PS I Miss You

Finished PS I Miss You by Jen Petro-Roy. (In the interest of full disclosure, Jen is my friend and I was the first person to beta read this book—which I did twice—and I am in the acknowledgments, which may or may not have made me cry.)

Summary (from Goodreads):

In this epistolary middle-grade debut novel, a girl who’s questioning her sexual orientation writes letters to her sister, who was sent away from their strict Catholic home after becoming pregnant.

Eleven-year-old Evie is heartbroken when her strict Catholic parents send her pregnant sister away to stay with a distant great-aunt. All Evie wants is for her older sister to come back. But when her parents forbid her to even speak to Cilla, she starts sending letters. Evie writes letters about her family, torn apart and hurting. She writes about her life, empty without Cilla. And she writes about the new girl in school, June, who becomes her friend, and then maybe more than a friend.

As she becomes better friends with June, Evie begins to question her sexual orientation. She can only imagine what might happen if her parents found out who she really is. She could really use some advice from Cilla. But Cilla isn’t writing back.”

Jen told me that the final product was different and better from the two versions I’d read. (The second version was different and better from the first, but I was still very skeptical. How could this book be any better? Well. Somehow it is. (Witchcraft?)

This novel touches on almost everything in its 310 pages—friendship, family, faith, crushes, teenage pregnancy…and it’s all handled with dignity and respect. Nothing is gratuitous and nothing feels added for shock value. Evie grapples with her faith and spends time trying to figure out what she believes (as opposed to what she’s been raised to believe) and ultimately continues to find comfort in the church, even when she’s mad at God (and her parents).

This is a story that trusts kids to draw their own conclusions. Who’s right in this? Who’s wrong? If the wrong things are done, can they still be done for the right reasons? Are some things unforgivable? (These questions will make more sense in the context of the story when you read it, but they’re things to think about anyway, right?)

This would be a good book to read with your kids or as part of a book club. Great discussions are sure to follow. Highly, highly recommended.


Weekend Update

I’m currently reading PS I Miss You by my friend Jen Petro-Roy! The review should be up tomorrow, but I’m absolutely in love with this book. It’s incredibly sweet and just a really great book. I beta read it a while back, and it’s really different but the book that I loved is even better. If you like middlegrade fiction, you need to read this book.

I’m seeing A Wrinkle in Time (Saturday, with my book club; before that, we’re eating Mexican and talking about Little Women) and Love, Simon this weekend and I’m excited for both. I’m also nervous (AWiT isn’t getting good reviews and we just re-read the book for book club, so I remember exactly how great the book is and I loved Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, which Love, Simon is based on) but I’m also excited.

This is also a hard weekend. It’s the 20th anniversary of my dad’s death. It’s always an awful day anyway, but since this is a milestone…

So yeah, I’m just trying to stay busy with good things.

Last Ferry Home

Finished Last Ferry Home by Kent Harrington. I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“San Francisco police detective Michael O’Higgins has been paralyzed with grief since his wife’s tragic death at sea. Unable to care for their teenage daughter and barely keeping his head above water at work, O’Higgins finds his faith in humanity restored when he meets a charming Indian family on his ferry home. But when he is called to investigate a murder, and finds that the victim is the father he met on that ferry, Michael must solve a mystery that threatens to shatter his already broken life.

“No one writes about the heart of darkness like Kent Harrington” -Michael Connelly Since his wife’s death at sea, San Francisco Police Detective Michael O’Higgins has been paralyzed by grief and shame – unable to care for their teenaged daughter, who saw her mother swept away, and unable to deal with the daily requirements of his job. Almost a year after his wife’s death, O’Higgins takes a ferry ride as part of his therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder. On the boat, he meets a charming Indian family: successful young husband, two lovely daughters, and a kind, beautiful wife and mother.

O’Higgins has no idea that he will meet this woman again on his first day back after bereavement leave, when he and his partner are called to a Nob Hill mansion to investigate a homicide. The victim is the handsome man O’Higgins met on the ferry, and his wife, Asha Chaundhry, is the obvious suspect.

Asha Chaundhry becomes the center of O’Higgins’ investigation. The victim’s father, a prominent Indian politician and business tycoon, is anxious to keep his son’s death out of the public eye, and to have the investigation resolved as quickly as possible. As O’Higgins digs into the Chaundhrys’ business and political dealings, he becomes convinced of Asha’s innocence, while her father-in-law seeks to isolate her from friends and defenders, even sending her children back to extended family in India. Increasingly desperate, Asha turns to O’Higgins for comfort, in a way that threatens both his recovery and his career.”

