with a one-face is an absolute taboo on her world and has dire consequences for anyone who falls in love.

This had great world building as more parts of Ephemera are revealed and Ephemera itself has an entertaining role in the story. The whole idea of people who are tryads - three people sharing one body - was fascinating.

Favorite Quote:
Everyone lives within the walls built by their own hearts, she thought. But most people aren't aware of that, so they're also not aware of the boundaries - or that some things, no matter how much they are loved, can drift out of reach.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Book Review: Belladonna by Anne Bishop

Belladonna
Author: Anne Bishop
Series: Ephemera (Book 2)
Publication: Roc (March 6, 2007)

Description: The Eater of the World is casting its shadow over the landscapes of Ephemera, tainting people’s souls with doubts and fears. Only Glorianna Belladonna possesses the ability to thwart the Eater—but she is not alone.

In dreams, a call has traveled beyond the Landscapes—“Heart’s hope lies within Belladonna”—and reached Michael, a man with mysterious powers of his own. Together, they may offer Ephemera the very hope it needs.

My Thoughts: This is the second book in the Ephemera trilogy and focuses on Glorianna Belladonna this time. She is still battling the Eater of the World and feeling very much alone and over-matched. She wants someone of her own to love and share the burden with.

Michael is a Magician in his country. Magicians are feared because they can bring ill-luck. Of course, they can also bring good luck. Michael has traveled his circuit of places trying to keep the world in balance but has been dreaming on someone to love.

Michael and Glorianna do meet and find that they have the same sort of job in their worlds. But there are differences too. Michael's world wasn't sundered nearly as badly in the first war with the Eater of the World. He knows things from old stories that have been passed down in his family that were lost in the landscapes the Glorianna Belladonna knows.

He knows a way that she can defeat the Eater of the World but the cost to her and to their relationship might be more than he is willing to pay.

The story was exciting and entertaining. It builds an interesting world peopled with all sorts of characters.

Favorite Quote:
It won't do, and if you settle for what is easy instead of what you truly want, you may never discover the hope that lives in your heart.

So you choose wisely, and you choose well, and you pick the lock that matters the most at that moment. then the spirit takes the key that was plucked from your heart and slips it into that lock.

It changes you. It doesn't matter if you end up in a place you didn't know existed or in the village where you've loved your whole life. It changes you -- and you will never see the world in quite the same way.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

ARC Review: The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

The Sun Down Motel
Author: Simone St. James
Publication: Berkley (February 18, 2020)

Description: Something hasn’t been right at the roadside Sun Down Motel for a very long time, and Carly Kirk is about to find out why in this chilling new novel from the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate New York, 1982. Viv Delaney wants to move to New York City, and to help pay for it she takes a job as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel in Fell, New York. But something isnĘžt right at the motel, something haunting and scary.

Upstate New York, 2017. Carly Kirk has never been able to let go of the story of her aunt Viv, who mysteriously disappeared from the Sun Down before she was born. She decides to move to Fell and visit the motel, where she quickly learns that nothing has changed since 1982. And she soon finds herself ensnared in the same mysteries that claimed her aunt.

My Thoughts: This dual timeline story is filled with ghosts, terror, and mystery.

In 1982 Viv Delaney leaves home after one more argument with her mother. Her stated goal is to go to New York to become an actress. However, she get sidetracked in Fell, New York, where she takes a job as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel never knowing what horror she will soon be involved with.

In 2017, Carly Kirk goes looking for her Aunt Viv who disappeared in 1982 without a trace from Fell, New York. Viv has always been the mystery her mother didn't want to talk about. Now, after her mother's death from cancer, Carly quits the college course she wasn't enjoying anyway and travels to Fell to see if she can discover what happened all those years ago.

Back in 1982, Viv soon discovers that the motel is haunted by a woman whose body was left at the site when it was a construction site, a boy who hit his head in the pool and died a couple of days later, and by the former night clerk who died of a heart attack. Viv also learns that the woman who was found on the site wasn't the only woman to die in town. It appears there is a serial killer who is targeting Fell.

As Viv investigates she comes to believe that she has discovered who the killer is. When she takes her findings to Officer Alma Trent, who is the only woman on the force and relegated to a permanent position on the night shift, Trent doesn't quite believe her. So Viv keeps investigating and soon meets Marnie who is a freelance photographer hired to take pictures of a couple meeting frequently at the motel for illicit  purpose.

Meanwhile in 2017, Carly takes a job as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel which doesn't seem to have changed one bit since her aunt had the same job. She begins her investigation by reading old newspaper articles in the library archives and gains information from her new roommate who had a strong interest in the various crimes that were part of Fell's history. She meets Callum in the archives who has his own interest in Fell's past and Nick Harkness who is staying at the motel and is linked to a much more recent crime in Fell.

As Carly and her roommate try to track down those who were part of Viv's past - Alma and Marnie - they soon learn that both seem to be keeping secrets and being less that forthright about their roles in the past events. And all the while, Carly is meeting the same ghosts who haunted Viv.

The story had a very eerie vibe in the beginning but switched to more of a mystery in the last half of the book. It was very descriptive and very creepy. I liked the story and thought it was well told. However, I decided that I could only read it in the daytime and I crossed motel night clerk off my list of potential jobs.

Fans of creepy thrillers with vengeful ghosts will definitely enjoy this mystery.

Favorite Quote:
Viv had heard ghost stories. Everyone has. But she had never thought she'd be standing holding a chain-link fence, trying not to vomit in fear as her knuckles went white and something other crossed behind her back. It was crazy. It was the kind of story you told years later while your listeners rolled their eyes, because they had no idea how the terror felt on the back of your neck.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.