Archive of ‘Fiction’ category

Review: Ana of California

From Goodreads: A modern take on the classic coming-of-age novel, inspired by Anne of Green Gables

In the grand tradition of Anne of Green Gables, Bridget Jones’s Diary, and The Three Weissmanns of Westport, Andi Teran’s captivating debut novel offers a contemporary twist on a beloved classic. Fifteen-year-old orphan Ana Cortez has just blown her last chance with a foster family. It’s a group home next—unless she agrees to leave East Los Angeles for a farm trainee program in Northern California.

When she first arrives, Ana can’t tell a tomato plant from a blackberry bush, and Emmett Garber is skeptical that this slight city girl can be any help on his farm. His sister Abbie, however, thinks Ana might be just what they need. Ana comes to love Garber Farm, and even Emmett has to admit that her hard work is an asset. But when she inadvertently stirs up trouble in town, Ana is afraid she might have ruined her last chance at finding a place to belong.

Erin’s Thoughts: I received this book in my most recent Book Riot YA Quarterly Box – super fun bookish mail that is always more than worth the cost – and was immediately drawn in by the cover. I was also super intrigued by the idea of Ana in California being a modern take on one of my most beloved books, Anne of Green Gables. While there are certainly elements of Anne’s story in Ana’s, this is not a basic retelling of a classic.  Ana’s story is her own, and this book stands strongly on it’s own two feet.

I loved this book.  Loved it. I will be passing around my copy immediately. While this book came in my YA box and the main character is a young adult, it’s actually shelved as fiction – definitely a wonderful choice for adults and young adult fans alike. I completely fell in love with Ana. Her spunk, her art, her desperation to make a better life for herself. Ana isn’t the only vividly painted character either. The entire cast is diverse, lovable, engaging, and real. Plus, the small town of Hadley is a character in it’s own right. I truly cannot say enough great things about this book. Read it!

Review: The Library at Mount Char

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

From Goodreads: Carolyn’s not so different from the other human beings around her. She’s sure of it. She likes guacamole and cigarettes and steak. She knows how to use a phone. She even remembers what clothes are for.

After all, she was a normal American herself, once.

That was a long time ago, of course—before the time she calls “adoption day,” when she and a dozen other children found themselves being raised by a man they learned to call Father.

Father could do strange things. He could call light from darkness. Sometimes he raised the dead. And when he was disobeyed, the consequences were terrible.

In the years since Father took her in, Carolyn hasn’t gotten out much. Instead, she and her adopted siblings have been raised according to Father’s ancient Pelapi customs. They’ve studied the books in his library and learned some of the secrets behind his equally ancient power.

Sometimes, they’ve wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God.

Now, Father is missing. And if God truly is dead, the only thing that matters is who will inherit his library—and with it, power over all of creation.

As Carolyn gathers the tools she needs for the battle to come, fierce competitors for this prize align against her.

But Carolyn can win. She’s sure of it. What she doesn’t realize is that her victory may come at an unacceptable price—because in becoming a God, she’s forgotten a great deal about being human.

Jennie’s Thoughts: That is the longest GR summary I have ever seen, but I had no clue how to manage it in my own words. So, if you’re still reading after all that, here are my thoughts.

This book is gory and sickening and twisted and weird and suspenseful and intriguing and crazy. (See this is why I didn’t attempt to rewrite that GR summary shorter…) But, I highly recommend it, which maybe makes me as twisted as some of the characters in the book, but oh well.

I picked this up because Julie at Book Hooked Blog informed me that I had to read it. And when Julie says something is a must read, I obey. And she’s rarely (if ever, honestly!) lead me astray. This book was NOTHING like I’ve ever read before, and even when things got gross (my stomach LITERALLY hurt at parts) it was still something I could not put down.

But, a word of wisdom, do NOT read this alone at night unless you’re braver than I am. It was a bit unsettling to leave this world between the closed book and try to go to sleep without jumping at every little sound.

Review: Carry On

From GoodreadsSimon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen.
That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up. Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story—but far, far more monsters.

Erin’s Thoughts: I’m not going to lie and say that I wasn’t just dying to get my hands on this book.  I mean, I adore Rainbow Rowell, and I ADORE Fangirl.  So a book, THE BOOK, that the fanfic in Fangirl is based on? Sign me up!

The first fifty pages or so had me nervous.  Really nervous.  My brain was shouting, “THIS IS HARRY POTTER” the whole time I was reading.  Then, suddenly, I was sucked in to this delightfully quirky world that Rowell created. While Carry On certainly is a well-crafted “Chosen One” tale, it’s the strength of Rowell’s characters, her sense of humor, and her witty storytelling that make this book the gem it is.  Also…the Baz/Simon romantic scenes? Um…steamy.

