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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Club By Ellery Lloyd Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Club By Ellery Lloyd Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Without giving any spoilers away, as always, we will be discussing a thriller by Ellery Lloyd called The Club. I have been nursing this book for a while because I haven’t had much free time to read and I was very happy to be done with it; Partially because it took so long and partially because it wasn’t my favorite book in the world. It definitely fell under the “pretty good” but not great category! Before we begin, I will be placing a big fat trigger warning on The Club for murder, violence, and rape. Now, let’s get to it:

Screenshot 2023-04-12 at 06-48-24 Sarah Mushenheim (@lifewithlilred94) β€’ Instagram photos and videos

The Home clubs are a celebrity’s playground with ultra lux resorts in locations ranging from London to Italy and Manhattan. There is an insanely high membership fee and with that comes the privilege of privacy. No cell phones are allowed on Home properties so the members have no fear of paparazzi or unflattering photos and have the freedom to do what they want when they want. The Home clubs have been in the Groom family for a long time and was passed down to the eldest, Ned, after his grandpa’s death. After a fire burned down the original location, Ned began expanding his empire to what it is today and did it almost all by himself with minimal help from his younger brother, Adam.

Now, Ned is preparing to launch the most ambitious Home club yet; Island Home. Yeah, he bought an entire island for his new resort and the caveat is that it can only be accessed when low tide reveals a causeway from the mainland to the island. Ned is a loud, brash man that can be difficult on a good day to work with, but his staff remains ever faithful. To assist him, there is his loyal PA named Nikki and the Hospitality Manager, Annie. A new staff member named Jess has also been welcomed aboard as the Head of Housekeeping. Before the weekend long launch party begins, it is anarchy on the island as everyone works diligently to turn Island Home into the best one ever.

By the time the rich and famous arrive on the island, it is perfect with huge cabins, a spa, gym, underwater restaurant, and private screening room just to name a couple of the many accommodations. Before a big launch, Ned likes to invite his chosen few to a feast to catch up, eat, drink, and be merry. The night, however, takes a drastic turn when Ned announces that there will eventually be a package waiting in the room of four of his most wealthy, celebrated guests. The packages will arrive at different times and each member is very anxious to find out what it could be. And, what it is is something that they would never expect.

The first package delivered is to a Jackson Crane – well known actor and husband to model and humanitarian, Georgia. After the dinner party, Jackson returns to his cabin to find a memory stick and a demand for an exorbitant amount of money for his yearly membership fee. And, one by one, the other three of the chosen receive their “gift” too. These memory sticks reveal the deepest, darkest, career destroying secrets of each member and all of the recordings were done in their rooms of various Home resorts. The asking fee to keep their secrets at bay is astronomical and even with all of their wealth combined, eventually the well would run dry. Essentially, Ned now owns them.

Other than Ned, Annie, Adam, and the chosen, no one on the island knows that they are constantly being recorded and continue to go about their weekend at Island Home. And why would they suspect anything, anyways? The whole point of Home clubs is to not be constantly recorded. As the celebrities enjoy and the staff caters to their every need, plots of murder begin to form and not just from the guests being blackmailed. It turns out that high ranking members in the Home hierarchy have secrets too. Nikki, Annie, and Jess all have a past that directly correlates themselves with guests on the island and have vengeance on the mind as well.

The grand finale of the Island Home launch party is an immersive theater event that will take the members around the island and back to the Manor to party. To keep everyone’s identity a secret as they wander the grounds and for the name of theater, everyone is required to wear a cloak and mask. It is the ideal scenario for revenge to be exacted and as the night plays out, several people meet their demise. What will become of the blackmailed guests of Island Home and the man who grew wealthy from their secrets? Read The Club to find out!

There were several things about The Club that I enjoyed. I thought that the plot was very interesting and loved the idea of these “private” places where celebrities could let their hair down for good or bad. I admit that I am a sucker for all things lux so I also really liked to read about all of the clothes, accommodations, and locations being described in the book. However, there was something about The Club that just didn’t connect with me no matter how hard I tried to make it happen.

The Club is told from the perspective of Jess, Nikki, Annie, and Adam and you all know I love a multiple narrator book. The problem was that I couldn’t stand any of them! Literally none of the key or supporting players in The Club were likeable in the slightest and it made for a very dry and stilted read. For the most part, I liked the ideas of each individual chapter but I couldn’t get into the characters as they spoke their piece. Not only that, but this book’s grand reveal left a lot to be desired and each twist and turn could be easily guessed before it happened. While nothing pleases me more than getting reveals right, I like to be surprised even more than that.

