Monday, February 28, 2022

Reading on a Theme: Rumpelstiltskin Retellings

I love a twist on a classic tale. Today we have retellings of Rumpelstiltskin for all ages. I wouldn't count Rumpelstiltskin as one of my favorite fairy tales, but this post of Rumpelstiltskin retellings truly contains some of my all-time favorite books. What fairy tale would you like to see retold?

Find more retellings here.


The Prince's Sister:
The Wish Granter is a high fantasy retelling of Rumpelstiltskin set in the same world as C.J. Redwine's The Shadow Queen. Thad and Ari Glaven are the illegitimate children of the king of Sundraille. When the royal family perishes, Thad becomes king, a position he never expected to hold. Thad's ascension was the work of the conniving Wish Granter, Alastair Teague. Ari is determined to keep her brother and the kingdom from Teague's clutches. I love Redwine's Ravenspire retellings, and you definitely do not need to read them in order. I love the settings, and she adds a lot of oomph to the fairy tales. Also, Ari is a strong and feisty character with a lot of heart and determination.


The Moneylender's Daughter:
I loved Naomi Novik's Uprooted, and I loved Spinning Silver even more. Naomi Novik is so good at writing fairy tales for adults. This one takes its inspiration, in part, from Rumpelstiltskin. Miryem, the daughter of a Jewish moneylender, is so successful at turning silver into gold that she catches the eye of the Staryk, fae-like creatures, who crave gold but cannot make it themselves. Weaving together the story of three women, Miryem, Wanda, and Irina, Novik's fairy tale has a feminist quality to it that remains very true to the time and place with its restrictions and structures. The Russian-inspired setting jumps off the page. I read this over the course of one snowy weekend in January, and it was the perfect seasonal read.  


The Girl Blessed by the God of Lies:
I know I'm in good hands when I'm reading a book by Marissa Meyer. She is such a master of fairy tale retellings. Gilded is a Rumpelstiltskin retelling mixed with the Erlking legend. Serilda was blessed by the god of lies. At least, that's what her father has always told her. She is a natural story teller, but her stories tend to get her into trouble. But nothing compares to the trouble she faces when her story catches the attention of the Erlking. Serilda is tasked by the Erlking to spin straw into gold, and the only reason she survives is because a mysterious ghost-like creature called Gilded comes to her aid. This book is so magical. Full of stories and romance and danger and magic. It was one of my favorite books of the year. 
The Tricky Villain:
In a world where a name defines a destiny, Rump is stuck being a cow’s behind. When he was born, his mother died before she could tell anyone but him his full name, and so he is stuck being Rump. He discovers that he has magic and it sets him on a path that leads to his name and destiny. Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin is pure fun. Liesl Shurtliff created a fascinating world with gnomes who run messages and pixies who are attracted to gold (much like the king of the land). I love that Rump’s only friend is Red, whose name is considered as odd as his and that people are the only things named. Rump was a romp and I enjoyed every minute. 
The Miller's Daughter:
In  Elizabeth Bunce's A Curse Dark as Gold Charlotte Miller becomes the reluctant owner of Stirwaters Mill when her father dies unexpectedly. She and her sister Rose struggle to keep the mill going, but it seems to be cursed, or so the locals whisper. Time and again just when Charlotte and Rose think they are going to get ahead something horrific happens making it absolutely necessary that they make a shady deal with a shady character if their mill is to survive the day. The setting that Bunce creates is just perfect. I really could visualize the mill and its surroundings hovering right on the cusp of the Industrial Revolution where the past and the future collide. This book is truly something special. 

Monday, February 14, 2022

Reading on a Theme: Books Set at Boarding School

What is it about boarding school books that's so appealing? I have books set at boarding schools sprinkled through so many of the Reading on a Theme posts, but the only dedicate post featured Boarding School Thriller. Seeing as one of my favorite books from 2021was set a a boarding school, I decided it was time for another (non-murderous) Reading on a Theme on this topic.

A Long Way from Tennessee:
Cash and Delaney live in a small Appalachian town in Tennessee. It's the type of place that can trap you with its lack of opportunities. However, Delaney is smart and ambitious, and when she discovers a new algae with antibiotic properties, she secures a full ride scholarship to a prestigious boarding school in Connecticut for both herself and Cash. In The Wild Light is another beautiful book from Jeff Zentner. Cash knows his grandfather he will have to say goodbye forever to his grandfather someday soon. In the end it will be the gift of poetry and a teacher who cares who will see Cash through. This book is raw and beautiful and clever and full of poetic observations about the world. Review copy from NetGalley.


