Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Book Review ~ Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

Baby Teeth
by Zoje Stage
Expected publication: July 17th 2018 by St Martin's Press

Sweetness can be deceptive.

Meet Hanna.

She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.

Meet Suzette.

She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette's husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong, and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all.

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Hannah is an adorable looking seven year old who worships her father….she is definitely a daddy’s girl through and through.  However, this sweet looking child has a devious mind and her goal is to get rid of her mother, no matter the cost so that she can have her father all to herself.

This story is told in alternating POV’s between Suzette, the mother, and Hannah, the seven-year old girl.  Hannah chooses not to speak, but her ‘voice’ is loud when it comes to the hatred she has toward her mom.  As a mom myself, I really felt sorry for Suzette. She wanted to love Hannah so much, but it is hard to love evil…..and trust me, Hannah is pure evil.  It was hard for me to connect with Hannah’s character because she seemed older than her young seven years.  It was difficult for me to comprehend that a young child would even contemplate such adult behavior.

While this psychological thriller started out strong, I felt it fizzled out in the middle and the flame totally died out at the end.  I wanted to know more, but the story just ended without any real conclusion and left this reader feeling unsatisfied.

The audio version of this book is narrated by Gabra Zackman and while her voice of Suzette was great, I had a really hard time with her portrayal of Hannah.  I felt as though Hannah was a seventy-year woman instead of a young girl.  Perhaps that is why I could not connect with Hannah, other than the fact that she was a psychopath.  The production quality was great and the narrator spoke clearly and concisely. 

Story - 2 stars
Performance – 3 stars
Overall – 2.5 stars

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Spotlight Tour and Giveaway ~ Copycat by Hannah Jayne

by Hannah Jayne
ISBN: 9781492647393
Release Date: July 3, 2018
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

From the author of The EscapeTwisted, and Truly, Madly, Deadly comes a chilling new thriller that asks: what happens if your real life became stranger and deadlier than fiction?

Everyone is dying to read the latest book in the popular Gap Lake mystery series, and Addison is no exception. As the novels biggest fan, she’s thrilled when the infamously reclusive author, R.J. Rosen, contacts her, giving her inside information others would kill for.

Addison’s always dreamed of what it would be like if the books were real…. But then she finds the most popular girl in school dead. Murdered. And realizes that life imitating fiction is more dangerous that she could have imagined. As other terrifying events from the books start happening around her, Addison has to figure out how to write her own ending—and survive the story.

Praise for Copycat:
“A twisty rollercoaster ride that mixes fiction with reality and truth with misconceptions...lovers of mysteries will certainly enjoy this fast-paced page turner.” —Library Media Connection

“Addie and Maya feel authentic; their charming interpersonal dynamic and the escalating pace of the plot result in a quick read.” —Kirkus