I feel very torn about The Club because the idea of the book was a winner but the execution just wasn’t there for me. Overall, I am going to give it a four out of ten stars. If this review sounds interesting to you, give it a try because it was still kind of fun. If not, you can most definitely skip on this book!

What are you currently reading? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

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Lil Red’s Book Club: We Were Never Here By Andrea Bartz Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: We Were Never Here By Andrea Bartz Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Without giving any spoilers away, as always, we will be discussing a thriller by Andrea Bartz called We Were Never Here. Was it the best book I ever read? No. But it was pretty good and a nice change of pace after reading the sweetly sentimental A Man Called Ove. Before we begin, I will be placing a trigger warning on We Were Never Here for violence and murder, sexual assault, abuse in all forms, and harm to an animal. Now, let’s get to it:

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Kristen and Emily. Emily and Kristen. Kremily for short. They have been inseparable besties since college and are still going strong over a decade later. While Emily resides in Wisconsin, Kristen moved to Australia for work but they talk all day every day and take a best friends trip once a year. During their travels, they explore locations that are outside of the norm of Paris and London. They much prefer locations like Uganda, Vietnam, and Laos to name a few.

Every trip that they have had left Kristen and Emily giddy and the travel bug continued to bite, until something bad happened in Cambodia last year. What should have been an awesome one night stand for Emily with a handsome stranger went horribly wrong and ended in his murder when Kristen arrived on scene. Panicked and in a foreign country, the best friends put their heads together to dispose of the body, get back to their respective homes, and put the whole thing behind them.

It took a lot of work for Emily to get back to a good place and where she is still isn’t great but better. In fact, she has even got back into the dating scene by going out with the adorable Aaron. She had Kristen to thank for getting her through the toughest time of her life and being strong for the both of them. And, finally, the fear of being caught dwindled into an annoying thought that would sometimes pop up in the back of her head.

Despite what happened in Cambodia, the girls still take their annual best friends trip and find themselves in Chile. The getaway has been amazing and Emily truly believes that her and Kristen are closer than ever and completely made it through their shared horrors. Until the last night of their vacation. In a terrible instance of lightening striking twice, they find themselves in an eerily similar situation to Cambodia. This time, Kristen was the victim and her attacker was dead well before Emily burst through the door.

Emily and Kristen were on a massive time crunch before returning to their homes and had to hastily bury the body in a shallow grave in a remote farming community. Understandably, Emily is freaking out because there is no way they are going to be able to get away with murder twice. Kristen, on the other hand, is acting strange. Really strange. As if nothing happened at all and that everything is A-okay.

Unsettled by her friend’s far from normal reaction, Emily begins to pull away from Kristen and, for once, the distance between them feels like a good thing. Emily continues to avoid until it becomes impossible because Kristen shows up at her front door, claiming to be “over” Australia. Once Kristen is home, she begins popping up everywhere to the point of being stalkery; Emily’s favorite yoga studio, brunch with her boyfriend, even her therapist’s office.

Desperate to get away from Kristen but afraid to say so, Emily agrees to a birthday weekend at the lake house belonging to Kristen’s grandparents. Still wary, Emily decides to do some good old fashioned snooping and is shocked from her findings; Kristen’s childhood best friend committed suicide two weeks after Kristen’s parents died in a house fire. Is Kristen literally the most unlucky person on planet Earth or were three deaths in one month the result of something more sinister?

The walls are closing in on Emily from all sides because the backpacker they disposed of in Chile has been found and a handsome reward is offered for information. She no longer trusts Kristen and for good reason – five people are dead and they might all be at her hands. All Emily knows is that she is not safe and neither is her new beau. Will Emily get to the bottom of Kristen’s dark past once and for all? And will the girls get away with murder twice? Read We Were Never Here to find out!

As I said, We Were Never Here definitely fell into the “just okay” category for me. It was good, but not great. It was also incredibly easy to figure out every major twist and turn, which is both a blessing and a curse. I like the feeling of being right, but I like being surprised by grand reveals much more! Despite consistently knowing where this book was going, I still considered it to be unputdownable and finished it in a matter of four sittings. Perhaps not so much for the plot as much as Andrea Bartz’s writing style being very similar to Rachel Hawkins, an author who I really enjoy.

As far as characters go, I honestly didn’t care much for Emily, Kristen, or any of the supporting characters for that matter. Kristen and Emily were truly Yin and Yang. Kristen was bubbly, vivacious, and strong. Emily was anxious, fumbling, and weak in comparison. Both of the girls remained the same throughout the duration of the book and it bored me. There was no real character development and that was another reason why it was easy to figure We Were Never Here out; Nothing Emily or Kristen did surprised me.

