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Lil Red’s Book Club: Joyland By Stephen King Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Joyland By Stephen King Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we are going to be discussing a super fun read by Stephen King called Joyland – without giving any spoilers away, of course. Set at the old fashioned amusement park, Joyland, in Heaven’s Bay, North Carolina, this book was completely charming. And, yes, I realize that Stephen King’s books don’t get described as that often but Joyland was such a far cry from his usual full fledged horror writing and I couldn’t put it down! Before we begin, I will be putting a trigger warning on Joyland for violence and murder. Now, let’s get to it:

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Summertime is approaching for twenty-one year old college student, Devin Jones, and he is in desperate need of a job. He is utterly heartbroken from his previous relationship, broke, and wants to be anywhere but cleaning up in the dining hall. On a whim, he decides to apply at Joyland as a general employee after seeing an ad in the classifieds. During his trip to the park in Heaven’s Bay, North Carolina for his interview, Devin decides that there are worse places to spend his summer and accepts the gig.

During his tour, Devin learns that Joyland is an old school amusement park with carny flare. There are a few big rides but the majority of attractions offered are for the entire family, making it an ideal summer destination. The games, rides, and vending stands are all ran by year round “carny from carny” folks, which is The Talk for a family of carnival workers. Don’t worry, you’ll get familiar with The Talk (Joyland’s secret lingo) soon enough! Joyland is in the business of selling fun but there is one ride that even the bravest employees don’t like to be around – the Horror House. A young woman, Linda Gray, was murdered on the ride and it is believed to be haunted. Oh yeah, and the murderer is still at large.

After a few short weeks, it’s time for Devin’s summertime job to begin and he enjoys it immensely. Kind employees like Lane, Fred, and Pop take him under their wings and show him the ropes about everything from operating rides to “wearing the fur”. AKA dressing up as the park’s mascot: Howie The Happy Hound. He has even managed to make a few friends, Tom and Erin, who live in the same boarding house as him and also work the park. Devin spends his days working hard and is eager to get a glimpse of the Horror House ghost and maybe even solve the mystery of her death.

As summer continues on, Devin becomes a staple in the lives of Annie and Mike Ross who live in a beautiful beach home that he walks by every day to and from work. Annie is a young mom and her son, Mike, has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy which confines them to their home. And, let’s just say that Annie makes it a bit easier for Devin to forget his ex girlfriend! In fact, Devin decides to stay on as a full time employee at Joyland – half for the Rosses and half for Linda Gray.

Thanks to some research from Erin, who is now back at school, her findings show a pattern of other young ladies killed in a similar fashion. Linda Gray’s killer has murdered several girls and Devin is nowhere closer to solving the crime. But, there’s something about the photos that Erin shows him that bothers him. The pictures of the killer at the park with Linda has a familiarity to them that he can’t put his finger on. Perhaps, the killer has been under everyone’s noses the entire time. Will Devin be able to bring the killer forward and put Linda Gray’s ghost to rest? Read Joyland to find out!

I seriously loved everything about Joyland and my only regret is that it wasn’t longer. After I read the last page, I told Johnny that I wished there was more or that a TV series was made about it. It was just so good and, honestly, really cute. And, once again, it feels weird to me to describe a Stephen King book as such! King’s writing made you feel like you were walking along the Joyland boardwalks with Devin and the carny Talk that the employees used further enhanced the old time park vibes. It was such a fun read that I wanted to take a ride on the Carolina Spin and Delirium Shaker myself!

While this book was based around solving a murder, it was really not as gruesome as you could imagine for a King book. It almost seemed like an afterthought to the story of Devin growing into an adult. It was exciting to read about the unsolved crime but it was even better to read about Devin’s sweet relationship with Mike and the other characters that made Heaven’s Bay special. I enjoyed how character rather than plot driven Joyland was and I wanted to be friends with all of the people who graced the pages.

I will say that the grand reveal was very easy to solve and that’s okay. I think anything too convoluted would have taken away from the overall simplicity of the story. I actually wouldn’t mind reading it again from the perspective of knowing who the killer is because certain parts immediately popped out at me and I’d like to find more. If you like to play detective like me, just keep in mind that everyone puts on a mask when they are in the business of selling fun.

