January 31, 2017

Copycat


"The story centers on a woman who, after becoming friends with a coworker, begins copying every single thing her friend does. She buys all the same clothing, jewelry, shoes, furniture, and anything else she sees her friend with. She even begins to act like her in a number of different ways and adopts most of her personality traits." ~ 70%

Traci Calloway Cole is the kind of woman Simone Phillips wants to be. Literally from the hairs sprouting of her scalp to the polish on her toe nails. Most of all, Traci is a successful author while Simone aspires to become a published author. Unbeknownst to both women, Simone becomes a copycat. She copies everything about Traci simply because she wants to be just like her. After one in-person meeting, Simone becomes Traci's friend on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, Google+ and Periscope. Can we say social media stalker?! But Simone means no harm until her world starts unraveling secrets from the past.

Copycat is unique in that it is a story within a story. Not only does Simone copycat, but Traci is writing a new book about the very same thing!

"Thankfully, I don't have any friends who do this kind of thing, but I've definitely come across women who have identity problems. Those who want to be like someone else." ~ 19%

I always say imitation is not the best form of flattery. It is beyond admiration; more so annoyance. I related to Copycat because it happened to me before...twice! It always starts off with innocent questions like, "I like your shoes. Where did you get them?" or "Love your haircut! I want something similar." or flat-out "I have that same sweater!" after seeing mine though. Be your own self. Don't copycat!

I recommend any book that I absolutely relate to. Copycat is such! Readers will enjoy this quick read with questionable characters and obsession gone wrong.

Happy Pub Day, Kimberla Lawson Roby! Congrats on your 25th book!

Disclaimer: This book was received directly from the publisher for review purposes only. In no way does it influence my review. The opinions I have expressed are honestly my own and would be the same if I spent my hard-earned coins.

Title: Copycat
Author: Kimberla Lawson Roby
Published: January 2017
Pages: 192
Edition: Galley
Challenge: Popsugar—A Book That is a Story Within a Story
Rating: ♥♥♥♥


Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living


"You look down and you keep on writing, revising, reading, reckoning, working...because that's what real black writers do." ~ 31%

Scratch is intended for aspiring authors, already published authors and leisure writers. The tips and advice are truly worth reading. It addresses writing and money, work and life, literature and commerce. You'll get inspiration in knowing you're not alone with writing struggles, learning monetization, handling advances, diversity in publishing, selling out, how to work hard and read dead. Scratch is not meant to discourage writers but to prepare you for the challenges.

"Rewrite your story—past, present, and future drafts." ~ 3%

Contributors include Roxane Gay, Alexander Chee, Emily Gould, Harmony Holiday, Yiyun Li, Daniel José Older and Jennifer Weiner. It is edited by Majula Martin. Some essays are better than others; some essays may not be relevant depending on the stage of writing you are. But still add Scratch to your bookshelves alongside Poynter's Publishing Manuals, Oxford's Essenial Guide to Writing and Stephen King's On Writing. Treat yourself to knowledge. Decide when, or if, to quit your day job.

Disclaimer: This book was received directly from the publisher for review purposes only. In no way does it influence my review. The opinions I have expressed are honestly my own and would be the same if I spent my hard-earned coins.

Title: Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living
Author: Various; Edited by Manjula Martin
Published: January 2017
Pages: 304
Edition: Galley
Challenge: Popsugar—A Book with a Subtitle; Bookish Kill Your TBR—Read a Book That Supports My New Year's Resolution
Rating: ♥♥♥

 

Wives, Fiancées, and Side-Chicks of Hotlanta


"Who gon' check me, boo?" ~ 60%

Sasha Wellington's goal is to be a well-known fashion designer. She moves to Atlanta with a plan to be an entrepreneur. What a brave move! Within a short amount of time, she befriends Norman (a savvy gay stylist), Casey (an NBA player's wife), and Paris (a nightlife dancer). Sticking to her dreams prove difficult when Sasha gets mixed up in the fast-paced Hotlanta life and is romanced by a baller.

