Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll

The Favorite Sister
by Jessica Knoll

Find out more about this book and author:

Just released: May 15, 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Women's Fiction
Hardback: 384
Rating: 4

First sentence(s):
A man whose name I do not know slides his hand under the hem of my new blouse, connecting the cable to the lavalier mic clipped to my collar.

When five hyper-successful women agree to appear on a reality series set in New York City called Goal Diggers, the producers never expect the season will end in murder…

Brett's the fan favorite. Tattooed and only twenty-seven, the meteoric success of her spin studio—and her recent engagement to her girlfriend—has made her the object of jealousy and vitriol from her castmates.

Kelly, Brett's older sister and business partner, is the most recent recruit, dismissed as a hanger-on by veteran cast. The golden child growing up, she defers to Brett now—a role which requires her to protect their shocking secret.

Stephanie, the first black cast member and the oldest, is a successful bestselling author of erotic novels. There have long been whispers about her hot, non-working actor-husband and his wandering eye, but this season the focus is on the rift that has opened between her and Brett, former best friends—and resentment soon breeds contempt.

The Favorite Sister explores the invisible barriers that prevent women from rising up the ranks in today's America—and offers a scathing take on the oft-lionized bonds of sisterhood, and the relentless pressure to stay young, relevant, and salable.

Quote to note:
Healthy people are people who feel connected to their communities, who are loved and supported by these around them, and who have a sense of purpose in their lives.
page 14, chapter 1


My two-bits:

Felt like a Mean Girls as grown ups - still mean.

This story gives a good dose of the lifestyle of reality tv stars which include a bunch of unlikable characters.


* part of BookSparks Reading Challenge, Summer (here)

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Tomb Song by Julián Herbert

Tomb Song
by Julián Herbert
translated by Christian MacSweeney

Find out more about this book and author:

Just released: March 6, 2018
Publisher: Graywolf Press
Genre: Literary, Autofiction
Paperback: 208
Rating: 4

First sentence(s):
As a child, I wanted to be a scientist or a doctor. A man in a white coat.

Sitting at the bedside of his mother as she is dying from leukemia in a hospital in northern Mexico, the narrator of Tomb Song is immersed in memories of his unstable boyhood and youth. His mother, Guadalupe, was a prostitute, and Julián spent his childhood with his half brothers and sisters, each from a different father, moving from city to city and from one tough neighborhood to the next.

Swinging from the present to the past and back again, Tomb Song is not only an affecting coming-of-age story but also a searching and sometimes frenetic portrait of the artist. As he wanders the hospital, from its buzzing upper floors to the haunted depths of the morgue, Julián tells fevered stories of his life as a writer, from a trip with his pregnant wife to a poetry festival in Berlin to a drug-fueled and possibly completely imagined trip to another festival in Cuba. Throughout, he portrays the margins of Mexican society as well as the attitudes, prejudices, contradictions, and occasionally absurd history of a country ravaged by corruption, violence, and dysfunction.

Inhabiting the fertile ground between fiction, memoir, and essay, Tomb Song is an electric prose performance, a kaleidoscopic, tender, and often darkly funny exploration of sex, love, and death. Julián Herbert’s English-language debut establishes him as one of the most audacious voices in contemporary letters.

My two-bits:

Found some beautiful passages of observations of this author's past. I was more taken with the childhood memories.


* part of Rooster Summer Reading Challenge 2018 (here)

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Hotel Brasil: The Mystery of the Severed Heads by Frei Betto

Hotel Brasil:
The Mystery of the Severed Heads
by Frei Betto
translated by Jethro Soutar

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2014 reprint
Publisher: Bitter Lemon Press
Genre: Mystery, Brazil
Paperback: 288
Rating: 4

First sentence(s):
He'd seen it out of the corner of his eye, without meaning to see it.

The setting for this witty and insightful debut crime novel is a Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, family hotel. Rio is the perfect backdrop with its history of military dictatorship, drug wars, child gangs, and violent policing tactics.

The decapitated body of a hotel resident is found. The eyes have been removed from the head, casually left on the floor of the room. The victim's eerie, frozen Mona Lisa smile seems to indicate that the murderer had been received as a friend.

According to the police, the victim was stabbed in the heart and died before the decapitation. As the investigation continues, with few leads or clues worth pursuing, other hotel clients are found dead; all decapitated, usually with the head found delicately balanced on their knees.

This classical crime novel provides an opportunity for Frei Betto (a Dominican friar, once a political prisoner, a union activist, and then an adviser to President Lula da Silva) to describe Brazilian society, especially those left at its edge, like Rio's favela children, abused, hunted-down, but also addicted to drugs and violent crime.

The book tells the fascinating back stories of the hotel residents, suspects, and eventual victims, such as the maid who dreams of making it in television soaps, and the female pimp who has survived incestuous rape, while being faithful to a suspenseful intrigue that could have been thought up by Ruth Rendell.

My two-bits:

This mystery of severed heads is told with multi perspectives. The focus on the residents of the hotel gave a sense of the different strata of people (culture and class system) in this world. In fact, the stories of each individual became more interesting than solving the mystery.


