Friday, August 28, 2020

Who Killed |These Girls? by Beverly Lowry

Who Killed |These Girls? by Beverly Lowry
Release Date - October 11, 2016
Publisher Website - Penguin Random House 
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 528 pages
My Rating - 3/5

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
On December 6, 1991, the naked, bound-and-gagged bodies of four girls--each one shot in the head--were found in an "I Can't Believe It's Yogurt!" shop in Austin, Texas. Grief, shock, and horror spread out from their families and friends to overtake the city itself. Though all branches of law enforcement were brought to bear, the investigation was often misdirected, and after eight years only two men (then teenagers) were tried; moreover, their subsequent convictions were eventually overturned, and Austin PD detectives are still working on what is now a very cold case. Over the decades, the story has grown to include DNA technology, false confessions, and other developments facing crime and punishment in contemporary life, but this story belongs to the scores of people involved, and from them Lowry has fashioned a riveting saga that reads like a Russian novel, comprehensive and thoroughly engrossing
Anyone who follows unsolved crimes has most likely heard about the murders that happened at the 'I Can't Believe It's Yogurt' shop. A shocking crime that changed the people of Austin, Texas. This book book focuses on what led to this horrific crime being unsolved.

The first thing that should be highlighted about this book is the care that was taken to give each of the victims a voice. Page space is spent giving the readers a chance to get to know who these young women were. We learn things about each of them and also see how much life they still had yet to live. The author hammers home the potential these girls never got to grow in to.

There are a lot of details within these pages. It is well researched and presented in an unbiased way. I appreciated the 'just the facts' approach. There are other elements sprinkled in like the obvious sympathy for the parents of the victims, frustration at some of the missteps made by police, and concern over the way the accused were treated. It is just balanced by fair and sourced information.

A majority of the book focuses on the young men who were convicted of the crime and eventually had their convictions overturned. There are many who feel these young men were wrongfully convicted and that the real murderers are still just there. There are, however, people who feel that they are guilty and that the convictions being overturned is the miscarriage of justice. It reads like all the information is being presented and it is not hard to see why the convictions were overturned. It is an all too familiar story and one especially not helped by the condition of the crime scene.

I would recommend this to anyone who knows very little about this case. Fair warning that the details of the crime are horrific. The boom does not glorify those details but does not shy away from presenting the facts either. It gives a thorough overview of all of the details including the court cases. It is a haunting case that you cannot help but desperately hope gets solved. The victims, and their families, deserve justice after all this time.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Waiting On Wednesday ... The Intimacy Experiment

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 The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Naomi and Ethan will test the boundaries of love in this provocative romance from the author of the ground-breaking debut, The Roommate.

Naomi Grant has built her life around going against the grain. After the sex-positive start-up she cofounded becomes an international sensation, she wants to extend her educational platform to live lecturing. Unfortunately, despite her long list of qualifications, higher ed won't hire her.

Ethan Cohen has recently received two honors: LA Mag named him one of the city's hottest bachelors and he became rabbi of his own synagogue. Taking a gamble in an effort to attract more millennials to the faith, the executive board hired Ethan because of his nontraditional background. Unfortunately, his shul is low on both funds and congregants. The board gives him three months to turn things around or else they'll close the doors of his synagogue for good.

Naomi and Ethan join forces to host a buzzy seminar series on Modern Intimacy, the perfect solution to their problems--until they discover a new one--their growing attraction to each other. They've built the syllabus for love's latest experiment, but neither of them expected they'd be the ones putting it to the test. 
I have yet to read The Roommate, Rosie's first book, but I am already here for the second book she has written!

This one sounds as equally sex positive as the first, and just as intriguing. I can easily see needing to get my hands on it immediately once I have finished The Roommate. 

This one has a long wait since it is not releasing until April of 2021, but that just means we can eagerly await both of Rosie's books for now.

Expected release date - April 6, 2021

Monday, August 24, 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.

This is being posted on a Monday because I had internet issues all day Sunday and couldn't get it posted until it was much too late in the day.

Movies are slowly starting to release and so marketing for upcoming movies is kicking back in to gear. Getting to see some trailers made me feel that things were just a tiny bit more normal.

We also are starting to see cover reveals happen for spring 2021 books which is exciting.


