Friday Reads #14: To Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough

Friday Reads

Book Beginnings is a book meme hosted by Rose City Reader where participants share the first sentence (or so) of the book, along with initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice, and the rules are quite simple: Grab a book, any book, and turn to page 56 or 56% in your e-reader. Find any non-spoilery sentence(s) and post.

This week’s book:

Summary (from Goodreads): 

29939266Erin Blake has one of those names. A name that, like Natalee Holloway or Elizabeth Smart, is inextricably linked to a grisly crime. As a toddler, Erin survived for three days alongside the corpse of her murdered mother, and the case—which remains unsolved—fascinated a nation. Her father’s identity unknown, Erin was taken in by her mother’s best friend and has become a relatively normal teen in spite of the looming questions about her past.

Fourteen years later, Erin is once again at the center of a brutal homicide when she finds the body of her biology teacher. When questioned by the police, Erin tells almost the whole truth, but never voices her suspicions that her mother’s killer has struck again in order to protect the casework she’s secretly doing on her own.

Inspired by her uncle, an FBI agent, Erin has ramped up her forensic hobby into a full-blown cold-case investigation. This new murder makes her certain she’s close to the truth, but when all the evidence starts to point the authorities straight to Erin, she turns to her longtime crush (and fellow suspect) Journey Michaels to help her crack the case before it’s too late.

Goodreads | Amazon

It’s been a while since I picked up a good mystery and this one has definitely got me guessing. I also love the characters, which makes this book easy to read. The concept is very intriguing and I am probably going to have a hard time putting this one down today!

Book Beginning:

I soothe my forehead against the icy car window and breathe out a path of fog. If I squint one eye, the neon splashed across the rain-slicked street forms a wide, cruel mouth.

 

Friday 56:

He stares into my eyes, long and hard, a twisted scowl marring his face. The crowd, hungry for confrontation, closes in. I flinch as he brings up his fist and flings something right at me.

ARC Review: Treat Yourself! by Jessica Siskin

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I received an e-ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Treat Yourself!: How to Make 93 Ridiculously Fun No-Bake Crispy Rice Treats
Author: Jessica Siskin
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company
Publication Date: August 8, 2017
Stars: 5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): It all began with a giant cheeseburger-shaped rice crispy treat, created on a whim and posted online. Since then, Misterkrisp, aka food artist Jessica Siskin, has become an Instagram sensation with her joy-inducing, pop-culture-inspired treats.

Treat Yourself! is the perfect answer for any cook, crafty food lover, or creative parent looking to make crowd-pleasing and personalized treats for birthdays, holidays, school events, and virtually every other occasion. With no baking required, these playful, visually dazzling sweets are simple enough for anyone to whip up.

Each of the 93 projects, arranged from Apple to Zebra, starts with a single base recipe. There are large, cake-sized treats to share and individual-sized treats perfect for bake sales and goody bags. Step-by-step instructions, vibrant illustrations, and downloadable templates ensure that anyone, with any level of skill, can turn out delicious, eye-catching creations: Lively designs for kids’ parties—Robot, Dinosaur, Crown, Balloons. A Cheeseburger. A Statue of Liberty. A Dancing Lady Emoji. And a sweet centerpiece for your next Super Bowl bash: a Football Stadium filled with sprinkle spectators. It’ll serve the neighborhood!

Treats have never been so much fun or so doable.

Goodreads | Amazon

Having been a long time fan of Rice Krispie squares, I knew that I had to check this book out! There are literally close to 100 different ideas and designs in this book, and it will most likely inspire its readers to create their own treat projects as well. The instructions are relatively easy and the images are absolutely whimsical. Also, Jessica shares her story and how she came to be the iconic Misterkrisp in the introduction to the book, which is an interesting addition to a recipe book.

If you have already discovered Misterkrisp online, you will already have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Treat Yourself! Siskin gives her readers a list of tools and tips on how to achieve the best results from her recipes, as well as a chart that breaks down the ratios of cereal, marshmallow, butter and food colouring each design will require. The book takes on the idea that this is arts and crafts more than cooking and gives the sense that there is no wrong way to create each design. The medium is forgivable and it is easy to correct a mistake with a simple fix.

