Book Round Up!

I am super intrigued by this book. What DOES happen when the women who are disappearing are prostitutes and can we honestly deny the fact that their lifestyles didn't effect the way their murders were prioritized? 

From Good Reads: Award-winning investigative reporter Robert Kolker delivers a haunting and humanizing account of the true-life search for a serial killer still at large on Long Island, in a compelling tale of unsolved murder and Internet prostitution.

One late spring evening in 2010, Shannan Gilbert, after running through the oceanfront community of Oak Beach screaming for her life, went missing. No one who had heard of her disappearance thought much about what had happened to the twenty-four-year-old: she was a Craigslist prostitute who had been fleeing a scene—of what, no one could be sure. The Suffolk County Police, too, seemed to have paid little attention—until seven months later, when an unexpected discovery in a bramble alongside a nearby highway turned up four bodies, all evenly spaced, all wrapped in burlap. But none of them Shannan's.

There was Maureen Brainard-Barnes, last seen at Penn Station in Manhattan three years earlier, and Melissa Barthelemy, last seen in the Bronx in 2009. There was Megan Waterman, last seen leaving a hotel in Hauppauge, Long Island, just a month after Shannan's disappearance in 2010, and Amber Lynn Costello, last seen leaving a house in West Babylon a few months later that same year. Like Shannan, all four women were petite and in their twenties, they all came from out of town to work as escorts, and they all advertised on Craigslist and its competitor, Backpage.

In a triumph of reporting—and in a riveting narrative—Robert Kolker presents the first detailed look at the shadow world of escorts in the Internet age, where making a living is easier than ever and the dangers remain all too real. He has talked exhaustively with the friends and family of each woman to reveal the three-dimensional truths about their lives, the struggling towns they came from, and the dreams they chased. And he has gained unique access to the Oak Beach neighborhood that has found itself the focus of national media scrutiny—where the police have flailed, the body count has risen, and the neighbors have begun pointing fingers at one another. There, in a remote community, out of sight of the beaches and marinas scattered along the South Shore barrier islands, the women's stories come together in death and dark mystery. Lost Girls is a portrait not just of five women, but of unsolved murder in an idyllic part of America, of the underside of the Internet, and of the secrets we keep without admitting to ourselves that we keep them

I clicked on this because the cover looked amazing... and once I read the description, I knew I had to check it out! 

From Goodreads: A high-powered Manhattan attorney finds love, purpose, and the promise of a simpler life in her grandmother's hometown. 
Ellen Branford is going to fulfill her grandmother's dying wish--to find the hometown boy she once loved, and give him her last letter. Ellen leaves Manhattan and her Kennedy-esque fiance for Beacon, Maine. What should be a one-day trip is quickly complicated when she almost drowns in the chilly bay and is saved by a local carpenter. The rescue turns Ellen into something of a local celebrity, which may or may not help her unravel the past her grandmother labored to keep hidden. As she learns about her grandmother and herself, it becomes clear that a 24-hour visit to Beacon may never be enough. THE IRRESISTIBLE BLUEBERRY BAKESHOP & CAFE is a warm and delicious debut about the power of a simpler life...

And ok, while I was searching for this other book I wanted to add, I came across the CATCHING FIRE trailer, which comes out this fall. Can you say, GOOSEBUMPS? 

And then after watching the trailer I got distracted, naturally, and forgot what book I was looking for! 

OH OH I Just remembered!!!! Don't you just love when that happens?!)

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson-over 14,000 people have reviewed this book and given it over 4 stars on! 

From GoodReads: On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born, the third child of a wealthy English banker and his wife. Sadly, she dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in any number of ways. Clearly history (and Kate Atkinson) have plans for her: In Ursula rests nothing less than the fate of civilization.

Wildly inventive, darkly comic, startlingly poignant — this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best, playing with time and history, telling a story that is breathtaking for both its audacity and its endless satisfactions.

So there you have it! Get reading! 
Sounds like alot of you are reading some pretty awesome books, according to Twitter! Keep it up! :) 

Book Review: Redesigning Rose by Lydia Laceby

I know what you are probably thinking. 
"Is Jen actually doing a book review on her blog? No way!"

I know, I know. You probably thought I forgot how to read. 

Luckily, I dove back in. Maybe it was the move, the stress, the kids or just plain wanting SLEEP, but I definitely went on a bookworm hiatus and I missed it so much. But luckily, the best way to get back into reading is finding an awesome book and I did just that! 

A little back story: last year, I stumbled upon a website called Novel Escapes and noticed they were looking for more book reviewers. My heart skipped a beat and I sent an email immediately, telling the contact person that I would love to review for them and that it would be like a dream come wasn't until after I wrote the email that I noticed the article asking for more reviewers was a year old...but I just had a feeling and I hit send anyway. And that little feeling turned out to be great intuition when months later, Lydia Laceby emailed me back said they had a need again and asked if I would be interested. I'm pretty sure I teared up, then called my mom, sister, grandma, aunts and friends to tell them. Since then, I have written many reviews and have been lucky to find tons of great books through the site. Lydia created an amazing way for people to find the perfect book and read reviews. Her love for books soared to a new level this month when her own novel finally hit the shelves and I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy! If there is anything greater than reading a great book, it's knowing the author personally and getting to email her mid novel to tell her how much you're enjoying it. I kept thinking while I was reading "I can't wait to tell Lydia about how much I loved this part!" and I'd realize how cool that sounded! (If you think I am a bookworm, you should see how starstruck I really get around authors!) So here, without further rambling, is my review for