I am going to award Joyland with the coveted ten out of ten stars. Stephen King might not be everyone’s cup of tea but I think that everyone will be able to find something that they like about this book. I highly recommend it and plan on reading it again in the future!

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: 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. 

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

 

Lil Red’s Book Club: Lucy By The Sea By Elizabeth Strout Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Lucy By The Sea By Elizabeth Strout 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 fantastic novel by Elizabeth Strout called Lucy By The Sea. I devoured this book in three days and my only regret is that the two hundred and eighty-eight page read wasn’t longer. I wish it could have gone on for forever and it is, easily, one of my favorite reads of 2022. It. Was. Excellent. Before we begin, I will be placing a trigger warning on Lucy By The Sea as this book has a primary focus on grief including, death, miscarriages, abuse, and mental health issues. Now, let’s get to it:

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The time is winter of 2020 and Lucy lives alone in her apartment in Manhattan. She is once divorced with two adult daughters and now freshly widowed after the passing of her beloved David. Lucy’s childhood was anything but picture perfect and her and her siblings grew up incredibly poor and suffered at the hands of their abusive mother. She drew inspiration from her sad beginning and became a famous author who just finished yet another book tour.

Once Lucy has settled back into her apartment, she learns she must leave. Her ex-husband, William, is a scientist and is deeply concerned by the Covid-19 pandemic. He insists on Lucy packing a bag and coming with him to a home rented in coastal Maine, all in the name of saving her life. He instructs their two daughters, Chrissy and Becka, who also live in the city to get out of town as well. At first, Lucy doesn’t understand why William is panicking but she learns soon enough.

Very quickly, the world as Lucy knew it begins to turn upside down and she no longer recognizes the streets she once called home when she sees the ghost town of New York City on the news. Her panic attacks and icy relationship with William also do nothing to help her settle into her new life in Maine. Lucy walks. Lucy sits. And Lucy worries. She fears for her daughters, each privately suffering in their own way. She fears for herself as she grows older and starts feeling like she is losing her mind. And, she fears for the state of the world as the pandemic continues to spiral.

Despite the impending sense of doom that blankets Lucy, everything isn’t all bad in Maine. Through kindly Bob who William rented the home from, they both begin to make friends. Lucy takes solace in her walks and chats with her new companions. And, through the hardships of her daughters, she begins to grow closer to William after being apart for so long. She has finally grown to accept this “new normal” of a life and gains a deeper understanding of her own issues both past and present. After a lifetime of sorrow, is there a happy ending waiting for Lucy? Read Lucy By The Sea to find out!

I absolutely LOVED Lucy By The Sea and it was one of the most amazing, well written books that I have read in a long time. It was, truly, a step by step walk through of the Covid-19 pandemic that touched on several key focuses including the presidency, the murder of George Floyd, the protests, and the insurrection. Reading Lucy describe these events as they unfolded felt like going back in time and it was crazy to see so many of the conversations Johnny and I had at every turn of the page.

Combining this insane time with each character working through their own grief perfectly captured the overwhelming sorrow that I felt throughout the pandemic. Every day was a day of going through the motions while providing little more than to be alone with your own thoughts. It is easy to understand why mental health issues became exasperated because everything just seemed so much more difficult to bear. You could feel this rain cloud over each person in Lucy By The Sea and it beautifully put into words all of the despair I felt myself.

Although Lucy was about forty years my senior, I related to her so much. Not only did she have her own struggles with anxiety and depression, like me, but she also failed to see herself the way other people do. This is something that I have overcome but the feelings of not being good enough crop up from time to time. Reading how Lucy began to see herself in a new light despite all of the current hardships gave the glimmer of hope that everyone was waiting for during the pandemic. The transformation was stunning and the book ended with me weeping tears of joy for this unlikely heroine who I grew to love so much.

I am going to award Lucy By The Sea with the coveted ten out of ten star rating. If the material in this book isn’t too upsetting, then I cannot recommend or sing its praises enough. It is one of the most powerful, inspiring books that I have ever read and I think that you will love it too!