Life After Tragedy:
Meryl Lee Kowalski is starting at a new school, a place to begin again after a tragic accident. Matt Coffin should probably keep running, but oh how he wants to stay put for once in his life. Gary Schmidt's boarding school is full of poignant moments and some truly edge-of-your-seat suspense. There are many fantastic side characters in Just Like That and so many quotable lines. Matt's story is truly tragic, but he finds adults to trust. Meryl Lee is truly a good soul. She's a girl who is a joiner and a fighter, and I loved reading about her becoming Accomplished. This book is a proper companion novel to The Wednesday Wars and Okay For Now, but it also has a little connection to Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, which I haven't read, but now I want to.


How to Compete with the Boys:
Jordan Sun is tired of getting nowhere in the acting program at her prestigious art school. There just aren't a lot of parts for an Asian Alto II. When a spot opens up in a men's a cappella group, she decides to audition, disguised as a boy. I was excited to read Noteworthy because it sounded so fun. A cappella, a girl disguised as a boy, what could be better? I found the book had depths I wasn't expecting and tackled weighty issues. It wasn't the light read I anticipated, but it was rich and reflective. Riley Redgate's Noteworthy has a little bit of everything and was well worth the read. Review copy from NetGalley. 


Boarding School Abroad:
Houston girl, Millie Quint, has dreams of Scotland, and those dreams become reality when she gets a scholarship to a boarding school in the Scottish highlands. She's absolutely shocked when she discovers that her rude roommate, who she called Veruca Salt, is none other than the Scottish princess, Flora Baird. At first Flora and Millie can't stand each other, and then they become friends, and then perhaps more than friends. Rachel Hawkins's follow-up to Prince Charming is just as fun as the first book in the series. I really enjoyed Millie's character. The dialog in Her Royal Highness is top notch. I love the boarding school setting, and the whole thing has a fun escapist, fantasy feel.

Friends Who Will Fight For You:
Chandler is an exclusive boarding school, but no class on campus is as exclusive as The Circle, a writing intensive run by Professor Douglas. Abdi Nazemian's new book follows the five students admitted to The Circle for the 1999-2000 school year. Each has a very particular reason for wanting to be part of these group, but it's what they all have in common that will become their unbreakable bond. Every member of The Circle is holding something back of their authentic selves. The Circle will set that free. The Chandler Legacies deals with some pretty heavy topics and the characters have very real (and not always right) reactions to the issues that arise. Review copy from Edelweiss.

Monday, January 31, 2022

Reading on a Theme: YA Books Set in the 1990s

Are we ready to call books set in the 1990s historical fiction? All of these books were published between 2019 and 2021 but set in the 1990s. If you remember the 1990s, these books are a fun throwback, and if you are too young to remember the 1990s, these books can give you a little introduction to that decade.

LA in the 1990s
It's 1992 in LA, and Ashley has a good life. She goes to one of the best schools and lives in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the LA area. Then the police brutality against Rodney King that culminates in sweeping riots forces her to confront her identity and the racial inequities that are right in front of her. The Black Kids is really excellent. I love the historical setting and how it allows us to examine this moment from the past through a teenager's eyes. And, unfortunately, this is a very timely book, as these events have many parallels in today's America. Christina Hammonds Reed's writing is also lovely. It has a rhythm and tone to it that I, personally, loved. Review copy from NetGalley.
The American West in the 1990s
Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town is a collection of intertwining short stories set in the 1990s in small towns in Alaska and Colorado. I loved seeing how the various characters were connected as I moved from tale to tale. This book shows how the effects of choices, incidents, and accidents cause ripples that impact people in far-flung places. I absolutely loved Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock's debut, The Smell of Other People's Houses, and I was very eager to read more from her. This book did not disappoint. It's beautifully done with lyrical writing and a contemplative tone that always works for me. I'll be thinking about this one for a long time. Review copy from NetGalley.

