THE LAST MRS. PARRISH

4 / 5 Stars

  • Hardcover, 400 pages
  • Published October 17th 2017 by Harper
  • Author: Liv Constantine

This is a fantastic book with only three characters. Husband, wife, and home-wrecker. It’s no spoiler to tell you that Amber Patterson is the home wrecker and a self-avowed woman on a mission. Motivated mostly by her wish to be tremendously wealthy, Amber is determined to OUTRIGHT steal Jackson Parrish away from his sweet, beautiful wife, Daphne. What ensues is unbelievably fun to read about. Deliciously wicked.Unknown-1

First, what I love about this book:

The story is entertaining and addictive! I couldn’t put it down.
The writing is effortless, easy and flows at a naturally fast pace.
The structure of the book is perfect. The first third is Amber’s POV, the second is Daphne’s and the third part is a bit of a combination conclusion. (I enjoyed Daphne’s section so much more than Amber’s!)

And, the best part, THE LAST MRS. PARRISH has one of the most satisfying endings to a story I’ve read in a long time!

What I don’t like:

This book is too long. Even though it reads fast for a 400 page book, there is too much fat. Where are those editors when you need one? For the first half of the book, we get an up close, continuous description of how the “one percent” lives and that starts to get tiring.

Ok, we get it, Jackson Parrish is super duper rich and buys very expensive clothes, shoes, and jewelry for Mrs. Parrish. If you’re into designer brand names, etc. you will enjoy reading about the trappings and joys of wealth. And that’s not a bad thing! But, if you tire of this part, persevere until the second half where the plot really picks up.

Aside from not really feeling a connection to the characters, there is also not any suspense in this book. There is a mild twist, but you will probably not be that surprised.

All of these negatives are only because my expectations were that this would be a “twisted, psychological thriller”. I mean, it says it right there on the book jacket.

It’s my opinion that this book is mis-categorized. I would call it women’s fiction (I hate “chick-lit”). It is VERY light on the psychological suspense and there is not a thriller vibe or shocking mystery to solve.

Overall, this is a very fun book to read , most people will love it and I’m betting it is going to be very popular.

The strange thing is….it is almost the exact same plot line from THE WIFE BETWEEN US by Greer Hendricks, which is the book I read just before this one. Caaaarazzzzy.

In contrast, THE WIFE BETWEEN US is a much darker, tighter, twisted story and I did give it all the stars.  That book doesn’t come out until January 2018. I will post a review closer to publication.

THE LAST MRS. PARRISH is scheduled for US publication today, October 17. It has a gorgeous cover and I want to thank the lovely Chelsea Humphrey from http://www.thesuspenseisthrillingme.com for gifting it to me as part of a giveaway.

 

Available today on Amazon! The Last Mrs. Parrish: A Novel

THE AUTHORS

Unknown-2Liv Constantine is the pen name of sisters Lynne Constantine and Valerie Constantine. Separated by three states, they spend hours plotting via skype and burning up each other’s emails. They attribute their ability to concoct dark story lines to the hours they spent listening to tales handed down by their Greek grandmother. THE LAST MRS. PARRISH is their debut thriller.

-As shown on  their Goodreads profile.

DIRTY JOHN

  • Single story podcast consisting of six episodes, all available now, where ever you get your podcasts!
  • A true story about seduction, deception, forgiveness, denial, and ultimately, survival. From Wondery and the L.A. Times. Reported and hosted by Christopher Goffard.

Hi guys, I have a quick recommendation!

You know I have an unhealthy fascination with true crime stories, but I don’t always love true crime podcasts. I’m annoyingly fussy about the way the narration is done and the way the story is written.

For some reason, so many true crime podcasts are either over the top dramatic and goofy or they are the complete opposite and come across as overly dry.

This particular podcast produced by the folks at Wondery is top of the line in every respect! There is a good chance you’ve already jumped on the bandwagon, because Dirty John has held the coveted number one spot on I-tunes all week.

These six episodes form one complete story of a successful business woman, Debra Newell, and her family and the nightmare they encountered in the form of a seriously deranged conman named John Meehan.

Unknown

If you’re like me and listen to podcasts while you walk, this one will keep you walking 20 miles straight because you WILL NOT want to quit listening!!

C  H  I  L  L  I  N  G.