I’ll be the first to admit that the plot of this story is one of the more far fetched ones that I have read and that’s fine. The crazy plot wasn’t supported with major shocks, though, and I never felt like there was a definite climax or resolution. We Were Never Here fired on all cylinders until it was over and it made the read less fulfilling. I wouldn’t recommend this book unless it was a palette cleanser read, but I would read more by Andrea Bartz because she does show promise as an author I could get into.

Overall, I am going to rate We Were Never Here with a four and a half out of ten stars. This is a book that you can definitely skip on if you are looking for something better than just “pretty good”!

What are you currently reading? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Lil Red’s Book Club: All Hallows By Christopher Golden Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: All Hallows By Christopher Golden Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Without giving any spoilers away, we will be discussing the horror/thriller called All Hallows by Christopher Golden. In my humble opinion, this book was an epic flop despite how much I liked a majority of the characters in it. It is a shining example of the dumbest story line I have ever read. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize it until I was halfway done and you know that I refuse to not finish a book that I have started! Before we begin, I will be placing a trigger warning on All Hallows for gruesome violence, domestic abuse, harm to children, and stupidity. Now, let’s get to it:

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Tony and his daughter, Chloe, are Halloween fanatics and create a Haunted Woods attraction for charity every year in the vast woods behind their home. Sadly, it will be the last year for their fright fest fun as Tony, his wife Alice, Chloe, and son Rick will be selling the property because they are flat broke. Tony and Chloe wanted their final run with the Haunted Woods to be a wild success and reveled in the chance to hear their neighbors scream. Unfortunately, their well meant spooks aren’t the only terror happening in the woods on Halloween night.

Throughout the neighborhood, families and children plan their Halloween activities and split up accordingly. After all, there is much to do; trick or treating, a neighborhood block party, and the Haunted Woods. Tony’s son, Rick, will be trick or treating with his best friend Billie. Neighborhood teens, Steve, Vanessa, and Julia will be at the party. Meanwhile, the sad children of the Sweeney family, Charlie and Brian, would be waiting up for their dad who had left the family earlier in the day.

During Rick and Billie’s trick or treating rounds, they witnessed their supposed pedophile neighbors bringing a small boy that neither of them recognized into their home. Convinced that evil was afoot, Rick and Billie burst through the home of Zack and Ruth to rescue the boy from their clutches. His name is Leonard and he is a slight boy with a strange story. All he could tell his new companions was that he was hiding from the Cunning Man and needed their help – just until midnight.

After Charlie’s drunk, adulterous father left the family for good on Halloween afternoon, he needed an escape. He decided to go to his favorite cluster of bushes – a secret spot that you could crawl through and hide in when you don’t want to be found. There, he met little Sarah Jane, frightened and dirty in an old clown costume. She told Charlie that she was hiding from someone too, but darted away when his big brother, Brian, came to bring him home. Later, she would show up at their doorstep with her own tale of the Cunning Man and the protection she needed until midnight. Concerned for the little girl, the boys’ mom agreed to let her stay.

In similar fashion, two more peculiar children let themselves be known. One was Arthur, a boy dressed up as a scarecrow who insisted upon the help of Vanessa and Julia. The other, a little girl named Delilah, who Tony took under his wing when she showed up wandering through the Haunted Woods alone. Each child was equally as terrified of the Cunning Man and their fear convinced whomever they approached to keep them close.

While the elected “guardians” of the children waited around until midnight, they began growing suspicious. None of the missing kids were saying anything that made sense and the elders among them thought it was a prank or pointless. Either way, they weren’t hanging around. As the guardians began to head back to their own homes and plans, the children would proceed to freak out violently, with strength impossible for a kid. They needed them – rather, the Cunning Man and his witch bride did. Will the people who intended to help these children live to tell their own story of the Cunning Man? Read All Hallows to find out!

When I first started reading All Hallows, I enjoyed it immensely. As a former haunted house actor, my heart swelled over Tony and his daughter making their own haunted attraction and I could relate to how much they loved it. I liked punk rock, sharp witted Vanessa, felt terribly for the mother of Brian and Charlie, and felt fiercely protective over Rick and Billie. The chapters were all told from a different point of view, which you know I love, and I was excited to see how all of their stories would intertwine. I just didn’t expect the reason that they did to be so dumb lol.

As the missing children began to reveal themselves, I was still very much on board with All Hallows. I mean, it’s creepy right? Little ones all alone on Halloween night, it was easy to feel bad for them. Then, the nonsense of the Cunning Man got brought up and I was like “Oh. This is what’s happening?”. It was literally just a Slenderman knockoff and not a good one. You know the deal, a kid kills someone to win the favor of a terrifying, shadowy creature. It was just that and nothing more.

