Book Review – ‘Famous Last Words’ by Katie Alender

Moving into an old Hollywood starlet’s house in the hills and find it’s haunted – yes please!

Famous Last Words Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Paranormal, Mystery

No. of pages: 320

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Willa is freaking out. It seems like she’s seeing things. Like a dead body in her swimming pool. Frantic messages on her walls. A reflection that is not her own. It’s almost as if someone — or something — is trying to send her a message. Meanwhile, a killer is stalking Los Angeles — a killer who reenacts famous movie murder scenes. Could Willa’s strange visions have to do with these unsolved murders? Or is she going crazy? And who can she confide in? There’s Marnie, her new friend who may not be totally trustworthy. And there’s Reed, who’s ridiculously handsome and seems to get Willa. There’s also Wyatt, who’s super smart but unhealthily obsessed with the Hollywood Killer.All Willa knows is, she has to confront the possible-ghost in her house, or she just might lose her mind . . . or her life.

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This novel has been on my TBR shelf for years. Years I tell you! So glad I have gotten around to reading ‘Famous Last Words’  because it has reminded me why I like reading this genre so much.

Katie Alender has a really cool writing style. It feels effortless. So many YA paranormal mysteries shoot off in tangents with info dumping or tripping the spooky fantastic, ‘Famous Last Words’ felt grounded in the story. Admittedly there were a few moments I wanted to eye-roll or shudder, but on the whole this was a delight to read. Alender has a sense of timing and comedy that I found charming.

For the most part I will say the novel was predictable. I had a hunch how it would turn out very early on, but with Alender’s writing style I was never 100% certain. So I still managed to stay engaged and get really sucked into the story.

Willa was a great protagonist. We didn’t get clues intentionally left out of the narrative to red-herring the reader. We uncover facts as she does. We get great character development. Though there is a little element of ‘out there’ to the plot, it felt grounded in plausibility, and I really liked the paranormal twist on the murder mystery. Willa does not feel like a waif or wallflower, nor does she feel like some high achieving super sleuth. Just a regular teen overcoming tragedy and attempting to fit into a new life moving to the Hollywood Hills with her mother and new stepfather.

There was great character building, all the cast had distinct personalities and it was easy to pick their voice from a crowd – it made reading ‘Famous Last Words’ effortless. The pacing did not lull once from the start of this first person narrative told through Willa’s eyes. I devoured this novel in two quick sittings.

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Once again it was great to see parental involvement in a YA mystery, though not as much as I would have liked. But on a side note the number of times Willa is asked if she was okay in the first half of this novel was a bit ridiculous. I may have been grinding my teeth after the third or fourth time.

We have two possible love interests: Wyatt an OCD loner nerd who was catnip to this reader gal; and Reed with a too-cute-to-be-good kind of vibe. The instant nature Willa and Reed’s attraction set off alarm bells to me. Duh-duh-duuuhhh!

And then we have Marnie, the friend who happens to be a compulsive liar and attention seeker, but with a streak of genuine-ness to her. For some reason this felt very Hollywood.

I enjoyed my time reading ‘Famous Last Words’ and would happily recommend this to younger readers whom love mystery and paranormal – older readers may not get as much out of it…

Overall feeling: A satisfyingly spooky mystery

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Famous Last Words Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – Yes Please

Yes Please Book Review by Casey CarlisleFrom Goodreads:

In Amy Poehler’s highly anticipated first book, Yes Please, she offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice (some useful, some not so much), like when to be funny and when to be serious. Powered by Amy’s charming and hilarious, biting yet wise voice, Yes Please is a book is full of words to live by,

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There are some truly raucous moments in this book, I mean I was laughing so hard tears came to my eyes and I was doing that choking gagging noise… and then others where I was nodding off to sleep and skipped ahead. I guess this book falls under the same condition that all comedians suffer – we expect them to be funny all the time.