This is the most addictive story, written originally by the Los Angeles Times, and presented in an almost real-time investigative type manner.  The story is captivating, terrifying, heartbreaking, and ultimately, has an AMAZING TWISTED ENDING.

I know I’m going out on a limb here, but I found it more compelling than both of the Unknown-1SERIAL podcast seasons. Made up of interviews with the victims and family, it is the most fascinating story I have heard in a long time. I can’t quit talking about it. Or thinking about it. Please, listen to it.

Let me know what you think!

 

LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE

4 out of 5 stars

  • Author: Celeste Ng
  • Published Sept. 12, 2017 by Penguin Audio
  • Narrated by Jennifer Lim

The whole time I was listening to this book, I couldn’t shake the feeling of deja vu. It finally dawned on me that Little Fires Everywhere inexplicably reminded me of a childhood favorite book called The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright. It’s a really old book, but let me tell you, when I was ten years old, I was obsessed with it!

Both books feature families of four rambunctious kids and Celeste Ng writes in a confident, animated manner that is reminiscent of Elizabeth Enright’s style. The books each have more of an infectious, rather than addictive quality. It is so fun to be in the middle of these families and root for one character and then feel sympathy for another.

Although this is only Ng’s second book, she has an established formula and successfully works it again. Instead of starting out with a death as she did in Everything I Never Told You, this time Ng starts out with the mystery of who set the house afire and works back telling the story of tangled adult relationships and secret lives of teenagers. Also, as in her first book, there are hints of simmering racism in the comfortable suburban utopia that is Shaker Heights, Ohio.

As I sit here dissecting the various themes of Little Fires Everywhere (and there are many!), the one that stands out the most to me is motherhood. What does it mean to be a mother? How much can we control the direction of our children’s lives? What rights, privileges, assumptions do we make about our kids? Finally, do we actually OWN the child that is borne to us? Ng expertly explores all the complicated angles of mother and child relationships.

I had been anxiously waiting for this book since the day I finished Ng’s first one. I embraced that first book and held onto it, pushing it onto friends, even into hands of complete strangers. It struck me as absolutely insightful and I adore that TWIST ending! Everything I Never Told You is a proud and worthy addition to my Twister Hall of Fame.

However, I just don’t get that overwhelming feeling of LOVE for this book. Ng is a carefully organized, brilliant writer and sometimes as a reader, I start to feel used, taken advantage of by the author. Ng is not exactly preachy, but every minor character, every little event in the story is absolutely overly constructed, placed to maximum effect. And that gets a bit tiresome, it’s like Ng is telling me how to feel and I don’t like that. These are all small grievances, but it does keep me from giving it a five star rating.

The audiobook performance by Jennifer Lim is one of the best I have ever heard and I listen to countless books on audio! I highly recommend the audiobook, I think Ng’s writing is well suited to this mode.

Little Fires Everywhere AMAZON

AND THEN THERE WERE NONE

5/5 Stars

  • Author: Agatha Christie
  • Paperback, 300 pages
  •  Published March 29th 2011 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published November 6th 1939)

I’m a confirmed puzzle lover. Crosswords, sudoko, Scrabble, Clue, card games. I love them all. Puzzle love extends to my go-to lit genre. The way an author crafts a mystery with a surprise yet plausible ending is the best in my book (pun, intended). There is so much fun to be had in gathering clues and solving the puzzle the author has created.

That is all the more reason the confession I have to make is deeply shameful. This is the first Agatha Christie book I have ever read in my life.

I know. I know. Go ahead and scorn me. I’ve scorned myself for years over this glaring omission in my library of loves.

I did try. Given I was about thirteen at the time, it was nothing more than an ambitious plan to read Murder on the Orient Express after seeing the movie. I got no further than the first chapter, struggling with the formal prose.

The distaste stayed in my mind far longer than necessary and despite laboring over classical literature for years in college, I still lingered with my teenage opinion that Agatha Christie is just “too hard to read.”

BULLOCKS! (Excuse my English, but I’m feeling very British now.) As an adult reader, I still found the first 50 pages somewhat disorienting and slow to get started. After the story is set up and you settle into the quaint writing style, the pages fly and the spooky story is completely captivating.

There are ten characters, of course, and they are all summoned by an unknown host to holiday on a small island. As the story unfolds, we see that each of the guests harbor a deep, dark guilty secret. This cast of quirky endearing characters is part of the story’s charm.