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: Cell By Stephen King Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Cell By Stephen King Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! I have been on a huge Stephen King kick as of late and there was no better time than the present to reread one of my all time favorites – Cell. This is probably the sixth or seventh time that I have read this book and it truly never gets old. In fact, it has been several years since I have read it and some parts that I had somewhat forgotten left me SHOOK. As always, we will be discussing Cell with no spoilers and before we begin, I will be placing a trigger warning on this book for intense violence, disturbing content, and suicide. Now, let’s get to it:

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Clay Riddell is having a great day as he steps outside to a sunny Boston afternoon with his portfolio in hand. Actually, scratch that. He is having an excellent day because he just sold not one but two volumes of his graphic novel series, The Dark Wanderer. In his other hand he has bags of gifts for his wife, despite being separated at the time, and their beloved son, Johnny. Clay decides he could use a treat too and stops for an ice cream cone. Then, The Pulse begins.

In what feels like an eternity but is only a matter of minutes, the streets of Boston break out in extraordinary violence and the people committing the acts seem plain crazy. Havoc ensues with planes crashing, fires burning, and Duck Boats being driven into the streets. From Clay’s post at the ice cream truck, he notices that every single person going bonkers had just been using a cell phone. In his mind, Clay thanks his lucky stars that he refuses to own one and also knows that he needs to find shelter and fast.

As he tries to avoid the chaos from the murderous, frenzied phone-crazies, Clay runs into Tom. The two men seek sanctuary in Clay’s step above a fleabag hotel and watch from the windows as The Pulse continues. During this period, Clay and Tom also bring fifteen year old Alice who is being chased by a phone-crazy into the hotel. Little do they know that they will be forming a three person crew fighting against the end of the world.

Kind Tom, panicked Alice, and straight to the point Clay know that they need to make a move before Boston burns to the ground. As darkness falls and the streets clear of the crazies, they begin their trek to Vermont because Clay has bigger problems on his mind. His son owns a cell phone. But first, they decide to stop at Tom’s house for provisions. During their trip on foot, they notice that the phoners have all but disappeared at night and quickly become savvy that the day now belongs to them.

Once supplies are secured and weapons are acquired from Tom’s neighbor, they post up for the day in his home and begin to notice the flocking. Seemingly out of nowhere, the phoners begin to fill the streets and pack it like sardines in their strange, violent trance, always heading north. The crew can’t quite put their finger on it but the crazies are evolving somehow. For example, they are using items as a tool to open garden pumpkins to munch on. Clay, Tom, and Alice don’t like it one bit.

The weary wanderer’s nighttime travels bring them to Gaiten Academy where they link up with The Head and his very last pupil, Jordan. The relative safety of the academy seems to disappear before their very eyes when they learn that a massive flock of phoners have been sleeping on the soccer field. With nothing else to do but try, they develop a plan. They are going to destroy the flock. And they do – but not without repercussion.

In all of their dreams that night, they are visited by “The Raggedy Man” and are placed on pedestals while a crowd of phoners call them crazy. But not with their mouths – with their minds. Oh yes, they have telepathic powers and made it known by forcing The Head to kill himself. After burying The Head, the flock killers move onward with Jordan in tow and begin to notice spray painted signs on the street saying “KASHWAK = NO-FO”. And, it’s true. Kashwak is a dead zone.

Could the normies live peacefully there as the phoners rule the world? Will Clay find his son there? There’s only one way to find out. In their guts, they know it’s a bad idea to go to Kashwak and their dreams confirm it. It seems to be a conversion point where the remaining normies will be transformed to phone-crazies. However, they don’t have much of a choice when the telepathic force of the phoners continue to push them forward. Will any normies live to tell the tale? Read Cell to find out!

I don’t know what it is about Cell but it has never failed to blow my mind. This book is terrifying for the simple reason that almost every single person over the age of eight seems to have a cell phone nowadays. Stephen King targeted this item that no one really thinks about anymore and turned it into the ultimate weapon. This device that we always have in our pocket or purse could burn the world to the ground in King’s eyes and it’s so wild to read the story as it unfolds.

After reading this book countless times, the characters are so cherished by me and I love them all so much. They also showcase the humor that King incorporates into his books that I can’t get enough of. Wry Clay, sassy Tom, too cute Alice, and smart-alek Jordan all showcase different sides of King and the ragtag crew still manages to shine a bright light in so much darkness.

Feeling like I know each of these characters personally after reading their tale so many times only enhances the reading experience. The situation in Cell is crazy but reading it happen with the eyes of reading about old friends adds to the urgency and terror tenfold. Because of this, there were scenes that I was simply gutted by despite knowing what was going to happen in advance. In fact, I daresay it’s even better the seventh time around!

