We Are Unprepared

Finished We Are Unprepared by Meg Little Reilly. I received a copy for review. 

As you know, storms are getting worse and worse; experts say this will continue. In the novel We Are Unprepared, a monster superstorm is predicted. 

In a small Vermont town, people react by joining one of three groups: religious, civic-minded or the preppers. Ash, our narrator, joins the civic-minded group and tries to help the town plan; his wife, Pia, becomes a prepper. 
This is a book I should’ve loved. I am incredibly fond of disaster stories and we’ve seen how plausible this is. Also, it’s interesting the way the town splintered into separate factions. I enjoyed those two aspects. 
I have two problems with the book. The first is that the storm, when it came, was barely part of the novel at all. What was the point of having it happen at all?
The second was the bigger problem. Ash is our narrator; he’s a jerk who views everyone else with kind of a thinly-veiled contempt. He may not even be aware of it but he dislikes or at least seems to look down on almost everyone else. As the story is told from his perspective, that means I was annoyed with pretty much everyone, too (though that could definitely be my own failing). 

Game On

Finished Game On by Michelle Smith. I received a copy for review.

I hate sports but for some reason, I love sports movies. I learned recently that that also extends to sports books and Michelle Smith’s duology about a baseball team in Lewis Creek is just delightful. 
Bri and Eric have been next door neighbors forever. They were each other’s first kiss (at 10) and now they don’t really talk. She’s dating a jerk and he’s a player. But of course things are about to change. 
Baseball and the small town they live in are almost characters in this novel (baseball in a good way; the town not so much). I love the way Michelle Smith paints this vivid picture and makes me wish I were in the stands with a box of Cracker Jacks and a soda the size of my face. (No small feat because sports and I are not friends.)
And oh the love story. I had the goofiest grin for most of Game On. 
I hope there are more stories set in Lewis Creek. (Maybe a soccer spinoff with Becca? Please?)

Rise the Dark

Finished Rise the Dark by Michael Koryta. 

This is the second in Michael Koryta’s series about Markus Novak. If there is not a third book, I think I will die. That is not an exaggeration. 
If you read his novels, you know what to expect: a book so tense, I stopped breathing at least five times.

This is the rare second book that’s even better than the first. And oh that cliffhanger. 

You need this book. And all of his others.

Highest of all possible high recommendations. 

Hungry Heart

Finished Hungry Heart by Jennifer Weiner. I received a copy for review. This will be reposted closer to its release date. 

This is a book of essays and it is absolute perfection. 

I’ve wished for years now that we were friends and this really cements that. This is everything I wanted it to be and everything that it would be reasonable to expect. She discusses marriage and motherhood and dogs and The Bachelor and social media and, of course, weight and writing and…well, life. 
Everyone needs to read this. 
Highly recommended. 

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.