The tale is told from an omniscient narrator. We get to know the characters from the outwardly image they present to the world. But, more importantly we are able to examine their deep-seated fears, panicky thoughts, and stubborn egos as their tender souls are laid wide open for the reader to examine.

The Ten Little Soldiers nursery rhyme is prominently displayed both in the novel and in the vacation house the guests are secluded in. The tension ratchets up quickly. We all know what is coming. Murder. One by one. There are no outsiders on the island. Therefore, the murderer must be one of the ten.  A metaphorical time bomb starts ticking with the first murder because you know it is only a matter of time until everyone is dead. The dread and fear is palpable throughout the novel.

The mystery seems absolutely impossible to solve as you read. After some of the crazy mysteries I’ve read over the years, I was all over the place trying to solve it. I had to keep reminding myself, this is not the best selling mystery in the world for nothing! There is no supernatural element here, it is not a dream, not a joke.

It is a brilliantly constructed puzzle with one equally brilliant answer.

Agatha Christie is a master puzzle crafter. The Best. Regarding the writing process for this novel, Dame Christie states, “…the person who was really pleased with it was myself, for I knew better than any critic how difficult it had been.”

She knew she was a genius. Love it.

Amazon has a great deal! And Then There Were None

THE PASSENGER

4/5 stars

  • Author: Lisa Lutz
  • Published on 3.1.2016
  • Simon & Schuster

Looking for a ride? Take your seat on THE PASSENGER. Clear your schedule for the next two days and settle in for a twisted adventure on the run!

Our feisty girl, Tanya (not her real name), has just walked in on her dead husband. It seems he took an accidental fall down the stairs. Instead of calling 911, she packs a bag, clears out a bank account and takes off. WHAT A PROMISING PREMISE! I was hooked after that first short chapter. This is an extremely addictive story and I’m so happy to tell you guys about it.

I love stories where the protagonist is on the run or they have to disappear a la witness protection program. It gets my adrenaline going and I get to learn all kinds of cool and perhaps useful stuff. Who knows when I will need to pick a lock, buy a car on the fly, or dye my hair in a diner restroom? You never know when this knowledge will come in handy. It is just like I always say…..Books make you smart!

I consider THE PASSENGER to be an especially good “on the run” book because:

a. Our protagonist is FEMALE!
b. She is likable, but not perfect.
c. Plot twists abound! Literally around every corner.
d. Nice psychological study of our girl on the run.
e. Fast-paced, easy to read, clear consice writing.
f. Burning mystery for the reader to solve.
g. A few fun red herrings.
h. Mystery is solved in a believable, realistic (AND SATISFYING!) manner.
i. A handbook on what not to do if you ever just want to disappear!

I found this story really compelling and was immediately captivated with it. I am so glad I picked it up from my adorable used bookstore. I had tried the audio version last year when it first came out and was really turned off by the narrator’s voice.

Man, I hate when the audio turns you off of an otherwise great book. If that happened to you, try reading the book in that old-school paper way that our ancestors invented.

The Passenger   AMAZON Link

IT

GUEST REVIEW by Blake

  • Release date: September 8, 2017 (USA)
  • Director: Andrés Muschietti
  • Budget: 35 million USA
  • Producers: Seth Grahame-Smith, Barbara Muschietti, Dan Lin, Roy Lee, David Katzenberg
  • Screenplay: Cary Fukunaga, Chase Palmer, Gary Dauberman

Let me first start off this review by saying…I am not BooksBeJeweled. I know, talk about a plot twist right? But, have no fear, Jewels isn’t going anywhere! Jewels was just kind enough to let me have a guest review here on her blog.

So for now here is a Movie review on the movie “It” from  Blake, otherwise known as a younger, smaller, better looking version of Jewels because I am lucky enough to call Jewels my mother. Okay, now seriously, on with the show…Unknown-2

So I am no book worm, but I AM a movie worm (?) Being the lovely daughter that I am, I bought tickets for my parents and I to attend a viewing of the movie “It.” I only bought them because I forced them to go, after all these kinds of movies are only good in the theaters right?