Garden Heights in the 1990s
It's 1998 and Maverick is trying to get ahead in life. He's dealing for the King Lords, and it looks like he's got a clear path to the top of the gang hierarchy. That all changes when he learns he's a father. Seven's mother proves herself to be unreliable from the start, and Maverick knows he's got to step up to take care of his baby. I absolutely flew through this prequel to The Hate U Give. As always Angie Thomas writes with heart. Maverick has such a good heart. I can't think of any other books that center around a teenage boy becoming an unexpected father like Concrete Rose does. Maverick does his best to be a good one from the start. 
The Mall in the 1990s
The 90s are back. Cassie Worthy was supposed to have the perfect summer before heading off to college. But it's not two minutes into her new job at America's Best Cookies when she finds out her boyfriend fell in love with the Bath and Body Works' girl while she was out with mono. Now she's working at Bellarose Boutique with her former best-friend Drea. The Mall is pretty silly. It was fun though. Drea and Cassie rekindle their friendship and go on a mad-cap scavenger hunt to find the legendary treasure of the Parkway Center Mall. As someone who spent a fair amount of time in the mall in the 1990s, Megan McCafferty's novel made for a fun throwback. Review copy from NetGalley. 
Brooklyn in the 1990s
1998 Brooklyn. Three friends attempt to propel another friend into rapper stardom. The problem is that that friend is dead. Let Me Hear a Rhyme has a great premise. I really enjoyed the interactions between our three main characters/ narrators. This would be a great book for fans of rap music. Even though that's not exactly me, I still really enjoyed all the references to 1990s celebrities. The book also deals with the more serious issues of gangs, rats, and retribution in these teens' Brooklyn neighborhood. I really like how Tiffany D. Jackson told an entertaining story that also sheds a light on real life issues. 

Friday, December 31, 2021

Favorite Reads of 2021

It's that time of year again! I love seeing everyone's favorites read of the year.

Some stats before we get to my favorites:

I read 109 books this year. It's definitely less than previous years, but I feel pretty good about it because I had a lot on my plate this year.

I gave 20 books 5-stars this year, which is pretty consistent with other years. The 5-stars reflect not only how objectively "good" I think a book is, but also how much I enjoyed it. Some books got 5-stars because they were a good time.

As in previous years, my consumption of audiobook is way up and reading with my eyes is way down. I listened to 87 audiobooks and only read 22 books with my eyes. A new full-time job is definitely a factor in those numbers. 

I read 66 YA and Middle-grade books. Those include the books I listened to with my kids this year, as they too have become big audiobook fans. The rest of the books I read were adult non-fiction and fiction. You'll see titles marketed to younger readers mixed with titles marketed to adults in my favorites. 

Generally I stick to 12 favorites books of the year, but this year I decided to throw in two extras and make it 14. It's my blog, and I can do what I want, and I didn't want to leave any of these books out even if they couldn't all be in the graphic. This year, all of my favorites are 2021 publications, except the book club books.

 And so, without further ado, here are my favorite reads of 2021 in a variety of categories.

Favorite YA Contemporary: In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner
Cash and Delaney live in a small Appalachian town in Tennessee. It's the type of place that can trap you with its lack of opportunities. However, Delaney is smart and ambitious, and when she discovers a new algae with antibiotic properties, she secures a full ride scholarship to a prestigious boarding school in Connecticut for both herself and Cash. Another beautiful book from Jeff Zentner! This book is raw and beautiful and clever and full of poetic observations about the world.

Favorite Genre-Bender: Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr
This is a lovely nesting egg of a book. Historical, contemporary, and futuristic. In each timeline, the reader follows characters for whom a little-known Ancient Greek text called "Cloud Cuckoo Land" means a lot. Seeing the pieces come together was the most rewarding part of this book. As I got closer to the conclusion, more and more puzzle pieces started clicking into place, and it was so impressive how it all came together.

Favorite Pandemic Book: The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold
One of the best books I read in 2021. This book is so weird in all the right ways. Set in a world that is decimated by the fly flu, Nico has to leave the safety of the Farmhouse. I think it's best described as a mash-up between Station Eleven and Recursion, but I worry that even saying that is too much. It has beautiful writing and that contemplative tone that I am always searching for in a book.