This is a hard book to classify. It’s part police procedural, your standard “whodunnit.” It’s part a guide on how to survive what you think you won’t ever be able to move past (Michael still isn’t over his wife’s sudden death, although that’s something you never really move past; he’s just starting to surface when he returns to work and immediately gets assigned this double murder case) and it’s part international intrigue. It’s a lot to pack into a book that’s under 300 pages, and Kent Harrington does a great job of making sure nothing feels rushed or thrown in.

In general, I’m someone who wants long books; shorter stories seem to be over way too soon. This book feels longer than it is (in the good way, in the Cormac McCarthy way).

I was fascinated by the international intrigue and the glimpse into Indian life and the Hindu religion. It’s not a culture I’m very familiar with, and I wish the book had gone a bit more deeply into that (although I understand that it wouldn’t really have fit in, so I understand why it was left out).

I definitely need to read some of Kent Harrington’s backlist; this book is good and I definitely want to read more.

The Leading Edge of Now (Giveaway!)

Hi, guys! I am so excited and honored to be able to give away a copy of The Leading Edge of Now by Marci Lyn Curtis!

Her first book, The One Thing, was one of my favorite books the year it came out. You can read my review here.)

Since then, I have been waiting patiently (false. I have been waiting incredibly impatiently) for a second book. And now, FINALLY, it is out in September!

And how amazing does it sound?!


Just when Grace is beginning to get used to being an orphan, her estranged uncle suddenly comes forward to claim her. That might have been okay if he’d spoken to her even once since her father died. Or if moving in with Uncle Rusty didn’t mean returning to New Harbor.

Grace once spent the best summers of her life in New Harbor. Now the place just reminds her of all she’s lost: her best friend, her boyfriend and any memory of the night that changed her forever.

People say the truth will set you free, but Grace isn’t sure about that. Once she starts looking for it, the truth about that night is hard to find — and what happens when her healing hurts the people she cares about the most?

Marci Lyn Curtis, the critically acclaimed author of The One Thing (Disney-Hyperion, 2015), has crafted an honest and emotional story that will resonate with the wide range of readers impacted by sexual assault.

Sexual assault does not define this story, however, just as it does not define Grace. Wry humor and true love emerge as Grace, like many in the #MeToo era, seeks to find her truth, face her truth, and speak her truth.

Need more? Great authors have blurbed it!

Praise for The Leading Edge of Now

“Candid and emotional. A sometimes painful, memory-soaked portrait of grief and—most importantly—survival.”

–Jenn Bennett, author of Alex, Approximately 

“Raw, gripping, and continually surprising. The Leading Edge of Now deftly balances heartbreak and humor.”

—Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, author of Firsts and Last Girl Lied To


“One of those rare, beautiful books that will shatter your heart, then gently put the pieces back together with its humor, honesty, and breathtaking writing. Marci Lyn Curtis has done it again.”

— Samantha Joyce, author of Flirting With Fame


“Helmed by a protagonist who is savvy, lost, broken, sarcastic and ultimately strong enough to create love in a world too often poised to break a girl, The Leading Edge of Now will leave you with a deep need to live life to the fullest.”

—Shannon M. Parker, author of The Girl Who Fell and The Rattled Bones.

AND look at how pretty the cover is!
The Leading Edge of Now FINAL COVER HIGH RES.jpg

You need to read it RIGHT NOW, right?

Good news! YOU CAN!

Marci sent me a SIGNED bonus ARC and bookmarks, which I am happy to pass it along to you! (Well, to one of you.)

TO ENTER: leave a comment (about the book, about Marci, about the Oscars, anything you want!) You have until March 23 at 4:30pm.
Good luck!

In Sight of Stars

Finished In Sight of Stars by Gae Polisner. I received a copy for review. This was originally published September 20.  

Klee (pronounced like clay) has been committed. We don’t know why, and this book goes back and forth in time, explaining how he got there and, more importantly, how he’ll find his way back.

I want to make my book club read this, because I have so many thoughts. I think teens will love this—this book really showcases the way that everything feels so viscerally important but never makes it feel silly or trivial, but I think it will also resonate with adults, because we actually really get the idea of having to decide whether to pursue your passion or to settle for a career you don’t love so you can manage to buy food and pay rent and all the other delights of adulthood. 

