Thursday, April 30, 2020

More Social Distancing Recommendations - Movie Club Edition

As this time of social distancing/quarantine/self isolation continues we could probably all use some recommendations on what to watch to fill some of our time. I know I certainly welcome any recommendations right now, especially since I have two weeks of vacation from work coming up at the end of May and am unfortunately unable to go anywhere for it.

I thought I would share some great places to get recommendations for movies to watch from various movie clubs that I have found. Some have weekly picks, while one has a daily movie for you to watch during this time where we'll all spending more time indoors.

First up is the American Film Institute's Movie Club

They are recommending a movie a day for you to follow along with. All of the movies seems to be from various AFI lists and offer a wide range of selection which is sure to have something for everyone. They currently have around thirty movies listed if you want to catch up.

Next up is the It's The Pictures That Got Small podcast/movie club.

Karina Longworth and Nate DiMeo are joined by a guest each week who picks the movie they'll watch and discuss for that week's podcast. They've watched movies like Cast Away, The Grapes of Wrath and From Here to Eternity. The Eyes of Laura Mars is this week's pick with the podcast episodes releasing late Wednesday/early Thursday (so the discussion of The Eyes of Laura Mars will be on the May 7th episode). I have really enjoyed following along with this movie club and have watched movies I did not expect to as a result.

Last, is the Little Gold Men podcast's movie club.

This is Vanity Fair's Oscar podcast which has shifted into discussions about movies that are voted on by listeners. You can vote on the Little Gold Men's twitter page and watch the selected movie before listening to the podcast discussion after. They have good mix of movies included and I definitely recommend this podcast for even non quarantine times as they offer some of the best Oscar coverage out there.

Anyone else have a movie club they would recommend check out? Movies that you feel should be on everyone's watch list? Let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Waiting On Wednesday ... Instant Karma

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pick is Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
In this young adult contemporary romance, a girl is suddenly gifted with the ability to cast instant karma on those around her—both good and bad.

Chronic overachiever Prudence Daniels is always quick to cast judgment on the lazy, rude, and arrogant residents of her coastal town. Her dreams of karmic justice are fulfilled when, after a night out with her friends, she wakes up with the sudden ability to cast instant karma on those around her. Pru giddily makes use of the power, punishing everyone from public vandals to karaoke hecklers, but there is one person on whom her powers consistently backfire: Quint Erickson, her slacker of a lab partner and all-around mortal enemy. Soon, Pru begins to uncover truths about Quint, her peers, and even herself that reveal how thin the line is between virtue and vanity, generosity and greed . . . love and hate.
I have loved every book that Marissa Meyer has released. I love her twists on fairytales just as much as her take on superheros and villains. Instant Karma is her take on the rom-com but still seems to have a bit of magic to it.

It seems really far away with that November 3 release date, but I am sure it'll be here before we know it.

Expected release date - November 3, 2020

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow

Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow
Release Date - October 15, 2019
Publisher Website -  Little Brown and Company
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  448 pages
My Rating - 5/5

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
In a dramatic account of violence and espionage, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Ronan Farrow exposes serial abusers and a cabal of powerful interests hell-bent on covering up the truth, at any cost.

In 2017, a routine network television investigation led Ronan Farrow to a story only whispered about: one of Hollywood's most powerful producers was a predator, protected by fear, wealth, and a conspiracy of silence. As Farrow drew closer to the truth, shadowy operatives, from high-priced lawyers to elite war-hardened spies, mounted a secret campaign of intimidation, threatening his career, following his every move and weaponizing an account of abuse in his own family.

All the while, Farrow and his producer faced a degree of resistance that could not be explained - until now. And a trail of clues revealed corruption and cover-ups from Hollywood, to Washington, and beyond.

This is the untold story of the exotic tactics of surveillance and intimidation deployed by wealthy and connected men to threaten journalists, evade accountability and silence victims of abuse - and it's the story of the women who risked everything to expose the truth and spark a global movement.

Both a spy thriller and a meticulous work of investigative journalism, Catch and Kill breaks devastating new stories about the rampant abuse of power - and sheds far-reaching light on investigations that shook the culture.
The phrase 'catch and kill' refers to the practice of purchasing negative news stories about an individual to ensure it is not made public. In his book, Catch and Kill, Ronan Farrow details this practice and specifically examines it through the lens of his investigation into the sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein.