Cover of The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan (goodreads)

The buzz for Rosie Danan's first book, The Roommate, is pretty much inescapable at this point. I know I am not the only one eager to read it as soon as they can. I was happy to find out that Rosie already has a second book coming out and the cover was just recently revealed

It sounds just as interesting as The Roommate an I love the cute cover design that they've decided on for Rosie's books! They're super cute.

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston (goodreads)

I loved Red, White, and Royal Blue so much. I have been looking forward to Casey McQuiston's new book since I finished and am so excited that the cover has been revealed!

It's such a cute cover! I love that it captures the feel of the synopsis. I am beyond excited for this one and cannot wait to see what Casey has done with take on Kate and Leopold. 


The Batman trailer

I know we've had so many Batman movies that people may not be excited for this one to come out, but the trailer is here to change that opinion. It's a fantastic trailer. It's like someone decided to take Batman and put him into the middle of the movie Seven.

Jeffrey Wright is a fantastic choice for James Gordon. You instantly know who he is playing when you see him in this trailer. I am pretty impressed with Robert Pattinson's Batman. This is supposed to release next year and hopefully COVID19 will not cause it to be too delayed.

Death On The Nile trailer

If you liked Murder on the Orient Express you'll be eager to see Death on the Nile. I don't think this trailer will make you want to see it if you hated Murder on the Orient Express though.

I have not read this book so I will be going in to the movie without knowing who the murderer is. I am hoping to read the book after just because I want to be surprised. 

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

Friday, August 21, 2020

The Last Book On The Left

The Last Book On The Left by Ben Kissel, Marcus Parks, Henry Zebrowski
Release Date - April 7, 2020
Publisher Website - Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 304 pages
My Rating - 3.5/5
**borrowed from library**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis

An equal parts haunting and hilarious deep-dive review of history’s most notorious and cold-blooded serial killers, from the creators of the award-winning Last Podcast on the Left

Since its first show in 2010, The Last Podcast on the Left has barreled headlong into all things horror, as hosts Henry Zebrowski, Ben Kissel, and Marcus Parks cover subjects spanning Jeffrey Dahmer, werewolves, Jonestown, and supernatural phenomena. Deeply researched but with a morbidly humorous bent, the podcast has earned a dedicated and aptly cultlike following for its unique take on all things macabre.

In their first book, the guys take a deep dive into history’s most infamous serial killers, from Ted Bundy to John Wayne Gacy, exploring their origin stories, haunting habits, and perverse predilections. Featuring newly developed content alongside updated fan favorites, each profile is an exhaustive examination of the darker side of human existence. With appropriately creepy four-color illustrations throughout and a gift-worthy paper over board format, The Last Book on the Left will satisfy the bloodlust of readers everywhere. 
I am not someone who has listened to every single episode of The Last Podcast On The Left. I download an episode when the subject being covered interests me and when I want a good, well researched deep dive into that subject. I appreciate what the podcast does and understand why it would have the following it does. 

I was interested in their book the instant I heard it was being written. I like the dynamic of the show and how each of the hosts adds something different that ultimately makes the podcast what it is. I was curious if that could be translated into book form the same way that I felt the My Favorite Murder hosts captured their dynamic and voice so well when writing their book. The answer to that question is yes and no. It mostly feels like the podcast, but some of the elements do not translate as well as I wanted them to.

The book is broken up into chapters that each focus on a different serial killer. Most of them are what the trio refer to as 'heavy hitters'. They are the serial killers that even those with no interest in true crime have heard about. You've got Ted Bundy Jeffrey Dahmer and John Wayne Gacy just to name a few. There were a few that I had not heard of before, but I figure others definitely have. This is a double edged sword because it will drive interest in the book but also puts pressure to deliver it a unique or interesting way.

This book is written in such a manner that it makes it a quick read. Filled with illustrations, and quips the chapters fly by. This gives you a surprisingly in depth, but compressed, look at each of the killers featured. It goes deeper than surface level, but still retains a fast paced feel. It's perfect for those who may find an entire book on one subject to be too much but they still want more than just a summery.. 