I am going to award Cell with the coveted ten out of ten star rating. This is hands down one of the best Stephen King books in my humble opinion and if you are a horror fan, I think you’ll like it just as much as me. If not, then you can definitely skip on Cell!

What is your favorite Stephen King book? 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 Dry By Jane Harper Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Dry By Jane Harper Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Without giving away any spoilers, as always, we will be discussing a thriller by Jane Harper called The Dry. This is a book that has been sitting on my shelf for several years when I got it FO FREE in a library’s give away box. I decided to finally read it because I haven’t been to the library in a while and I am glad I did. I wouldn’t say that it was my favorite book but it was still a really good read. Before we begin our discussion, I will be placing a trigger warning on The Dry for abuse, extreme violence, and murder. Now, let’s get to it:

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Aaron Falk has not been welcome in his hometown of Kiewarra, Australia since he was a teenager. After his friend, Ellie Deacon was found drowned in the river and a note with Aaron’s name was found in her bedroom, he and his best friend, Luke Hadler, became the prime suspects for her death. Aaron and his father were driven out of the small farming community after one too many threats from unfriendly neighbors, fled to Melbourne, and haven’t looked back since.

Now, close to two decades later, Aaron must return back to Kiewarra after learning that his childhood friend, Luke, his wife Karen, and son Billy were killed. Everyone suspects Luke of going off his rocker due to dire financial circumstances thanks to a two year drought. His parents, however, refuse to believe that Luke was capable of such a heinous crime and enlist Aaron’s help to put these rumors to rest. Aaron works with the police in Melbourne for financial crimes and figures looking over their finances is the least he can do. Plus, going through their banking statements means he doesn’t have to talk to anyone because he hasn’t encountered a friendly face since his arrival.

By sharing his findings with the local sheriff, Raco, a full on unofficial investigation begins because things just aren’t adding up. Sure, they have hunches over who might have committed the crime but with no solid evidence, fingers continue to point back to Luke. The death of Ellie has haunted Aaron throughout his life and, now, he begins to wonder if the triple murders were payback for her untimely demise. Ellie’s father and cousin make good candidates for the Hadler family murder but it could be anyone.

Tensions in Kiewarra are high because a drought means no money for the farms and Aaron and Raco poking around puts everyone on edge. With Aaron’s time in his hometown drawing to a close and his safety threatened with every turn of the page, the chances of solving the murders and shining a light on who killed Ellie are bleak. Will the Hadler family finally be able to rest in peace? Or will Aaron return back to Melbourne with his tail between his legs? Read The Dry to find out!

As I said before, The Dry was a great read. It wasn’t the best thing that I have ever read but it was extremely unique and I devoured it in four sittings. This book was unputdownable for several reasons, mainly because it wasn’t just about the Hadler family murder. While Aaron was working on the case, he was also trying to find out once and for all who drowned Ellie and it was interesting to read the similarities in two totally different circumstances. The people in Kiewarra were also unfriendly at best and threatening at worst and it made the danger that Aaron was in feel so much more imminent.

While the story line of The Dry was quite original, what I really enjoyed was the layout of the book. The chapters were always narrated by Aaron. However, there would be segments in the book that would take you back into the past as recalled by other characters. This was something that I had never seen done before and I loved it. As you all know, a multiple narrator book is my favorite and this was a similar set up but so different than what I am used to and kept me turning the page feverishly.

As far as characters go, it was easy to like and root for Aaron as well as Sheriff Raco. While Raco was an open book, Aaron complimented this by being difficult to read, even by people who know him best. In the beginning, this made it difficult to appreciate his subtleties. But, as his character developed throughout the book, I was fully invested in his well being – it just took some time to get warmed up to him.

Finally, in terms of grand reveals, the one in The Dry was alright. I had figured it out prior to it happening and I didn’t particularly care for it but I understood why it happened the way it did. If you’re like me and try to play amateur detective while reading, my advice is to not put your blinders up when reading The Dry. There were so many people who could have committed each crime but it’s not always what it seems!

Overall, I am going to give The Dry a seven out of ten star rating. The dire situations in the book and a format that was different than anything I have read before made for a good reading experience. I would definitely recommend this book and would happily read more by Jane Harper!