The first thing you should know is how well written this book is. It is meticulously constructed so that the narrative flow is engaging from beginning to end. It is laid out like any good foundation is and built up in a manner that allows the reader to understand the individual parts before revealing the larger picture. It spotlights Ronan's attention to detail and skill as an investigative journalist while also reading like a taunt spy thriller.

This investigation needed so many people and things to come together for it to be successful. Many had tried to bring this story into the light before only to have their investigation stall or have it shut down.  Much of this success comes down to Ronan's seemingly effortless ability to make the people he is interviewing comfortable. He has compassion and integrity which I thinks comes through and puts people at ease.

All of the women who came forward are inspiring. It is their bravery that ensured this story got out and their determination that made sure the story did not remain a well known secret. I am in awe of their strength, especially after knowing the lengths it took to finally get this story out.

I appreciated the glimpse that Ronan offered into his life and state of mind while researching this story. Ronan may not want to be the focus but part of the story is his journey to publication and it needed to be included. I felt there was the perfect balance between the meat of the story and those little windows into his time developing this story. It not only helped with the easing of concerns of a man reporting this story by knowing he cared, but it gave a window into what it is like to both be a journalist and to be someone in a relationship with a journalist.

This is the book version of that 'hold my beer' meme; just when you think it cannot get any more mind blowing it proves you wrong. The amount of rage I felt reading this novel was off the charts. The system that has allowed men like Harvey Wienstien to not only get away with his crimes but thrive is both not surprising and eye opening.

The details about the sexual abuse ncluded in these pages, while hard to read, are never sensationalized or used salatiously. They are reported with tact and sensitivity. I would still give anyone a content warning before diving in but it was depicted with the utmost care.

Even if you think you know this story I highly encourage you to pick up Catch and Kill. While it is, at times, a hard read content wise, it is a page turner in the truest sense and offers up the hope that stories like this won't continue to be hidden in the dark.

Friday, April 24, 2020

#2020PopCultureResolution - Sabrina


Director: Billy Wilder

Length:  113 minutes

Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, William Holden

Release Date:  September 91954

Synopsis: Chauffeur's daughter Sabrina (Audrey Hepburn) returns home from two years in Paris a beautiful young woman, and immediately catches the attention of David (William Holden), the playboy son of her father's rich employers. David woos and wins Sabrina, who has always been in love with him, however their romance is threatened by David's serious older brother, Linus (Humphrey Bogart), who runs the family business and is relying on David to marry an heiress in order for a crucial merger to take place.


Sabrina is one of those movies that pops up on all those must see movie lists. It's considered one of the must sees as part of your classic Hollywood education.

Audrey Hepburn is luminous in that way she so often is. Her delicate beauty felt highlighted here, particularly when her returns from Paris. You can see how both of the brothers would have their heads turned by her. She radiates such a presence on the screen and you instantly care about her character.

The rest if the cast is equally well suited to their roles. William Holden nails the flighty, entitled playboy role. I have not seen many Bogart movies but this (and Casablanca) made me appreciate his particular brand of charisma and swagger. He is suited to the role of the more serious brother who is more than a little guarded.

The movie definitely has elements that showcase it has a product of the time it was made in. The only moment that shocked me is the casualness in which they present a suicide attempt. It was the element that most felt like a product of the time the movie was made in.

The romance for me was the crux if this movie. I was not sure I was going to be invested in it st all. Sabrina is in love with David and has been for as long as she can remember. It is easy for the viewer to see that those feelings are misplaced. David has barely glanced in her direction and seems every inch the rich, spoiled, self involved playboy. I instantly felt Sabrina could and should do better. It is a testament to Audrey Hepburn's charm that you want Sabrina to get what she wants, even if the object if her affection seems unworthy.

David's about face when a more polished/glamorous Sabrina returns from Paris only served to generate more eye rolls from me (especially as he is already involved with someone else). It is not that it is not believable. Audrey Hepburn is probably the on actress I believe would have that sort of impact but it just continues to display the type of guy he is. It isn't until Linus enters the picture that I felt anything in regards to the romantic plot.