Favorite Historical Fiction: The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
Believe it or not, this was the first book by Kristin Hannah that I've read. It's already not the last. This book was harrowing. The dust bowl scenes, especially. I was very into this book. I even looked up which of my friends had read it to see who I could talk to about it. And when that happens you know it needs to end up on the favorite list.

Favorite New Book in a Beloved Series: Winterkeep by Kristin Cashore
A favorite in a list of favorites. This new addition to the Graceling series is perfection. I love Queen Bitterblue most of all, and I'm so happy she got another story. The new land is fascinating, and the writing is exquisite. Also the cover is gorgeous. 

Favorite Nonfiction Book Club Book: They Called Me Number One by Bev Sellars
For a while I was in three book clubs this year, which made for a lot of options when it came to determining my favorite book club books of 2021. Rather than limit to just one, I decided to have a nonfiction and a fiction category. Bev Sellars was forced to attend the residential schools for Indigenous Americans in Canada. She writes of the legacy of trauma the schools wrought on her family members and community. An important read. 

Favorite Fiction Book Club Book: All the Little Live Things by Wallace Stegner
I'm so glad that book club brought this gem to my attention. It's the story of an old man and his neighbors. Behind this seemingly simple premise is a book full of deep philosophical questions about life and death. It is incredibly well written and made for an excellent discussion.

Series That Brought Me the Most Joy: The Simon Snow Series by Rainbow Rowell
No other series brought be quite as much pure joy and as many dopey smiles this year as this one did. It started with the publication of the last book in the series, Any Way the Wind Blows, which sent me down the Simon Snow rabbit hole. I reread all the books, included Fangirl, and just let myself lean into fangirling all over the series.

Favorite Retelling: Gilded by Marissa Meyer
This novels is a Rumpelstiltskin retelling mixed with the Erlking legend. Serilda was blessed by the god of lies. At least, that's what her father has always told her. She is a natural story teller, but her stories tend to get her into trouble. But nothing compares to the trouble she faces when her story catches the attention of the Erlking. This book is so magical. Full of stories and romance and danger and magic. 

Favorite YA Historical Fiction: Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
Set in San Francisco in 1954, Lily Hu and Kathleen Miller are high school students who begin frequenting a lesbian bar called The Telegraph Club. This is great YA historical fiction. The setting was so well done, and the characters felt authentic to the time and place

Favorite Mental Health Rep: Yolk by Mary. H.K. Choi
Mary H.K. Choi is so good at writing damaged characters. This book features a set of sisters who are each damaged in their own ways. The sister relationship in this book is so good. Jayne and June both love and need each other and also drive each other mad. I don't want to give too much away, but both Jayne and June have health issues that they are not dealing with in the healthiest of ways. They are also struggling to negotiate the relationship they have with their immigrant parents and some lingering childhood trauma. As gritty and raw and fantastic as Mary H.K. Choi's other books. 

Most Killer Cliffhanger: The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik
Can my review for this book just be "AHHHHH!"? That cliffhanger was so killer. I read A Deadly Education at the beginning of the year, pushed it hard on everyone I knew, and then waited on pins and needles for the sequel. I love everything about this series (expect maybe the killer cliffhangers). The characters, the world building. It's just all so much fun.

This book was such a delight. I loved being back with the Montague siblings, and it was so heartwarming to see them come together as a family. This book could have also claimed the "Favorite Mental Health Rep" slot as Adrian is both anxious and obsessive. It was tough at times to be inside someone who is suffering as much as Adrian is, but it is also truly gratifying to see Adrian come to accept and love himself and realize he doesn't have to be "fixed." As much as I adore Monty and Felicity, Adrian may be the most lovable of all the Montagues. 

Favorite YA Thriller: The Mary Shelley Club by Goldy Moldavsky
I enjoyed this YA thriller so much! Rachel is a new student at an elite New York prep school, and she's a bit lost. Then she discovers a secret club that loves horror movies and designs pranks to scare their classmates, and she thinks she's found her people. I want a sequel to this so badly.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Blog Tour: Walls by L.M. Elliott

Walls by L.M. Elliott

Publisher/ Year: Algonquin Younger Readers - July 27, 2021

Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction

Source: Review copy from the publisher


Publisher Summary:


Drew is an army brat, a hotshot athlete poised to be his high school’s star pitcher, when he has to move for the sixth time in fifteen years—this time to West Berlin, where American soldiers like his dad hold an outpost of democracy against communist Russia in Hitler’s former capital. Meanwhile, in East Berlin, his cousin Matthias has grown up in the wreckage left by Allied bombing during World War II, on streets ruled by the Communist Party’s secret police.