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: The Maid By Nita Prose Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Maid By Nita Prose Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new month here on lifewithlilred! To kick start November, we will be discussing a delightfully charming read by Nita Prose called The Maid – without giving any spoilers away, of course. Both my mom and I read this book and we really enjoyed it. In fact, I liked it so much that I wouldn’t mind reading it again! Before we begin, I will be placing a trigger warning on The Maid as it deals with the death of a loved one and domestic violence. Now, let’s get to it:

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Molly simply loves her job as a maid at the Regency Grand Hotel. She loves her uniform, the routine, and returning each room to a state of perfection. Her self worth fully relies on her employment now that her beloved grandma is deceased. So much so that Molly would rather be at work than in the small apartment that they used to share.

Molly sees the world differently than her coworkers and falls somewhere on the autism spectrum. Since the passing of her grandma, her life went from vibrant and rich to incredibly lonely. She does have a few friends, however. Every day, Molly tends to Giselle Black’s room. She is the wife of a business mogul and she is just as lonely as Molly in her own ways. Through this shared bond, a friendship forms. Molly cleans the room and Giselle teaches her about makeup and explains the things that Molly doesn’t fully understand – like when a coworker is making fun of her.

Of course, not all of her coworkers are completely awful and Molly also enjoys her friendship with kindly Mr. Preston, Juan Manuel, and Rodney, whom she has a huge crush on. Rodney is the perfect man for her and surprises Molly through his “thoughtfulness”. For example, after entering one of the rooms she was scheduled to clean, Molly stumbles upon Rodney, Juan Manuel, and two intimidating looking strangers who she assumes are their friends. Rodney explains that Juan Manuel’s work permit has expired and he has no place to live. He asks Molly if she can give him a key card to an unoccupied room every night, stow his overnight bag, and clean up every morning. And she does.

Every day, Molly looks forward to her visits with Giselle and her friends until something awful happens. During her usual rounds in the Black’s suite, Molly finds Giselle’s husband dead in his bed. Originally, she wasn’t a suspect to a possible murder. But, after doing a few favors for some of her so called friends, Molly is arrested for murder, drug charges, and having an illegal firearm. Desperate to prove her innocence, Molly and the people who only wish the best for her rally to fight the charges. But, it’s going to take Molly being pushed out of her comfort zone to do it. Can they pull it off? Read The Maid to find out!

I wasn’t expecting to like The Maid as much as I did but I literally couldn’t put it down to save my own life. I devoured it in three days and wish that it wasn’t such a quick read! This book tapped into every emotion possible in barely two hundred and ninety pages. It was equal parts heartbreaking, hilarious, enraging, and inspiring. If you don’t find yourself rooting for Molly with every turn of the page, then there is a good chance that you don’t have a heart.

Not only did The Maid have me emotionally invested but the plot was great too. There were so many twists and turns cleverly interwoven into the mundane life of a hotel maid. It was so different than anything that I have read recently and that was exciting. Throughout the book, Molly prided herself on being an invisible cog in the hotel machine. Or rather, what her boss describes as a bee in a hive. Being able to watch Molly develop and be seen for the first time in so long was an absolute joy.

I am going to award The Maid with an eight out of ten stars. This was an original and fun read that will make you want to cry as you stay on the edge of your seat. Highly recommend!

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: Thinner By Stephen King Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Thinner By Stephen King Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, without giving any spoilers away, we will be discussing Thinner by Stephen King. There is never a bad time to read one of the kings of horror but it just hits differently during spooky season. I have been on a huge King kick as of late and have recently enjoyed Carrie and Fire-Starter. Thinner was a fun, quick read and before we get started, I will be placing a trigger warning on it for violence and disturbing content. Now, let’s get to it:

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Billy Halleck is a family man who is living the good life. He has a beautiful wife, beloved daughter, expensive home, and a great job as a lawyer. From this standpoint, he is the picture of success. Then, you look at the man who is being discussed and find out that he is very overweight and cruising dangerously to the heart attack zone. Constant binge eating has brought Billy’s weight to roughly two hundred and fifty pounds. Sure, he might say he’s on a diet but the empty snack wrappers and soda cans tell a totally different story.

