Survive This Homecoming | Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Title: Sharp Objects
By: Gillian Flynn
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 254
Release Date: 2006
Publisher: Broadway Paperbacks

Summary from Goodreads: Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: she must return to her tiny hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. For years, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed in her old bedroom in her family's Victorian mansion, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Dogged by her own demons, she must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story—and survive this homecoming.

Review: A friend at work told me that the show for this book was amazing and I needed to watch it. Of course, I didn't have the channel, but the book is the next best thing, right? The story started off slow as we followed the main character as she goes back to her home town to dig up some dirt on a few murders that happened. There was a lot of reporter kind of mumbo jumbo happening, but as the end drew near, I really started to wonder who the murder was. Oh snap! the ending will sneak up on you. I didn't even see it coming. It was worth the read and I know that you will love it too.

5 Books that Exceeded your Expectations

One of my most favorite things to do in my spare time is brows Goodreads and their plethora  of book lists. One of my favorite lists to read off of is Books that Exceeded your Expectations. There are so many good books on this list, it will be impossible to read them all. I'm going to try though. Out of the top 10 books on the list picked by Goodread readers, I've read eight. Here are the top five books I've read out of the top 10 on the list.

1. The Hunger Games - Winning will make you famous. 
Losing means certain death.

The nation of Panem, formed from a post-apocalyptic North America, is a country that consists of a wealthy Capitol region surrounded by 12 poorer districts. Early in its history, a rebellion led by a 13th district against the Capitol resulted in its destruction and the creation of an annual televised event known as the Hunger Games. In punishment, and as a reminder of the power and grace of the Capitol, each district must yield one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 through a lottery system to participate in the games. The 'tributes' are chosen during the annual Reaping and are forced to fight to the death, leaving only one survivor to claim victory.

When 16-year-old Katniss's young sister, Prim, is selected as District 12's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives, some of whom have trained for this their whole lives. , she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

2. The Book Thief - Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel--a young German girl whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors.

3. Harry Potter and the Scorer's Stone - Harry Potter's life is miserable. His parents are dead and he's stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he's a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

After a lifetime of bottling up his magical powers, Harry finally feels like a normal kid. But even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the boy who lived: the only person to have ever survived a killing curse inflicted by the evil Lord Voldemort, who launched a brutal takeover of the Wizarding world, only to vanish after failing to kill Harry.

Though Harry's first year at Hogwarts is the best of his life, not everything is perfect. There is a dangerous secret object hidden within the castle walls, and Harry believes it's his responsibility to prevent it from falling into evil hands. But doing so will bring him into contact with forces more terrifying than he ever could have imagined.

Full of sympathetic characters, wildly imaginative situations, and countless exciting details, the first installment in the series assembles an unforgettable magical world and sets the stage for many high-stakes adventures to come.

4. Water for Elephants - Winner of the 2007 BookBrowse Award for Most Popular Book.

An atmospheric, gritty, and compelling novel of star-crossed lovers, set in the circus world circa 1932, by the bestselling author of Riding Lessons. 

When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and suddenly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, drifters, and misfits, a second-rate circus struggling to survive during the Great Depression, making one-night stands in town after endless town. A veterinary student who almost earned his degree, Jacob is put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It is there that he meets Marlena, the beautiful young star of the equestrian act, who is married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. He also meets Rosie, an elephant who seems untrainable until he discovers a way to reach her. 

Beautifully written, Water for Elephants is illuminated by a wonderful sense of time and place. It tells a story of a love between two people that overcomes incredible odds in a world in which even love is a luxury that few can afford.

5. To Kill a Mockingbird - The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior - to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

The Barnavelts can stop it! | The House with a Clock in the Walls

Title: The House with a Clock in the Walls
By: John Bellairs
Genre: Urban Fantasy 
Pages: 192
Release Date: August 28th, 2018
Publisher: Puffin Books

Summary from Goodreads: A haunting gothic tale by master mysery writer John Bellairs--soon to be a major motion picture starring Cate Blanchett and Jack Black! 

