Tag Archives: lil red’s book club

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

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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

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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!

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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

Lil Red’s Book Club: In Cold Blood By Truman Capote Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: In Cold Blood By Truman Capote Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! After finishing the Obama Biden Mystery series by Andrew Shaffer, I was completely out of things to read. So, I decided to finally take Johnny’s advice and read In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. He has been telling me for three years to give it a try and after caving, I don’t know why I didn’t listen to him from the start. It. Was. AMAZING!

Without giving any spoilers away, we will be discussing what is thought to be one of the best True Crime books after written. Before we begin, however, I will be placing a big fat trigger warning on In Cold Blood for disturbing content and gruesome violence. Now, let’s get to it:

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Holcomb, Kansas is a small rural town where everyone knows everyone. People are generous to their neighbors, attend church, and never lock their doors. The Clutter family is at the center of this community and each member is well liked and respected by all. Mr. and Mrs. Clutter and their children, Kenyon and Nancy, live on a beautiful ranching property and spent their final day without even an inkling of what was going to happen next.

On November 15th, 1959, each member of the Clutter family was murdered in their own home. The slaying was brutal and no one could make sense of it. The assailants left behind almost no clues and the inhabitants of Holcomb couldn’t imagine a crime like this unfolding before them. Especially a crime against the Clutters. After the discovery of the murders, everyone began locking their doors at night.

As the crime scene was examined with a fine toothed comb, fresh from prison Perry Smith and Dick Hickock are patting themselves on the back for a job well done. They executed their plan to perfection and left no witnesses or clues. There was nothing tying them to the Clutter killings so there’s no way they will get caught. Now, they were on their way to Mexico to search for work and live the lives that they always dreamed about behind bars.

With seemingly no information for the detectives to work with and the assailants on the move, it is believed that the Clutter’s murderers will never be brought to justice. However, when a huge break in the case happens, Perry and Dick are officially on the radar. Will they get caught before they can hurt anyone else? Read In Cold Blood to find out!

Let me start off by saying that I found the first seventy or so pages of In Cold Blood to be boring as HELL. There were two things that kept me reading, though, and I am glad for it. 1) Johnny’s promise of “things are about to get crazy” and 2) His copy of the book was purchased at Goodwill and there were notes, highlighted, and underlined sections from the previous owner on every page. I thought that this was really cool and liked seeing what someone else was thinking as they read!

When the pace of In Cold Blood picked up, I was completely absorbed in it and always felt disappointed when I had to put it down. This book was INSANE. It went back and forth between Perry, Dick, and the detectives and I never had any idea what was going to happen next. It was a nail biter because of the cat and mouse chase between the parties. I knew that eventually Perry and Dick would be caught but I never knew when or how.

In Cold Blood made me experience a whirlwind of different emotions. I was enraged by the Clutter family tragedy and rooting for justice to be served. I also felt sympathetic to Perry in a sense but not so much for Dick. Truman Capote’s masterful writing was able to invoke so many diverse feelings and it felt like I was a resident of Holcomb too and waiting on pins and needles for the end result. It was a rollarcoaster ride!

Despite a slow start, I am still going to rate In Cold Blood with the highly coveted ten out of ten stars. The story needed to be set up and I see that. Once all of the Dominoes were in place and tumbling down, it kept me invested for days after finishing the book. I can now understand why people call it “the best”!

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: Hope Rides Again By Andrew Shaffer Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Hope Rides Again By Andrew Shaffer Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! If you recall from the last book club post, I had read a hilarious bromance mystery novel starring Barack Obama and Joe Biden called Hope Never Dies by Andrew Shaffer. And, today, we will be reviewing the sequel entitled Hope Rides Again – without giving any spoilers away, of course! Let’s get started:

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It has been almost a year since Joe Biden and Barack Obama’s whirlwind adventure of solving the mystery of an Amtrak conductor’s murder. Now, the only thing on Joe’s mind is his potential run for president. As per Barack’s invite, Joe ends up at an event in Chicago that his bestie is speaking at so he can rub elbows with people who might endorse him. The schmoozing gets cut short, however, when Barack discovers that his prized Blackberry phone is missing.

