Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Assistants by Camille Perri

The Assistants
by Camille Perri

Find out more about this book and author:
Twitter @CamillePerri

Just released: May 3, 2016
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Genre: Humor, Satire, Women's Fiction
Hardback: 288 pages
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
You've probably heard of my former boss. And even if you haven't heard of him, he has influenced you, I promise.

Zombie sighting:
He hurled me off him like I was a ravenous zombie. "You're insane," he said. "And I think you need to go."
-chapter 24, page 223

A wry and astute debut about a young Manhattanite whose embezzlement scam turns her into an unlikely advocate for the leagues of overeducated and underpaid assistants across the city.

Tina Fontana is the hapless but brazen thirty-year-old executive assistant to Robert Barlow, the all-powerful and commanding CEO of Titan Corp., a multinational media conglomerate. She’s excellent at her job and beloved by her famous boss—but after six years of making his reservations for restaurants she’d never get into on her own and pouring his drinks from bottles that cost more than her rent, she’s bored, broke, and just a bit over it all.

When a technical error with Robert’s travel-and-expenses report presents Tina with the opportunity to pay off the entire balance of her student loan debt with what would essentially be pocket change for her boss, she struggles with the decision: She’s always played by the rules. But it’s such a relatively small amount of money for the Titan Corporation—and for her it would be a life-changer...

The Assistants speaks directly to a new generation of women who feel stuck and unable to get ahead playing by the rules. It will appeal to all of those who have ever asked themselves, “How is it that after all these years, we are still assistants?”

My two-bits:

Love it!

This contemporary piece brings elements of the plight of women in the work world especially those just starting out.

Friendship and female bonding for the sake of a common goal play important roles in creating such likable characters. One cannot resist following along in their antics and schemes.


* review copy courtesy of and part of Summer Reading Challenge (here)

Zombie movies

Night of Living Dead (1968)
Director: George A. Romero
Screenplay: George A. Romero, John A. Russo
Starring: Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, Karl Hardman
-Drama, Horror, Mystery, Zombies | imdb | my rating: 5

A group of people hide from bloodthirsty zombies in a farmhouse.

=====> This classic zombie flick gets into the group survival issues that come up when strangers are forced to fight for their lives. I was kinda shocked with the ending. Sad.

I wanted to re-watch this film as I did not remember much about it. I first saw it when I was a kid and I think it was on tv (censored). Interesting to note that there were some shots of naked zombies shuffling around.

Contracted (2013)
Director/Writer: Eric England
Starring: Najarra Townsend, Caroline Williams, Alice Macdonald
-Drama, Horror, Thriller, Zombies | imdb | my rating: 5

A young girl contracts what she thinks is a sexually-transmitted disease - but is actually something much worse.

=====> Oh, ewww. Quite an extreme message on STDs. Loved the gradual transition from human to zombie.


* part of zombie month (schedule)

Monday, May 23, 2016

The House of Bradbury by Nicole Meier

The House of Bradbury
by Nicole Meier

Find out more about this book and author:
Twitter @nmeierwrites

Just released: May 10, 2016
Publisher: SparkPress
Genre: Women's Fiction
Paperback: 280 pages
Rating: 4

First sentence(s):
Mia stood outside the house and exhaled.

Mia Gladwell’s life is going nowhere. The media has skewered her debut novel, her fiancé Carson, a successful Hollywood producer, has jumped ship, and now she’s living in her sister’s carriage house―unattached, unemployed, and uninspired. Then she learns that the Los Angeles estate of iconic author Ray Bradbury is up for sale, and she feels an immediate urge to buy the wonky old house, convinced that moving into the late author’s home will inspire her to create her best work yet.

Life in the Bradbury house is not what Mia imagined, however. Soon after moving in, to fulfill a debt she owes to Carson, she agrees to take in a pill-popping young actress as a tenant, and suddenly she finds herself in a balancing act between her needy ex, an unpredictable starlet, and her disapproving sister, who’s keeping a close eye on her. Add to this a series of mysterious sketches left at her doorstep by a stranger, and Mia’s life is more complicated than ever. As she searches for clues, though, Mia discovers insights into her own life. Maybe moving into Bradbury’s house was a big mistake―but maybe not.

Zombie sighting:
All Mia could do was lend an ear and usher a zombielike Zoe off to bed.
-chapter 15, ARC

My two-bits:

From the perspective of a writer (the protagonist), the appreciation of another writer, Ray Bradbury, shines through in this novel.

As a book reader, I always find it fascinating to learn about a writer's process and sources of inspiration. And, this book provides that as well as a peek into the film-making industry.