Billy’s success in his small Connecticut town is a double edged sword. On one hand, he is making lots of money. On the other, his ins with judges and police officers helped sweep a crime that Billy is culpable of under the rug. Due to a bout of distracted driving, Billy ran over a wanderer whose caravan was camped in town. Instead of serving jail time, Billy got a slap on the wrist and his life went back to normal… So normal that he almost forgot about the ringleader of the fortune tellers and performers. His nose was suffering from necrosis and he touched Billy gently and whispered “thinner” to win justice for the victim.

Soon, Billy began to lose weight despite eating more than ever before. At first, it was nothing major and his scale stayed comfortably in the 240s. Then, the weight loss became rapid and within a few short weeks he lost forty pounds. Trips to the doctor and multiple tests confirmed that nothing was “wrong” with Billy medically. But, then again, a curse doesn’t show up on a blood test.

As Billy continues to go from dangerously overweight to dangerously thin, other strange phenomena is happening to the people involved in Billy’s courtroom coverup. The judge has inexplicably began growing scales and the chief of police has sprouted oozing, weeping pimples all over his body. They, too, were cursed by the caravan leader.

Time is running out and Billy has lost well over one hundred pounds in two months. He knows he will not find a cure at a medical facility that his wife insists on him checking into. So, he begins a road trip along the Northeast coast to track the wanderers down and get his curse lifted. Will he find them before the emaciation and arrhythmia in his heart kills him first? Read Thinner to find out!

Like Carrie and Fire-Starter, I had a great time reading Thinner. Was it my favorite Stephen King book that I have ever read? No. But, like all King books, it was a campy and fun page turner. I have always enjoyed King’s books not just for the horror but because of the humor! Stephen King has such a dry, silly sense of humor and so many lines in Thinner made me and Johnny laugh out loud.

Thinner wasn’t as much of a jump scare read as it was plain disturbing. “The Incredible Shrinking Man”, as Billy calls himself, is such a simple yet terrifying punishment. Most chapters in the book were marked by Billy’s new weight and reading his deterioration into a gaunt, skeletal man almost made me happy to have some areas of my body with extra padding lol. 

While I liked the story line, I didn’t care as much for Billy as a main character as I have in other King books. He seemed to play the blame game for his situation a lot instead of taking full responsibility for running a woman over. And, although he didn’t serve time in jail like he should have, he let the whole issue slip his mind almost completely rather than feel any guilt for it. Not a good look!

I am going to rate Thinner with a seven out of ten stars. This is a perfect and fast paced read to get you into the Halloween spirit. Although it wasn’t as groundbreaking as other King books, I still recommend it!

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: The It Girl By Ruth Ware Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The It Girl By Ruth Ware Edition

Hello everyone! We interrupt your regularly scheduled bonus pictures from my Pumpkin Patch Party OOTD with a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club. Today, without giving any spoilers away, we will be discussing a thriller by Ruth Ware called The It Girl. To be frank, I have never been overly impressed with Ware’s books but this one was very good. In fact, it’s my favorite book that she has written. Before we begin, I will be placing a trigger warning on The It Girl for violence and disturbing content. Now, let’s get to it:

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Hannah Jones appears to have it all. A husband, Will, who she has loved since first sight, a baby on the way, and the charming life of a couple in their late twenties. Could she have said the same for herself a decade ago? Not at all. Ten years ago, her roommate, April, at the prestigious Pelham College at Oxford was brutally murdered. Despite her seemingly picture perfect life, Hannah struggles with this on a daily basis. She did not have a role in April’s death but she played a big part in the trial.

During her time at Pelham, Hannah was joined at the hip with the gorgeous, effervescent April. April was, indeed, an It Girl and everyone knew about her beauty and wealth. Their friend circle of Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily seemed to revolve solely around April but her and Hannah shared a bond that only roommates could have. Hannah felt completely at home in her new life at Pelham except for one major issue… John Neville.

Neville was a porter at Pelham and he seemed to have it out for Hannah from the jump. Hannah was uncomfortable walking alone and would plan her routes to avoid John but he seemed to be everywhere. He was also the last person to see April alive and is what sealed his conviction for her death due to Hannah’s testimony. There have always been whispers that Neville was innocent. However, his recent death in prison means he will never see justice and the case is blown back open. If Neville is innocent, then April’s killer is still on the loose ten years later.

After Hannah talks to a journalist who claims to have new information on the case, she begins to doubt her story even more than she already did. Now, it is up to her to put the pieces together and find out what really happened the night of April’s death. If Neville is out of the picture, everyone is now a suspect. Her old friends, teachers, and even her own husband. Will Hannah solve the case of April’s killer? Read The It Girl to find out!