As I read about the Cunning Man, I still felt the urge to give the book a chance because the drama between the characters was interesting and it might get better. But, obviously, that didn’t happen. Regardless of whatever Christopher Golden did to paint a different light on the Cunning Man didn’t change the fact that it was still the exact same thing as the urban myth that spread like wildfire in my teen years. In fact, the ridiculous changes that were made just made the book even more stupid; as if the author could cover up where the inspiration for the Cunning Man came from just by altering its appearance. Well, Mr. Golden – you didn’t fool this girl!

I rarely do this. This is only the second time in Lil Red’s Book Club history that I will be giving out negative stars, but All Hallows deserves it. A negative ten out of ten stars seems appropriate and I wouldn’t recommend this book to my worst enemy. Definitely skip on it!

What are you reading? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Lil Red’s Book Club: The Villa By Rachel Hawkins Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Villa By Rachel Hawkins Edition

Hello!! The last book that I read was called Verity and it sucked EGGS. It was quite possibly the worst thing that I have ever read and I thought I would go insane if I didn’t read something else to eliminate the bad taste from my mouth. To remedy this, I cracked open the brand new Rachel Hawkins novel called The Villa and finished it in a matter of days. I have read a few books by Hawkins before and have always enjoyed them and The Villa was just right for what I needed: A palette cleanser. Was it my favorite book by her? No. But it served its purpose well.Β 

Before we begin our spoiler free review, I will be placing a trigger warning on The Villa for murder, violence, and the loss of a child. Now, let’s get to it:

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Emily and Chess have been besties since grade school and are still thick as thieves into their mid-thirties. Well… Sort of. While Emily found moderate success in writing cozy murder mysteries, Chess soared to fame as a self-help guru making their communication sporadic but still wonderful when it happens. As Chess enjoyed her newfound wealth and guest starred on Oprah, Emily was riding the struggle bus. A mystery illness left Emily incapacitated for months, which triggered her husband leaving her and insisting on a significant chunk of her earnings as an author.

At one of their few yearly meetings, Chess can sense Emily’s stress over lunch and comes up with a solution: A best friends summer in Italy. There, they can soak up the sun, have fun, and finish the books that they both have due. With nothing tying her to the home she once shared with her husband, Emily agrees and hops on a plane to meet Chess at the gorgeous Villa Aestas. The villa is tucked away in scenic Orvieto and it seems like the perfect place to enjoy each other’s company and work when they felt like it! Oh yeah, it was also the perfect place for murder.

In the 1970s, Villa Aestas was called the Villa Rosato and it housed a group of artists for the summer. Noel Gordon, an infamous rock star invited his faithful drug dealer, Johnnie, as well as the up and coming musician Pierce Sheldon and his girlfriend Mari and her stepsister named Lara to the villa. What promised to be a summer of Pierce taking his talent to the next level was anything but. Drugs and booze limited the amount of music Noel and Pierce made and the girls ended up with the fame. That summer, Mari wrote her first horror novel, Lilith Rising, and Lara made her first album, Aestas. Their holiday ended with Mari and Lara completing their masterpieces while Pierce ended up six feet under at the hands of Johnnie.

Staying in a “murder house” doesn’t particularly thrill Emily but the villa is beautiful and she is excited to be with Chess. During a low key day, Emily looks for something to read and cracks open Lilith Rising. As she reads, she noticed striking similarities between the book and the summer that the author spent at the same villa. She even finds references from the book in the house itself, like an etching on the glass by Mari’s desk. Was Lilith Rising something Mari made up off of the top of her head, or was it an autobiography of what truly happened at Villa Rosato that summer almost fifty years ago?

As Emily begins researching and writing about the Villa Rosato murder, she becomes increasingly paranoid of Chess. Emily wants this book and the success she knows it will achieve to herself. Chess, however, has other plans as well as secrets that Emily couldn’t conjure up in her wildest dreams. What will become of the best friends staying in a home that the locals call “cursed” all summer? Read The Villa to find out!

The Villa was, in my opinion, not Rachel Hawkins’ best but it was still a decent read. I can imagine that her books are perfect for reading by a pool – they’re not especially gruesome, intriguing enough, and peppered with humor that makes me lol. Not groundbreaking by any means, but pretty fun! I enjoyed the way The Villa was set up as it went back and forth between Emily in present day and Mari in 1970. Articles and scripts of podcasts discussing the Rosato murder were interspersed for good measure as well, which is also something I always like.