"I'm sure there are a lot of things you weren't into before moving to Atlanta, but trust me when I say this town has a way of making you something that you aren't." ~ 27%

I am not sure what I expected before I started reading this new release by Bravo TV's Real Housewife of Atlanta, Shereé Whitfield. Although I must admit that I judged this book by its cover and by its author. The title is very urban and reminds me of those "hood" books I used to read way back in the day. The cover shows a woman living a lifestyle much like a wife, fiancée or side-chick.

I couldn't help but match every fictional character with someone from Shereé's real life, such as her ex-husband Bob, fashion stylist Miss Lawrence or fellow RHOA. This distracted me from the very beginning. But once I mentally matched the fictional characters with real life colleagues of Shereé's, I sat back and enjoyed the story, wondering how much truth this fiction is based on.

"Fun was temporary. Happiness was the real deal." ~ 39%

Fiction books from celebrities get an automatic side-eye from me. No, it is not fair. Yes, it is okay to dabble in the book field while being seen on our television screens via reality television. I don't expect to read literature with deep prose. In fact, I suspect ghost writers are usually used. And that is fine. But the tone of the main character in Wives, Fiancées, and Side-Chicks of Hotlanta is so Shereé! She did a great job of creating a reliable character that is easy to root for. Readers want to see Sasha Wellington (mmm hmm, same initials as the author) succeed.

However, this book will probably not appeal to avid novel readers. It is full of pop culture phrases like "throw shade" or "twerk" or "turn up." The supporting characters are not developed. The ending is beyond predictable and rushed, leaving readers with a cliffhanger. The book started off strong but the storyline didn't carry well giving the impression a deadline had to be met so "just end it here." Of course, this could be good for the author in future sales of the sequel. In conclusion, the intended audience are women who watch RHOA and enjoy rumors mixed with a hint of reality and hot mess drama.

Happy Pub Day, Shereé!

Disclaimer: This book was received directly from the publisher for review purposes only. In no way does it influence my review. The opinions I have expressed are honestly my own and would be the same if I spent my hard-earned coins.

Title: Wives, Fiancées, and Side-Chicks of Hotlanta
Author: Sheree Whitfield
Published: January 2017
Pages: 320
Edition: Galley
Challenge: Popsugar—A Book with a Family-Member Term in the Title
Rating: ♥♥♡

 

January 29, 2017

Series Sunday: Night School

(Jack Reacher #21) 

Series Sunday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Revision. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Read an installment of a series.
  • Share your review/recommendation below.
  • Include the title, author and series name.

My Series Sunday pick is Night School, the 21st book in the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child. Flashback to year 1996 when Jack Reacher was only in his 30s serving in the United States Army. In the morning they give him a medal; in the afternoon he is enrolled back in school and off the grid by that night. He is whisked off to a secluded location to work on a group mission. Also in the classroom is Casey Waterman (FBI) and John White (CIA). All three are fresh off a big win and first-rate in their respective departments.

So what is the case? Why were these three people cherry-picked? Because of an overheard message in a sleeper cell located in Germany: "The American wants a hundred million dollars." Reacher, Waterman and White were recruited to find that American before an act of terrorism happens.

My goodness, the level of non-stop action and suspense was high considering the times Reacher and his night school buddies followed fruitless leads. The story took off on a steady pace once the setting, introduction of characters and layout of the mystery was explained. Some may deem it slow but I preferred its pace so I could absorb what Jack Reacher was all about and follow the complex case. I say it was well done because now I heart Jack Reacher even more!

"Whatever worked. Whatever got you through the night." ~ pg. 234

I normally don't do this but since Night School is a prequel, I skipped way ahead and read it out of order. There was no way I was reading 18 or so books before this new release. And I am glad I did! I have a deeper understanding of main character Jack Reacher and how he started off. Why he acts the way he acts and where his zero tolerance for bullshit comes from. Most of all, it was exciting to see that Jack Reacher maneuvers inside and outside the law from day one. The man has skills and intelligence!

Some bookhears are sticklers for reading books of a series in order. And yes, usually I am included in that statement. But if you are unfamiliar with the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child, then go ahead and read Night School next. Thank me later because it is sure to be your new favorite mystery series. The New York Times calls this thriller series "utterly addictive." We can't both be wrong.

Title: Night School
Author: Lee Child
Published: November 2016
Pages: 306
Edition: eBook
Challenge: Perpetual Jack Reacher 
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♡

 

January 27, 2017

First Lines Friday


First Lines Friday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Revision. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Grab your current read(s).
  • Share the first line(s).
  • Include the title and author.