I’m not sure I can even express just how deeply this book has resonated with me. Every character, every theme, every nuance is absolutely perfect. Most of all, it’s about how art can save us temporarily while we become strong enough to save ourselves. And about how asking for help is not at all weak. The world is better with this book in it. 

Highly recommended. 

The Leading Edge of Now

Finished The Leading Edge of Now by Marci Lyn Curtis. I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“Just when Grace is beginning to get used to being an orphan, her estranged uncle suddenly comes forward to claim her. That might have been okay if he’d spoken to her even once since her father died. Or if moving in with Uncle Rusty didn’t mean returning to New Harbor.

Grace once spent the best summers of her life in New Harbor. Now the place just reminds her of all she’s lost: her best friend, her boyfriend and any memory of the night that changed her forever.

People say the truth will set you free, but Grace isn’t sure about that. Once she starts looking for it, the truth about that night is hard to find — and what happens when her healing hurts the people she cares about the most?

Marci Lyn Curtis, the critically acclaimed author of The One Thing, has crafted an honest and emotional story that will resonate with the wide range of readers impacted by sexual assault.

Sexual assault does not define this story, however, just as it does not define Grace. Wry humor and true love emerge as Grace, like many in the #MeToo era, seeks to find her truth, face her truth, and speak her truth.”

Holy crap, this book! I completely loved her first book and so I have been waiting impatiently for this one for years. It was a long and hard wait but it was so, so worth it. It’s smart and funny and heartbreaking. It’s pretty much a perfect book.

As the synopsis says, Grace has been sexually assaulted. She’s not dealing with it particularly well (she feels deeply ashamed and she blames herself) but you know what’s wonderful? Everyone she tells reacts the right way. They are so sad for what happened to her but they are so, SO full of complete rage for her rapist. They stick all the blame for what happened on his shoulders. And it’s so great to read the fact that there is no equivocation, no “Well, maybe you shouldn’t have…” And they kept telling it to Grace until she finally started believing it. I am so happy Grace had the greatest support system.

This is also a grieving book (her dad died two years before the story started) and it’s a great example of that. It’s old grief, which isn’t always dealt with in books. And it’s so right–once you get past the first year, you’re used to carrying the weight of grief. You don’t always notice it, the way it actually stoops your shoulders. Until something happens and it smacks you in the face.

This is such an amazing book and you need it. You can preorder it today, but I’ll be posting a giveaway on Wednesday.

Highly recommended.


Finished 806 by Cynthia Weil. I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“Sibling 1 throws blenders and plays guitar. Sibling 2 is allergic to everything and is into magic. Sibling 3 is a varsity swimmer with a group of female fans. Enough said. The only thing they have in common is their biological father, and the only thing they can agree on is that they all want to meet him. With the help of a broken-down, “borrowed” Jeep, KT, Jesse, and Gabe make their way across the country evading police, trying their luck on the slots, and meeting a life-changing pig, all to track down Donor 806, their father. Any hope of success requires smarts, luck, and ingenuity. Good thing they have each other…even if they don’t see it that way.”

One thing you should know going in: KT is awful. Like, I have never wanted to punch a teenager so much in my life awful. Like, I almost stopped reading awful. But I loved the premise and I liked Gabe and Jesse (siblings 2 and 3) and I thought, “Well, she’ll probably evolve, right?” (Spoiler: she did.)

I say all that to say that if you read this and you ALSO hate KT to the point where you want to stop reading, DO NOT STOP READING. She gets so much better.

This book is also a complete comedy of errors. Everything that could go wrong does, and every time they think they’ve found their dad, it turns out that they didn’t and so the hunt continues.

There is a bit more magic than I generally go for (by which I mean people being in the exact right place at the exact right time) but to be fair, I think we also have at least one story of things working out the exact right way because of a coincidence, right? So I can deal with it.

I ended up really liking this book and really rooting for the siblings (even KT). I think maybe you would, too.

Weekend Update

Hey, remember these?

I’m excited to make my triumphant return back to the movie theater this weekend! Friends have guessed that I’d be a little sick of them after last week’s Oscarfest, but nope! I’m seeing Hurricane Heist and Strangers 2 (my book club is seeing A Wrinkle in Time next weekend and I’m excited, even though reviews haven’t exactly been good), and I’m looking forward to both. I’m pretty sure they’ll be more fun than good, but I have no problem with seeing fun movies. They don’t all have to be art.

