All posts by Kelly

All We Have is Now

Finished All We Have is Now by Lisa Schroeder.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

From the author of THE BRIDGE FROM ME TO YOU, a groundbreaking novel about what matters most — when time is running out.

What do you do with your last day on earth?

There are 27 hours and fifteen minutes left until an asteroid strikes North America, and, for Emerson and everyone else who didn’t leave, the world will end. But Emerson’s world already ended when she ran away from home last year. Since then she has lived on the streets, relying on her wits and her friend Vince to help her find places to sleep and food to eat.

The city’s quieter now that most people are gone, and no one seems to know what to do as the end approaches. But then Emerson and Vince meet Carl, who tells them that he has been granting people’s wishes. He gave his car away so a woman could take her son to see the ocean for the first time, and he gives Emerson and Vince all the money he has in his wallet.

Suddenly this last day seems full of possibility. Emerson and Vince can grant a lot of wishes in 27 hours — maybe even their own.”

So as you know, I think Lisa Schroeder writes these amazing, perfect books.  The interesting part is the fact that, with each new book, I say “Oh, this is her best book yet.”

Yeah, I know.  But really, this is her best book yet.

It’s an amazing achievement but this book about the end of the world is so full of hope.  I mean yes, of course there are sad parts.  And obviously people think about the life they could’ve had, the YEARS they could’ve had, and feel cheated.  But also, there’s such a sense of gratitude for the experiences they did have and for the last few hours of their lives.

I love Emerson and Vince so much, but I think my favorite character is Carl.  How awesome is it that he decides to spend his last few hours making things better for other people? (Emerson and Vince decide to follow his example.)  These are great people, you guys.

I can’t even talk about it like a rational person.  Just buy it and read it and talk to me about it.

Highly recommended.

Everybody Knows Your Name

Finished Everybody Knows Your Name by Andrea Seigel and Brent Bradshaw.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Meet Magnolia.

Her father’s dead, her boyfriend’s ditched her to commit himself more fully to surfing, and her mother’s depressed because she can’t get cast on The Real Housewives of Orange County. All Magnolia wants is to reinvent herself.

Meet Ford.

Half his family is in jail, the other half probably should be, he shoplifted his way into a job at a record store, and his brother pawned his 1953 Telecaster for a quick buck. All Ford wants is to reinvent himself.

Ford, meet Magnolia.

When the two teens are cast in Spotlight, a reality TV singing competition, both see it as their chance to start anew. With each episode, as they live together in a Hollywood Hills mansion and sing their hearts out, Ford and Magnolia fall in love. But how genuine can that love be when a television audience is watching their every move—and when their pasts are catching up them so much faster than they can run?

Perfect for fans of Pitch Perfect, and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Mindy Kaling, and Meg Cabot, Everybody Knows Your Name is a romantic comedy that delivers an unforgettable cast of characters (and way more laughs than any episode of American Idol).”

This book is incredibly fun.  It’s told from both Magnolia and Ford’s perspectives, and I was immediately sucked into the story.  I enjoy stories set with a reality show backdrop (most notably Kelly Fiore’s Taste Test and Heather Demetrios’ Something Real) and, while this book didn’t work with me as much as those did, I had an incredibly hard time putting it down.

I love that even the secondary characters in this are interesting.  I wish we had gotten to spend more time with them, but honestly, even that made sense.  How often do you spend time with every single person near you?  So yes, even though they all live in the same house, they also all break off into subgroups pretty quickly.

I didn’t absolutely love this book, but it is quite the fun ride.

Weightless

Finished Weightless by Sarah Bannan.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

When 15-year-old Carolyn moves from New Jersey to Alabama with her mother, she rattles the status quo of the junior class at Adams High School. A good student and natural athlete, she’s immediately welcomed by the school’s cliques. She’s even nominated to the homecoming court and begins dating a senior, Shane, whose on again/off again girlfriend Brooke becomes Carolyn’s bitter romantic rival. When a video of Carolyn and Shane making out is sent to everyone, Carolyn goes from golden girl to slut, as Brooke and her best friend Gemma try to restore their popularity. Gossip and bullying hound Carolyn, who becomes increasingly private and isolated. When Shane and Brooke—now back together—confront Carolyn in the student parking lot, injuring her, it’s the last attack she can take.

Sarah Bannan’s deft use of the first person plural gives Weightless an emotional intensity and remarkable power that will send you flying through the pages and leave you reeling.”

This book is intense.  Going in, it’s obvious that something has gone very wrong and that Carolyn has been bullied.  But we don’t know what happened or how serious the bullying was.  (Was she shunned, say, or was it worse than that?)