As the synopsis indicates, Treat Yourself! is a great resource for anyone looking to come up with some interesting, crowd-pleasing treats. The designs range from easy to advanced, with one of the more difficult recipes being a recreation of Van Gogh’s Starry Night! I am not sure if I have the ability to make that one turn out as well as the one in the book, but I think it is something that would be a lot of fun trying to create.

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I have linked this post to Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking.

Waiting on Wednesday #111: The Victoria in My Head by Janelle Milanes

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

This week’s book:

34091699Title: The Victoria in My Head
Author: Janelle Milanes
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: September 19, 2017

Summary (from Goodreads): Victoria Cruz inhabits two worlds: In one, she is a rock star, thrashing the stage with her husky voice and purple-streaked hair. In the other, currently serving as her reality, Victoria is a shy teenager with overprotective Cuban parents, who sleepwalks through her life at the prestigious Evanston Academy. Unable to overcome the whole paralyzing-stage-fright thing, Victoria settles for living inside her fantasies, where nothing can go wrong and everything is set to her expertly crafted music playlists.

But after a chance encounter with an unattainably gorgeous boy named Strand, whose band seeks a lead singer, Victoria is tempted to turn her fevered daydreams into reality. To do that, she must confront her insecurities and break away from the treadmill that is her life. Suddenly, Victoria is faced with the choice of staying on the path she’s always known and straying off-course to find love, adventure, and danger.

From debut author Janelle Milanes comes a hilarious and heartfelt tale of the spectacular things that can happen when you go after what you really want.

Goodreads | Amazon

Thoughts:

This book just sounds adorable! I love that it has a musical theme and a character that doesn’t fit the description of your typical rock star. It will be interesting to see how this one plays out.

Book Blast & Giveaway: The Ghost of You and Me by Kelly Oram

 

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The Ghost of You and Me by Kelly Oram

How do you tell someone who hates you and blames you for the death of his best friend that you miss him?

From the bestselling teen and young adult author of Cinder & Ella comes a new heart-wrenching romance sure to bring all the feels.

The tragic death of Spencer Schott unravels the lives of the two people he loved most—his girlfriend, Bailey, and his best friend, Wes. Secrets and guilt from that fateful night keep both Bailey and Wes from overcoming Spencer’s loss and moving on with their lives.

Now, nearly a year later, both Bailey and Wes are still so broken over what happened that Spencer can’t find peace in the afterlife. In order to put his soul to rest, he’s given one chance to come back and set things right…even if that means setting up his girlfriend with his best friend.

With the emotional resonance of Jellicoe Road and the magical realism of The Lovely Bones, The Ghost of You and Me is a story about overcoming grief, finding redemption for past mistakes, and the healing power of friendship and love. Fans of John Green, Sarah Dessen, and Nicholas Sparks are sure to love this haunting new tale from Kelly Oram.

This is a clean young adult romance stand alone novel that reads like contemporary drama romance and has just a touch of magical realism.

Author Kelly Oram

Kelly Oram wrote her first novel at age fifteen–a fan fiction about her favorite music group, The Backstreet Boys, for which her family and friends still tease her. She’s obsessed with reading, talks way too much, and likes to eat frosting by the spoonful. She lives outside of Phoenix, Arizona with her husband, four children, and her cat, Mr. Darcy.

Website * Twitter * Facebook

 

 

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway

Ends 7/15/17

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Review: The End of Oz by Danielle Paige

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Warning: Spoilers for the other books in the Dorothy Must Die series below!

Title: The End of Oz
Author: Danielle Paige
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: March 14, 2017
Stars: 3.5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): Ding dong—Dorothy is dead.

I watched as the Emerald Palace crumbled to the ground, burying Dorothy, the Girl Who Rode the Cyclone, under the rubble. And now that the rightful ruler, Ozma, has been restored to the throne…

Oz is finally free.

My name is Amy Gumm. You might remember me as the othergirl from Kansas. When a tornado whisked me away to the magical land of Oz, I was given a mission: Dorothy must die.

But it turns out girls from Kansas are harder to kill than we look.

Now the Road of Yellow Brick is leading me away from Oz to the dark world of Ev, where I have a new, powerful enemy to deal with: the Nome King. And—surprise—he has a gingham-clad bride.