I’m reading 806 by Cynthia Weil, and I should have my review up tomorrow. I’m not a huge fan of the main character but I love the concept. Next up is a book my friend Erin recommended and then I’m reading Little Women for book club (we’re meeting Saturday). #prayforKelly

Beyond that, not much going on. Next weekend, I’m excited to see Love, Simon! The trailers look so good and I loved the book. My birthday is also coming up, and I don’t really have any plans but I do always love celebrating. :)

If I Die Tonight

Finished If I Die Tonight by Alison Gaylin. I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“Late one night in the quiet Hudson Valley town of Havenkill, a distraught woman stumbles into the police station—and lives are changed forever.

Aimee En, once a darling of the ’80s pop music scene, claims that a teenage boy stole her car, then ran over another young man who’d rushed to help.

As Liam Miller’s life hangs in the balance, the events of that fateful night begin to come into focus. But is everything as it seems?

The case quickly consumes social media, transforming Liam, a local high school football star, into a folk hero, and the suspect, a high school outcast named Wade Reed, into a depraved would-be killer. But is Wade really guilty? And if he isn’t, why won’t he talk?

Told from a kaleidoscope of viewpoints—Wade’s mother Jackie, his younger brother Connor, Aimee En and Pearl Maze, a young police officer with a tragic past, If I Die Tonight is a story of family ties and dark secrets—and the lengths we’ll go to protect ourselves.”

This is such a fascinating story. We’re kept in the dark about pretty much everything and the only thing that’s clear is that every single character has secrets. (Pretty much huge secrets, too.) Everyone has something that they desperately need to keep hidden, and so this makes everyone seem like they’re lying, even when they’re being completely truthful about one particular thing.

While obviously the story centers around what happened to Liam and who’s responsible, there are a bunch of little mysteries (WHAT IS EVERYONE HIDING AND ALSO WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS TOWN). This is such masterful writing, though; every subplot was fascinating and every character felt fully realized. (There are four narrators and each felt different and equally interesting.)

If you are in the mood for a book that won’t let you go, this is for you. Recommended.


OscarPass (a love story)

If you follow me on Twitter, you have probably noticed that I’ve been far more active lately. I spent the better part of Oscar’s long weekend (Thursday-Sunday) in the movie theater, seeing all the Best Picture nominees. I’d already seen four of them, but I wanted to rewatch everything.


Black Panther (this was my bonus movie): I didn’t want to wait until weekend shows weren’t sold out so when I decided to take Thursday off work to see Three Billboards at 4 so I could see the Oscar shorts on Saturday at 7—there was a LOT of scheduling issues to try and get the shorts in, guys!—I talked my favorite cinema-going companion, Philip, into coming to see Black Panther with me. It wasn’t hard. I was pretty sure that I’d love this (I love Creed, which also stars Michael B. Jordan and is also directed by Ryan Coogler) but I was surprised by just how much I loved it. I have friends who have already seen it multiple times (I think one friend has seen it four times!) and I’m definitely wanting to see it again and will buy it when I can. I felt so inspired at how it felt to see all these women who were more than just the “romantic interest” or there to be saved by someone. I’m white and this representation meant the world to me, so I can’t imagine how much more I’d appreciate it if I were a person of color. I cannot recommend it hard enough.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (rewatch): This is a super hard movie to watch. It’s violent, it’s dark, there isn’t a real resolution and every major character is fairly awful. But I also love it. It’s compelling and it’s darkly funny. It’s not for everyone and probably not even for most people. But I loved it and I respect the hell out of it.

Phantom Thread: This is my least favorite of the nine but it’s also the one I’ve thought about the most. The characters are all unlikable (beyond unlikable!) but it’s a fascinating movie. The pacing is deliberate but I couldn’t look away. The people on my favorite NPR podcast called it “forgettable” but honestly, I don’t know that I’ll ever forget it. I don’t think I’ll watch it again, but it’s going to stick with me.

Estimated time at the movies: 10 hours (including a lunch break at the restaurant across the street, between Black Panther and Three Billboards)


Dunkirk: I loved this and I wasn’t expecting to. I am not a fan of war movies, because I don’t like realistic violence as much. (Horror movie violence tends to be cartoonish, and I am fine with that.) I’d also heard that the three timelines can be confusing, but I paid attention and it was fine. (It helps that, while all the characters look similar, I could break the timelines into “air,” “the one with Mark Rylance” and “the other one.” (“The other one” goes from land to sea and “the one with Mark Rylance” is exclusively sea.) I would’ve picked Christopher Nolan for Best Director for this movie and I wish Mark Rylance had gotten a Best Supporting Actor nod. But this movie is just beautiful and tense and I absolutely loved it. It caught me off guard and I love when that happened.