Redesigning Rose by Lydia Laceby

Rose Parker’s husband has been lying. About everything.
When a conversation with her husband triggers questions, Rose Parker uncovers alarming answers that shatter her perfect life. But it is only when she shoves her belongings in her SUV and drives off that Rose realizes just how far from perfect her life actually was. She has nowhere to turn.
While debating between distressing sleeping arrangements–her mother’s house full of questions or a hotel room with too much solitude–Rose bumps into an acquaintance from her gardening class and allows bubbly, exuberant Becky to indulge her in a wild night full of whiskey, weeping, and whispered confidences. Suddenly, Rose has a new friend, a roof over her head, and two gorgeous men moving her out of her marital home.
As Rose struggles to settle into her new life, she remains determined to comprehend her past. And with time and distance and especially wine, comes knowledge. Frank wasn’t the only one lying to her. Rose was lying to herself.

I feel like Rose would be my homegirl. She'd be my best friend. The entire book was written in this easy, conversational way that made me feel like I was sitting down to dinner with her listening to  her tell me her story.  With wine of course, there should always be wine.

Redesigning Rose has some of the most realistic, relatable characters I have ever read about. 

Rose is strong, but so vulnerable and hurt after learning her husband is not who she think he is, not the man she has loved for so many years.

But like every great book, Redesigning Rose has layers and layers of the story that get peeled away with every page. You learn right along with Rose that sometimes, just because life doesn't turn out the way you thought it would, doesn't mean there's not something even better right around the corner. 

Right after leaving her husband in a frenzied tailspin after realizing he's paid for racy sexual encounters and more porn to shake a stick at, Rose meets Becky. Like two lost souls, Rose and Becky immediately strike up an "odd couple" kinship that ends up saving them both more than I think either one anticipated. 

Becky's also going through the many stages of healing after a horrible relationship. Reading about how their friendship blossoms and changes throughout the book was amazing.  The entire story is a full circle of how friendships grow and evolve and I found myself recognizing alot of the emotions and situations that have happened in my own life. Lydia has an amazing way of writing dialogue that is so true to life and very conversational. 

Rose doesn't really know where the journey away from her husband will take her but she is certainly brave enough to find out. The book takes you through her journey of rediscovering herself, making friends and basically coming out from under the rock her husband had created in their life.  She begins to realize the fancy house, comfy beds and expensive kitchen wasn't enough in the long run and curtains are thrown back on the life she thought she had wanted. My heart broke for her when she realized the negative effect her marriage had had on her family and how she had drifted away from those she loved without even realizing it. 

Watching her come out of the dark corners of her life was invigorating. Especially since I feel like alot of the same things have been happening to me in my life lately. 

A great part of this book is Rose's relationship with her mother, her late grandmother and their shared passion for gardening. I loved the scenes where Rose is sad, mad or frustrated and she would take her aggression out in her mom's yard, tending to their beautiful flowers. And thanks to this book, I will probably never look at another dahlia without smiling.  Their generational connection is the backbone of the great relationships in this book and I appreciated the comforting notions that go along with great mother/daughter relationships.

My favorite parts of Redesigning Rose are the surprisingly snarky and sassy moments that Rose and Becky have together. They're pretty spicy and Becky has a mean streak in her that reminds you of the mean girls in high school that you hated to loved and loved to hate. Rose is full of surprises too. Whether they are scheming ways to get Rose's belongings out of her old house, drinking way too much wine or skating around emotional issues, no matter what, Rose and Becky find a way make it fun. 

Usually thoughtful and a little subdued, Rose holds back. But when sparks of attractions fly with a man she didn't even know a month before, Rose's personality leaps through and takes over. I think Rose is even surprised herself at the new side and it was so fun to read about her discovering a whole new aspect. It was as if she was meeting a new friend, only lucky for her, that friend turned out to be the woman hiding inside of her all along. 

I give Redesigning Rose and resounding and adoring 5 star rating. Anyone will love Redesigning Rose. But if you're like me and  you've had a life changing event happen, you will further appreciate it because you'll know how scary it can be to take a leap of faith,  go at it alone, or to try and keep pushing when life gets scary...

But don't worry, because I can tell you (and so can Rose) that there's a great chance you will  end up on the other side of that scary tunnel with a chin that's higher, an outlook that is brighter and a sneaky feeling that you're better off...

Here are a couple of my favorite passages from Redesigning Rose. Some of them are sweet and others, a little spicy, which is the recipe for an awesome book!  

"I was moving out of my marital home. I should be weeping and screaming, no consumed with the sudden desire to have a threesome."

"I looked at him, bobbing in the undertow of his delicious dimples." 

"...When events slide together in a kaleidoscope of understanding..."

And honorable mention goes to Lydia for these two very awesome occurances:

1. She mentions Sweet Valley High and V.C. Andrews in the same sentence.
 I LIVED for these books as a pre teen! 

2. The ultimate cure for a hangover: Orange juice, McDonald's, a nap and Advil. This is SPOT on how I cure hangovers too!

I am so happy to announce that because Lydia is awesome and because I have the honor of considering her a friend, she is offering one That's What She Read reader  a hard copy of Redesigning Rose! 

Enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win, good luck! 

Thanks so much to Lydia Laceby for the pleasure of reading Redesigning Rose!
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