The chemistry between Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart was one of my favourite things about this movie. There is a scene where he asks her how to say some phrases in French that are particularly swoon inducing. Their ease with one another and the way in which they play off eac other made watching them a delight. They both cause the other to reflect and change in ways that I really liked as well. Their chemistry is made all the more striking against the rumours that they did not get along on set.

The ending is as smile inducing and satisfying as one could hope for. There is even evidence of character growth and sibling love between the two brothers. It worked for me on so many levels and feels picture perfect for the story being told.

This may not be my favourite Audrey Hepburn movie (Roman Holiday is superior in my opinion) but it is up there on the list. There is plenty of charm, humour, and charisma to make this a worthy watch. It's also one I would consider on my own essentials of classic Hollywood list if I were to make one.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Reading During A Pandemic

Most of us are at least a month or more into shelter in place/social distancing/self isolation. I have been working from home for just over a month and have only made trips for essentials (and I have been lucky to get many of those delivered). I thought it might be interesting to  check in and see how everyone is doing reading wise.

I, naively, thought that I would use the extra time I find myself with to read many of the books I have been wanting to get to. I expected that I would be looking for that escape even more now. I was mistaken.

It turns out that being stressed and unable to focus does not lend itself to reading. I am slowly getting into the new routine of my daily life and I have noticed that I am beginning to read more but it is slow going. It is still an adjustment one month in.

I have noticed many of my bookish friends having the same issues as me. Reading slumps that are the by product of a global pandemic. Some are finding it difficult to read certain genres during this and are looking for fluffy feel good reads. Others are embracing the unexpected comfort of reading novels about pandemics. Others may find contemporary reads are feeling a little less realistic in these current times. It is comforting to know that even though it is taking g different forms we are not experiencing it alone.

I am definitely in awe of the people who are reading up a storm and making progress on the never ending tbr pile that we all seem to have.

What about you? What has your reading experience been like during this pandemic? Any tips that you find helped you out of your Covid19 reading slump? Are you reading more now than ever before? Let me know in the comments. I am looking forward to reading about everyone's experiences.

Stay healthy!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Waiting On Wednesday .... Party of Two

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pick is Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
A chance meeting with a handsome stranger turns into a whirlwind affair that gets everyone talking.

Dating is the last thing on Olivia Monroe's mind when she moves to LA to start her own law firm. But when she meets a gorgeous man at a hotel bar and they spend the entire night flirting, she discovers too late that he is none other than hotshot junior senator Max Powell. Olivia has zero interest in dating a politician, but when a cake arrives at her office with the cutest message, she can't resist--it is chocolate cake, after all.

Olivia is surprised to find that Max is sweet, funny, and noble--not just some privileged white politician she assumed him to be. Because of Max's high-profile job, they start seeing each other secretly, which leads to clandestine dates and silly disguises. But when they finally go public, the intense media scrutiny means people are now digging up her rocky past and criticizing her job, even her suitability as a trophy girlfriend. Olivia knows what she has with Max is something special, but is it strong enough to survive the heat of the spotlight?The main character was compared to Jessica Jones in the announcement of this book and I was immediately in. I also love anything Disney so this would have been added to my reading wishlist either way.
Jasmine Guillory's books are always the cutest reads and this one sounds like no exception. I am noticing a trend of politically themed romance novels coming out in the next little bit and I am cautiously looking forward to seeing what they offer. I think Jasmine's going to handle the topic perfectly and I cannot wait to get my hands on this one.

It releases in June which is the season for rom-coms and light reads so hopefully everyone packs this in their (metaphorical) beach bag this year.

Expected release date - June 23, 2020

Friday, April 17, 2020

The Goal by Elle Kennedy

The Goal by Elle Kennedy
Release Date -  September 26, 2016
Publisher Website - CreateSpace Independant Publishing
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  350 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**borrowed for review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
She’s good at achieving her goals…

College senior Sabrina James has her whole future planned out: graduate from college, kick butt in law school, and land a high-paying job at a cutthroat firm. Her path to escaping her shameful past certainly doesn’t include a gorgeous hockey player who believes in love at first sight. One night of sizzling heat and surprising tenderness is all she’s willing to give John Tucker, but sometimes, one night is all it takes for your entire life to change.