"The House With a Clock in Its Walls will cast its spell for a long time."--The New York Times Book Review

When Lewis Barnavelt, an orphan. comes to stay with his uncle Jonathan, he expects to meet an ordinary person. But he is wrong. Uncle Jonathan and his next-door neighbor, Mrs. Zimmermann, are both magicians! Lewis is thrilled. At first, watchng magic is enough. Then Lewis experiments with magic himself and unknowingly resurrects the former owner of the house: a woman named Serenna Izard. It seems that Serenna and her husband built a timepiece into the walls--a clock that could obliterate humankind. And only the Barnavelts can stop it!

Review: What was this? I had a really hard time following this book. It was so scattered that I couldn't put the story together and make a full book of it. Looking at the release date, I'm thinking it was written off of the movie and that might contribute to it. This author was new to me and I'm not sure what else he has done, but this was really not a book for me. I am excited to see the movie though...

This Extinction-Level Event | Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Title: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Genre: Action, Adventure, Scifi
Release Date: June 2nd, 2018
Rating: 6.3/10 IMDB
Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard

Summary from IMDB: When the island's dormant volcano begins roaring to life, Owen and Claire mount a campaign to rescue the remaining dinosaurs from this extinction-level event.

Review: Oh Jurassic World! How you have made me so happy... And frightened... Not only does Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard knock it out of the stadium, but the story line is so frightening and real, I just can't give worlds to it. The whole movie from the opening scene to the finale, was nail biting action with just the right amount of humor and tension to keep you glued to your seat. I loved this movie, although I won't be watching it again for a while, only because I need time to bring my anxiety down. Five out of five stars. 

This movie gets the awesome Bloggers Choice Award!

What I'm Reading This Week | #WeeklyMenu Week #267

Monday! I love my Mondays now. Its the one day of the week that I can do things without a child hanging off me, or someone wanting something. Its a nice adventure. I've been able to go thrift store shopping, work on my writing and do things around the house that I've been wanting to do. It's soooo great.

This week was a little rough. The boys needed a lot of support at school and I was there almost every day for one thing or another. I think we are finally starting to sink into our routine... Hopefully....

So, this week, I'm going to tackle Street Freaks by Terry Brooks. I'm a huge fan of the Shanara Chronicles and I'm excited to dive into this more scifi kind of vibe. So far, I'm impressed. You should pick this book up and tell me what you think of it. It could be our book club read this week.

There's a lot of good food on the menu this week. I hope you enjoy!







Leftovers Night

Come at a Deadly Price | The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

Title: The Last Time I Lied
By: Riley Sager
Genre: Contemporary Mystery 
Pages: 384
Release Date: July 3rd, 2018
Publisher: Dutton

Summary from Goodreads: Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their tiny cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. The games ended when Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin in the dead of night. The last she--or anyone--saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.

Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings--massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. The paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the socialite and wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale. When Francesca implores her to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor, Emma sees an opportunity to try to find out what really happened to her friends.

Yet it's immediately clear that all is not right at Camp Nightingale. Already haunted by memories from fifteen years ago, Emma discovers a security camera pointed directly at her cabin, mounting mistrust from Francesca and, most disturbing of all, cryptic clues Vivian left behind about the camp's twisted origins. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing threats from both man and nature in the present.

And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale, the more she realizes it may come at a deadly price.

Review: Camp Nightingale isn't for chumps... This book started off a little slow for me. I almost put it down and put it into my DNF pile, but I'm glad I kept reading. 20% of the way through, you really start to pick up on the story, where the whole mystery becomes more real and the character is having to relive her past. There is layer upon layer within this story that it makes for an intriguing journey. A must read for all mystery fans.   

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.