Marcus typically does a large part of the research for the podcast and he did most of it here as well, along with most of the writing. The book is meticulously researched and structured. It has a natural flow to it and you can tell care and effort was put into the content. Henry and Ben provide the comic relief (which is the same as what happens on the podcast). The humour (mostly) works but there are times that it falls a little flat. It doesn't translate as well as it does on the podcast. The humour is part of what makes the podcast what it is so for it not to land the same way stood out for me the way it might not for other people.

The dark sense of humour that the podcast is known for is on full display within this book. If you have never heard an episode of the podcast I would recommend becoming a little familiar before picking up the book. This book (and the podcast) will not be for everyone so be sure to do your research before picking it up.

Tom Neely's illustrations highlight the dark humour the podcast is known for. The illustrations are incredible and add something extra to the book. It certainly would not read the same without them. The art style is eye catching and you can see the hard work that went into them.

Do I think fans of the podcast will enjoy this? Absolutely. Is it a perfect translation of their voice from podcast to book format? Almost. It's a well researched and (mostly) well delivered true crime read that will mostly be a hit with fans of the podcast. 

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Blog Tour: Q and A with Janella Angeles

I am so excited to be part of the blog tour for Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles. I was fortunate enough to be able to ask her a few questions about the book to get everyone excited to read it when it releases on August 25th. 

This book is a must read if you are a fan of Moulin Rouge and Phantom of the Opera!

If you haven't heard about this book already here is the official synopsis:
In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide

Where Dreams Descend is the startling and romantic first book in Janella Angeles’ debut Kingdom of Cards fantasy duology where magic is both celebrated and feared, and no heart is left unscathed.
Janella answered three questions for me as part of the tour. I get her to dish on what would be included in a signature drink and talk about some of the music that reminds her of the book.

If someone were to design a signature drink for Where Dreams Descend what would be included in it?

Okay I LOVE this question. This is so random, but I would love to include dry ice in the drink. It creates this lush, smoky effect that is so reminiscent of Phantom of the Opera (boat ride through the sewers, anyone?) but also could vibe with the mystery and glam of Where Dreams Descend! Flavor-wise, I feel like a drink with cherry, ginger, and a hint of cinnamon would taste like perfection. 

This is inspired by Moulin Rouge. Music is a huge part of that movie, and seems to play a huge role in your book as well. What song reminds you of Where Dreams Descend?

This is a tough one, as there are SO many songs I’ve had on repeat while working on this book. Surprisingly, if I had to choose, it would have to be Your Song. The heart of Where Dreams Descend carries a love story that has so much of the earnestness and yearning and sense of discovery I hear in this song. Every time I hear it, I think of the characters who slowly start to fall in love in the book, almost catching them by surprise as much as Christian and Satine. Also, the number itself in the movie is such a beautiful, sweeping feast for the eyes which is on brand for the book, too.

What gif do you feel accurate represents Where Dreams Descend?

I found this gif of a shot from Moulin Rouge the Musical, and it STILL blows my mind how much it looks like a scene right out of Where Dreams Descend. So magical, very beautiful. Much  Kallia.

You can pre-order your copy where ever books are sold and from the Macmillan website

You can follow Janella on her social media:

Twitter: @Janella_Angeles // Instagram: @Janella_Angeles

JANELLA ANGELES is a Filipino-American author who got her start in writing through consuming glorious amounts of fanfiction at a young age—which eventually led to penning a few of her own, and later on, creating original stories from her imagination. A lifelong lover of books, she's lucky enough to be working in the business of publishing them on top of writing them. She currently resides in Massachusetts, where she's most likely to be found listening to musicals on repeat and daydreaming too much for her own good. Where Dreams Descend is her first book.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Waiting On Wednesday ... Crazy Stupid Bromance

 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 Crazy Stupid Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
A hacktivist and a cat café owner decode the friend zone in this romantic comedy from the author of Undercover Bromance.

Alexis Carlisle and her cat café, ToeBeans, have shot to fame after she came forward as a victim of a celebrity chef’s sexual harassment. When a new customer approaches to confide in her, the last thing Alexis expects is for the woman to claim they’re sisters. Unsure what to do, Alexis turns to the only man she trusts—her best friend, Noah Logan.