From the opposing sides of the Cold War, Drew and Matthias begin to overcome the many ideological walls between them to become wary friends. They argue over the space race, capitalism, socialism, and even the American civil rights movement, and bond over rock ’n’ roll—music outlawed in Matthias’s part of the city. If Matthias is caught by the Stasi’s neighborhood spies with the records or books Drew has given him, he will be sent to a work camp for “re-education.” At the same time, Drew’s friendship with the East Berlin Jugend—who ardently spout communist dogma—raises suspicions about his family’s loyalty to America. As the political situation around them gets all the more dire, Drew and Matthias’s loyalty—to their sector, their countries, their families, and each other—will be tested in ways that will change their lives forever.

Set in the tumultuous year leading up to the surprise overnight raising of the Berlin Wall in August 1961, and punctuated with real-life photographs, headlines, and personalities of the time, Walls brings to vivid life the heroic and tragic choices of the Cold War.


My Thoughts: 


L.M. Elliott is a master of Young Adult Historical Fiction, and I absolutely loved this book. Drew comes across as a completely believable 1960s American teenager. 

I really enjoyed how Drew's relationship with Matthias progressed over the course of the novel. Matthias, Drew's East German cousin, gives readers a glimpse into the indoctrination East German teens received during the Soviet Era. Matthias is slow to trust and difficult to get to know for good reason.

This book takes place through one calendar year, from August 1960, when Drew and his family, newly stationed in Berlin arrive at their post until August 1961 when the Berlin Wall was erected. Although the reader knows the wall is going to be raised, it still comes across as shocking and harrowing for both the characters and the reader. Each chapter is set during one month of the year, and L.M Elliott sets the stage with historical photographs and news headlines from that month. This technique sets the stage for the story and firmly plants the reader in 1960-1961. 


I would recommend Walls to anyone who loves historical fiction. I also think it would be a great book for teens, especially younger teen boys, who want to learn more about the Cold War. 



Goodreads | Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

To celebrate the publication of Walls, I've brought back older blog post featuring a "Reading on a Theme" all about the Berlin Wall. Read Walls, and then if you are hungry for more historical fiction set in Cold War Germany, check out these books: 

I've found myself drawn to novels about The Cold War recently. This Reading on a Theme brings together five Young Adult and Middle Grade novels set during the Cold War Era. All of these books focus on the Berlin Wall from the point of view of East Germany, but they do so in a variety of ways, from the Russian who is helping to construct it, to the American child whose parents might be spies stationed behind it, to the Berliners who seek to escape it.

The Time Traveler:
On a trip to Berlin, Ellie Baum suddenly finds herself in 1988 East Berlin. Trapped in the past and behind the Berlin Wall, Ellie falls in with a resistance group that helps people escape via magical balloons. Ellie and her new friends must unravel the mystery behind her time travel, which proves to be more and more sinister with every discovery. The Girl with the Red Balloon is a fascinating combination of magic, historical fiction, and mystery. I love how Katherine Locke moves between Ellie's story and her grandfather's during WWII. The family ties made the tale so much richer for me. I want to know where else these balloonists have been secretly working. Out September 1, 2017. Review copy from NetGalley.

The KGB Agent:
In 1958 Russia, Svetlana is a resident of an orphanage for children of Enemies of the People. Sveta is also an incredibly passionate and talented ballet dancer, and she's determined to be a star of the Bolshoi Ballet, if only her family's past was not such a black mark. Seeking political redemption, Svetlana begins working with the KGB (not that she really has a choice). She has talents they find useful; talents that will help with the plan to build a wall in Berlin and stop a showdown in Cuba. Orphan, Agent, Prima, Pawn is part of Elizabeth Kiem's series following three generations of dancers in the Dukovskaya family. Svetlana's story is really where it all begins in the heart of Cold War Russia. Orphan, Agent, Prima, Pawn is out August 22, 2017. Review copy from NetGalley.