But the game just got a whole lot more complicated...

Tucker believes being a team player is as important as being the star. On the ice, he’s fine staying out of the spotlight, but when it comes to becoming a daddy at the age of twenty-two, he refuses to be a bench warmer. It doesn’t hurt that the soon-to-be mother of his child is beautiful, whip-smart, and keeps him on his toes. The problem is, Sabrina’s heart is locked up tight, and the fiery brunette is too stubborn to accept his help. If he wants a life with the woman of his dreams, he’ll have to convince her that some goals can only be made with an assist.
The Goal is the fourth (and final) book in the Off-Campus series. I was excited to read Tucker's story  but also sad that it was ending. The Goal may not be my favourite of the Off-Campus books but it is still a fun, quick read that was exactly what I wanted it to be.

The books in this series are mostly able to be read as standalone novels, but I find the experience of reading them is made richer by reading them in order. The events in this book mostly run parallel to the events in The Score (the 3rd book in the series) so it is even more beneficial to have that background.

The pacing of this book does suffer a bit from having it so closely aligned with the events in the previous book. While we are getting them from a new perspective it does sort of feel like a rehashing of everything. The best moments are when the book truly becomes Sabrina and Tucker's story.

Sabrina has a lot going on in her life. She comes from a really bad home life, has abandonment issues, and does not have time to be distracted by a guy. She is up for a hook up but cannot even consider anything more. She might come across as cold but is really reacting out of self preservation. She has a plan for how the future will be and nothing is going to stop her. She is stubborn and so clearly focused that it can be intimidating  I, personally, found myself rooting for her to let those walls down and to let Tucker in. You end up wanting happiness for her.

Tucker is probably the sweetest out of all the guys we've met in the Off Campus series. His patience apparently knows no limits and he is so incredibly kind. He is perfect for someone like Sabrina because he doesn't scare easily and is willing to put in the time and effort when he wants something. He is just as driven as Sabrina but his drive doesn't come from the desperation that hers does so it feels different.

My favourite part of companion style series is getting to see the previous charactere in other books in the series. It is a nice little check in on characters we already care about. This book is no exception. We get some great moments featuring the other couples from the previous books and it was a nice way to wrap up the series.

Tucker and Sabrina's story is all about life happening while you are busy making other plans. Neither of them saw the other coming and neither expected the events that happen in this novel. I recommend not only this book but the series in general to anyone looking for a good New Adult read.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams

Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams
Release Date - March 10, 2020
Publisher Website - Penguin Random House Canada
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 320 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**arc received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Braden Mack thinks reading romance novels makes him an expert in love, but he’ll soon discover that real life is better than fiction.

Liv Papandreas has a dream job as a sous chef at Nashville’s hottest restaurant. Too bad the celebrity chef owner is less than charming behind kitchen doors. After she catches him harassing a young hostess, she confronts him and gets fired. Liv vows revenge, but she’ll need assistance to take on the powerful chef.

Unfortunately, that means turning to Braden Mack. When Liv’s blackballed from the restaurant scene, the charismatic nightclub entrepreneur offers to help expose her ex-boss, but she is suspicious of his motives. He’ll need to call in reinforcements: the Bromance Book Club.

Inspired by the romantic suspense novel they’re reading, the book club assist Liv in setting up a sting operation to take down the chef. But they’re just as eager to help Mack figure out the way to Liv’s heart… even while she’s determined to squelch the sparks between them before she gets burned. 
We were introduced to a group of romance reading men in The Bromance Book Club. The companion novel, Undercover Bromance, focuses on a different member of the book club and on the very timely topic of sexual harrassment in the work place.

I feel like each book is going to have the guys reading a different genre of romance book. We find them reading a romantic suspense novel in this one which ends up being useful to them later on in the story. I am really excited about this idea and cannot wait to see if they tackle paranormal romance at some point.

There are going to be many people who do not like Liv. She is abrasive and I can see why some would find her offputting at times. I think the author has gone through great pains to ensure that we see that the armour Liv has up is a result of trauma that she has yet to deal with. It also makes her a character who has the potential to grow and we do see a bit of that within these pages.