Computer genius Noah left his rebellious teenage hacker past behind to become a computer security expert. Now he only uses his old skills for the right cause. But Noah’s got a secret: He’s madly in love with Alexis. When she asks for his help, he wonders if the timing will ever be right to confess his crush.

Noah’s pals in The Bromance Book Club are more than willing to share their beloved “manuals” to help him go from bud to boyfriend. But he must decide if telling the truth is worth risking the best friendship he’s ever had.
I love the books in the Bromance Book Club series and I was particularly intrigued by Noah in the last book. I also really liked Alexis so I am excited to read her story. 

These books are a jolt of sunshine and I cannot wait to be back in this world again! If you're a romance book fan I highly recommend reading the first two books in this series while you're waiting for this to be released in the fall.

Expected release date - October 27, 2020

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Awards Season 2020

August is half over. Soon there will be pumpkin spice everything, cooler temperatures, falling leaves, and the need for cozy blankets. This normally is also the official start of awards season. 

We usually begin to hear about film festivals round this time with them beginning to release their lineups and schedules. We usually start getting trailers and the buzz starts to begin.

2020's lead up to the Oscars is going to look VERY different this year thanks to Covid 19 but there are some things that make me hopeful that we'll still have some sort of Oscar race and it may end up being an interesting (if muted) year.

The Toronto International Film Festival is going to have some smaller, socially distanced screenings along with a much more robust digital presence this year. I am sad at how much this is changing but also sort of excited because I might be able to get some digital screening tickets and actually see some of these movies this year.

The New York Film Festival is going ahead with drive in screenings for those lucky enough to score tickets (and have a vehicle in which to attend). Venice is going forward with a smaller, more socially distanced event as well.

All of this leaves the question of what movies might still be coming out this year that could potentially have some awards buzz. This year will also answer the question what an awards ceremony might look like without all of the preamble that comes before it. There won't really be events for the nominees to meet and rub shoulders with those casting votes. It may also be harder to predict what movies are getting a swell of support as a result of everything looking a little different this year. All of this unknown could make for an exciting year.

Here are five of the movies that (as of right now) are still releasing this year that I think have the potential to have some awards buzz:

1: Ammonite

The description of the movie from Wikipedia states that:
The film is inspired by the life of British paleontologist Mary Anning played by Kate Winslet and centers on the romantic relationship between Anning and Charlotte Murchison played by Saoirse Ronan.
Both Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan are no stranger to awards nominations. This movie will get attention strictly from the casting alone. This movie was also one of the few that was set to make the rounds of all the major film festivals this year. I can easily see it getting a lot of nominations. 

2: Mank 

This is one of the films I am most expected about. As per Wikipedia it is:
about screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz and his battles with director Orson Welles over screenplay credit for Citizen Kane. 
It is directed by David Fincher and is about Hollywood (which the Academy loves). The only real hurdle this one has is that it is being released by Netflix but in this strange upside down year that doesn't even matter. I expect this one to appear in multiple categories.

3: Nomadland 

I couldn't find much about this movie other than it is based on a book and is about a group of people who lost everything in the Great Recession and take to the open road in campers and RVs as a means of survival. It stars Francis McDormand and is directed by Chloe Zhao. It could easily be a contender in multiple categories. 

4: The Father 

This is going to be an acting powerhouse. As per Wikipedia it is about
A man refuses all assistance from his daughter as he ages. As he tries to make sense of his changing circumstances, he begins to doubt his loved ones, his own mind and even the fabric of his reality.
It stars Olivia Coleman and Anthony Hopkins so I expect lots of buzz just from that fact alone. The performances are said to be amazing from those who have seen it.

5: The Trial of the Chicago 7

This one is pretty timely and has a big name director in Aaron Sorkin. As per Wikipedia it is:

based on the infamous 1969 trial of seven defendants charged by the federal government with conspiracy and more, arising from the countercultural protests in Chicago at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. The trial transfixed the nation and sparked a conversation about mayhem intended to undermine the U.S. government.

It has a large ensemble cast of some pretty well known names and could catch a lot of interest. The downside, like Mank, is that it is a Netflix release, but that may end up helping this year with visability.

These are just five of the potentially promising releases set to come out. There is also Respect, I'm Thinking Of Ending Things, Promising Young Woman, French Exit, On The Rocks, Judas and the Black Messiah, and Da 5 Bloods just to name a few.