While I have enjoyed previous Ruth Ware books before, I have never felt too excited when she has a new book out. In comparison to other thrillers, her novels always seem to fall just a bit short. Needless to say, I was incredibly surprised with how invested I was in The It Girl right from the start. It was completely unputdownable and I couldn’t wait for free time so that I could read more!

The It Girl featured one of my favorite things of going back and forth between Hannah’s past at Pelham College to present day. This allowed you to get to know the main suspects in their youth and in current times. It also made it very difficult to pinpoint the killer because all of these players were incredibly likeable despite the usual flaws of first year college students. And, any tension in present times from them felt understandable after ten years of trying to get April’s death out of their minds. Every lead felt like a Red Herring and it made you relate to Hannah even more as she continued to second guess everything she thought she knew.

I loved Hannah as a main character and I thought that she was really brave. Her pregnancy also heightened the suspense because her sleuthing could turn dangerous at any moment. It was so easy to sympathize with her after all that she had been through. I definitely spent the whole book rooting for her to have the life she always wanted.

My advice if you read this book and you like to try and figure out the grand reveal ahead of time is to go with your gut. Like Hannah, I second guessed and then vetoed one of my initial instincts and I ended up being right on the money. It’s also very important to pay close attention to everything said and done at Pelham because it will all come back soon enough!

I am going to award The It Girl with a seven and a half star rating. I was originally going to give it an eight but I realized that that was only because I liked it better than other Ruth Ware novels. Was this the most groundbreaking thing that I have ever read? No. But, it was a fun read and it put Ware back on the map for me after years of feeling wishy washy. I think you all will like it too!

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: Fire-Starter By Stephen King Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Fire-Starter By Stephen King Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! I have been visiting my own personal library and after rereading Stephen King’s Carrie for the first time since freshman year of high school, I thought that I would give Fire-Starter a try. I have never read it before and it was AMAZING and such a fun reminder of King’s greatness. From start to finish, I was hooked and I can’t wait to watch the movie of it soon. Before we begin our discussion, I will be placing a trigger warning on Fire-Starter for gruesome violence and disturbing content. Now, let’s get to it – without giving any spoilers away, of course!

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Young Andy McGee is strapped for cash in college and decides to take part in an experiment for a quick two hundred bucks. In this experiment, some students would be injected with a hallucinogenic drug and others would get a placebo. It sounded easy enough and eleven other students thought so too, including Vicky, whom Andy would eventually marry and have a little girl with.

During the experiment, strange and violent things happened but the facilitators claimed that it was just the effects of the drugs causing these visions. Still, Andy can remember vividly when a drugged student clawed his own eyes out and others were being encouraged to move items with their minds. Apparently, this drug was thought to awaken certain mental abilities like telekinesis, levitation, pyrokinesis, and mental domination.

Because of the deaths of two students during the experiment, it was immediately shut down and covered up. Fast forward to present day and Andy and Vicky are the only two remaining from the original group. The happy couple is perfectly ordinary aside from a few quirks. Vicky can occasionally open the refrigerator door from across the room. Meanwhile, Andy can use his mental domination to “push” people into anything from losing weight to having more self confidence. Their daughter, however, is a different story.

Little Charlie McGee has the power of pyrokinesis – the ability to make and control fires with her mind. You can imagine the scares she gave her parents when she was a baby! Despite their powers that they inherited for a measly two hundred in college, the McGees live a fulfilling and normal life. They also have no idea that they have been watched and followed since the experiment ended and that an allusive group called “The Shop” is very much interested in Andy and Charlie.

After Andy has a hunch of something bad happening at his work as a college professor, he rushes home to find his wife dead and Charlie missing. He learns that his daughter was taken from a friend’s home and time is of the essence before The Shop has her for forever. He uses his power of the push to locate her and they have been on the run from Charlie’s captors ever since.

The Shop believes that Andy and Charlie are incredibly dangerous and could also be very useful for their own personal gain. They will not stop hunting father and daughter until they have them locked up at their compound. And, once they have Andy and Charlie, there is no telling what will happen to them next. How long can the McGees evade The Shop’s clutches? What’s going to happen when they’re caught? Read Fire-Starter to find out!