The phone is traced to a freight yard and, despite Barack wiping the phone remotely, Joe slips back into amateur detective mode to make sure justice is served. Rather than finding the phone at the freight yard, Joe stumbles onto a crime scene. A young man who is part of Barack’s Rising Stars foundation has been shot and is in critical condition. Who better to solve this mystery than the dream team?

During their investigations, Joe and Barack uncover crooked cops, gang activity, and a stolen shipment container filled with guns. They can trust no one, as law enforcement might be turning a blind eye to the gang responsible. With a young man on death’s door and a huge cache of guns ready to make their way onto the streets, it is up to Joe and Barack to save the day. Can they do it? Read Hope Rides Again to find out!

Guys. I freaking LOVE these books lol. The Obama Biden Mystery series is an absolute riot and Andrew Shaffer is a genius. Although I liked Hope Never Dies better, Hope Rides Again is a solid follow up and is still definitely worth the read. The premise of these books are just so ridiculous. You are not going to get jaw dropping revelations from them but if you are looking to laugh yourself silly, then I can’t recommend the series enough.

Hope Rides Again follows the same format as its predecessor and has Joe as the narrator/Barack’s ride or die. From heartfelt moments between the two, cracks at politicians, and a world to save, the boys are back but not necessarily better than ever. They still end up in life threatening situations even when they think they’re getting a grasp on the whole detective thing!

The sequel is, admittedly, less funny than the first in my opinion – but only slightly. However, as long as Andrew Shaffer keeps cranking out Obama Biden Mysteries, then he will always have me as a customer. Overall, I am going to rate Hope Rides Again with an eight out of ten stars for a strong but not amazing sequel. Here’s to this series becoming a trilogy!

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: Hope Never Dies By Andrew Shaffer Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Hope Never Dies By Andrew Shaffer Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! After reading and reviewing an endless amount of thrillers, Hope Never Dies by Andrew Shaffer was a definite change of pace. It was also a most welcomed one because it was sheer perfection. Hope Never Dies is a mystery book starring none other than Barack Obama and Joe Biden. It was recently reviewed on one of Johnny’s favorite podcasts, Behind The Bastards, and after hearing about its hilarity, he had to buy it for me. What a guy!

Without giving any spoilers away, let’s discuss this ridiculous book further:

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Delaware’s favorite son, Joe Biden, is simply existing after eight years of being vice president of the United States. He’s aging, growing antsy with “nothing” to do, and most importantly – desperately misses Barack Obama. After several years of not speaking once their run in office was over, Joe grows lonelier and even more depressed when he sees his former best friend living it up with his new celebrity pals. However, their reunion is just about to get started.

Late one night, Joe encounters none other than former president Barack Obama lurking in the woods on his property. He doesn’t come with an invitation for a party or an outing with Bradley Cooper (The bane of Joe’s existence), rather, he has some bad news to share. Joe’s favorite Amtrak conductor, Finn, has passed away under suspicious circumstances. And, oddly enough, a map to Joe’s home was found in the pocket of the deceased.

Joe is beside himself with the loss of Finn and decides to take matters into his own hands to uncover the mystery of his death. Of course, he’ll need some help. Cue: Barack Obama and his Secret Service agent, Steve. Through high speed car chases, infiltrating a biker gang, and some good old fashioned grunt work, they discover that there was a lot more to Finn’s death than what meets the eye.

Obama and Biden stumble across a huge drug smuggling ring through their investigations with deceit and death creeping around every corner. It turns out that Joe didn’t really know his good friend, Finn, after all. Who was responsible for the death of the seasoned Amtrak conductor? And will Barack and Joe live to tell the tale? Read Hope Never Dies to find out!

Pretty crazy, right? Lol, guys, I seriously cannot with this book and I also cannot recommend it enough. I can’t remember the last time I read a humorous book and I was in stitches with every turn of the page of Hope Never Dies. Andrew Shaffer is a national treasure and he must be protected at all costs so he can keep cranking out Obama Biden mysteries.