The characters in The Villa were just alright. I found Emily to be kind of bland while Chess was fairly annoying with her new age BS about the “powered path”. I definitely enjoyed reading what was going on in the 70s more than the present day. It was a much darker tale and I felt so sorry for Mari and Lara as they navigated their summer with these boys who didn’t seem to care about them one way or the other. I would have liked to root for Mari more, however, the flamboyant and sarcastic Noel was my primary focus. He sounded hot AF and I think we can all agree that he was inspired by the incomparable Noel Fielding!

Although there were a lot of interesting points to the general plot of The Villa, it still felt like something that I had heard before. There were no twists and turns that left me shook and I didn’t feel a sense of companionship with any of the key players. It certainly cleansed my palette from the last book I read and for that I am grateful. It just didn’t hit as hard as The Wife Upstairs or Reckless Girls, which left me feeling disappointed overall.

I am going to award The Villa with a five and a half out of ten stars. Rachel Hawkins is much better than this book and I would recommend skipping this one in lieu of one of her other novels!

What are you currently reading? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Verity By Colleen Hoover Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Verity By Colleen Hoover Edition

Hi!! It has been over a month since the last edition of Lil Red’s Book Club and that is because I have been insanely busy! I was so excited to have some extra time to read recently and started Verity by Colleen Hoover last week. At first, I was really into it. However, this ended up being the worst and *pardon my French* most fucked up thing I have ever read in a long time. Before we get started, I am going to be placing a big fat trigger warning on Verity for so many reasons – murder, infanticide, child abuse, highly disturbing content, and that’s just naming a few. Now, let’s get to it:

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Lowen is a struggling author who hasn’t left the home in weeks as she cares for her ailing mom. However, she must step foot outside today because she has a meeting for a potential new offer that must be conducted in person. As she waits to cross the busy streets of Manhattan, she witnesses a man get hit by a car and is standing close enough to get her clothes bloodied. A handsome stranger literally gives Lowen the shirt off of his back in a chance encounter and she arrives at her meeting in a men’s shirt thinking she will never see this guy again. WRONG!

The stranger is named Jeremy and the meeting Lowen is attending is being held on his wife’s behalf. The highly successful author, Verity Crawford, is Jeremy’s wife and is unable to complete her contract after a car accident that left her with no cognitive function. Verity is the author of a series told from the villain’s perspective and has three more books to be written. Cue: Lowen to take over.

After rejecting initially, Lowen agrees because the paycheck is insane and she is essentially homeless. Because Verity cannot collaborate with Lowen in a traditional sense, Jeremy opens the doors of his wife’s home office so she can begin looking for notes and drafts to assist in her new gig. Of course, Lowen would never go to a complete stranger’s home without doing her due diligence and researching the Crawford family. She learns that the Crawfords had twin girls that died exactly six months apart from each other, a son who remains, and a mother who can no longer interact with him or her husband.

Knowing so much already about the family’s tragedies makes Lowen feel uneasy and she spends the majority of her first days at the family home barricaded in the office. Although she can find no notes of any use for the books she must write, she finds so much more: a manuscript for Verity’s unpublished autobiography. Lowen justifies cracking it open to get a better glimpse of Verity as a person and ends up learning so much more than she bargained for.

Verity’s autobiography paints a brutally honest picture of herself as a psychopath. She is madly in love with Jeremy to the point of obsession and was not happy to find out she was pregnant with twin girls – two girls that would take Jeremy away from her. In her own words, Verity describes her monstrous acts of the abuse she doled out to her daughters and her manipulation to cover it up. Her autobiography begs the question of if the death of the twins was accidental or completely intentional.

It’s not only Verity’s manuscript that makes Lowen uneasy, it is Verity herself, who is at home and being cared for around the clock by a nurse. Verity needs people to move her body for her, so why does Lowen keep hearing the pattering of feet at night? Or how is the TV in Verity’s room turning off on its own when the remote is out of her reach?

The more time Lowen spends in the Crawford home, the more paranoid she becomes that Verity’s injuries might not be real. And, as Lowen begins crushing on Jeremy and caring for his son, the more convinced she is that they are all in danger. Is Verity actually hurt? And what is the truth behind her damning manuscript? Read Verity to find out!

I have SO much to say about Verity lol. It’s funny because as I was writing the synopsis, I am sure you can all agree that this sounds like a book that I would love. However, I ended up absolutely hating this book. I honestly didn’t know what I was reading and it felt like so many story lines being added together haphazardly. Part of Verity read like soft core porn, some of it was like reading a soap opera, and gruesome content seemed like it was added in purely for shock value.