I know that these types of books aren’t new, but this one really is.  For starters, we don’t know who our narrators are.  It’s done in the first person plural (“We” and “us”) and it immediately drew me in.  (I wasn’t sure how well it would work when I heard about this plot device, but I thought it was a brilliant idea.

There’s a total sense of unease and as Carolyn went from an object of fascination to one of scorn, I started actually feeling sick.  I don’t think Carolyn recognized the actual danger she was in until it was too late, and no, that isn’t hyperbole.

This is the kind of book that will stick with you.  Recommended.

Mockingbird

Finished Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“In Caitlin’s world, everything is black or white. Things are good or bad. Anything in between is confusing. That’s the stuff Caitlin’s older brother, Devon, has always explained. But now Devon’s dead and Dad is no help at all. Caitlin wants to get over it, but as an eleven-year-old girl with Asperger’s, she doesn’t know how. When she reads the definition of closure, she realizes that is what she needs. In her search for it, Caitlin discovers that not everything is black and white—the world is full of colors—messy and beautiful.Kathryn Erskine has written a must-read gem, one of the most moving novels of the year.

I’ve heard so many great things about this book, but for some reason, I’d never picked it up.  This is a common thread in my life, one I’m trying to fix.  (I know that nobody gets to read everything but I still try.)

Anyway, Caitlin is the kind of character that sticks with you.  She’s got Asperger’s syndrome, so she takes everything very literally.  When her older brother Devon (who is basically the world’s best brother) is killed in a school shooting, she doesn’t really understand.  I mean, she gets that he’s dead and that she won’t see him again.  But she doesn’t really understand the depth of her feelings or how to make herself feel better.  (And then she learns about the idea of closure and decides that that’s what she needs…except how do you GET closure?)

I very much enjoyed seeing Caitlin grow as a person.  She starts the novel barely able to relate to other people, but by the end, she’s made some friends and has managed to figure out how to make herself and other people feel better.  She’s the kind of person I won’t soon forget.

This is a sweet, charming, heartbreaking, excellent middlegrade novel.  I’m glad that I finally took the time to read it, but I wish I had done it much earlier.

Recommended.

My Basmati Bat Mitzvah

Finished My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula J. Friedman.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

During the fall leading up to her bat mitzvah, Tara (Hindi for “star”) Feinstein has a lot more than her Torah portion on her mind. Between Hebrew school and study sessions with the rabbi, there doesn’t seem to be enough time to hang out with her best friend Ben-o–who might also be her boyfriend–and her other best friend, Rebecca, who’s getting a little too cozy with that snotty Sheila Rosenberg. Not to mention working on her robotics project with the class clown Ryan Berger, or figuring out what to do with a priceless heirloom sari that she accidentally ruined. Amid all this drama, Tara considers how to balance her Indian and Jewish identities and what it means to have a bat mitzvah while questioning her faith.

There are a lot of comparisons to Judy Blume’s classic Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret.  While this book isn’t quite up to that standard, it’s very sweet and fun.

I love Tara and her desire to be true to both sides of her heritage, even when it seems like they’re at odds.  She isn’t necessarily sold on the idea of having a bat mitzvah, but it gets even worse when it seems like it’ll be a big step away from her Indian heritage.

I know a bit about Judaism and very little about Indian culture or its faiths (typically Islam or Hindu, depending).  Probably my favorite part about reading this was learning more about both.  (My second favorite part was everything else.)

And, of course, there are also friend and boy issues.

This book is absolutely delightful.  I wish I had read it much earlier than I did.  (I had hoped my major delay would have meant that the author had written more books, but apparently not.)

Recommended.

Broken Promise

Finished Broken Promise by Linwood Barclay.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

From the New York Times bestselling author of No Safe House comes an explosive novel about the disturbing secrets of a quiet small town.… 

After his wife’s death and the collapse of his newspaper, David Harwood has no choice but to uproot his nine-year-old son and move back into his childhood home in Promise Falls, New York. David believes his life is in free fall, and he can’t find a way to stop his descent.

Then he comes across a family secret of epic proportions. A year after a devastating miscarriage, David’s cousin Marla has continued to struggle. But when David’s mother asks him to check on her, he’s horrified to discover that she’s been secretly raising a child who is not her own—a baby she claims was a gift from an “angel” left on her porch.

When the baby’s real mother is found murdered, David can’t help wanting to piece together what happened—even if it means proving his own cousin’s guilt. But as he uncovers each piece of evidence, David realizes that Marla’s mysterious child is just the tip of the iceberg.

Other strange things are happening. Animals are found ritually slaughtered. An ominous abandoned Ferris wheel seems to stand as a warning that something dark has infected Promise Falls. And someone has decided that the entire town must pay for the sins of its past…in blood.”