Lady Bird (rewatch):  This is my favorite of the nine. It was going in and it stayed my favorite. I’m a fan of quiet dramas, and this is a perfect movie. It’s sweet and funny and just a lovely movie. I wish Laurie Metcalf had won Best Supporting Actress; this performance of hers is just stellar. She does so much with relatively little (the movie centers around Lady Bird, obviously, and her mom isn’t around much and when she is, they argue, but Laurie Metcalf just nails everything).

Get Out (rewatch): This is the movie I’ve seen the most (this was my fourth viewing) and each time, I appreciate it more. I wish that it had gotten more awards than just Best Original Screenplay, but I cheered so much when it won that. It’s a horror movie, but it’s more of a social commentary than it is a horror movie. (Maybe also more of a thriller than a horror movie, so if you’re not a fan of horror, check it out.) The acting is also perfect and I love everything about it.

Estimated time at the movies: 11 hours–this was the day with well over an hour between each screening, which meant that I spent a bunch of time in the VIP section upstairs–comfortable seating, plus better food options.


Call Me By Your Name: I didn’t know that much about it before I went in (the sum total of my knowledge: “gay love story; my friend Kathy loves it”), and it blew me away. Unpopular opinion: Timothee Chalamet should have won Best Actor. I love everything about this movie: the acting is great and the pacing is languid and the cinematography is gorgeous. It didn’t feel like I was watching a movie and I think that’s because most of the people aren’t particularly famous. (Armie Hammer is probably the biggest name, right?) I am going to watch this movie so many times.

Shape of Water: This was one of my most anticipated movies and it didn’t disappoint. I do already love Guillermo del Toro and it’s set in Baltimore (during the Cold War), and I love that. My city in olden times! This cast is perfect and I wish that Sally Hawkins and Richard Jenkins had won their respective awards. Frances McDormand was great but Sally Hawkins did so much with body language and her face (her character is mute). People have been very snarky about this movie (“a human/fish love story”) but it’s great and it deserved to win.

Oscar shorts (live action and animated, not documentary): Philip came and saw this with me, too. It turns out that I don’t really like shorts. Well, let me walk that back. I enjoyed the shorts (especially the live-action ones; the animated ones tended to be a little much. I liked Dear Basketball—which won—except now we live in a world where Kobe Bryant is an Oscar winner). But we were in that theater for over 3 hours and there were so many stories and just give me one long movie and not ten little ones. (I don’t like short stories either, as a rule.) The live action shorts were all excellent but I’m so happy The Silent Child won! (Fun fact: Philip is British and the little girl—and okay, yes, everyone associated with the movie—is apparently from a town near where he’s from and his sister has been seeing her on the news all the time for the past week or so.)

Estimated time at the movies: 11 hours


Darkest Hour: Another Kelly-and-Philip screening! This had a King’s Speech-vibe (which I loved) and I was a huge fan of that. This was a little less good, but I had a great time. With the benefit of hindsight, we know that Winston Churchill was absolutely right but I can’t imagine the strength it took to avoid all the talk of trying to appease Hitler. (Philip said it made him feel really proud to be British and I can see that. For me, though, it was a little harder to watch because not only is America not the hero, it’s the third-tier villain—behind Germany and the British government officials who wanted to force peace talks.) I also loved seeing this after Dunkirk because it was good to see what was happening in Britain during the course of that movie.

The Post (rewatch): I loved this movie so much more the second time! It’s so smart and watching Kay Graham go from being pretty timid to completely forceful made me seriously want to stand up and cheer. I don’t think this is Spielberg’s or Tom Hanks’ best work but Meryl Streep is completely genius in this. It’s very talky and if you’re not particularly interested in a movie where there’s not a lot of action, this isn’t for you. But I loved it and I am hoping to get it as a late birthday present.

Estimated time at the movies: 5 hours (it would have been even less but I got there early so I could get some Korean wings from the VIP section–thank you, Cinemark!)

My favorites (in order): Lady Bird, Call Me By Your Name, Shape of Water, Get Out, Three Billboards, The Post, Dunkirk, Darkest Hour, Phantom Thread.

Best: Shape of Water, CMBYN, Billboards, Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, Post, Darkest Hour, Phantom Thread. They’re all excellent, though I think PT was weakest.