All of you know that I am a huge thriller, horror, true crime fan and, I shit you not, this was probably one of the most disturbing books I have ever read. Reading Verity’s autobiography was so infuriating to me that I almost stopped reading it completely. It is that bad and I think that is saying a lot coming from me. I finished the book solely because I refuse to not read something in its entirety once I have started it and was unable to find any redeeming qualities.

It wasn’t the content of Verity alone that made it such a flop but it was the way it was written too. I found Colleen Hoover’s writing style to be juvenile at best. The characters were incredibly shallow and despite knowing the bad things that happened to them, you didn’t really know them at all. Lowen, for example, was such a lackluster heroine and Hoover built up her past to make her seem tragic when all she really suffered from was sleepwalking and a poor relationship with her mom. Jeremy was pretty much only there as man candy. And, Verity was plain awful but you never learned the “why” behind it. All this book did was leave me with expletives and question marks.

This doesn’t happen often, but I am going to rate Verity with a negative infinity out of ten stars and wouldn’t recommend it to my worst enemy. This book straight up sucked and I will never read anything else by Colleen Hoover. Epic, epic failure.

What are you currently reading? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Lush’s Bubba Lugosi Bubble Bar Review

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Lush’s Bubba Lugosi Bubble Bar Review

Hello! After an insanely long week, I couldn’t wait to sink into a nice, hot bath on Friday evening. It was my motivation since waking up on Monday because I was very eager to use the last of my Christmas Lush haul from my bestie! The final remainder of my gifts was a bubble bar from their Halloween collection called…wait for it… the BUBBA LUGOSI. I had never used a bubble bar from Lush before so I was excited to try it! Although I much prefer a bath bomb, the bubble bar was still a fun-ish product to further enhance bath time bliss. Check it out:

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First of all, let’s address how freaking adorable the Bubba Lugosi bubble bar is lol. My heart literally melted when I saw it for the first time and I think that’s why I held onto it for so long – it was too cute to use! After mentally preparing for over a month to part with this precious bubble bar, I was finally ready to let go. Was I disappointed with this product? No. But, I think I hyped it up in my head for so long that it wasn’t what I expected.

I placed the Bubba Lugosi under the running water once my tub was about halfway full. I was hoping for huge, fluffy bubbles as soon as it hit the water and was greeted by a steady stream of not so big bubbles, instead. As the water continued to run, the bubbles spread out evenly across the tub but it wasn’t mind blowing in any way. In fact, I’ve had better bubbles from just using my shower gel.

Another thing that didn’t wow me was how the color of the water changed as the bubble bar broke down. Normally, this would please me immensely. However, the water went from crystal clear to a murky purplish red and it ended up looking swampy rather than soothing. I don’t know about all of you, but the last thing that I want to feel like is the Creature From The Black Lagoon when I am trying to get my bath time mermaid on!

While the presentation was lacking severely for the Bubba Lugosi, I will say that it left my skin feeling very soft and nourished. For this reason, I was satisfied because I love being able to shave and not have to slather myself in lotion afterwards! I am going to rate this bubble bar with a three out of ten stars. I am glad that I used it and will be sticking with the bath bombs from Lush from now on!

What are your thoughts on the Lush bubble bars? What is your favorite Lush product? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Worst Oven Pizza Ever!

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Worst Oven Pizza Ever!

Hello! Johnny and I consider ourselves to be oven pizza connoisseurs. It is my go to when I don’t feel like cooking and it is Johnny’s favorite thing to make so that he feels like he’s cooking lol! I recently saw a commercial for a Digiorno pizza that had the entire crust (not just the edges) stuffed with cheese and it really blew my mind. I told Johnny about it and he decided to investigate when he ran some errands. Unfortunately, the pizza was only available in pepperoni and that wouldn’t do for my vegetarian self. So, Johnny purchased the Digiorno for him and this for me:

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I don’t know if you guys are familiar with the show Community but there was a character named Leonard who was a senior citizen and attending the community college. He had a vlog in which he reviewed different oven pizzas and would declare it to be “a buy” if he liked it. Lol, while lifewithlilred is not turning into a pizza blog any time soon, I just had to get my Leonard on one time for the one time because the Red Baron pizza Johnny got for me sucked on ice!