I found this book to be a gentle read that gets into a little growth of the writer by way of sister-bonding and friendships. Although a touch of romance is included, it is not a focus.

FYI: for cat lovers, a cat is featured

About the author:
Nicole Meier is a native Southern Californian who pulled up roots and moved to the Pacific Northwest. She works as a freelance travel and lifestyle writer. She lives in Oregon with her family. The House of Bradbury is her first novel.


* review copy courtesy of and part of Summer Reading Challenge (here)

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Stacking the Shelves - 5.21.16

Stacking the Shelves
hosted by Tynga's Reviews (details)

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!



The Excellent Lombards
by Jane Hamilton
Amazon | Goodreads

=====> Book Passages, Corte Madera, hosted a visit from author, Jane Hamilton. She mentioned that the main character, Mary Frances, is partly inspired by the character Frankie from Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers. She said her quiet novel is filled with conflict and tension amongst characters in farm living.

Author, Gail Tsukiyama, was also on hand in conversation with Jane. She is currently working on a novel that is based in Hawaii.

For Review:

Pasta Wars
by Elisa Lorello
-Humor, Romance
courtesy of publisher -Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads

The Hawkweed Prophecy
by Irena Brignull
-Fantasy, YA
courtesy of publisher -Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads

by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson
courtesy of publisher -Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads

Freebie: for kindle

The Mirror and the Maze:
A Wrath & the Dawn Short Story
by Renée Ahdieh
-Fantasy, Short Story, YA
Amazon | Goodreads

From BEA:

=====> What a treat it was to find BookSparks at BEA (here). Loved meeting Robert and Janay :-)

Thieving Weasels
by Billy Taylor
courtesy of publisher at BEA -Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads

=====> Fantastic fun! I inhaled this one on the plane ride home! This was one of a few books I was able to stow in my luggage on the flight home. I am waiting to receive a couple boxes of books that I shipped to myself from Chicago before posting that haul received from the fabulous publishers at BEA.

=====> Various tote bags were handed out as swag.

Pictured above left to right:

Penguin: Riverhead Books - this colorful one is my favorite! I quickly started using it the whole time at BEA. It is for the new release, The Mothers by Brit Bennett.

Hachette: Grand Central Publishing (Forever) - Book lovers never go to bed alone. This red tote had the best blurb on it ;-)

HarperCollins: Epic - Book Shimmy Second best blurb.

Quirk Books - For Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs - looking forward to its movie release in September.

Scholastic - I Read YA.

Random House - Cute one for Penguin Problems by Jory John and illustrated by Lane Smith.

Chronicle Books - This is a handy one that folds up neatly into the size of a pocket pack of tissues.

AND watched: in theatre

Classmates (2016)
Director: Shoko Nakamura
Starring: Kenji Nojima, Hiroshi Kamiya, Hideo Ishikawa
-Anime | website | my rating: 5

Rihito Sajo is an honor student who enrolled into his high school with a perfect score on the entrance exam. Hikaru Kusakabe is in a band and popular among girls. They are “different kind of guys”, who would have never crossed paths.

One day, they started talking to each other at the practice for their school’s upcoming chorus festival. After school, the two meet regularly, as Hikaru helps Rihito to improve his singing skills. While they listen to each other’s voice and harmonize, their hearts start to beat together.

Their feelings for each other slowly elevate, then peak when least expected.

Goofy yet innocent, Hikaru directly talks about his feelings towards Rihito. Hesitant at first, but Rihito gradually opens up his heart to Hikaru.

Two adolescent boys – being perplexed about not only about each other, but also about themselves – struggle and get confused; however, they eventually get to understand each other.

As they start to think about college and their future, what comes to their mind in order to move forward…

=====> Sweet romance and can get you curious about the Yaoi genre if you don't already know about it.

AND watched: in theatre

The Huntsman (2016)
Winter's War
Director: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Writers: Evan Spiliotopoulos, Craig Mazin, Evan Daugherty
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Jessica Chastain, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt
-Action, Adventure, Drama | imdb | my rating: 4

As a war between rival queen sisters Ravenna and Freya escalates, Eric and fellow warrior Sara, members of the Huntsmen army raised to protect Freya, try to conceal their forbidden love as they combat Ravenna's wicked intentions.

=====> Action packed fairy tale that I liked for the special effects.

A Bigger Splash (2015)
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Screenplay: David Kajganich
Based on story by: Alain Page
Starring: Tilda Swinton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ralph Fiennes, Dakota Johnson
-Crime, Drama, Mystery | imdb | my rating: 5

The vacation of a famous rock star and a filmmaker is disrupted by the unexpected visit of an old friend and his daughter.

