Claiming the Maverick’s Heart

Finished Claiming the Maverick’s Heart by Debra Holt. 

Macy has fought really hard to put her life back together since Trace left her with only a note ON THE DAY OF THEIR WEDDING. It helped that he also left town and the fact that it’s been years is also nice. Except now he’s back. 

Oh, guys, this book. It’s so sweet and fun! And I love Macy. (It took me some time but I like Trace, too.)

This book is an absolute delight. I’m a fan of Debra Holt’s anyway but this may be her best one yet. 

Highly recommended–especially if you like cowboys. 

How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You

Finished How to Keep a Boy From Kissing You by Tara Eglington. I received a copy for review. 

Don’t let the title fool you–Aurora is a total romantic. That’s why she doesn’t want to be kissed. She wants her first kiss to be perfect…which means she can’t waste it on some random guy she won’t even remember in five years. 

This story has a major Much Ado About Nothing vibe (coincidentally, THE VERY PLAY Aurora’s high school is putting on). And in the biggest coincidence ever, Aurora and her next door neighbor/nemesis are cast as Benedick and Beatrice after the director hears them arguing loudly backstage. 

Yes, you know exactly where this is going. And you will have the best time getting there. 

Pushing Perfect

Finished Pushing Perfect by Michelle Falkoff. I received a copy for review. 

Kara has been gently teased about her life for basically ever. Dubbed “Perfect Kara,” everything about her is…well, you can guess. 

Until her junior year of high school. Her face breaks out, which leads to her quitting swimming, which leads to her getting a whole new group of friends (don’t ask) but the bigger problem is that she gets panic attacks now…which started during the PSAT. 

And THAT leads to her making a dumb decision which leads to her getting blackmailed. 

This book is insanely fun. I kept trying to guess who was blackmailing Kara (and if multiple people were in on it). I couldn’t stop reading. :)

This is a crazy fun few hours. I think you’ll enjoy it too. 

Finding Perfect

Finished Finding Perfect by Elly Swartz. I received a copy for review. 

Molly’s mom has moved to Canada for a year for her job. It’s only for a year but Molly has a plan to ensure that her mom comes home: win her school’s slam poetry competition. Except working on her poetry is getting harder as Molly’s rituals start to take over her life. 

I loved this book and it broke my heart. It was hard to see Molly spiraling out of control, unwilling to tell someone or try and get help. 

This is handled extremely sensitively. The reader can empathize with Molly and she’s never portrayed as an object of ridicule. (When some girls make fun of her, others stick up for her.)

This is a debut novel and I can’t wait to see what Elly Swartz does next. Recommended. 

The Messenger (mini review)

Finished The Messenger by Carol Lynch Williams. I received a copy for review. 

First, if it’s not too late, don’t read the synopsis for this. It contains a major spoiler. (Publishers, if we don’t learn something for literally over a hundred pages, don’t tell us ahead of time!)

The women in the Messenger family get a Gift on their fifteenth birthdays. For example, Evie’s aunt has a way with cooking that’s made her rich. Evie doesn’t know what hers will be but she’s excited…

This is a really hard book to review without discussing the gift and the other things relating to it. But suffice to say that this is a smart, fun-and-heartbreaking novel. It’s perfect for cool fall nights. 

Cruel Beautiful World

Finished Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt. I received a copy for review. 

It’s the late 1960s. The Vietnam War and the Manson murders are all over the news. Lucy and her older sister Charlotte live with Iris, an older relative who took them in after their parents died. And Lucy, who’s 16, is running off with her English teacher today. 

That’s all you should know going into this novel. 

Well, and this: it’s incredibly unexpected. Yes, some things you will see coming, but you still won’t see the way they occur, or the things that happen as a result. 

Cruel Beautiful World is absolutely stunning and yes, both cruel and beautiful. 

Don’t miss it. Recommended. 


Finished Wish by Barbara O’Connor. I received a copy for review. 

Eleven-year-old Charlie has just been sent to live with her aunt and uncle, who she barely knows. Her dad’s in jail and her mom won’t get out of bed. Her sister’s close to graduating so she gets to stay with her best friend but no, Charlie has to move to the middle of nowhere to stay with strangers. And she hates it…until she meets a stray dog who she names Wishbone. 

I loved this novel. It reminded me of The Great Gilly Hopkins and, more recently, One For the Murphys. It’s got so much heart and is also completely funny. 

I love Charlie and her aunt and uncle. I also love her new best friend Howard (and his family). Basically, this book is full of characters who will win your heart.

Highly recommended. 

What Light

Finished What Light by Jay Asher. I received a copy for review. This post originally ran in August. 

Sierra’s parents own a Christmas tree lot in another state which means that one month a year, they leave their hometown and head south to sell the trees. It’s always fun (she loves the trees and has a best friend there, too) but her main rule is no boys. You can guess what happens this year. 

I very much enjoyed this story although I think I would’ve liked it more if I had never read Thirteen Reasons Why. That book is one of those that never really lets you go. This book is sweet and fun and I love it but it’s not the same. 
Even so, this is more than just a simple love story. It’s about first love, of course, but it’s also about family and friends and redemption. And, obviously, it’s about Christmas. If you want a great holiday read, check this one out–but try not to compare it to Thirteen Reasons Why. 

Small Great Things

Finished Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. I received a copy for review. This review was originally published in August. 
According to the author note in the back of the book, Jodi Picoult has been working on this book for 20 years. I’m sure that was frustrating but the end result was that this was released at the perfect time. This book is essential reading for this point in history. Small Great Things is the story of three people. Ruth is a nurse, and a great one. She works with newborn babies and loves her job. One day, though, a baby is born to white supremacist parents and they make it clear they don’t want a black nurse to care for or even touch their son. That’s gross but sure–until the baby has a medical emergency and Ruth is the only one there. She hesitates before helping and then gets charged with a crime for it. Her lawyer is a white woman named Kennedy. She is determined that race not be used in the defense. 
So obviously this is a novel about racism. We all recognize racism from someone like Turk (the white supremacist). But what we don’t always see is racism that’s more insidious. The racism that I’ve seen in Baltimore, where people express regret that Freddie Gray died in police custody and then, in literally the next breath, say, “But of course he was no saint…” 
The racism that leads people to eye groups of young black men suspiciously. The racism that leads to black children being labeled aggresssive even if they are doing the exact same thing that white children are doing. 
The racism we don’t recognize because it’s the racism we are all at least a little guilty of. 
Highly recommended.