The Resistance Fighter:
Troubled teens, Molly Mavity and Pepper Yusuf, are brought together under the most unusual of circumstances. They've been told that they must solve the mystery of who killed Ava Dreyman, a teenager whose published diary is said to have brought down the Berlin Wall. Oh my, The Arsonist is such a strange and wonderful book. Told in a series of letters and journal entries written by the three main characters, the story that unfolds reveal secrets, lies, and family tragedies. Stephanie Oakes' book is masterfully constructed. I'm so impressed by the way she weaves the mystery between characters and timelines. I also love the layers of symbolism in this book. The Arsonist is out August 22, 2017.

The American Child:
Noah Keller's parents are acting really weird. When they picked him up from school they told him they were leaving for East Berlin right away so that his mother could do research for her dissertation. Then they explained the long list of rules he must follow, including going by a different name, while in Germany. Noah is pretty sure his parents aren't what they seem. This middle-grade story by Anne Nesbet of a boy behind the Iron Curtain was not exactly what I expected, but I liked it all the same. I could especially appreciate the book because in 1989, I was the same age as Noah. It was interesting to imagine myself in his shoes. Cloud and Wallfish was out September 2016.

The Deserter:
The night the Berlin Wall went up, Gerta's father and brother were in the west. With her family divided by the wall, Gerta can't seem to settle into life in East Germany. She can't help but watch the wall, despite the danger, and one day she sees her father and brother standing on a tall platform in West Berlin. They seem to have a message for her. With her brother Fritz due to report to the army in a matter of weeks, Gerta and Fritz undergo a desperate plan to escape. A Night Divided is so good. It's emotional and gripping, and I wanted so badly for it to end well, but I was so afraid that it wouldn't. Jennifer A. Nielsen did a spectacular job conveying the tense atmosphere of the German Democratic Republic. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Reading on a Theme: Parallel Realities and Multiple Dimensions

I generally love a good parallel realities story. In fact, I think I wrote that very sentence in nearly all the reviews below. I love parallel reality stories so much that this is the third Reading on a Theme dedicated to parallel reality tales. You can find the first two installments here and here and another post here. However, it's been since 2016 so I think we are overdue for this latest installment.


Reliving the Last Four Months:
Things changed for Jack Ellison King when he met Kate. Sadly, this isn't the rosy story of first love because Jack only has four months with Kate before she dies. But instead of the story ending there, Jack is sent back in time to the moment he met Kate, and it all begins again. And again. Maybe next time Jack will be able to save Kate. Opposite of Always is a mix of first love, first loss, and Groundhog's Day. I'm always a sucker for the parallel reality set-up, and this book kind of falls into that camp. A story like this can easily become repetitive, but I think Justin A Reynolds did a pretty good job of keeping the timelines fresh and continuing Jack's character arc even when the event did repeat.
One Coin, Two Choices:
Stevie Rosenstein is new in town. Best friends Drew and Shane are both taken with Stevie and want to ask her out, so they decide to flip for it. Where It All Lands follows the two timelines that result from that coin toss. I tend to think that the best parallel reality stories navigate the character to the same general conclusion or outlook on life despite the path they take, and Jennie Wexler's book does this well. I could easily see how either path would have been completely realistic for Stevie to take. I loved the music element of this story and seeing the three characters work to develop their music skills. Where It All Lands is out July 6, 2021. Review copy from NetGalley. 
Hit Into the Next Dimension:
The main character of Game Changer, Ash, is a defensive end on his high school football team. During his games he gets knocked into a series of alternate realities or parallel universes. With each shift the world or his personage is slightly different. As Ash moves through the various alternate worlds he learns about inequity and privilege and what he can change and what he can't. This is definitely a thought-provoking book, and I think it could be really eye opening for its intended audience (which I'm assuming is teenage boys). I generally like Neal Shusterman's work, and I'm glad I gave this one a try. Game Changer is out February 9, 2021. Review copy from Edelweiss.

A Summer of Possibilities:
Adelaide Buchwald is floundering. Her family has been through a lot, and it is impacting her emotionally and mentally. She has one summer to pull together a decent project or be kicked out of the boarding school she began attending when her dad got a job there. Again Again is a parallel realities story where multiple timelines play out across Adelaide's summer. Parallel reality books usually work for me, and this one was no exception, but it was the tone of the book that hit me just right. With this book E. Lockhart reminds us that boy can she write. It has a melancholy, wistful quality to it with just the right touch of hopefulness. I also loved the contemporary art gallery. I really enjoyed this book. Again Again was out June 2020. Review copy from NetGalley.