=====> A dark moody story despite the beautiful, bright and sunny setting. Despite attractive characters in this film they are quite unlikable yet fascinating to watch. I cringed watching Ralph and Dakota's character interactions because you know that they were up to no good. Hence, they played their parts well.

The Lobster (2015)
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Writers: Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou
Starring: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz
-Comedy, Drama, Romance | imdb | my rating: 4

In a dystopian near future, single people, according to the laws of The City, are taken to The Hotel, where they are obliged to find a romantic partner in forty-five days or are transformed into beasts and sent off into The Woods.

=====> Certainly gets the conversation going on the state of singledom.

Hotel Manager: Now have you thought of what animal you'd like to be if you end up alone?
David: Yes. A lobster.
Hotel Manager: Why a lobster?
David: Because lobsters live for over one hundred years, are blue-blooded like aristocrats, and stay fertile all their lives. I also like the sea very much.

Currently flipping through: from the library

M.F.K. Fisher's Provence
by M. F. K. Fisher and Aileen Ah-Tye (photos)
Amazon | Goodreads

Fanciful breads
...the shop always smelled right, not confused and stuffy but delicately layered: fresh eggs, fresh sweet butter, grated nutmeg, vanilla beans, old kirsch, newly ground almonds...

=====> Love the various shots of Aix-en-Provence - makes me want to revisit the place.


* comment and TELL me what you have acquired for your shelves recently

* per usual, check out the sidebar for my current giveaways offers

Friday, May 20, 2016

Gridley Girls by Meredith First

Gridley Girls
by Meredith First

Find out more about this book and author:
Twitter @MeredithFirst

Release date: June 21, 2016
Publisher: SparkPress
Genre: Women's Fiction, LGBTQ
Paperback: 400 pages
Rating: 5

Gridley Girls
Gridley Girls Reunited - tba

First sentence(s):
Once upon a time there was a diary.

Sometimes you have to go back before you can move forward.

Meg Monahan feels like she was born to be a secret keeper. From the moment she became a peer counselor in high school, Meg has been keeping her friends secrets – from sordid family drama to their sex lives – that she never wanted to know. Flash forward to adulthood when Meg is a recruiter for the world’s hippest (and most paranoid) high-tech company – and now Meg is a professional secret keeper.

When sudden tragedy strikes before Meg hosts the wedding of her childhood BFF, Anne Calzaretta, the women are forced to face their past – and their secrets – in order to move on to their future.

In 1978, Meg, Anne, Jennifer, and Tonya were such close friends, they were known as “The Group” in their hometown of Gridley, California. But in ninth grade, their lives were changed forever. Loss, lies, and secrets separated them, but could not break their bonds of friendship.

Thirty years later, Meg and Anne reminisce about those days―dealing with parents, school, boys, sex, love, and betrayal. Anne remembers their freshman year as an easier time, but Meg, still feeling guilty about a betrayal of Anne’s trust, is haunted. Even now, Meg is keeping a secret she’s not prepared to face, let alone share.

In her debut novel, based on true events, Meredith First tells a timeless story about the bonds of friendship, loss, and betrayal―and the forgiveness that is within everyone.

Can anyone really keep a secret forever?

My two-bits:

I had a wonderful time jumping from the past and present lives of the main character, Meg, and her friends in this novel inspired by factual events.

Loved how friendship is at the core of this story. I enjoyed how different friendships were portrayed through the rocky times of high school life. Lots of humor among some serious parts.

Being from California, I had never heard of the small town of Gridley. So, it was a treat to learn about Gridley and its folks through this story. I also liked how the story takes on that cozy small town vibe at some parts.

Loved the stories from the 70's with all its period references that created the ambiance and mood well. The back of the book includes a fun 70's pop reference guide with descriptions relating to current day (for those not already familiar with the 70's). Also, personal photos are a great addition to the novel that I think makes the story even more special.

About the author:
Meredith First left an insanely great recruiting career with Apple, Inc. to write the books that were literally haunting her dreams — books for anyone who survived high school with a little help from friends. After studying abroad at the University of London, she received a B.A. in Communications/Broadcasting from Oregon State University. Through the donation of 10% of her income from Gridley Girls, she hopes to help people who struggle with similar issues that she experienced. She lives with her family in Minneapolis and Sacramento and is hard at work on Gridley Girls Reunited, book two in the Gridley Girls series.


* review copy courtesy of book tour sponsored by BookSparks @booksparks

Imagination Designs
Images from: Lovelytocu