When my sweet husband returned from his shopping, he was so proud of himself for the substitution of the Red Baron Fully Loaded Five Cheese Pizza. And, I have to admit, it looked awesome and I couldn’t wait to pop it into the oven. After it was cooked, it was still looking good with all of that glorious cheese. Then, I had to cut it and it ended up being a very difficult feat. I kid you not, this pizza was literally all crust. *Face palm*

Once I freed some slices and plated it up, I lost most of my original zest for testing this pizza out. And, I don’t blame myself one bit because it was the worst. The crust was so thick that it tasted like eating a brick with a thin layer of sauce and cheese on top. I had to douse it in Ranch dressing to soften it up – it was that bad. The Red Baron truly missed the mark with this one and I couldn’t even bring myself to eat the leftovers, which is something I pride myself on. If only the crust were stuffed with cheese like Johnny’s pizza because he was living his best life with his!

lifewithlilred is all about giving honest reviews on products and I guess that goes for pizza too! Haha, I just felt obligated to warn all of my oven pizza fans out there about this epic failure before buying it. You’ll thank me later when you are enjoying an oven pie with a normal sized crust!

What is your favorite brand of oven pizza? What do you make (Or order!) when you don’t feel like cooking? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Friday Date Night

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Friday Date Night

Hello! A weekend in mine and Johnny’s world follows a fairly regular format of a date night one day and then Johnny will hang out with friends and I get the apartment to myself on the other. It’s great! These past few weeks have been exhausting for me because I started a new online job on top of my regular schedule. While we did have plans for a friend to come over on Friday, I had absolutely no follow through and we ended up having an awesome date night in, instead. Check it out:

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Literally all of last week, I developed an intense craving for Mary Coyle’s, which is a mom and pop Italian restaurant and ice cream parlor in Highland Square. I have absolutely no idea where this came from because I haven’t had Mary Coyle’s since I was a teenager. All I knew is that I had to have it lol! Being the angel that Johnny is, he DoorDashed it for dinner on Friday and I couldn’t wait to dig in while we watched our free trial of Peacock. Unfortunately, It was nowhere near as good as I remembered it being. 😦

At Mary Coyle’s I went with my teenage order of Fettuccine Alfredo and a blueberry sundae and, if we’re all being honest with each other – it sucked! The Alfredo was dry and the serving size was so small. Not that I want a heaping dish when I order out but this was legit a half handful of noodles at best and I was still hungry after the meal. I figured that I would fill up the empty spots with ice cream but that didn’t go accordingly to plan, either. The sundae consisted primarily of marshmallow fluff rather than ice cream and it was so disappointing!

Although the meal left a lot to be desired and required supplemental Doritos, we still had a great evening in. After dinner, we spent several hours playing Mario Kart 8 online and it was a hoot. It’s fun to race against Johnny and the computers but it was even better to play against actual people around the world. The races online were actually challenging and every time we thought we were going to finish up, “just one more” would turn into two or three. And, of course, we can’t get enough of the new racetracks that have been added too. πŸ˜€

A DoorDash and video game date night was just what I needed after yet another busy week. Whether we are out on the town or in for the evening, it is always the best time with my main squeeze! ❀

What is a perfect night in for you like? Are there any restaurants that didn’t live up to your memories? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Chocovia Hot Chocolate Bomb Review

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Chocovia Hot Chocolate Bomb Review

Hello! Johnny and I received some hot chocolate bombs by Chocovia for Christmas and I was thrilled. There is nothing better than curling up with a mug of cocoa during a winter evening in! I finally made myself a cup this weekend and it went from pretty good to really bad. And, unfortunately, it took me until almost the end of the cup to realize the yuck factor. Gift or not, purchase or skip, you can always count on Lil Red to give an honest review so let’s get to it:

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Using the Chocovia hot chocolate bombs was simple. All I needed to do was measure the milk or water, heat it up on the stove, and drop the bomb in once the liquid was thoroughly heated. Then, once the chocolate melted, it would break open revealing marshmallows on the inside. Once the bomb was in the pot, it began to melt immediately and it even had a little bit of movement too! Of course, it wasn’t as exciting as watching a bath bomb but it was alright lol. What surprised me the most during this process was how big the marshmallows were – they looked only slightly smaller than the jumbo ones.

It took about five minutes to make my hot chocolate and I couldn’t wait to try it once it cooled down. I can’t say that I was too impressed by what I was tasting. The chocolate factor was weak at best and I felt like I would have been better off with a glass of chocolate milk, instead. I decided to finish the mug anyways because these bombs didn’t call for much liquid so there was less than three fourths of a cup maximum.

It wasn’t until I approached these final sips that I realized something strange was going on – I thought I had paper towel in my mouth! I spit it out and saw a filmy substance in the cup – I am assuming from the marshmallows. You can see whatever it is on the rim of the mug in the last picture as well as circled in the hot chocolate itself. It seriously tasted and felt like gauze that you would find in a first aid kit and it was SO nasty. I’m just glad I caught onto it before I finished the rest of it!

If you are thinking of getting the Chocovia hot chocolate bombs, my advice is: Don’t. Lol, even if there wasn’t a mystery substance, it wasn’t good hot chocolate to begin with. You’re better off with a pack of Swiss Miss!

