Happy Friday and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for LIVE YOUR BEST LIE by Jessie Weaver! I’m so excited because today I have an excerpt of the book to share with you! This book is truly amazing and I’m so excited to for you to find out more about it, PLUS enter for a chance to win a print copy!
Published on January 24, 2023 by Disney Books/Melissa de la Cruz Studio
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller, YA
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Author Links: Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Instagram, TikTok
Social media influencer Summer Cartwright leads a charmed life: millions of followers, the trendiest designer and vintage clothing in her closet, a newly minted book deal, the coolest friends, and until recently, the hottest boyfriend at her über elite prep school. Every moment of her life has been carefully planned and cultivated to complement her “perfectly imperfect” online persona. She is truly #LivingHerBestLife.
But when Summer goes missing during her annual Halloween party and an unscheduled post appears on her feed claiming she’ll be dead in the next five minutes, those closest to Summer—her bestie, her ex-boyfriend, her frenemy, and her wannabe—know it isn’t a media stunt for attention. It’s not Summer’s brand. Something is wrong. When their investigation leads to Summer’s lifeless body, they’re forced to accept that she was murdered. And no filter is strong enough to mask the lies they tell themselves.
Saturday, October 31
Grace buzzes Summer’s loft with one hand and tugs the hem of her dress with the other. If she’d taken a second to think before calling her Lyft, she would have brought her color-blocked watermelon costume to change into instead of wearing it. She’s two hours early for Summer’s Halloween party, because she promised she’d help set up.
Halloween is about little atmospheric touches, Summer said when she texted her on Thursday. No one’s better at detail stuff than you, Gracie Grace. You know you owe me. Pleaaassseee? She followed it up with, With a pineapple on top? and a picture of her pouting in the pine
apple dress she bought as her costume. Ever since Summer met that fruitarian on her trip to Bali in June, she’s been almost religiously into fruit and swears she’d be a fruitarian, too, if the scientists of the world would get their act together and create a fruit replacement for cheese.
She also has a spiritual relationship with Gouda.
Summer’s pouty face picture was overkill. Grace would have helped her set up without any begging, because she’s always been the girl willing to stream streamers or blow up balloons or do calligraphy on envelopes. Feeling needed is a rush. Besides, after her fight with Summer a few days ago, she’s been going above and beyond, even measuring on a scale of one to Grace. She’s lucky Summer is even talking to her. Tonight has to go smoothly.
So she texted Summer back, saying, No biggie, I can be there a few hours early, even though it was kind of a biggie because she had to call out sick from her shift at the taco truck. Grace feels awful about lying to her boss Sofia, but she’s deemed this lie a necessary evil. Though she really, really hopes Sofia doesn’t bring get-well tacos to her house. Her mom would murder her for ditching work.
Not to mention that Grace should be using tonight to work on her A Separate Peace essay for AP Lit. Her teacher told her it might stand a chance in some scholarship contest hosted by the College Board, and Grace needs all the scholarship money she can get. College isn’t cheap.
Still, she and Summer have been friends since middle school. You make sacrifices for long-term relationships.
A gust of wind glues a long strand of Grace’s brown hair to her lip gloss. Shivering, she unpeels it, then hugs her arms around her chest. Even in Los Angeles, the October air has enough bite that she wishes she could have worn the polka-dotted tights she picked out to go under her watermelon dress, but apparently, polka-dotted tights aren’t sexy. And why be a whimsical fruit if you can be a sexy fruit?
While she waits for Summer to buzz her up to her fifth-floor penthouse loft, Grace glares at the jack-o’-lantern that leers at her from its stoop pedestal. Stop being such a perv, Jack, she thinks. My eyes are up here, then automatically feels bad for being rude. In her head. To a pumpkin. She blames her dress, which hangs off one shoulder, for being way shorter than is comfortable. It’s why she bought tights in the first place. She’s pretty sure if she moves the wrong way, everyone will see her butt, or at least the hot-pink underwear that Summer sling-shotted at her from across her bedroom yesterday when Grace mentioned her predicament.
“Match your panties and no one will notice,” Summer told her. “I think they might.”
“Whatever.” Summer rolled her eyes when Grace tried to protest. “If anyone posts photos of your ass online, I’ll hunt them down and destroy them.”
Grace wasn’t sure if she meant the photos or the photographer. With Summer, it could go either way. Summer shimmied so the feathery headband atop her blond hair bobbed. “You like my pineapple top?” “Gorg.”
And it really was. Unsurprising, because Summer makes anything look fabulous. Her closet is packed with Prada and Gucci but also with vintage finds from the secondhand shop, because . . . the environment. One time she wore a boxy skirt from 1991 with the buttons undone halfway up her thigh, and suddenly on TikTok, girls modeled cute-again 90s items from thrift stores for the #Summer CartwrightChallenge. Her closet fan account reposted her pics with comments like OMFGGGG this is everything! and True beauty inside and out!!
So if Summer has a fruitarian revelation and says Grace should be a watermelon, she’ll be a freaking watermelon. Besides, she can’t afford to piss Summer off again.
Just as Grace is beginning to think Summer isn’t home—her memory is famously short, which sometimes makes Grace feel like a walking reminder app—Summer’s voice echoes tinny through the call box.
“Gracie! You said you’d be here at five.”
For a moment, Grace thinks Summer might not let her in, then the door buzzes. Relieved, Grace takes the elevator to the top floor. Summer meets her at the front door to her loft, barefoot and fastening her earrings. In her yellow-and-gold dress, her tanned legs seem longer, and her hair is pure sunshine. She looks much older than sixteen.
“The party is in less than two hours, and the decorations are . . . ugh.”
Grace knows her job. When Summer fishes, Grace takes the bait. “I’m sure they look amazing.”