This awards season could either be one of the most exciting or one of the most predictable because of the lack of movies being released. I think, however, that there is still a lot of movies to look forward to and have discussions about.

Are there any movies you're hoping to see this upcoming awards season? Any movies that have been pushed back that you wish were still coming out this year? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday, August 16, 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.

Another small post this week, but as movies slowly make their way back into theatres we should start seeing more trailers.

I am also anticipating cover reveals for books being released in winter 2021 very soon as well.


The Devil All The Time Trailer

This trailer will certainly not appeal to everyone but I think it is worth watching for that cast alone.

Most of the cast is British or Australian so I am impressed with the level of accent work being done here. I like that Tom Holland is taking on a role that is so very different from what we have seen him in. 

This also has a lot of Marvel movie connections and that is not even taking into account that Sebastian Stan's role was originally supposed to be played by Chris Evans who had to back out due to scheduling conflicts and suggested Sebastian for the role. 

The Devil All The Time Poster

The marketing team for Netflix released the poster for The Devil All The Time at the same time as the trailer. I love how simple it is while still being very eye catching.

Seeing it broken down like this really makes you realize how stacked this cast really is. I am fairly certain it is going to have people interested just for that alone. I am keeping my fingers crossed that it also happens to be good.
What are you obsessed with this week? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

#2020PopCultureResolution - Humoresque


Director: Jean Negulesco

Length:  123 minutes

Cast: Joan Crawford, John Garfield

Release Date:  December 251953

Synopsis: A wealthy women falls for an ambitious violinist, but their love affair may be more than she can afford.


Wikipedia describes humoresque as 'a genre of Romantic music characterized by pieces with fanciful humor in the sense of mood rather than wit.' which makes it a perfect title for a romantic melodrama revolving around the romance between a violinist and his wealthy patroness (even if there is not much humour in the movie itself).

Joan Crawford is known for movies like this. It is a decent fit for her acting skills and makes use of her glamour and star quality in a way that works for both the character and the movie.

John Garfield also gives a decent performance as a gifted violinist who falls for his married patroness. The entanglements that this causes are the crux of the story and his character. There is a bit of an age gape between the two (with Joan's character being older) and his casting also works in this regard.

The music is the centerpiece of the film. Beautiful and lush at times, it offers a perfect backdrop to the troubled romance. The music drives even the romance in a lot of ways. The scene in which Paul and Helen first meet is driven by music with her coolly watching him perform while smoking a cigarette. We can sense her interest and through her outward cool detachment. 

The movie ends up being fairly predictable but still rather enjoyable. It is the performances that managed to make this one for me in the end.

Much can be said about the ending and the viewers opinion on it. I have seen it touted as both the greatest ending in history and the worst. I think it is a ending that fits the story arc even if it perhaps not the ending you want. You understand why Joan Crawford's character might think she is (allegedly) holding John Garfield's Paul back even if you don't agree.

This ended up being a fairly straight forward melodrama. It is not one that will make my best of list but it is a solid watch and certainly a must see for those who are interested in Joan Crawford's work.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Waiting On Wednesday ... Second First Impressions

 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 Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
From the USA Today  bestselling author of The Hating Game and 99 Percent Mine comes the clever, funny, and unforgettable story of a muscular, tattooed man hired as an assistant to two old women—under the watchful eye of a beautiful retirement home manager.

Distraction (n): an extreme agitation of the mind or emotions.

Ruthie Midona has worked the front desk at the Providence Luxury Retirement Villa for six years, dedicating her entire adult life to caring for the Villa’s residents, maintaining the property (with an assist from DIY YouTube tutorials), and guarding the endangered tortoises that live in the Villa’s gardens. Somewhere along the way, she’s forgotten that she’s young and beautiful, and that there’s a world outside of work—until she meets the son of the property developer who just acquired the retirement center.

Teddy Prescott has spent the last few years partying, sleeping in late, tattooing himself when bored, and generally not taking life too seriously—something his father, who dreams of grooming Teddy into his successor, can’t understand. When Teddy needs a place to crash, his father seizes the chance to get him to grow up. He’ll let Teddy stay in one of the on-site cottages at the retirement home, but only if he works to earn his keep. Teddy agrees—he can change a few lightbulbs and clip some hedges, no sweat. But Ruthie has plans for Teddy too.