At least that’s what we thought until we realized if we waited to see the movie in the comfort of our own home, we wouldn’t be forced to put up with the obnoxious 30-year old men giggling like Pennywise the entire film or burping like they were 12 year old boys having a belching contest. Okay sorry, I know this isn’t supposed to be a review on the theater experience, but c’mon seriously??

Now, this review isn’t going to be comparing the 2017 version to the OG movie or the book, because well, I haven’t read the book or seen the OG movie. YOU’RE GETTING FRESH EYES PEOPLE.  The movie had barely begun before I quickly decided I enjoy any movie that revolves around a group of little boys, riding around on bikes and cussing. I mean honestly, does it get any better than that? The boys were easily the scene stealers of this movie.

The boys’ acting was totally believable, at times I even wondered if some of the dialogue was improvised. The little girl in the movie was a total badass, but also could easily pull at the audience’s heartstrings. I’m not going to lie I could have just watched a whole coming of age movie about the little kids, but I guess that would just be “Stand By Me.”

Now for what we are all here for right? Bill Skarsgard AKA Pennywise. The voice Skarsgard chose to use as Pennywise was perfect. Enticing, yet also something that would be in your nightmares. There were a lot of good, classic jump scares from his character, and amazing special effects. I kind of love that this movie had a lot of over the top scenes, some might say were too cheesy, but they took me back to some classic horror films like “Nightmare on Elm Street” and Stephen King’s “Carrie.”

While the jumpiness and clown were scary; overall, it was just a fun movie to watch. If you go into this movie wanting to laugh and wanting to scream you will. Just have an open mind and I’m sure you will be surprised by how much you love it. I enjoyed every second, until the men behind us started talking so loud I completely missed the last scene. I regret to inform you I completely missed the last scene. For all I know it could have been terrible, but I somehow seriously doubt that. I guess you’ll just have to go see it and let me know..get it? Go see “It?”

Ok, this is Blake signing off! Back to regularly scheduled programming!

XOXOimg_2971

ARTEMIS

2/5 stars

  • Author: Andy Weir
  • Publication date: 11.14.2017

Apologies in advance. You’re not gonna like what I have to say.

This is not the review I was expecting to write, but this is not the book I was expecting to read.

Andy Weir has successfully taken the one element I didn’t like in THE MARTIAN and expanded on that until ARTEMIS is almost a chore to read. Major disappointment.

Remember our hero, Mark, in The Martian? His jokey, sarcastic personality started to grate on my nerves towards the end of the book. It’s like he never quit with the relentless joking. Staring death in the face? Make a joke. Starving to death? Play some funny music. Ok, we get it! Mark is all about the comic relief. Why does it have to be so overdone and heavy-handed? I still enjoyed the book for all the old-school science fiction fun.

HOWEVER, after cutting Weir some slack for his forced characterizations in The Martian, I am not so ready to do the same with Artemis.

Guess what? Jazz, our female protagonist in Artemis, has almost the exact same personality as Mark from The Martian. Ugggggghhhhh. And that goofy, insulting character is even more annoying in a grown woman. Is that sexist? I hope not. I don’t mean it to be.

Oh, and by the way, Jazz is the town tramp (with a heart of gold) because of her reputation for sleeping with so many guys. Hysterical.

The book starts out very fun to read. I really enjoyed reading how the city of Artemis came to be established on the moon. I loved reading about the actualities of lunar living with 1/6 of the gravity. I liked learning about the moon’s surface, dust and atmosphere. There just wasn’t enough of the moon facts for me.

Also, I’m beginning to question Andy Weir’s imagination for the future. The moon inhabitants walk around and do all their business transactions on small computers that they carry. They pay for items and surf the internet on these “gizmos” as they are called. FASCINATING STUFF right here.

What there is plenty of:
Welding. Yes, welding. More than I ever want to know about welding.
Stupid middle-school humor that the very smart adults all seem to love.
Forced, unnatural dialogue.
Convoluted, crazy plot that never really makes sense.
Integral characters that are unexplained, because of one-note superficial writing.

After the first third of the book, I had to push through to finish it. Especially the middle part with all the welding. Take my advice and skim skim skim through the welding. The very end ramps up with some excitement, but not enough to make up of for the rest. Sad.

I would have liked more moonwalking, less welding. More thinking, less insulting. More imagination, less joking. More sci-fi, less lame comedy.

Amazon link Artemis: A Novel