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There was something inordinately creepy about being at school after dark. The place was deserted—­the benches and picnic tables in the quad looked ominous and foreboding under the flickering yellow lights. Crystal Lanier shivered and pulled her jacket tighter against an imaginary chill. The weather was mild at Gap Lake in September; the days still sunbaked, the nights, like this one, a gentle mix of fading summer and impending fall. But the bare bones of the deserted campus had put a chill in the air, and shot a blast of cold right through Crystal.
“I’m creeping myself out,” she muttered shifting her books from one arm to the other.
A wisp of wind cut through the quad. Crystal was almost sure she heard someone laughing—­a weak, choked giggle, like someone was trying to swallow it down.
She spun, her long black hair fanning over her shoulders. “Is someone there?” She knew she sounded like every horror movie victim ever, and her heart hammered in her throat as her skin prickled with beads of sweat.
This was Gap Lake, she reminded herself. It was a tiny town where everyone knew everyone else, and nothing bad ever happened. She was thinking that when the shadow approached. When he reached out for her long black hair. She was thinking what a nice, safe place Gap Lake was when he clamped a hand over her mouth. When he strangled her scream and drove the needle straight into her throat.
Addison glanced up and blinked, feeling redness stain her cheeks and ears. She closed the book slowly, looking around at the two dozen sets of eyes staring back at her.
“I’m sorry.”
Mrs. Lea took two steps forward and held out her hand. Addison cleared her throat and shifted in her seat.
“The book, Addison.”
Reluctantly, Addison handed over the dog-­eared book.
“Can I get it back after class, please?” she asked, her voice meek.
Maya Garcia hiked her backpack over her shoulders and stepped into the junior hallway. “Okay, how many times has Mrs. Lea taken that thing from you?”
Addison shrugged, falling into step with her best friend. “Let’s see, I’ve read it about fifty-­seven times so…fifty-­six?”
“You are the biggest, nerdiest R. J. Rosen fan ever.”
“Hey, I’m president of his fan club. It’s mainly research.”
Maya shook her head sadly. “It’s borderline obsessive.”
“Who you calling borderline?” Addison flashed a wide grin. “It’s not entirely my fault. Rosen needs to write faster. If he could keep up with the public’s rabid love for the Gap Lake mysteries, I wouldn’t need to constantly reread—­”
“And reread and reread. And write massive amounts of fan fiction.”
Addison rolled her eyes.
“Don’t get me wrong, Adds. I love the books too, but you’re a teenager. You need a more destructive hobby to fit in.”
Addison nodded sagely. “I see where you’re coming from. What do you suggest?”
“Drinking, drugs, reckless driving.”
“First of all, to drive recklessly, I’d have to drive, which I will not. And as for the other stuff, what am I? A stereotype?”
Maya narrowed her eyes, crossed her arms in front of her chest. “I feel like you’re not taking me seriously.”
Addison stopped at locker 221 and spun the lock, pulling open the metal door. “I like to read. So what?”
Maya yanked a handful of books out of Addison’s locker before dumping them back in again. “So, you should shelve a few hundred of these books and live in the here and now with the rest of us who have boyfriends who don’t live only on paper.”
“Number one, have you read the first Gap Lake book? Not only is Crystal’s boyfriend, Declan Levy, not a one-­dimensional paper product, he may or may not be responsible for her murder—­I vote not. But if that doesn’t make a rounded character, I don’t know what does.”
“Character,” Maya enunciated. “That’s the magic word. A character is not a real person.”
“And speaking of not real people, who’s this boyfriend of yours you seem to be referring to?”
A fierce blush crept across Maya’s olive cheeks. “I didn’t say that I had a boyfriend. But there are possibilities. Men in the wings. Plans afoot and so forth and…stuff.”
“‘Plans afoot’? ‘So forth and stuff’? Who are you?”
Maya put her hands on her hips. “I’m your best friend, Addie. Remember me? I’m not a mystery novel, but I’m pretty damn fantastic if I say so myself.”
Addie pulled the book back. She gave it a quick kiss, before stashing the book in her backpack.
Maya gaped. “Did you just kiss a book? Seriously?”
“It’s my lifeblood.”
Maya cocked an eyebrow and Addie shrugged.
“Okay, so it’s research.”
“Tell me you still want to be a writer and haven’t decided on serial killing as a career goal.”
“According to my father, the latter pays better.”
“How is the wolf of Wall Street?”
Addie blew out a sigh. “Buying low, selling high, still wishing his disappointing daughter had a penis or a power tie.”
“Well, I know what to get you for Christmas.” Maya stopped dead in her tracks. “Don’t look, but you’re being ogled. Possibly even being fantasized about in weird and uber-­sexual ways.”
Addie immediately crossed her arms in front of her chest. “Now I feel skeevy.”
“I’d pay a thousand bucks if Spencer Cohen was staring at me that way.”
Addie shrugged, trying to play it off like she didn’t care. “You need a life.”
Maya groaned and shook Addie’s arm. “And you need two feet in reality or you’re going to prom with a cardboard cutout.”
“If it’s a cardboard cutout of Declan Levy, sign me up.”
“So you are into serial killers.”
“Declan didn’t do it!”
Maya rolled her eyes. “Declan totally did it. He killed Crystal, then did Andy and Rhodes. It’s textbook. I know because I am the daughter of cops, times two.” She held up two fingers a half inch from Addie’s nose. “He had motive, opportunity—­all those other CSIwords.”
“That’s what the author wants you to think. And you totally fell for it! You are so R. J. Rosen’s target audience!”
“And you’re his secret side chick.”
Addie snorted. “I prefer biggest fan.”
“Well, it seems like Spencer Cohen is your biggest fan, and he’s coming over here.”
“Hey, Addie.” Spencer grinned, one of those three-­point grins that hit his dark-brown eyes, chin dimple, and Crest-­white smile.
I’m not in love with Spencer, she told herself. Infatuation. Puppy love, maybe. He’s just so cute…
“Hey, Spencer.”
Maya stepped forward. “Addie was just telling me how much she loves water polo. And dancing.”
Addie blinked. “I was?”
“I play water polo.” Spencer brightened and Addie gritted her teeth. She had been to nearly every one of his matches. True, she was usually up on the last bleacher with her nose in a book, but she watched whenever Spencer was in the pool. He never even noticed her.
“Yeah,” she said with a slow nod. “I’ve seen. I mean I know. I know because I’ve seen you. Not in a weird way, like in a fan way. Not, like, a weird mega fan or anything but, like, a Hornets fan. You know.” Addie fisted her hand and punched at the air. “Go team!”
Maya threaded her arm though Addie’s and gave it a yank. “We have to go.”
“Why did you do that?” Addie hissed once they were out of earshot. “Spencer and I were having a conversation.”
“Have you ever heard the term dead in the water? Because that’s what you were. ‘Go team’?” She shook her head sadly.
“Did I sound that bad?”
“Yes, yes you did.”
Addie sighed. “See? That’s why I should stick to guys on paper.”
“Oh honey,” Maya slid an arm over Addie’s shoulders. “At this point I don’t even think your book boyfriend would talk to you.”