A House With Many Doors:
Jane, Unlimited is quite the trip. It's about a girl who accepts an invitation to a mysterious island mansion because her recently deceased aunt told her to never turn down an invitation to Tu Reviens. Kristin Cashore's book is essentially about choices, and the routes that open and close when a choice is made. In general, I'm a big fan of parallel reality stories, so I'm not surprised that I liked this book. Also, I really loved the whole art heist story line. I just love imagining what the famous Vermeer painting, Young Women Writing a Letter with her Frog, would look like. (No frogs in any real Vermeer paintings.) The abundance of frogs and umbrellas in this book were details that I found quite endearing and amusing.


Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Reading on a Theme: A Wedding Setting

What is it about a wedding setting that makes for such a great summer read. In this lineup we have a bunch of characters who are part of wedding season, for one reason or another. What are your favorite books that involve a wedding?

The Wedding Planner's Daughter and the Caterer's Son:
Quinn Berkowitz and Tarek Mansour are both heirs to family businesses in the wedding industry, but Quinn isn't sure being part of the family business is what she wants and Tarek wants more responsibility in his family's catering company. It's been nearly a year since Quinn saw Tarek and running into him at event after event isn't exactly the most comfortable situation seeing as he ghosted her last year. Quinn's got a lot on her plate this summer, and she has a lot to learn about love. I loved Rachel Lynn Solomon's Today, Tonight, Tomorrow, and I was so eager to dive into her new fun, summer romance. We Can't Keep Meeting Like This is out June 8, 2021.

The Wedding Chapel Owner:
Holly Nolan's grandfather left her his Las Vegas wedding chapel in his will. Grandpa Jim also left her a letter to deliver to Dax Cranston, the grandson of his mortal enemy and the owner of the chapel next door. The Chapel Wars is a deceiving little book. You think that it's going to all light and cute, but it deals with so much and so many emotions.On top of mourning Grandpa Jim and dealing with a budding relationship with Dax, the Rose of Sharon chapel is in financial straits. For Holly the chapel is more than just a job. It's family, it's home, it's her grandfather's legacy, and she's desperate to save it. Lindsey Leavitt really delivers with this one.

The Groom's Sister:
The follow-up to Saints and Misfits, reunites us with Janna just in time for her brother's wedding. Nuah, who has been off at college, will be there for the festivities, and Janna has decided that she's ready to tell him that she's interested in a relationship. However, it wouldn't be a wedding if everything went according to plan. I loved this sequel! S.K. Ali doesn't let Janna have it easy, and the book is all the better for it. Janna's life feels real in all its complicated messiness. There's also a lot of love here. The connections between family and friends in this book are so strong. (And that tie-in to Love from A to Z!) Janna is going to be all right. Misfit in Love is out May 25, 2021. Review copy from NetGalley. 
The Florist:
Sophie Evans works for the local florist. She works at all the major events, from weddings to funerals, held in her small Alabama town along with her best friend, Micah Williams, who is the daughter of the local caterer. But, this year things are different because Micah's dad has won a mentorship with celebrity chef, Jet Hart, which means that this year the arrogant Jet and his annoying son Andrew are going to also be at all the events. I enjoyed the format of Maybe This Time. It takes place over the course of one year and nine events. The narration moves from event to event. Along with the romance (it is a Kasie West book), we also have some more complicated issues including some parent-drama, friend-drama, coming-of-age drama, and, of course, relationship drama. 

The Wedding Planner's Daughter:
Louna is the daughter of the popular wedding planner, Natalie Barrett, and every summer she works for her mom during the busy wedding season. This summer her mom decides to also employ Ambrose, an infuriating boy Louna's age.
I really enjoyed Once and For All. The wedding planner setting was so much fun, especially coupled with Natalie, William, and Louna's cynicism when it comes to lasting love. Ambrose, on the other hand, is full of optimism, even if he is an unabashed serial dater. It's tough to resist a hate-to-love romance, and Sarah Dessen's characters have just the right amount of chemistry. This book was the perfect summer read.

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