7 Memoirs To Read This Fall

I'm a huge fan of celebrity memoirs. Its almost like reaching into the celebrity pool and touching a part of their lives. Sometimes it puts perspective on things and other times it makes the celebrity feel human and normal as we are. There are so many good memoirs that its hard to choose from, but I've managed to pick seven of my favorites that you should really pick up this fall. 

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher - In Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher tells the true and intoxicating story of her life with inimitable wit. Born to celebrity parents, she was picked to play a princess in a little movie called Star Wars when only 19 years old. "But it isn't all sweetness and light sabres." Alas, aside from a demanding career and her role as a single mother (not to mention the hyperspace hairdo), Carrie also spends her free time battling addiction, weathering the wild ride of manic depression and lounging around various mental institutions. It's an incredible tale - from having Elizabeth Taylor as a stepmother, to marrying (and divorcing) Paul Simon, from having the father of her daughter leave her for a man, to ultimately waking up one morning and finding a friend dead beside her in bed.

Capitol Gaines by Chip Gaines - The funny and talented Chip Gaines is well known to millions of people as a TV star, renovation expert, bestselling author, husband to Joanna, and father of 4 in Waco, Texas. But long before the world took notice, Chip was a serial entrepreneur who was always ready for the next challenge, even if it didn’t quite work out as planned. Whether it was buying a neighborhood laundromat or talking a bank into a loan for some equipment to start a lawn-mowing service, Chip always knew that the most important thing was to take that first step.

In Capital Gaines, we walk alongside him as he relives some of his craziest antics and the lessons learned along the way. His mentors taught him to never give up and his family showed him what it meant to always have a positive attitude despite your circumstances. Throw in a natural daredevil personality and a willingness to do (or eat!) just about anything, and you have the life and daily activity of Chip Gaines.

Capital Gaines is the perfect book for anyone looking to succeed not only in business but more importantly in life.  

Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just me by Lily Collins - In this groundbreaking debut essay collection, featuring never-before-seen photos, actress Lily Collins—star of Mortal Instruments and the upcoming Rules Don’t Apply—is opening a poignant, honest conversation about the things young women struggle with: body image, self-confidence, relationships, family, dating, and so much more.

For the first time ever, Lily shares her life and her own deepest secrets, underlining that every single one of us experiences pain and heartbreak. We all understand what it’s like to live in the light and in the dark. For Lily, it’s about making it through to the other side, where you love what you see in the mirror and where you embrace yourself just as you are. She's learned that all it takes is one person standing up and saying something for everyone else to realize they’re not alone.

By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Lily’s honest voice will inspire you to be who you are and say what you feel. It’s time to claim your voice! It’s time to live your life unfiltered.

Brave by Rose McGowan - Rose McGowan was born in one cult and came of age in another, more visible cult: Hollywood.

In a strange world where she was continually on display, stardom soon became a personal nightmare of constant exposure and sexualization. Rose escaped into the world of her mind, something she had done as a child, and into high-profile relationships. Every detail of her personal life became public, and the realities of an inherently sexist industry emerged with every script, role, public appearance, and magazine cover. The Hollywood machine packaged her as a sexualized bombshell, hijacking her image and identity and marketing them for profit.

Hollywood expected Rose to be silent and cooperative and to stay the path. Instead, she rebelled and asserted her true identity and voice. She reemerged unscripted, courageous, victorious, angry, smart, fierce, unapologetic, controversial, and real as f*ck. 

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick - A collection of humorous autobiographical essays by the Academy Award-nominated actress and star of Up in the Air and Pitch Perfect.

Even before she made a name for herself on the silver screen starring in films like Pitch PerfectUp in the AirTwilight, and Into the Woods, Anna Kendrick was unusually small, weird, and “10 percent defiant.”

At the ripe age of thirteen, she had already resolved to “keep the crazy inside my head where it belonged. Forever. But here’s the thing about crazy: It. Wants. Out.” In Scrappy Little Nobody, she invites readers inside her brain, sharing extraordinary and charmingly ordinary stories with candor and winningly wry observations.