Braden and Liv may seem like opposites but as we get to know what is under the charming, self confident exterior we see that they are actually really compatible. They each are working through things that they have let fester for a long time, and it makes them an interesting couple. They have some great banter and some really sweet vulnerable moments that worked for me. If you, like me, brushed Braden off as some cocky pretty boy I promise that your opinion if him will change by the end of this novel.

Braden and Liv use his knowledge of romantic suspense novels to plot a way of bringing down her former employer. While the first novel was peppered with excerpts from the novel the group is currently reading, that is not the case in this follow up. Those who loved that element of the story will be disappointed to learn that we only get a brief glimpse of the novel in question this time.

Much will be made of Liv's reaction to the victims in the sexual harassment story arc. She cannot comprehend how someone would not come forward to protect others from expirencing the same harrassment. She puts an onus and expectation on the victims that is unfair and feels a little like victim blaming. The reason I am on board with this portrayal is because she is immediately called out on her behaviour. She grows and realizes why she was wrong and makes amends. It is shown in a way that will hopefully also help educate people about the many reasons victims may not come forward and why that expectation should not be placed on them if they are not comfortable doing so. I particularly like that it is not just one person calling her out. I also appreciated the emphasis on men calling out other men when they see them exhibiting toxic behaviour.

Lyssa Kay Adams has created a group of characters that you cannot help but love. Each of the main members of the book club are charming and that will make these companion reads all the easier for fans to eagerly anticipate. I cannot be the only reader to take notice of Noah (and he just so happens to be the focus of the next book).

If you are looking for a fun and fresh spin on the romance read I highly recommend checking out this series. They play with romance tropes while fully embracing them. It will make you laugh, swoon, and leave you with a smile on your face. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Waiting On Wednesday ... City of Villains

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pick is City of Villains by Estelle Laure

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Disney’s Villains meet Gotham in this gritty fairy tale-inspired crime series.

Mary Elizabeth Heart is a high school senior by day, but by night she’s an intern at the Monarch City police department. She watches with envy from behind a desk as detectives come and go, trying to contain the city’s growing crime rate. For years, tension has simmered between the city’s wealthy elite, and their plans to gentrify the decaying neighborhood called the Scar—once upon a time the epicenter of all things magic.

When the daughter of one of the city’s most powerful businessmen goes missing, Mary Elizabeth is thrilled when the Chief actually puts her on the case. But what begins as one missing person’s report soon multiplies, leading her down the rabbit hole of a city in turmoil. There she finds a girl with horns, a boyfriend with secrets, and what seems to be a sea monster lurking in a poison lake. As the mystery circles closer to home, Mary finds herself caught in the fight between those who once had magic, and those who will do anything to bring it back.

This dark and edgy YA series explores the reimagined origins of Maleficent, Ursula, Captain Hook, and other infamous Disney Villains like you’ve never seen before.
The main character was compared to Jessica Jones in the announcement of this book and I was immediately in. I also love anything Disney so this would have been added to my reading wishlist either way.

I love the idea of this being an origin story for so many of the villains we all love to hate. I am al very much here for a darker take on the Disney tales we know and love.

This does not come out until February of 2021 but we can all start desperately wanting to read it now.

Expected release date - February 2, 2021

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Weekly Obsessions

The awesome Kelly at KellyVision started posting a weekly post highlighting whatever she happened to be obsessed with that week. I LOVE this idea, so much in fact that I will be doing it myself every weekend.


Promotion for Ryan Murphy's Hollywood kicks off

Netflix has started to release a lot more promotional material for Hollywood. The show debuts May 1st and wile we still do not have a trailer, we do have closer looks at some of the characters.

First up we have posters to highlight each of the main characters.

They put them all  in one photo, but each portrait was released separately. I love the classic look of them. it fits the time period.

Next we have short little clips of each character. I am including the two of the ones released so far. The others can be find on the official Twitter account of the show.

These are basically perfect. I love how everything fits with the time period from the costumes, to the music, to the 'feel' of both characters. I definitely know how I am spending May 1st.


It's The Pictures That Got Small podcast

Karina Longworh (host of the You Must Remember This podcast) and Nate DiMeo (host of The Memory Palace podcast) have a new podcast that they are creating together called It's The Pictures That Got Small.

