The Sun is Also a Star

Finished The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. I received a copy from the publisher for review. This review will be posted again closer to the release date. 

This review is essentially exclamation points and heart emojis. I’m not sure I have the words to do it justice but I will try. 

Natasha and Daniel view the world very differently–he’s a romantic and she’s a realist. He’s Korean-American and about to apply to Yale to be a doctor (his parents’ dream, not his). She is from Jamaica and about to be deported with her family (literally about to be deported; it’ll happen that night). 
This book reminded me of Before Sunrise in all the best ways: two people meet and have an immediate connection but you know there’s no way it can last. (I hope we get sequels and that those sequels won’t be a decade apart.)
Nicola Yoon is one of the best authors writing today and her books are pure magic. I cannot wait to see what she does next. And I hope it’ll be soon. 
Highly recommended. 

Holding up the Universe

Finished Holding up the Universe by Jennifer Niven. I received a copy for review. This review will be reposted closer to the book’s release date. 

This is the story of Libby and Jack. Libby is still overweight but she used to be so fat, she couldn’t leave the house. And Jack suffers from face-blindness, although no one knows because he’s so good at faking it. They are the last two people you’d expect to fall for each other, and yet…

This book garnered a lot of controversy (see: Libby was so fat, she couldn’t leave the house) but after reading All the Bright Places, I knew I wanted to read this. And I trusted Jennifer Niven to handle the topic sensitively. 
My trust was more than well-placed. This book is hardcore amazing, the kind of book that left me smiling for most of it and sniffling for some of it and desperate for a new Jennifer Niven book after I finished it. 
Libby is my new favorite. She’s so clever and confident and just wonderful. She’s not perfect but she’s super close to it. 
You need to read this book. Highly recommended. 

What Light

Finished What Light by Jay Asher. I received a copy for review. This post will run again closer to its release date. 

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. 

In Case You Missed It

Finished In Case You Missed It by Sarah Darer Littman. I received a copy for review. This review will be reposted closer to the review date. 

I’m a huge fan of Sarah Darer Littman and have been since I read Want to go Private? Her books are all incredibly timely/topical and this one is no exception. 

Sammy’s life is pretty typical: she’s busy with friends and school (AP tests, SATs, driving test–does her crush like her back?). It’s stressful but she’s handling it. And then her dad–the CEO for a bank–gets hacked. And, thanks to the cloud, so is she. And everything gets posted online…including her diary. 
I felt so awful for Sammy. Of course there’s a lot of fallout and a lot of humiliation (are you always nice about other people?). And her parents now know everything she’s done wrong. Which isn’t much, honestly; she’s a really good kid. But still, she’s not perfect. 
I feel like Sarah Darer Littman’s biggest strength is writing these incredibly flawed characters that the reader still cheers for. Sammy is the perfect example of this. She’s not always a good person but there is a world of difference between Sammy in the beginning and Sammy at the end. 

Small Great Things

Finished Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. I received a copy for review. This review will be republished closer to its release date. 

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. 

Finn’s Choice

Finished Finn’s Choice by Darby Karchut. I received a copy for review. 

It breaks my heart that this is the last Finn Finnegan book. This series has been such an absolute delight and, while this book was everything I could’ve possibly wanted, I am not ready to say goodbye to Finn or Gideon. 

It helps that there’s a little crossover between both of Darby’s other series…but it doesn’t help that much because I will probably never read a new Finn story again and frankly, that’s unacceptable. 
If you are looking for a fantastic MG series that features one of the best father/son relationships ever plus Irish folklore plus strong characters, read these four books. You’ll thank me later.
Highly recommended. 

The Memory of Things

Finished The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner. I received a copy for review. 

This book begins during the attack on 9/11. Kyle’s dad is a first responder and Kyle knows his dad is at ground zero, trying to help. His mom and little sister are in California, where Kerri is trying to be an actress. His uncle is almost paralyzed after an accident. There’s a lot on his plate even before you factor in the girl he met on his way home. (The girl had angel wings on and a case of amnesia. So who is she, where did she cone from and does anyone know where she is?)

I read an early version of this and was so excited to snag a copy at ALA. As you know, I am a huge fan of Gae Polisner and this book didn’t let me down. The early version was incredible but this is a masterpiece. 

Yes, it’s about arguably the worst day in our country’s history but it’s also about a family, and resiliency and hope. To put it simply, it’s absolutely perfect. 

Highly recommended. 

Red Right Hand

Finished Red Right Hand by Chris Holm. I received a copy for review. 

This is the second book in the Michael Hendricks series (after The Killing Kind). Hendricks is a hitman who takes out other hitmen. Now he’s trying to keep a federal witness alive–the catch is that a lot of people believe he’s already dead. He’s also trying to bring down the Council, a shadowy group that’s tried to kill him. 

This book is insane in the best way. I couldn’t stop reading it and I was very nervous, hoping Hendricks and his associates would stay alive. (The Council is scary, guys!)
I hope there are more books and either way, I hope Chris Holm has a new book out soon. He’s one of my favorites. 
Highly recommended. 

Hex

Finished Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt. I received a copy for review. 

Okay, first this book is horrifying. I feel infected by it and I’m pretty sure it will take a long time before I can wake up in the middle of the night and not think about Katherine, the Black Rock Witch. 

Black Spring is a haunted town. Its inhabitants are all aware of the Black Rock Witch, a woman so scary that her eyes and lips are sewn shut. Residents know better than to touch her (you’ll die if you do) and if you hear her whispers, you’ll kill yourself. And I don’t mean an easy or pretty death, either. There will be blood and pain. You can’t just leave town. If you’re gone for too long, you’ll commit suicide. 
It’s also a big secret and if you tell outsiders about the witch, you’ll suffer. Except now Black Spring’s teenagers want to tell people. And it’s not a spoiler to say things don’t go well for them. 
Oh, guys. This book scared the crap out of me. I went from intrigued to creeped out to honestly terrified. And now I am in my hometown, watching the shadows lengthen and I am hallucinating whispers. (I hope I am.)
Read this if you dare but do it with the lights on. 
Note: this is translated. Apparently the original ending is different. If you read the Dutch version, please let me know how that ended. 
Highly recommended. 

Stalking Jack the Ripper

Finished Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco. I received a copy for review. 

This is an incredibly creepy novel. It centers around Audrey Rose Wadsworth, a young girl fascinated with forensics. Unfortunately for her, it’s the 1880s and ladies are not supposed to have interests like that. (Especially ladies of her station.)

This is also the time of Jack the Ripper and Audrey Rose is doubly fascinated by him. Soon, she’s determined to figure out who he is…but of course he may be closer than she thinks. 
My knowledge of Jack the Ripper is not particularly good (murdered prostitutes; never caught) so this book was really fun to read. (Also creepy and unsettling.) According to a postscript, there were some liberties taken but much is accurate. 
If you like historical fiction, especially centered around fierce heroines, and serial killers this is for you.