Hannah Jayne decided to be an author in the second grade. She couldn’t spell and had terrible ideas, but she kept at it. Many (many) years—and nearly twenty books—later, she gets to live her dream and mainly does it in her pajamas. She lives with her rock-star husband, baby daughter, and their three overweight cats in the San Francisco Bay area. She is always on the lookout for a juicy mystery, an exciting story, or a great adventure.

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Runs July 3rd - 31st  (US & Canada only)
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Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Book Review ~ Rainy Day Friends: A Novel (Wildstone) by Jill Shalvis

Rainy Day Friends: A Novel
By Jill Shalvis

Following the USA Today bestseller, Lost and Found Sisters, comes Rainy Day Friends, Jill Shalvis’ moving story of heart, loss, betrayal, and friendship.

Six months after Lanie Jacobs’ husband’s death, it’s hard to imagine anything could deepen her sense of pain and loss. But then Lanie discovers she isn’t the only one grieving his sudden passing. A serial adulterer, he left behind several other women who, like Lanie, each believe she was his legally wedded wife. Rocked by the infidelity, Lanie is left to grapple with searing questions. How could she be so wrong about a man she thought she knew better than anyone? Will she ever be able to trust another person?  Can she even trust herself?

Desperate to make a fresh start, Lanie impulsively takes a job at the family-run Capriotti Winery. At first, she feels like an outsider among the boisterous Capriottis. With no real family of her own, she’s bewildered by how quickly they all take her under their wing and make her feel like she belongs. Especially Mark Capriotti, a gruffly handsome Air Force veteran turned deputy sheriff who manages to wind his way into Lanie’s cold, broken heart—along with the rest of the clan. Everything is finally going well for her, but the arrival of River Green changes all that. The fresh-faced twenty-one-year old seems as sweet as they come…until her dark secrets come to light—secrets that could destroy the new life Lanie’s only just begun to build.