“And I’ve posted so many reminders about this party on Instagram, and I’m going live right at seven, and I look like a banana. I can’t look like a banana in front of five million people, one, because I’m supposed to be a pineapple, and two, aren’t bananas slutty?”
The word banana sounds weird to Grace. If she hears a word too many times over, she either becomes certain that it isn’t actually a word, or her brain overloads with fun facts about the word until she goes on a Jeopardy!-level rant. For example, bananas are scientifically considered berries, because their seeds are inside. Also, banana peels, when applied daily, can cure warts.
“Bananas aren’t slutty, Sum, they’re fruit,” Grace says. “Anyway, does it matter?”
“You don’t have five million people judging your every move. No one cares what you do.”
Grace has less than a thousand followers on Instagram, most of whom followed her after Summer tagged her in pictures, and she’s logged onto TikTok exactly one time to see what the fuss is about. So no, she doesn’t really care what people online think, because no one online cares about her.
“Well, you look like a pineapple to me,” she says. Because Summer has told her a thousand times she has to cut it with the fun facts, Grace doesn’t tell her that pineapples can be used to tenderize meat.
When Summer motions for Grace to follow her from the foyer into the living room, Grace’s jaw drops. The Cartwrights’ luxury loft is always impressive with its cathedral ceilings and museum-quality art. But wow. These decorations are not “ugh,” especially compared to the Halloween dances Grace went to in her middle school gym, which involved punch bowls shaped like skulls and orange streamers strewn over the basketball hoops.
In the living room, floor-to-ceiling black fabric drapes over the windows, and sheets cover the furniture. Someone’s managed to hoist an actual Phantom-of-the-Opera-style chandelier above everything. The DJ platform in the corner is the only reminder that it’s the twenty-first century. The overall vibe is . . . Grace takes a moment to consider. Sumptuously undead?
It is incongruous with Summer’s pineapple costume. “Sum.” Grace widens her eyes. “Your place looks—” “Like a funeral parlor? I know.”
“I was going to say like the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland.” “I guess? The decorator thought we should go more refined, but people are going to be too depressed to, like, dance or anything. And this might be my last party, so it has to be perfect.”
Grace is confused. “What? Why do you say that?”
Summer shrugs. “You don’t think the decor is too much?” “No.” Grace doesn’t miss that Summer ignored her question, and she feels a moment of anxiety that she forces herself to swallow down. Panicking won’t help her fix things with Summer. “You got black lights, right?”
“Yeah, and some colored ones.”
“Perfect. Lighting will make the room.” Grace perches on the edge of a sheet-draped sofa. “Your family coming tonight?” Summer flops beside her. “Julian and Miranda are in Dubai until next Friday.”
“For my dad, yeah. He’s meeting with some sheikh about using his land for that new movie he’s making next spring? She Falls Hard or something like that. Mom’s going for the spas.” She rolls her eyes at the word spas, but who knows with Summer’s mom. She’s probably sleeping in a salt cave for the duration of her trip.
“So you’re alone?” Grace asks.
“No. Harrison is staying here while my parents are gone.” Summer narrows her eyes. “He’s coming to the party, too, if that’s what you’re asking.”
Grace rolls her shoulders and takes a deep breath. She hasn’t seen much of Summer’s brother this month, what with everything she’s had going on, but for the past year Summer has been trying to set her up with him. Grace wants to date him. She really does. Or maybe she wants to want to date him.
Harrison, a film studies major at UCLA, has no problem shoving a camera into Grace’s face when she’s doing things like eating cereal first thing in the morning or brushing her teeth, because he thinks unguarded moments are the most real. He and Summer argue about that a lot, actually—whether or not what she does is reality. Harrison says her page is too cultivated, too look-at-me-being-perfectly-flawed. Summer says she’s putting her best foot forward. Grace refuses to be the tiebreaker because she thinks both of them are dead wrong. Even though she hasn’t always been able to keep her business offline, it hasn’t stopped her from trying. With Harrison at the party, she doubts she’ll be able to stay off camera.
Summer and Grace spend the next hour applying their makeup (black seed-shaped freckles on pink cheeks for Grace, and glittery gold eyelids and lips for Sum) and sipping smoothies, Summer’s current obsession. Green for Summer, strawberry-banana for Grace. Then while Grace sets up the blacklights and calls the DJ to make sure he isn’t running late, Summer samples the food the caterer prepared.
“Oh my god, Gracie,” Summer says. “The lobster crostini are to die for. Don’t forget to try some before they’re all gone. Laney’s coming, and I know how much she eats.”
Grace pins her cellphone between her shoulder and face to give Summer a thumbs-up. The DJ needs driving directions. She also tries to ignore Summer’s comment about Laney, who probably eats a very normal amount.
Once the DJ arrives and starts the music, the loft buzzes with potential energy—the kinetic will come later once the guests arrive— but Grace’s stomach burns like she chugged acid or, like, a gallon of coffee. Maybe she should have eaten something when Sum offered while they were doing their makeup. It probably wouldn’t have helped though, because it’s butterflies that are making her feel sick. Adam is coming tonight. Grace hasn’t seen him since he and Summer broke up at school last week, and she’s not a hundred percent certain she can keep it together around him all evening. Summer should have uninvited him. Secretly, though, Grace is glad she didn’t. Even though she and Adam have been weird with each other for months, she still likes knowing he’s there.
Five minutes before seven o’clock, Grace shuts off the main lights and turns on the blacklights. Summer drops dry ice into the punch to make it smoke. They both slide their feet into impossible heels. They take simultaneous deep breaths.
Then the doorbell rings, and the party begins.
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What do you think about Live Your Best Lie? Have you added it to your tbr yet? Let me know in the comments and have a splendiferous day!
I love reading thrillers and mysteries and this one sounds amazing!