"Atlanta is the Hollywood of the south, baby, what did you expect?"

~ Wives, Fiancées, and Side-Chicks of Hotlanta by Shereé Whitfield

January 24, 2017

The You I've Never Known


"Afraid of lust, it's recent bloom inside of me." ~ pg. 114

What if the details of your past have been told to you versus based on your own memory? For as long as she can remember, it has always been just Ariel and her dad. Her mom disappeared when she was a couple years old. Ariel and her dad moved around a lot, making home wherever the two of them were. Now Ariel is seventeen years old in a town ready to put down roots and build romantic relationships. But every day she fears her dad will leave like her mom did.

Maya is a teenager with an abusive mother. Escaping is her number one priority; she runs right into the arms of an older man. With a baby on the way, life gets more complicated than she imagined it ever would.

When their worlds cross, Ariel and Maya try to make sense of their lives, balance love and untangle lies. The You I've Never Known is an emotional journey to find out the truth in history and how to move forward in life.

"Dependency isn't only self-defeating. It's self-perpetuating." ~ pg. 99

There is no better author to write in this verse/prose format than Ellen Hopkins. Every chapter is a poem. Perfect example of less is more! With less words on each page, the reader is drawn to flipping the pages and constructing the story that the author intends. There were no unnecessary passages. Every sentence mattered in this 500+ page novel. I learned more about the main character, Ariel, through this writing style than I would have with traditional paragraphs. And what an unforgettable plot!

"But I don't
confess it.
Will I ever?" ~ pg. 503

Bookhearts, do not let the page count deter you. The You I've Never Known is indeed a quick read. I took my time and still finished it within a few days. It will be great for those with new year resolutions of reading more and stepping outside of your normal genre. Booklist says, "Hopkins has created another winner." I totally agree!

Happy Pub Day, Ellen Hopkins!

Disclaimer: This book was received directly from the publisher for review purposes only. In no way does it influence my review. The opinions I have expressed are honestly my own and would be the same if I spent my hard-earned coins.

Title: The You I've Never Known
Author: Ellen Hopkins
Published: January 2017
Pages: 549
Edition: Galley
Challenges: Bookish Kill Your TBR—Supports My New Year's Resolution; Popsugar—A Book Set in Two Different Time Periods
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♡

 

The Girl Before


"Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life." ~ 4%

Edward Monkford's houses are extraordinary. Based on traditional techniques but revolutionary with top-notch technology and out-of-this-world features. Monkford is an architect whose primary purpose is to affect the way the tenant feels. His houses may seem simple but under the blank canvas is an experience that users will never forget.

A young woman gets the opportunity to rent a unique house. When she falls in love with the architect, Edward Monkford, she has no idea she is repeating history. The girl who rented the house before also fell in love with him. In a matter of chapters, the eerie parallel lives of the two girls turn this story into a psychological thriller.

"There was a time when One Folgate Street seemed like a calm, serene haven. Now it doesn't. It feels claustrophobic and mean. Like the house is angry with me." ~ 70%

This is my first book read by author J.P. Delaney and I am pleased. Title aside, I enjoyed The Girl Before. The alternating points of view and time periods helped move the story along and paint a thriller picture. This could easily be made into a movie that I would love to see on the big screen especially around Halloween.

Is The Girl Before like all the other "The Girl..." books? No, not as notorious. But yes, just as captivating. It still had me wondering where the story was going and why. At times it was a bit far-fetched but still scarily realistic. However, I would have preferred if it had a less expecting title. Can we leave "The Girl..." books in 2016 please?

Nevertheless, Happy Pub Day, J.P. Delaney!

Disclaimer: This book was received directly from the publisher for review purposes only. In no way does it influence my review. The opinions I have expressed are honestly my own and would be the same if I spent my hard-earned coins.

Title: The Girl Before
Author: J.P. Delaney
Published: January 2017
Pages: 352
Edition: Galley
Challenge: Popsugar—A Book By an Author Who Uses a Pseudonym
Rating: ♥♥♥♡

 

January 7, 2017

I'mma Just Put My Life in Rice: A Memoir

♠♥ Oh, 2017. Only a few days in and already a doozy. I'mma just put my life in rice. Book blogging and blogmoir posts will resume on or around January 22.