With my magical shoes and a shrinking group of allies, I have one final chance to fulfill my mission, and save not only what’s left of Oz, but Kansas, too. As the line between Good and Wicked blurs even further, I have to find a way to get rid of Dorothy once and for all—without turning into a monster myself.

Dorothy once said there’s no place like home. Can I stop her from destroying mine?

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon | iBooks

I had been awaiting this final book in the Dorothy Must Die series for such a long time, but this book ended up being a bit disappointing. It keeps the same action as always, but it seemed unnecessary. I enjoyed seeing some old characters redeem themselves, but the new setting isn’t as impressive as the other books. I found myself unsatisfied with the ending, and would have liked one more magical journey to Oz.

This book is so action-packed! This final instalment of the Dorothy Must Die series is full of plot twists and character revelations. Basically, Dorothy is actually alive, but in a different world called Ev where she is about to be married to an even worse enemy called the Nome King. Amy and her friends travel to Ev to prevent the Nome King from stealing Dorothy’s power and destroying Oz. I enjoyed being reunited with all the characters in the book, but I feel like the plot fell a bit flat. The first book in the series was absolutely incredible, but this fourth one doesn’t seem to compare. I found the Nome King’s character to be a little unnecessary, and I feel like this series should have ended as a trilogy.

What I found really interesting about The End of Oz is the fact that a few of the characters that the reader is meant to dislike become likeable. For example, Madison, Amy’s bully from Kansas, joins her, and they actually become friends. I also sympathized a bit with Dorothy, since she is being forced into a dangerous marriage. All of the characters in this book are as sassy as ever, and they each have such dynamic personalities.

One thing that bothered me about this book in particular is the different setting. The End of Oz does not take place in Oz, but Ev, which is more drab and gloomy. I didn’t enjoy reading about this setting as much since I wasn’t as familiar with it, and I would have preferred to be transported to Oz one last time. This land contains some elements, such as scary machines called Diggers, which I found to be intriguing, but Ev just didn’t seem as magical as the other books.

The End of Oz is the final action-packed instalment in the Dorothy Must Die series. Some old characters redeem themselves, and the series gets a new setting. The ending of this book wasn’t as satisfying as I had expected, and I personally think that this series would have been better as a trilogy.

Friday Reads #13: Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally

Friday Reads

Book Beginnings is a book meme hosted by Rose City Reader where participants share the first sentence (or so) of the book, along with initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice, and the rules are quite simple: Grab a book, any book, and turn to page 56 or 56% in your e-reader. Find any non-spoilery sentence(s) and post.

This week’s book:

Summary (from Goodreads): 

34754118All of Maggie’s focus and free time is spent swimming.  She’s not only striving to earn scholarships—she’s training to qualify for the Olympics.  It helps that her best friend, Levi, is also on the team, and cheers her on. But Levi’s already earned an Olympic tryout, so Maggie feels even more pressure to succeed.  And it’s not until Maggie’s away on a college visit that she realizes how much of the “typical” high school experience she’s missed by being in the pool.

No one to shy away from a challenge, Maggie decides to squeeze the most out of her senior year.  First up? Making out with a guy.  And Levi could be the perfect candidate.  After all, they already spend a lot of time together.  But as Maggie slowly starts to uncover new feelings for Levi, how much is she willing to sacrifice in the water to win at love?

Goodreads | Amazon

I am not too far into this one yet, but I have always enjoyed Miranda Kenneally’s books, so I have high hopes for this one. It is definitely a perfect book for summer with its pool/swimming theme. Summer and contemporaries go hand-in-hand, don’t you think?

Book Beginning:

Wake up at 4:15 a.m.

Swim
Eat Breakfast
Shower
Second Breakfast
School
Snack between classes
Lunch
More Class
Swim
Swim
Swim some more
Snack
Eat dinner
Homework
Sleep
Dream about swimming (and eating). When I’m not in the pool, I’m counting the minutes until I can dive back in, so most of the time my bushy, light-brown hair is wet and reeks of chlorine.

Friday 56:

I was pretty jealous when he talked to that other girl earlier, but if I tell him that, it could make things awkward between us, and that’s the last thing I need. I want us to stay normal.

ARC Review: Essential Oils by Neal’s Yard Remedies

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I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Essential Oils
Author: Claire Cross (editor)
Publisher: DK
Publication Date: October 11, 2016
Stars: 4.5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): An introductory guide to essential oils and aromatherapy from the experts at Neal’s Yard Remedies, a trusted source for natural health and beauty products.