I absolutely loved this novel.  It’s an incredibly smart thriller, and I immediately cared about the characters.  While not everything is wrapped up, I’m pretty sure that means that there is a sequel coming.  I hope so; I want to know what will happen to everyone.

While there is a lot going on, obviously my focus was on Marla and her “present,” the baby left on her step by what she insists was an angel.  But there were no subplots that dragged for me; there was nothing that I wished had been left out.

I have read one other Linwood Barclay novel and I definitely want to check out his entire backlist.

Highly recommended.

Jessica Darling’s It List #3

Finished Jessica Darling’s It List #3 by Megan McCafferty.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Book 3 in New York Times bestseller Megan McCafferty’s realistic middle grade series, perfect for fans of Dear Dumb Diary, The Popularity Papers, and Wendy Mass’s Willow Falls.

Crazy teachers; best friends turning pretty overnight; “The Unbreakable Laws of Cafeteria Line Cutting”…. Junior high is rough, and Jessica Darling needs help! Enter older sister Bethany and her “It List,” meant to help Jessica uphold “The Darling Domination of Popularity.”

In Jessica Darling’s It List 3, Jessica faces the potentially mortifying outcome of the Top Secret Pineville Junior High Crushability Test. Plus, she’s kind of stuck in the middle, as smarties and skaters unite to collect signatures on a petition to bring back the school’s annual dance. Will the dramarama of seventh grade be Jessica’s downfall? Not if she can help it.”

It’s not a secret that I absolutely love Jessica Darling.  This is my favorite of the middlegrade prequels to her YA/adult series.

If, like me, you are a huge fan of Jess and Marcus Flutie, this is going to be your favorite, too. :)  The two of them are circling around each other for most of this novel, too, but there is a pretty fun development toward the end.  (Still no kissing, but still.)

I also love the fact that we see Hope and Jess really starting to click as friends, and I love seeing that.  (We also get to know Hope’s brother Heath; that’s less fun because, as we learn in Sloppy Firsts, he dies of a drug overdose.)

I love Jessica Darling and I just want more of her life.  (Can we get sequels, maybe? I want to know her as an adult, too!)

This ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, so I hope that there’s at least one more of Bethany’s lists floating around somewhere.

Recommended.

The Good Girls

Finished The Good Girls by Sara Shepard. I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

From Sara Shepard, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Pretty Little Liars series, comes the shocking sequel to The Perfectionists—with an ending you’ll have to read to believe!

Mackenzie, Ava, Caitlin, Julie, and Parker have done some not-so-perfect things. Even though they all talked about killing rich bully Nolan Hotchkiss, they didn’t actually go through with it. It’s just a coincidence that Nolan died in exactly the way they planned . . . right? Except Nolan wasn’t the only one they fantasized about killing. When someone else they named dies, the girls wonder if they’re being framed. Or are they about to become the killer’s next targets?”

This is the sequel to The Perfectionists and is the last book in the duology.

The interesting thing about this book is that it moves past The Perfectionists and other people the girls disliked start dying or having accidents.  This obviously makes them look like even bigger suspects.

This book and series was incredibly fun and definitely vacation-worthy, but not really a must-read.  It’s a little forgettable.  And the reveal has definitely been done before.  (Although I would argue that the ending was still pretty chilling, at least for me…and, of course, it leaves things open for another book.  I hope Sara Shepard doesn’t do one.)

The Perfectionists

Finished The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

From the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling series Pretty Little Liars comes a thrilling new novel about five perfect girls who are framed for a murder they didn’t commit.

In Beacon Heights, Washington, five girls—Ava, Caitlin, Mackenzie, Julie, and Parker—know that you don’t have to be good to be perfect. At first the girls think they have nothing in common, until they realize that they all hate Nolan Hotchkiss, who’s done terrible things to each of them. They come up with the perfect way to kill him—a hypothetical murder, of course. It’s just a joke…until Nolan turns up dead, in exactly the way they planned. Only, they didn’t do it. And unless they find the real killer, their perfect lives will come crashing down around them.

From Sara Shepard, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Pretty Little Liars series, comes another story of dark secrets, shocking twists, and what happens when five beautiful girls will do anything to hide the ugly truth.”

This is an incredibly fun novel, one that is very similar to her Pretty Little Liars and Lying Game series.  (Unlike those two, this is only a duology—a wise choice, considering that both of those seemingly dragged on forever.)

I like the concept behind this.  Who hasn’t thought about getting back at the people who are mean to you, and who hasn’t jokingly wished someone dead?  Obviously, most people never mean those thoughts…except in this case, someone clearly did.

Things are also creepy, as we have no idea exactly who the killer is, and if it’s one of the girls or if it’s some random person.  As in her other series, everybody’s a suspect.

I enjoyed this book and was very excited that I could read the second one immediately.