Being autobiographical, this book is great for its genre. Granted I have not read widely to compare it with much of what’s on the market, but you get a real and personal sense of Amy’s life and struggles. The narrative was distinct and clear – the fact that I could hear her voice in my head, the intonation of her words and how she does that bark-yell thing when she’s angry/surprised/excited adds kudos to the writing style of this book.

If you cast a feminist eye over Amy’s novel, it is much more poignant – dealing with a male dominated industry and the tools she used to sail the choppy waters of late nights, bar-hops and business meetings in greenrooms all the while juggling being a woman, a mother, and lest I say – a blonde.

You get glimpses into her relationship with Tina Fey and productions on various movies, S.N.L and Parks and Recreation.

Book Review Yes Please Baby Mama pic by Casey Carlisle

The only bad thing I can say about Yes Please, is that it tended to waffle on in parts. Mainly because it reads like she talks (in fact parts of the book are verbatim from a recording) and you know how we all waffle… but it does not make particularly good reading.

I felt if it had gone through a better editing process – tightened up the story and pacing it would have been outstanding. It instead was a collection of instances and stories, littered with Amy’s distinctive comedic attitude and some of her colleagues. I compare it to Hyperbole and a Half  by Allie Brosh where both hilarious and serious topics were tackled in consecutive chapters.

I’d recommend it to her fans and to those who love reading celebrity Autobiographies, otherwise you may find, as I did, the change in tone as this book swaps from subject to subject a little jarring.

Pleasant reading.

Yes Please Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

15 minutes to Hollywood curls … by Casey Carlisle

Put the bounce back into your step with a head-turning hairstyle.

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Do you admire the shiny and wavy hair of television or movie stars? I know I do! Let me share with you a secret that will give you a similar look… and it doesn’t take hours in a salon. You can achieve it right at home in no time at all – and you don’t need to be an expert.

You will need some equipment – Hot rollers are inexpensive – I bought my set for $40. There are a lot of different products out there, but I recommend you purchase ones that are smooth and have a soft velvet-like cover. Rollers with prongs for grip, do exactly that – I’ve had to gently and painstakingly remove these type of tangled rollers from many of my friends hair over the years. The rubber coated ones (gel rollers) are great too, but as they age the covering breaks down and sticks in clumps like glue to your lovely locks. So for value of money and durability, the fabric covered thermal type are the way to go.

“Wands or curling irons are great, but you have to curl and hold each section, which is time consuming – with hot rollers you can set and go…”

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I’d incorporate this procedure into your routine: Turn the hot rollers to heat up while you shower and wash your hair. It works best on clean hair; oily hair won’t take as well, and the heat helps to spread natural oils from your scalp, making your hair look even dirtier.

Once you’ve toweled dry and blow-dried your hair (just blast it dry, no need to use brushes – not unless you have unusually unruly hair). Feel free to use a moisturizing mousse and/or a thermal styling agent before drying; they are light and help protect from styling stress.

Then starting from the top, grab small handfuls of hair and roll up, starting from the ends, curling it towards the scalp; and then fasten with a jaw-clip. You don’t have to be overly particular with placement – most of the curl is concentrated on the mid-lengths to ends of the hair. A whole head should take you about 5 minutes, 10 at the most.

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Once you have the whole head in rollers they need to stay in until cool – usually 15-20 minutes – so you have this time free to get other things done in your routine. Sometimes I leave the rollers in for 30 minutes, it just depends on how quickly I need to get out the door. Use the time to do your make up, get dressed, make the bed, do the dishes…

Once the rollers have cooled, you can pull them out (using an un-rolling action to avoid snarls); give your hair a quick brush, using either a soft bristle brush or a wide-tooth rake. If you need to remove any ‘dents’ from the clips or rollers, blast your hairline & close to the scalp with the blow-dryer. It will loosen the curl, so don’t do it too aggressively, or for too long. The whole process (called ‘dressing the hair’) should only take about 5 minutes, and whamo! You have movie star hair!

So, for an investment of an additional 15 minutes, you have salon professional-looking styled hair.

For me, personally the curls last a few days, and plaiting your hair back when you sleep helps to maintain the curl and keep the hair smooth and shiny.

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© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.