It is a sort of movie club to help get us through this time of social distancing/quarantine. Each week they are having a friend of theirs pick a movie that the group has not yet seen so they can all discuss it after. Two episodes are available (Cast Away and From Here To Eternity) and they'll be watching The Grapes of Wrath for this upcoming episode (which have been dropping on Wednesdays). I am finding it immensely entertaining and have enjoyed following along so far. The podcast is available on both Spotify and Apple so far.

What are you obsessed with this week? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

The Honey Don't List by Christina Lauren

The Honey Don't List by Christina Lauren
Release Date - March 24, 2020
Publisher Website - Simon and Schuster Canada
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 308 pages
My Rating - 3/5
**arc received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Carey Douglas has worked for home remodeling and design gurus Melissa and Rusty Tripp for nearly a decade. A country girl at heart, Carey started in their first store at sixteen, and—more than anyone would suspect—has helped them build an empire. With a new show and a book about to launch, the Tripps are on the verge of superstardom. There’s only one problem: America’s favorite couple can’t stand each other.

James McCann, MIT graduate and engineering genius, was originally hired as a structural engineer, but the job isn’t all he thought it’d be. The last straw? Both he and Carey must go on book tour with the Tripps and keep the wheels from falling off the proverbial bus.

Unfortunately, neither of them is in any position to quit. Carey needs health insurance, and James has been promised the role of a lifetime if he can just keep the couple on track for a few more weeks. While road-tripping with the Tripps up the West Coast, Carey and James vow to work together to keep their bosses’ secrets hidden, and their own jobs secure. But if they stop playing along—and start playing for keeps—they may have the chance to build something beautiful together… 
I eagerly anticipate each new book from Christina Lauren because I know exactly what I am going to get from them. Their books are fun, joyful reads that tend to leave me in a better mood than when I started. Their latest is what I've come to expect while still offering up some surprises.

Christina Lauren's newest, The Honey Don't List, is a bit of a change in that it falls quite low on the romance heat scale. Their books have always had varying degrees of spice, but when compared to some of their other novels this one is on the tamer end of the spectrum. It feels like a perfect introduction to the romance genre for those wanting to 'dip their toe in' but are not really sure what to expect.

I found, sadly, that I did not connect with the characters in this the way I normally do in their books. I did not like Melly or Rusty at all and I struggled to feel the connection between James and Casey. As a result  I couldn't become as invested in the story as I normally do. This felt like it was more story than character driven and I enjoy when there is a balance of both.

The book was, for me, funnier than some of their others. It has a charm to it that will definitely appeal to readers because they use humour to help balance the story being told. I also think that those who love the HGTV shows this is clearly inspired by will find elements they love in both the humour and other aspects.

The story is interspersed with snippets of some interviews that take place in the aftermath of a big incident. This usage is perfectly done because it piqued my interest in a way that kept me reading. I needed to know the circumstances that lead to these interviews. The reveal did not disappoint for me and fully aligns with the tone of the rest of the story (which I did have some concern about early in the story).

While this is would not be my favourite Christina Lauren novel, I did still find it an enjoyable, fun reading experience. It is a quickly consumed  shot of happiness that will satisfy when you are looking for that exact type of read. I am, as always, looking forward to whatever they write next.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
Release Date - February 11, 2003
Publisher Website -  Penguin Random House Canada
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  464 pages
My Rating - 3/5

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Erik Larson's gifts as a storyteller are magnificently displayed in this rich narrative of the master builder, the killer, and the great fair that obsessed them both.

Two men, each handsome and unusually adept at his chosen work, embodied an element of the great dynamic that characterized America's rush toward the twentieth century. The architect was Daniel Hudson Burnham, the fair's brilliant director of works and the builder of many of the country's most important structures, including the Flatiron Building in New York and Union Station in Washington, D.C. The murderer was Henry H. Holmes, a young doctor who, in a malign parody of the White City, built his "World's Fair Hotel" just west of the fairgrounds—a torture palace complete with dissection table, gas chamber, and 3,000-degree crematorium. Burnham overcame tremendous obstacles and tragedies as he organized the talents of Frederick Law Olmsted, Charles McKim, Louis Sullivan, and others to transform swampy Jackson Park into the White City, while Holmes used the attraction of the great fair and his own satanic charms to lure scores of young women to their deaths. What makes the story all the more chilling is that Holmes really lived, walking the grounds of that dream city by the lake.