Rainy Day Friends is a heartfelt and funny novel that warmed my heart with its story of friendship, love, and family.  The story flowed so naturally, never feeling rushed or slow - just perfectly paced.  Right from the very first page, I was instantly captivated and my interest never dulled.

I simply loved the Capriotti family, but the characters that stole the show were Mark’s absolutely darling twin daughters, Samantha and Sierra.  They were just to stinking cute! 

Rainy Day Friends is the second book in the Wildstone series and it can be read as a stand-alone without being completely clueless.    This was my first experience with reading Ms. Shalvis’ books, but I loved this one so much, I am going to read the first book in this amazing series very soon.

Although I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for review, in the interest of time, I purchased the audio version so that I could ‘read’ in a timely manner.  Karen White narrates this book, and she did an amazing job with all the characters – each one sounding unique.  Her voice really brought the story to life.

Rainy Day Friends is the perfect lazy day read, and is definitely one you need to add to your reading list.  Grab your wine, some cupcakes, have some tissues ready, and be prepared to spend all day in Wildstone!

5 stars

 Chapter 1

Anxiety Girl, able to jump to the worst conclusion in a single bound!

          Most of the time Karma was a bitch, but every once in awhile she could be surprisingly nice, even kind. Lanie Jacobs, way past overdue for both of those things, told herself this was her time. Seize the day and all that, and drawing a deep breath, she exited the highway at Wildstone.
          The old wild-west California town was nestled in the rolling hills between the Pacific Coast and wine/ranching country. She’d actually grown up not too far from here, though it felt like a lifetime ago. The road was narrow and curvy, and since it’d rained earlier, she added tricky and slick to her growing list of issues. She was already white-knuckling a sharp turn when a kamikaze squirrel darted into her lane, causing her to nearly swerve into oncoming traffic before remembering the rules of country driving.
          Never leave your lane; not for weather, animals, or even God himself.
          Luckily the squirrel reversed direction, but before she could relax a trio of deer bounded across the road. “Run, Bambi,” she cried, hitting her brakes, and by the skin of their collective teeth, they all missed each other.
          Sweating, nerves sizzling like live wires, she finally turned onto Capriotti Lane and parked as she’d been instructed.
          It took a moment for her pulse to come down from stroke level. She’d been taught anti-anxiety techniques, but she’d never quite figured out how to make any of them work while in the actual throes of an anxiety attack.
          It’s all good she told herself but because she wasn’t buying what she was selling, she had to force herself out of the car like she was a five year old starting kindergarten instead of being thirty and simply facing a brand new job. Given all she’d been through, this should be easy, even fun. But sometimes adulthood felt like the vet’s office and she was the dog excited for the car ride -- only to find out the real destination.
          Shaking her head, she strode across the parking lot. It was April, which meant the rolling hills to the east were green and lush and the Pacific Ocean to the west looked like a surfer’s dream, all of it so gorgeous it could’ve been a postcard. A beautiful smoke screen over her not-so-beautiful past. The air was scented like a really expensive sea-and-earth candle, though  all Lanie could smell was her forgotten hopes and dreams. With wood chips crunching under her shoes, she headed through the entrance beneath which was a huge wooden sign that read:

          Capriotti Winery, from our fields to your table…

          Her heart sped up. Nerves, of course, the bane of her existence. But after a very crappy few years, she was changing her path. For once in her godforsaken life, something was going to work out for her. This was going to work out for her.
          She was grimly determined.

Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/2LJd5uu
Books-A-Million: https://bit.ly/2LDlAY5

New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website, www.jillshalvis.com, for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.
Website: http://jillshalvis.com/
Facebook: @JillShalvis
Twitter: @JillShalvis