* part of Books, Inc. Foreign Intrigue Book Club (here)

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Lovely Books and Things - 6.16.18

Lovely Books and Things
My Weekly Books and Films Update

Linking up with:
Stacking the Shelves (details)
Sunday Post (details)
Mailbox Monday (details)



1. Brought the kid home from college for summer break.

2. Attending the kid's friend's graduation festivities from UC Santa Cruz.

3. Treated to an appearance and Q&A with director/actor Tommy Wiseau before a screening of The Room



Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death
by James Runcie
-Mystery, Thriller
Amazon | Goodreads

WANTED to read this before getting into the tv version.


The Favorite Sister
by Jessica Knoll
-Mystery, Thriller
Amazon | Goodreads

PART of the BookSparks Summer Reading Challenge 2018 (here).

For Review:

Dead If You Don't
by Peter James
-Mystery, Thriller
courtesy of Wunderkind -Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads

THIS is #14 in the Roy Grace series. Curious to see how it goes.


A Place for Us
by Fatima Farheen Mirza
-Literary, Family, India, Muslim
Amazon | Goodreads

GOT this to celebrate the first novel from Sarah Jessica Parker’s new imprint, SJP for Hogarth. I like the pre-order offer of swag with this edition.

AND watched: in theatre - part of the SF Film Documentary Festival (here)

Unfractured (2018)
Director: Chanda Chevannes
-Documentary, Environmental | imdb | my rating: 5

A triumphant documentary about resistance, UNFRACTURED follows introspective biologist and mother Sandra Steingraber as she reinvents herself as an outspoken activist.

LEARNED about the activist activity on the topic of the historic fight against fracking in New York state. A Q&A with the director and local activists who are part of the California fight.

Mole Man (2017)
Director: Guy Fiorita
Writer: Cassidy Hartmann (story consultant)
-Documentary, Autism | imdb | my rating: 5

MOLE MAN follows RON, a 66-year-old autistic man who has spent the last five decades building a 50-room structure in his parents' backyard. Using no nails or mortar, Ron instead creates perfectly balanced structures from scavenged materials he finds in the woods outside his Western Pennsylvania home. When Ron's father passes away, leaving him living alone with his 90-year-old mother, Ron's siblings are left to figure out what's best for Ron - who has never been officially diagnosed with autism - when his mother can no longer care for him. In an effort to find the money to keep Ron in his home, his friends team up in search of a mythical mansion Ron insists lays abandoned in the forest. But will they be able to find it? And, more importantly, does it even exist? This is the story of an extraordinary life, a family, and the beauty of thinking differently.

Q&A with the director gave a little more insight and update on Ron and his situation. The film presents some history of autism in relation to its affect on family.

AND watched: in theatre

Hereditary (2018)
Director/Writer: Ari Aster
Stars: Toni Collette, Milly Shapiro, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff
-Drama, Horror, Mystery | imdb | my rating: 4

After the family matriarch passes away, a grieving family is haunted by tragic and disturbing occurrences, and begin to unravel dark secrets.

A couple shockers in an otherwise slow moving horror tales that delivers in the end. Oh boy!

AND watched: on DVD

An Autumn Afternoon (1964)
Sanma no aji (original title)
Director: Yasujirô Ozu
Screenplay: Kôgo Noda, Yasujirô Ozu
Stars: Chishû Ryû, Shima Iwashita, Keiji Sada
-Drama, Japan | imdb | my rating: 5

An aging widower arranges a marriage for his only daughter.

SAD but beautiful story of parent/daughter relation in Japan in the 1960's.

Loving Vincent (2017)
Director/Writers: Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman
Writer: Jacek Dehnel
Stars: Douglas Booth, Jerome Flynn, Robert Gulaczyk
-Animation, Biography, Crime | imdb | my rating: 4
Oscar 2018 nominee

In a story depicted in oil painted animation, a young man comes to the last hometown of painter Vincent van Gogh to deliver the troubled artist's final letter and ends up investigating his final days there.

THE story told by way of paintings was beautifully done. Loved how they incorporated Van Gogh's actual works and subjects.


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

Thanks for stopping by :-)

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up: A Magical Story by Marie Kondo

The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up: A Magical Story
by Marie Kondo
illustrated by Yuko Uramoto

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2017
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Genre: Graphic Novel, Japan
Paperback: 192
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
You really want to tidy up, but you don't believe you can. If this describes you, don't worry. You, too, can be just like Chiaki in this story.

Marie Kondo presents the fictional story of Chiaki, a young woman in Tokyo who struggles with a cluttered apartment, messy love life, and lack of direction. After receiving a complaint from her attractive next-door neighbor about the sad state of her balcony, Chiaki gets Kondo to take her on as a client. Through a series of entertaining and insightful lessons, Kondo helps Chiaki get her home--and life--in order. This insightful, illustrated case study is perfect for people looking for a fun introduction to the KonMari Method of tidying up, as well as tried-and-true fans of Marie Kondo eager for a new way to think about what sparks joy.

My two-bits:

This is just as helpful as the book this manga was based on, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. The added illustrations make the process easy to follow. FYI there are videos online as well for visual instructions.

And a cute romance is added to this art of organizing to make this a fun read.


* part of the Blog All About It Challenge (here)
Imagination Designs
Images from: Lovelytocu