Her two wealthiest and most eccentric residents have just placed an ad (yet another!) seeking a new personal assistant to torment. The women are ninety-year-old, four-foot-tall menaces, and not one of their assistants has lasted a full week. Offering up Teddy seems like a surefire way to get rid of the tall, handsome, unnerving man who won’t stop getting under her skin.

Ruthie doesn’t count on the fact that in Teddy Prescott, the Biddies may have finally met their match. He’ll pick up Chanel gowns from the dry cleaner and cut Big Macs into bite-sized bits. He’ll do repairs around the property, make the residents laugh, and charm the entire villa. He might even remind Ruthie what it’s like to be young and fun again. But when she finds out Teddy’s father’s only fixing up the retirement home to sell it, putting everything she cares about in jeopardy, she’s left wondering if Teddy’s magic was all just a façade.
Sally Thorne has another book coming out so you better believe I am excited. I loved her previous two novels and this one also sounds pretty cute!

Sally's novels have great love interests and I expect that Teddy will be no exception. I am looking forward to 'meeting' him. 

This may feel really far away with that April release date, but hopefully that wait means it can be enjoyed on a nice spring day.

Expected release date - April 13, 2021

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson

You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson
Release Date - June 2, 2020
Publisher Website - Scholastic
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 328 pages
My Rating - 4/5

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Liz Lighty has always believed she's too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it's okay -- Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.

But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz's plans come crashing down . . . until she's reminded of her school's scholarship for prom king and queen. There's nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she's willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.

The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She's smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?
There are some books that leave you with a feeling when you are done. This feeling becomes the thing that you most strongly associate with the book. In the case of You Should See Me In A Crown that feeling would be joy. It's easily a must read for young adult contemporary fans and offers up a delightful distraction when you need it.

This book reminds me of a modern John Hughes movie. The focus on the race for Prom Queen makes it feel so classically high school in a way that those movies also capture. The entire vibe is a much more updated version of the tone of those movies. It made the book feel very comforting in a way that those movies have when I watch them while feeling ill. 

Leah Johnson's writing is a stand out of this novel. The book reads as breezy and light and that takes a lot of skill. It's pacing and flow are a testament to the writing skills that are displayed. This author is definitely one to watch and one I would put on par with any of those authors considered the greats of young adult contemporaries.

Liz is the type of main character that the reader wants to root for. She's such a winsome character and so well crafted that she leaps off the page. I could easily see both this story and this character in a movie on Netflix. Her story arc is going to be relatable to so many people. It's a coming of age story with Liz finding her voice and discovering things about herself along the way.

The romance is really sweet and filled with just the right amount of conflict and angst. It's woven into the plot effectively so that it feels integral to the story instead of an afterthought. It has those beats of a high school set romance but still feels fresh and exciting.

This book does tackle some more serious and important topic and does so with a lot of heart. It manages to deal with topics in a way that keeps the tone of the rest of the novel. It is part of the story rather than being the story. Things like family member illness, and grief are given the heft they need while still keeping the lighter tone of the story. Racism  and homophobia are also touched upon throughout the story. The biggest element though is Liz feeling like an outsider and learning to love herself. This is what is given the most weight and what makes the story as charming as it is.

This is a joyful read that will ultimately leave you with a smile on your face. I would highly recommend reading it for anyone who loved Simon vs The Homosapiens Agenda as reading this gave me many of the same feelings. It has a great message of self acceptance and being proud of who you are and is just the feel good read we could all use right now.

Sunday, August 9, 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.

There isn't a whole lot to be excited about right now. Things are pretty not great. However, I do have a few things providing some brightness in all of this.

It's a very Ratched focused post this week!


Ratched Key Art Posters

I was sold instantly because of Ryan Murphy and Sarah Paulson being attached to this. The posters have a very specific vibe. I love how similar to American Horror Story: Asylum it feels.

Those who love One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest will want to check out this origin story of an iconic character. I predict Emmy love for Sarah Paulson.

Rachted Trailer

I love everything about this. I've watched it at least 20 times. The use of the song, Sarah freaking Paulson absolutely killing it, and a supporting cast that looks fantastic. 