What is a product that you were disappointed in? What is your favorite cold weather drink? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Lil Red’s Book Club: Two Nights In Lisbon By Chris Pavone Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Two Nights In Lisbon By Chris Pavone Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we will be discussing a thriller called Two Nights In Lisbon by Chris Pavone – without giving any spoilers away, of course. This book was just okay for me. I liked the story line well enough but the writing style of Pavone didn’t do it for me and there were some parts that dragged on SO hard. I’ll let you be the judge of it if you read it! Before we begin, I will be placing a big fat trigger warning on Two Nights In Lisbon as it deals with sexual assault and violence. Now, let’s get to it:

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Ariel Pryce is nearing fifty and is newly married to John. He is handsome, successful, and ten years her junior. Ariel owns a small farm and local bookstore and is looking forward to her new life with her husband and tweenage son, George. Things seem picture perfect now but that hasn’t always been the case for Ariel. Her current life is a humble one, which is a far cry from her previous life as a New York City socialite with her ex-husband. Ariel paid a highly traumatizing price for her past wealth and fame at the hands of her ex’s business partner. She has been working hard on letting go of the worst time of her life and can’t wait to have a getaway with John in Lisbon, Portugal for one of his business trips.

Ariel and John’s first day in Portugal is amazing and filled with sight seeing, delicious food, and romance. Although Ariel was originally wary of this trip and leaving George with her mom, she realizes a little vacation might just be exactly what she needs. The newlyweds head to bed after a long day and fall asleep as soon as their heads hit the pillow. Then, when Ariel wakes up the following morning, John is nowhere to be found.

At first, Ariel thinks that her husband went for a walk and will be back shortly. She calls him to confirm but his phone goes straight to voicemail and he hasn’t even bothered to leave a note. As the hours tick by, panic mode takes over Ariel and she starts fearing the worst. It’s hard not to when she’s in a foreign country, doesn’t speak the language, and she can’t find her husband. The logical place to go is the police. However, the two officers won’t report John missing yet since he has only been gone for a few hours. They also imply, much to Ariel’s distaste, that maybe she doesn’t know her husband as well as she thinks.

Refusing to simply wait around for word from John, Ariel next heads to the American embassy where she hears more of the same thing. It isn’t until a man on a motorcycle hands Ariel a burner phone demanding three million euros as a ransom for John that people start taking her seriously. Despite her husband’s success, they don’t have that kind of money and Ariel has no idea who to call to help. Well… She does. It’s just that she really doesn’t want to.

As the police and the CIA work the case, they have a vague idea of who it might be that Ariel called as well as extorted for the ransom. And, if it is who they think it is, then they have a major issue of national security on their plates because her call just proved that the future vice president of the United States can be extorted. Is John’s kidnapping a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time? Or is it a carefully constructed plot to bring one of Ariel’s attackers to justice? Read Two Nights In Lisbon to find out!

For the first two hundred or so pages of Two Nights In Lisbon, I was really into it. This book moved at a fast pace and began with John being kidnapped right from the jump. It was nerve wracking to read as Ariel navigated through Lisbon and essentially tried to solve the crisis herself, knowing that law enforcement wasn’t completely on her side. Then, it started getting very convoluted very quickly. Between the local law enforcement, CIA, FBI, and journalists on the case, I found it difficult to keep track of everyone. Breaks in the case, new details, and new people all became muddled together and I was ready for the book to end about halfway through.Β 

I feel torn about this book because I actually really liked the story line and grand reveal. I also am all for the overall message that is being conveyed. I just wasn’t a huge fan of Chris Pavone’s writing. In this book, he was quite fond of going into paragraph long litanies that were essentially one big run on sentence. It drove me crazy! The wordiness bogged down the reading experience and I felt like so much of it could have been eliminated, which would have made for a smoother read. In fact, if it was a different author who wrote the book, I probably would have liked it way more.

One praise that I do have for Two Nights In Lisbon is Ariel’s character. She is a bonafied badass and even though I didn’t love how the book was written, I was still in her corner all the way till the end. Ariel is such a strong, brave heroine and I liked that she was both book and street smart. There were so many times throughout the book when I was thinking “good for her” and those were my thoughts once I read the final page too.

Overall, I am going to rate Two Nights In Lisbon with a five out of ten star rating. There was a lot about this book that I enjoyed and would have rated it much higher had I connected more with Pavone’s writing. I suppose I would recommend it simply for the fact that the grand reveal was pretty awesome. However, you’re not missing out on anything if you choose to skip this one!

What are you currently reading? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

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