The Devil in the White City draws the reader into a time of magic and majesty, made all the more appealing by a supporting cast of real-life characters, including Buffalo Bill, Theodore Dreiser, Susan B. Anthony, Thomas Edison, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, and others. In this book the smoke, romance, and mystery of the Gilded Age come alive as never before.
You routinely see The Devil in the White City on many lists of the best true crime books. It's presented as one of the best books in the genre. I was eager to dive in to a story exploring H. H. Holmes and his crimes against the backdrop of the Chicago's World Fair. That is not what this book is and those picking it up solely for that reason will find themselves disappointed.

Erik Larson's interests are held by the history that surrounds the events of the building of the fair, and the historical significance of the events of  that time. H. H. Holmes and his crimes are woven in simply because he was part of the larger collective that shaped that time period. It is not, however, his story. It's written for the history buffs who are more interested in the setting and Chicago itself at this particular point in history. I left the book with no further understanding of the details of H. H. Holmes or his crimes, but do feel like I know more about Chicago, its history, and the World's Fair.

The research that went into the novel is evident. Larson uses interviews, letters, and various other materials to include quotes attributed to the various individuals involved. The writing style feels more like reading fiction as a result, and the novel does very much read like a story being created at times. It makes for a enjoyable reading experience, particularly if the subject matter appeals to you.

I was amazed to learn the number of things we are familiar with today that were introduced because of the fair. The Ferris wheel was created and showcased as part of this fair. Shredded wheat made its debut. Walt Disney's father, Elias, worked on the construction of the fair and Walt would be inspired by his visit to the fair which would reflect in his later works. Those are just some of the examples of how this one event impacted the future that we know today. The history is rich and certainly fascinating.

Those only interested in the true crime aspect of the story should look elsewhere to dive into the H. H. Holmes case. I do, however, recommend this for anyone whose interest is piqued by the setting, and the Chicago World's Fair along with the history behind it. This is a book that will be exactly what you are looking for. It may not have been what I anticipated, but I can recognize that it is a well written, highly researched novel that will appeal to any of those whose interests are held by the city of Chicago and its history. It is a fascinating look at the building of an event whose echo is still felt today.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Cover Reveal: The Dare by Elle Kennedy

Today we've got an exciting cover reveal for you. The anticipated fourth novel in Elle Kennedy's Briar U series is being revealed and I personally love it.

The colour scheme is fantastic. I love how bright and fun it is! It also fits with the other covers in this series which is always a bonus.

Now that we've shown off the eye catching cover, it's time tell you a little bit about what the book is about.
Get ready for another binge-worthy romance from New York Times bestselling author Elle Kennedy!

College was supposed to be my chance to get over my ugly-duckling complex and spread my wings. Instead, I wound up in a sorority full of mean girls. I already have a hard time fitting in, so when my Kappa Chi sisters issue the challenge, I can’t say no.

The dare: seduce the hottest new hockey player in the junior class.

Conor Edwards is a regular at Greek Row parties…and in Greek Row sorority beds. He’s the one you fall for before you learn that guys like him don’t give girls like me a second glance. Except Mr. Popular throws me for a loop—rather than laughing in my face, he does me a solid by letting me take him upstairs to pretend we’re getting busy.

Even crazier, now he wants to keep pretending. Turns out Conor loves games, and he thinks it’s fun to pull the wool over my frenemies’ eyes.

But resisting his easy charm and surfer-boy hotness is darn near impossible. Though I’m realizing there’s much more to Conor’s story than his fan club can see.

And the longer this silly ruse goes on, the greater the danger of it all blowing up in my face.
Who doesn't love the 'fake dating turns into real feelings' trope so  I am immediately interested. There is a lot of excitement over the fact that this is Conor's book so hopefully it'll please fans who have been waiting to read it.

The Dare releases in June, but you can pre-order it now at your favourite ebook retailer.

Amazon // Apple  // Kobo // Nook

You can find out more about Elle Kennedy by visiting her on various social media platforms, and signing up for her newsletter (which even gets you a free short story). You can find out more about the Briar U series by visiting the website dedicated to the series. 