Joe is the narrator in Hope Never Dies and he plays the part of the scorned lover. His jealousy over Barack’s new friends and yearning for what they once shared is palpable throughout the book. From throwing darts at a picture of Bradley Cooper to dreaming of Barack in a white toga riding a unicorn, there’s no denying it: He freaking loves Barack Obama, despite falling out of touch.

As always, Barack is cool as a cucumber and Joe is full of stumbling wise cracks. A point is also made to make some digs at other politicians, which is a hoot. Through looking death in the eyes and a whirlwind experience shared, Joe and Barack end their adventure as “brothers” once more. Which is great because the sequel, Hope Rides Again, will surely begin with them as besties. And, yes, Johnny got me Hope Rides Again too!

In all seriousness, I am awarding Hope Never Dies with the coveted ten out of ten stars. If you love the Obama Biden era as much as me and are looking for a laugh, then it is a must read. This book is absolutely insane and I am one hundred million percent there for 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 Paris Apartment By Lucy Foley Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Paris Apartment By Lucy Foley Edition

Hello! We interrupt your regularly scheduled OOTD bloopers for a brand new Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we are going to be discussing an excellent read by Lucy Foley called The Paris Apartment. This was a fast paced thriller that included everything I like – multiple narrators, short chapters, a good whodoneit, and lots of text in French. Before we begin, I will be placing a trigger warning on The Paris Apartment for violence and disturbing content. Now, let’s get to it – without giving any spoilers away, of course:

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Jess is on the run. Not only from her past but a petty crime committed in the UK. With no friends and family to turn to aside from her estranged half brother, Ben, she decides that now is as good a time as any to visit him in Paris. He somewhat reluctantly agrees, gives her his address, and promises to wait up for her when she arrives in the evening. However, during her travels, Ben stops replying to texts and phone calls. He is also nowhere to be found when Jess arrives at the ultra posh apartment that she has no idea how he affords as a freelance journalist.

With a bit of ingenuity at the locked gate and some good old fashioned lock picking at Ben’s apartment door, she is finally inside. Rather than finding Ben asleep, she sees that his wallet and phone have been left behind. Still hopeful that her free spirited brother will arrive in the morning with an excuse that he forgot, Jess goes to sleep. And in the morning? Nothing. And the days to come? Nothing. Ben has disappeared.

The day after her arrival, Jess begins to investigate and there is no better place to start than with the residents of the apartment. There is the violent alcoholic Antoine on the first floor, nice guy Nicholas on the second, elusive Mimi and party girl Camille on the fourth, filthy rich Sophie and Jacques in the penthouse, and a concierge who sees everything in the lodge. All of them provide Jess with nothing of value but they all appear to be hiding something about her brother’s whereabouts.

The more Jess digs, the more she is convinced that someone in the apartment is to blame. In Ben’s wallet, she finds a business card for Theo, an editor of a Paris newspaper. He tells Jess that Ben was working on an article for him that was a pure investigative piece. A far cry from his usual restaurant reviews. Ben’s big scoop is about someone in the apartment but who? And is this how he came to disappear into thin air? Read The Paris Apartment to find out!

I really enjoyed The Paris Apartment and, despite the *slightly* farfetched conclusion, I think that it is worth the read. While I did figure out the grand reveals fairly easily, it was still a fun thriller that had me hooked. In fact, I was sad when I finished it because I wanted more – especially in regards to the reactions of the grand finale from the apartment residents.

Jess was a very likeable and unlikely heroine and she was so easy to root for. She has a somewhat scruffy appearance and is dirt poor so it was really endearing as she went about her investigation among people who want for nothing. Jess was also reckless and you truly felt that danger was around the corner for her all of the time, which kept me on the edge of my seat.

Although the other main players in the book were equally horrible in their own right, I still loved the back and forth chapters between all of them. Their chapters shifted between the past with Ben and the present without him so you got to learn all of the key moments that led up to his disappearance. I do like a more vague read but it was nice to have all of the cards out on the table with minimal guesswork for once.

Overall, I am going to rate The Paris Apartment with an eight out of ten stars. Was it the most original thing I’ve read? Not really. However, it was a good page turner and I still recommend it. I would definitely read more by Lucy Foley!

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