Introduce yourself to the world of Essential Oils for treating maladies and improving mental and physical well-being. Featuring comprehensive profiles of 88 essential oils, all-natural remedies for common ailments, aromatic recipes for home and beauty, and helpful guidance for blending, storing, and using essential oils, this introductory guide is packed with authoritative information from the experts at Neal’s Yard Remedies.

Whether you seek natural alternatives to conventional medicines or want to eliminate synthetically produced chemicals from your home and beauty products, simple visual instructions and gorgeous full-color photographs make it easy. An illustrated A to Z reference section helps you identify the most useful oils, while information on application methods, tips on massage techniques, guidance on creating custom blends, and up-to-date safety recommendations help you learn how to use them for maximum benefit.

Essential Oils can help you improve your overall well-being and start you on the path to a more natural you.

Goodreads | Amazon

I have just recently become aware of the benefits of using essential oils, and while I probably will never use them exclusively to treat my own ailments, there are some interesting ideas and tips in Essential Oils. This book really is a great resource for anyone wanting to understand natural medicine and the different ways that essential oils are used. There are tips for your home, health, beauty, and a very descriptive guide about each plant and oil used in these techniques.

If you are like me and have a super sense of smell, the directions for how to make a diffuser or room spray may be of use to you. It does seem like a healthier alternative to use an essential oil to alter the scent of a room. I love a subtle floral aroma in a room and I am going to give the room spray recipe a try. It is a simple mix of vodka, mineral oil, and an essential oil. Seems fairly simple and might just be my new go-to for a quick room deodorizer.

As with most DK books, the book is packed with all sorts of information and really delves deep into the history and science behind using the oils as a benefit to your mind, body, and soul. Each plant and its oil is discussed in depth and if you are at all curious about what a simple lavender oil can do, you will be very surprised.

The section that appeals to me the most in the book is the beauty section. I have just started trying to make my own bath products to save money, and as a hobby. There are a few recipes for making bath bombs and melts that are simple and relatively inexpensive to make. If those amazing store-bought bath bombs are your thing, you may want to check this book out because I was really surprised to discover the simple ingredients in making them. Baking soda, citric acid and essential oils are really all that is required.

This is a perfect guide for anyone interested in learning about essential oils and how they can be used. The book is easy to follow and you will come away with a wealth of information on this hot trend that has been around for centuries. I look forward to trying  a few of them out myself.

 

Waiting on Wednesday #110: Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

This week’s book:

33275690Title: Foolish Hearts
Author: Emma Mills
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Publication Date: December 26, 2017

Summary (from Goodreads): A contemporary novel about a girl whose high school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream leads her to new friends—and maybe even new love.

The day of the last party of the summer, Claudia overhears a conversation she wasn’t supposed to. Now on the wrong side of one of the meanest girls in school, Claudia doesn’t know what to expect when the two are paired up to write a paper—let alone when they’re both forced to try out for the school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

But mandatory participation has its upsides—namely, an unexpected friendship, a boy band obsession, and a guy with the best dimpled smile Claudia’s ever seen. As Claudia’s world starts to expand, she finds that maybe there are some things worth sticking her neck out for.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon | iBooks

Thoughts:

Foolish Hearts looks like just my kind of book. I am always up for an acting story, and I love a good rivalry. The Shakespearian aspects also intrigue me, and I am eager to see how this will work out. This will probably be my first book by Emma Mills, although I have had her other two books on my TBR for a while now.

ARC Review: Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

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I received an e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Saints and Misfits
Author: S.K. Ali
Publisher: Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Stars: 3/5

Summary (from Goodreads): Saints and Misfits is an unforgettable debut novel that feels like a modern day My So-Called Life…starring a Muslim teen.

How much can you tell about a person just by looking at them?

Janna Yusuf knows a lot of people can’t figure out what to make of her…an Arab Indian-American hijabi teenager who is a Flannery O’Connor obsessed book nerd, aspiring photographer, and sometime graphic novelist is not exactly easy to put into a box.

And Janna suddenly finds herself caring what people think. Or at least what a certain boy named Jeremy thinks. Not that she would ever date him—Muslim girls don’t date. Or they shouldn’t date. Or won’t? Janna is still working all this out.