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Weekly Obsessions

The awesome Kelly at KellyVision started posting a weekly post highlighting whatever she happened to be obsessed with that week. I LOVE this idea, so much in fact that I will be doing it myself every weekend.


First look at Ryan Murphy's Hollywood

One of Netflix's Twitter accounts revealed a bunch of images from the limited series that will be released on May 1st.

I particularly love the above image, but so many of them are great so I urge you to take a look. I am looking forward to a trailer being released so we can see what the tone and feel of the show will be.

What are you obsessed with this week? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Monthly Wrap Up and TBR

Life sure looks a lot different from what it did when I posted last month's reading pile (and March felt like it lasted a year). We are now in the midst of a global pandemic and we're all social distancing and not going out. I am adjusting to working from home.

I am not going to lie, it's been hard for me to not see people. I miss so many of the people I care about. I know that why we are doing it is important and that I have it much better than others, but I am not doing well with it at all. I feel very isolated and lonely a lot of the time.

All of this means that reading is not something that was happening much in March. I did mange to read a bit, and I am in a place where I seem able to focus better so I hope to get more books read in April.

Before I get into what I am hoping to read in April I have to wrap up March.

The books that were on my list are:

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (goodreads)
My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell (goodreads)
House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J Maas (goodreads)

Plus I had some ebooks on my list:

Interference by Harlow Cole (goodreads)
Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin (goodreads)
In Five Years by Rebecca Serle (goodreads)

I managed to read just two books. It's awful, but I was just not in the head space to read at all.

Here is what I managed to read in March:

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (goodreads)
House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J Maas (goodreads)

My #2020PopCultureResolution book for March was The Devil in the White City. My review will be going up pretty soon but it was a lot different than I was expecting it to be.

Here is what I hope to read in April:

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle (goodreads)
Something To Talk About by Meryl Wilsner (goodreads)
The Goal by Elle Kennedy (goodreads)
My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell (goodreads)

I also have some ebooks I am hoping to get to. I am keeping this light this month.

Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow (goodreads)
Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams (goodreads)
The Honey-Don't List by Christina Lauren (goodreads)

My April #2020PopCultureResolution choices are Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow for the book, and Sabrina for the movie! Excited to get to both of these this month.

What books are you reading this month? Have you read any of the ones on my list? If so, let me know what you think in the comments.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Waiting On Wednesday .... Rodham

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pick is Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
From the New York Times bestselling author of American Wife and Eligible, a novel that imagines a deeply compelling what-might-have-been: What if Hillary Rodham hadn’t married Bill Clinton?

In 1971, Hillary Rodham is a young woman full of promise: Life magazine has covered her Wellesley commencement speech, she’s attending Yale Law School, and she’s on the forefront of student activism and the women’s rights movement. And then she meets Bill Clinton. A handsome, charismatic southerner and fellow law student, Bill is already planning his political career. In each other, the two find a profound intellectual, emotional, and physical connection that neither has previously experienced.

In the real world, Hillary followed Bill back to Arkansas, and he proposed several times; although she said no more than once, as we all know, she eventually accepted and became Hillary Clinton.

But in Curtis Sittenfeld’s powerfully imagined tour-de-force of fiction, Hillary takes a different road. Feeling doubt about the prospective marriage, she endures their devastating breakup and leaves Arkansas. Over the next four decades, she blazes her own trail—one that unfolds in public as well as in private, that involves crossing paths again (and again) with Bill Clinton, that raises questions about the tradeoffs all of us must make in building a life.

Brilliantly weaving a riveting fictional tale into actual historical events, Curtis Sittenfeld delivers an uncannily astute and witty story for our times. In exploring the loneliness, moral ambivalence, and iron determination that characterize the quest for political power, as well as both the exhilaration and painful compromises demanded of female ambition in a world still run mostly by men, Rodham is a singular and unforgettable novel.
This book immediately caught my interest due to the 'what if' element combined with it being based off of real events and involving a real person.

It seems like it'll be thought provoking, and interesting to read at the very least. It also might be a great one for book clubs as I anticipate many conversation starters from this book.

It's set to come out in May (as long as there are no delays) so there is a bit of a wait for it, but I think it'll be a popular one to read this summer.

Expected release date - May 19, 2020

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