  

January 6, 2017

First Lines Friday


First Lines Friday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Revision. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Grab your current read(s).
  • Share the first line(s).
  • Include the title and author.

"Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life."

~ The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney

 

January 3, 2017

Difficult Women


"There are things you do not know about me. These things are not inconsequential." ~ 89%

Women are beautiful strong humans. In Roxane Gay's new release, Difficult Women, there are stories that focus on women from all walks of life and circumstance. Some are privileged; some are of poverty. Some are leaders; some are better as followers. Some are smarter than they let on while others conform easily. Some are sad and others just ignore the pain. Some live in glass houses while others live in shadows. But one common fact is apparent: women are molded by their experiences.
If you are familiar with Roxane Gay's writing from her previous book An Untamed State and essay collection Bad Feminist, then you know the good quality you'll get from reading her work. You'll also understand how challenging it is to describe her books without completely giving away the story. So trust me; Difficult Women is no exception.

A title means everything. It is my very first impression of a book. Sometimes it catches my attention and sometimes I skim over it on a bookshelf because of the title. For authors that I trust and will read whatever new work published, titles give me a hint of the book's content. Difficult Women is a title that is straight-forward. I assume it is about women that are difficult to get along with or full of drama. But as I read the stories, I never came across any difficult women. It was more women in difficult situations or women with difficulties. But the women themselves were not difficult, if that makes sense. Nonetheless, I am here to tell bookhearts do not get discouraged or bypass this book just because of its title. There is a story—or two or three or five—that you are sure to relate to. But there are also a couple stories that threw me way off and didn't seem to belong. They didn't quite carry the same voice of the author.

Roxane Gay is and remains one of the realest writers out here. Her tweets are entertaining and thought-provoking. Her books always leave a lasting impression. Roxane Gay has a way with words! This new collection of stories show her talent and vision of modern women.

So Happy Pub Day! Difficult Women is available as of today. Oh, and take a moment to admire the book cover!

Disclaimer: This book was received directly from the publisher for review purposes only. In no way does it influence my review. The opinions I have expressed are honestly my own and would be the same if I spent my hard-earned coins.

Title: Difficult Women
Author: Roxane Gay
Published: January 2016
Pages: 272
Edition: Galley
Challenge: Popsugar—A Book About an Interesting Woman
Rating: ♥♥♥♡

 

2017 Memes & Reading Challenges

2017 Goodreads Challenge: Read 107 books in 2017. 

https://www.goodreads.com/review/stats/2924016-literarymarie#pages
2017 Page Count Challenge: Read 27,000+ pages.

Keeping Up with Patterson Challenge: Read books in the Alex Cross, Women's Murder Club, and Michael Bennett series by James Patterson. BOOKSHOTS are a bonus!

Perpetual Kinsey Millhone Challenge: Continue to read books in the Kinsey Millhone alphabet series by Sue Grafton.

Perpetual Jack Reacher Challenge: Continue to read books in the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child.

2017 Bookish Kill Your TBR: 12 reading challenges designed to help knock out titles on To Be Read shelves.
  1. January - Read a Book That Supports My New Year's Resolution
  2. February - Read a Love Story
  3. March - Read a Book Published The Decade I Was Born
  4. April - Read a National Book Award Winner
  5. May - Read a Book About Mental Health
  6. June - Read a Book Set Outside of My Home Country
  7. July - Read a Book About an Overlooked Figure in History
  8. August - Read a Collection of Essays or Short Stories
  9. September - Read an Entire Series
  10. October - Read a Book That Scares Me
  11. November - Read a Graphic Novel or Comic Book
  12. December - Read a Book About Belief

2017 PopSugar Reading Challenge: Read a wide range of 52 books spanning topics.

First Lines Friday: Share the first line(s) from current read(s).


Series Sunday: Share a review/recommendation of a book in a series.

Lit Tidbits: Share current literary news.

US vs. UK: Compare covers of books released in US/UK.

Life of a Migraineur: Share moments of my life with migraines.


View all of Literary Marie's Memes and Reading Challenges here.