While her heart might be leading her in one direction, her mind is spinning in others. She is trying to decide what kind of person she wants to be, and what it means to be a saint, a misfit, or a monster. Except she knows a monster…one who happens to be parading around as a saint…Will she be the one to call him out on it? What will people in her tightknit Muslim community think of her then?

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon | iBooks

Saints and Misfits is a feminist book about a Muslim teen struggling with identity. While I enjoyed the concept and the main character, I found the book’s pacing to be a bit slow. This is an important read, however, and one of very few Muslim YA books that I have seen.

This book is all about the life of a Muslim teen. Janna figures out her own identity while dealing with feelings that slightly go against her religion. She also deals with the recovery process of attempted rape and tries to get the other members of her community to believe that the man is not the saint that they all believe him to be. This is a powerful feminist story that does a great job of explaining Islam in a simple way.

I enjoyed Janna’s character. She is a photographer and a book nerd and is easy to relate to. She is also so sweet and takes care of an old man in her spare time. What I also enjoyed about Janna’s character is the fact that she is so dedicated to her faith. She is sure to follow all the rules to protect both her image and the reputation of her community. Janna’s voice is just so clever and sarcastic, which I love to see in a book.

My main issue with the book is the pacing. The book just seemed to drag on, and I was having trouble focusing on it. I also had no idea that sexual assault would appear in the story, so this is just a heads up to anyone who could be triggered by that. As well, Janna’s family is oblivious to all the hints that Janna was assaulted and the way she acts around her attacker. I didn’t find this very realistic, and I feel like at least one of her friends would have noticed the change in behaviour.

Saints and Misfits is the story of a Muslim teen finding her way through life. I enjoyed the main character and her generous personality, but found the book’s pacing to be too slow for my liking. I would still recommend this book, however, because it tackles some important topics and has some powerful messages.

ARC Review: Amish Guys Don’t Call by Debby Dodds

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Title: Amish Guys Don’t Call
Author: Debby Dodds
Publisher: Blue Moon Publishers
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads):  Samantha is already facing scrutiny and anxiety at the start of her junior year, as she’s finally been accepted into the popular girls’ clique called “The Sherpas.” But when she realizes that her new boyfriend Zach was raised Amish, Sam must tackle a whole new set of challenges. Zach has chosen not to end his Rumspringa, instigating a potential shunning from his family. Not only that, but Sam’s new friends can’t miss this opportunity to tease and torment her.

Sam has never really come to terms with her parents’ divorce, so when her world crashes down on her in the form of cyberbullying and Zach’s apparent return to the Amish community, she reverts to old, illegal habits. Does Sam even want friends like these? And, will her cross-cultural love with Zach find a way?

Goodreads | Amazon

There is something intriguing about a culture that lives among us, yet is different in so many ways. Amish Guys Don’t Call is a powerful story that explores the Amish way of life, however, it also shows the reader that deep down there is a similar desire in all of us to be accepted by our friends and family. As well, the characters are well-developed and relatable, making this book an enjoyable read.

Having lived near a Mennonite community my whole life, I have an idea of the small town setting of this book from my own experiences. Dodds really takes the time to educate her readers on many aspects of the Amish and their beliefs. The differences between the Amish and Mennonites that are also described surprised me, and I have a new appreciation for the people that I see in horse and buggy on a daily basis.

The budding relationship between Sam and Zach is so sweet. Zach is quite old-fashioned and treats Sam with so much respect. Both of these characters are dealing with feelings of not being accepted by their friends and family. It is so interesting how Dodds shows two different worlds and how they both have this similar issue. It is the forgiveness that is so important in the Amish culture that seems to pulse throughout the novel, and makes it one to learn from.

Sam is a character that is easy to identify with. She has some flaws, yet is also a head strong and intelligent teen that simply wants to fit into this new town she is living in. When things start to go wrong, she discovers that there are many people that she can lean on. This book is truly inspiring for anyone who has dealt with any form of bullying.

Amish Guys Don’t Call is a unique book that explores different cultures and shares it similarities. There are interesting and relatable characters that make the book enjoyable to read. I would highly recommend this novel to anyone wanting to read a contemporary that is a little bit different in concept.