With her razor-sharp wit, Anna recounts the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture as only she can—from her unusual path to the performing arts (Vanilla Ice and baggy neon pants may have played a role) to her double life as a middle-school student who also starred on Broadway to her initial “dating experiments” (including only liking boys who didn’t like her back) to reviewing a binder full of butt doubles to her struggle to live like an adult woman instead of a perpetual “man-child.”

Enter Anna’s world and follow her rise from “scrappy little nobody” to somebody who dazzles on the stage, the screen, and now the page—with an electric, singular voice, at once familiar and surprising, sharp and sweet, funny and serious (well, not that serious). 

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah - The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime New York Times bestseller about one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The eighteen personal essays collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed - At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and she would do it alone.
Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

The Rights to their Land | Woman Walks Ahead Review

Title: Woman Walks Ahead
Genre: Historical 
Release Date: June 29th, 2018
Rating: 6.4/10 IMDB
Cast: Jessica Chastain

Summary from IMDB: Catherine Weldon, a portrait painter from 1890s Brooklyn, travels to Dakota to paint a portrait of Sitting Bull and becomes embroiled in the Lakota peoples' struggle over the rights to their land.

Review: I really wish this was a book. This story follows Catherine Weldon, a Widow who only wants to paint a portrait of Sitting Bull, the last Indian Chief alive. Even with all her good intentions, the people of the closet town, think she is an Indian sympathizer and treats her as such. Pushed to her breaking point, Weldon speaks out against the cruel way the Indian's are being treated. 

This is a true story and it really brings light to the way the white man treated the native Americans. This was their land and we came in and took it from them. We destroyed their way of life, and forced them to live like we did. The injustice was unspeakable. This movie really brings to life this history and how one person could change the course of events. Unfortunately, terrible things occurred, no mater how much Weldon cared. This movie made me laugh and cry. Loved it.


Keep a Child Safe | Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey

Title: Not Her Daughter
By: Rea Frey
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 352
Release Date: August 21st, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Summary from Goodreads: Emma Grace Townsend. Five years old. Gray eyes. Brown hair. Missing since June.

Emma Townsend is lonely. Living with her cruel mother and clueless father, Emma retreats into her own world of quiet and solitude.

Sarah Walker. Successful entrepreneur. Broken-hearted. Abandoned by her mother. Kidnapper.

Sarah has never seen a girl so precious as the gray-eyed child in a crowded airport terminal—and when a second-chance encounter with Emma presents itself, Sarah takes her, far away from home. But if it’s to rescue a little girl from her damaging mother, is kidnapping wrong?

Amy Townsend. Unhappy wife. Unfit mother. Unsure she wants her daughter back.

Amy’s life is a string of disappointments, but her biggest issue is her inability to connect with her daughter. And now she’s gone without a trace.

As Sarah and Emma avoid the nationwide hunt, they form an unshakeable bond. But her real mother is at home, waiting for her to return—and the longer the search for Emma continues, Amy is forced to question if she really wants her back.

Emotionally powerful and wire-tautNot Her Daughter raises the question of what it means to be a mother—and how far someone will go to keep a child safe.

Review: This book really started off with a bang. Right from the first page, you get the sense that the main character really feels for this little girl and the situation she is going through. The whole story is based on this little girl and how Sarah takes care of her. What I didn't like about the book was how it ended. I don't want to give anything away, but I really wanted closure and never got it. What made me laugh was the way the little girl really came out of her shell and was finally able to be a child, play and have fun. What made me cry were the scenes of how the mother treated the little girl. It was heart breaking and made me wonder how a mother could ever treat their child like that. As a mother, I could never imagine doing these things to my sons, but in this world that we live in, I know that worse is happening.

All in all, this was a great read with lots of through provoking content. If you love a good thrilling escape, I think you should read this book.

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.