Like many of Rowell’s works, I don’t think this will wow everyone.  There always seems to be debate around her titles.  For me, this was such a winner.  If you loved Fangirl, I would definitely pick this one up.  Such a fun way to connect two books together.  And really, if you’ve ever enjoyed any of Rowell’s writing, pick this up.  It’s fun, quirky, and basically everything you could expect from a Rainbow Rowell Chosen One motif!

Review: The Forgotten Garden

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

From Goodreads: A tiny girl is abandoned on a ship headed for Australia in 1913. She arrives completely alone with nothing but a small suitcase containing a few clothes and a single book; a beautiful volume of fairy tales. She is taken in by the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own. On her twenty-first birthday, they tell her the truth, and with her sense of self shattered and very little to go on, “Nell” sets out to trace her real identity. Her quest leads her to Blackhurst Manor on the Cornish coast and the secrets of the doomed Mountrachet family. But it is not until her granddaughter, Cassandra, takes up the search after Nell’s death that all the pieces of the puzzle are assembled. A spellbinding tale of mystery and self-discovery, The Forgotten Garden will take hold of your imagination and never let go.

Jennie’s Thoughts: Is there anything as perfect as a Kate Morton novel? I’m really certain there isn’t. The sweeping storylines, the characters so real, the twists and turns and decades and romance…perfection. And this novel ranks right up there as my new KM novel of all. (PS, she has a new one coming out in October this year!)

The mystery of the tiny girl kept me guessing throughout the entire novel. Just as I’d be sure her parents were this person and that, things would upend my suspicions completely. And, the descriptions of the setting and Blackhurst Manor…oh, how they had me daydreaming about flights and vacations. I wanted to stroll through the forgotten garden, and fall in love with a new place alongside Cassandra.

My review isn’t doing this book justice, so I’ll finish up just to say, this book will be within my top ten books of 2015, no doubt. So, read it and fall in love as I did!

Review: Bone Gap

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

From Goodreads: Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?

Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.

As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap—their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures—acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.

Jennie’s Thoughts: This was an unexpected read for me. See, up through the first fifty or so pages, I wasn’t sure I would even finish it. But then the magic of Bone Gap pulled me in and I read the rest in a mad dash. I had to know what would happen. I had to know what the heck was going on!

I don’t even know how to write a proper review of this, honestly. So, I’m going short and sweet: this might be an unexpected favorite of 2015.

Crazy Intense
Feminism Hell Yeah
A kick ass horse

Review: Saint Anything

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

From Goodreads: Peyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton’s increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans.

Jennie’s Thoughts: I’m one of the many who counted down to this book’s release date. I took my youngest for a trip to the “Train Table” at B&N as my excuse to use a birthday gift card on that wonderful Tuesday. And then I dove into Sarah Dessen’s words. It was like the hug of a hammock on a warm spring day.

I think I hit the 25 page mark and just new this was going to be a new favorite SD book, and that feeling continued through the entire thing. Sydney is a character to root for, to hug, to cry over, and more. Her emotional relationship with her parents felt honest as it felt tough. And, the Chathams were real, flawed and beautiful and I wanted to take a trip to the woods with them.

The scene when the cover image suddenly make sense: Dreamy and Perfection. I will read anything Sarah Dessen writes. I closed the cover on this one and immediately considered rereading it. It was that good.

Review: Wolf in White Van

From Goodreads: Welcome to Trace Italian, a game of strategy and survival! You may now make your first move. Isolated by a disfiguring injury since the age of 17, Sean Phillips crafts imaginary worlds for strangers to play in. From his small apartment in Southern California, he orchestrates fantastic adventures where possibilities, both dark and bright, open in the boundaries between the real and the imagined. As the creator of Trace Italian – a text-based, roleplaying game played through the mail – Sean guides players from around the world through his intricately imagined terrain, which they navigate and explore, turn by turn, seeking sanctuary in a ravaged, savage future America. Lance and Carrie are high school students from Florida, explorers of the Trace. But when they take their play into the real world, disaster strikes, and Sean is called to account for it. In the process, he is pulled back through time, tunneling toward the moment of his own self-inflicted departure from the world in which most people live.

Erin’s Thoughts: I came across this book on a list for adult books that young adults might enjoy and was intrigued.  The description makes it sound like the book is about a role-playing game invented by a shut-in.  And it is…but it is so much more than that.  The game and it’s players are certainly characters in this novel, but this book is Sean’s story.  It’s his life in the aftermath of a tragedy the reader spends the entire book trying to understand  This is one of those books that left me thinking about it every time I put it down.  I just wanted to know more.  To understand.  Sean is a complex, fascinating character whose tragedy intrigued me. His story is mysterious and almost dreamlike; told in reverse, making the end and the climax one in the same.

Dark, imaginative, sad, and beautifully written. It always feels weird to say I enjoyed reading a book like this, but it grabbed me and held on the whole way through.  An incredibly powerful character study that left me reeling for days after finishing it.

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