I am so freaking obsessed with Fire-Starter and cannot believe that I haven’t read it before. From beginning to end, the tension in this book was so high because Andy and Charlie are so easy to root for. Andy is such a doting father and Charlie is just sweet as can be. However, it wouldn’t be a Stephen King book if they were on the run for forever. They had to get caught eventually but you didn’t know when and it made the book simply unputdownable.

Fire-Starter went back and forth from past and present and shifted narrators every couple of chapters. You all know how much I love that in a book so that was a huge plus. It was also interesting to know what Charlie and Andy were doing and what The Shop was planning to do about it in tandem. There were so many times when this read lulled me into a false sense of security and I would hope that The Shop would slip up. Then, something major would happen and it was heartbreaking. Trust and believe, my jaw dropped like five hundred times throughout the book!

Fire-Starter was such an easy, enjoyable read and it was a fresh take on what horror is because it’s not always things that go bump in the night. Sometimes, it’s people who are horrifying. Stephen King really embraced that in Fire-Starter and further solidifies him as King Of Horror in my mind. Like Carrie, I will be awarding Fire-Starter with the coveted ten out of ten stars and I cannot recommend it enough. It’s a perfect spooky season read!

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: Carrie By Stephen King Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Carrie By Stephen King Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! With minimal time to go to the library, I have been pulling from mine and Johnny’s book nook for something to read. After finishing In Cold Blood, I decided on Carrie by Stephen King. I haven’t read Carrie since freshman year of high school and it is MESSED. UP. Before our discussion (with no spoilers, of course), I will be placing a trigger warning on it for disturbing content, abuse, and bullying. Now, let’s get to it:

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Carrie White is a sad and lonely girl and has been since the day she was born to her religious fanatic mother. Her days consist of being beaten, locked in a closet to pray, and being the butt of everyone’s jokes at school. However, Carrie is special and has a power deep within her that didn’t get unlocked until a particularly nasty incident.

Poor Carrie got her first period in the shower after gym class and thought that she was bleeding to death. Rather than help her, all of the girls in her class began throwing tampons and pads and yelled at her to “plug it up”. In her despair, Carrie made the lights in the bathroom burn out – just by using her mind.

Carrie is, indeed, special and has the power of telekinesis or being able to move objects just by thinking of it. While Carrie spends her time perfecting her craft, other plans are set into motion. Popular Sue Snell feels remorse for the bathroom incident and wants to make things right. So, she asks her boyfriend, Tommy, to take Carrie to the senior prom.

Meanwhile, mean girl Chris is enraged that she has to miss the prom because she skipped out on the detentions given for tormenting Carrie in the bathroom. Chris and Sue have a very different idea of making prom an unforgettable night for Carrie. As Carrie prepares for the prom by making her own dress and watching what she eats, Chris and her boyfriend begin planning the ultimate revenge.

Fast forward to prom night and Carrie shows up on the arm of Tommy Ross. She feels beautiful and is entranced by the magic of the event. People are complimenting her, talking to her, and for once in her life Carrie feels seen. Her and Tommy are even voted prom king and queen. Then, everything goes downhill rapidly.

While standing on stage and accepting their new title of high school royalty, two buckets of pig’s blood are spilled all over Carrie. The metaphorical straw broke the camel’s back and a murderous rampage ensues compliments of Carrie’s special gift. Prom night was unforgettable. Will anyone make it out alive? Read Carrie to find out!

My husband and I are huge fans of Stephen King and rereading Carrie after so long is a perfect reminder why. This book is terrifying and, honestly, heartbreaking. It was SO hard to read about the torment that Carrie is subjected to on a daily basis. She is not safe at home or school and is utterly alone in her misery. I couldn’t even imagine.

I often see memes on Facebook of “reading or watching Carrie” with the picture of the mom from Arrested Development saying “good for her”. And to be real, I was rooting for Carrie the entire time, even during the grand finale. It is such a prime example of the hunted becoming the huntress and essentially making the bullies eat their words. So, yes, GOOD FOR HER – especially because it was impossible to root for any of the people who were so awful to her!

I am going to rate Carrie with the coveted ten out of ten stars. If you haven’t read it and are into the horror genre, then I cannot recommend it enough. It is such a great introduction to Stephen King books and is, easily, one of his most powerful 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