Love the glimpses of Finn Wittrock that we've seen! I am very excited to learn more about his character. This is my September must watch and I predict it'll become one of my faves of the year.

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

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Cover Reveal: Empire High Elite / Empire High Betrayal

Today we are celebrating the exciting double cover reveal in the EMPIRE HIGH Series by Ivy Smoak! It includes the next two titles in the series, EMPIRE HIGH ELITE (releasing October 15) and EMPIRE HIGH BETRAYAL (releasing January 14). They are both new adult, contemporary romance titles. 

Join Ivy's Group for access to bonus content from the book and visit Ivy on her facebook page for an exclusive cover reveal giveaway.     

Join Ivy's Facebook Group for Details. 

Empire High Elite by Ivy Smoak

A Contemporary Romance | Coming October 15

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Book Blurb: Welcome to the world of the elite. My mom fell in love with a monster. I know he’s dangerous. And I know my mom never wanted him in my life. I don’t want him in mine either. But I’m being forced to live with him. I’m stuck in his haunting apartment in a world where I don’t belong. A world full of beautiful people with ugly souls. A world filled with secrets. And the one person that I thought I could rely on was Matt. But he says my new family is a disease. Does that make me toxic too? Is that why Matt wants to keep me his dirty little secret? I should have known that all the secrets would come crashing down soon. I just never expected more to break than Matthew freaking Caldwell breaking my heart.   

 Empire High Betrayal by Ivy Smoak

A Contemporary Romance | Coming January 14

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Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU



★★★★★ “My favorite book this year!!”

 ★★★★★ “Gahh! My heart. I adored this book.”

 ★★★★★ “IT WAS AMAZING.”

 ★★★★★ “Oh my, plot twist! I did NOT see that one coming!”

 ★★★★★ “It’s literally IMPOSSIBLE to put down.” 

★★★★★ “Buckle in for this emotional roller coaster!”


Ivy Smoak is the international bestselling author of The Hunted series. When she's not writing, you can find her binge watching too many TV shows, taking long walks, playing outside, and generally refusing to act like an adult. She lives with her husband in Delaware.   


Monday, August 3, 2020

Monthly TBR and Wrap Up

It is August! The end of summer is quickly approaching. I am normally excited about the return of autumn and everything pumpkin spice. This year feels different though and I just hope we get through the rest of it as quickly as possible.

Before I get into what I am hoping to read in August I have to wrap up July. July was a pretty decent reading month even if I didn't read everything I wanted to.

The books that were on my list are:

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer (goodreads)
Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer (goodreads)
The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (goodreads)
Who Killed These Girls by Beverly Lowry (goodreads)

Plus I had some ebooks on my list:

You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson (goodreads)
Faith: Taking Flight by Julie Murphy (goodreads)
More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn (goodreads)
Mayhem by Estelle Laure (goodreads)

Here is what I managed to read in July:

Faith: Taking Flight by Julie Murphy (goodread)
You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson (goodreads)
Empire High Untouchables by Ivy Smoak (goodreads)
Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin (goodreads)
The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (goodreads)
Who Killed These Girls by Beverly Lowry (goodreads)
The Last Book On The Left by Ben Kissel, Marcus Parks and Henry Zebrowski (goodreads)

My #2020PopCultureResolution book for July was Who Killed These Girls by Beverly Lowry and the movie was Penny Serenade. My review of the movie was already posted if you were interested in checking that out.

Here is what I hope to read in August:

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer (goodreads)
Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer (goodreads)
Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer (goodreads)
Life and Death by Stephenie Meyer (goodreads)

And not pictured is my #2020PopCultureResolution pick for August:

The Stranger Beside Me by Anne Rule (goodreads)

As you can see they are mostly the Twilight books. I am hoping to get through them quickly so I can read Midnight Sun.

I also have some ebooks I am hoping to get to:

Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles (goodreads)
The Comeback by Ella Berman (goodreads)
More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn (goodreads)
Mayhem by Estelle Laure (goodreads)

My August #2020PopCultureResolution choices are The Stranger By Anne Rules (as mentioned above) for the book and Humoresque for the movie. Looking forward to both them.

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

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