All posts by Kelly

A Constellation of Roses

Finished A Constellation of Roses by Miranda Asebedo. I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“Ever since her mother walked out, Trix McCabe has been determined to make it on her own. And with her near-magical gift for pulling valuables off unsuspecting strangers, Trix is confident she has what it takes to survive. Until she’s caught and given a choice: jail time, or go live with her long-lost family in the tiny town of Rocksaw, Kansas.

Trix doesn’t plan to stick around Rocksaw long, but there’s something special about her McCabe relatives that she is drawn to. Her aunt, Mia, bakes pies that seem to cure all ills. Her cousin, Ember, can tell a person’s deepest secret with the touch of a hand. And Trix’s great-aunt takes one look at Trix’s palm and tells her that if she doesn’t put down roots somewhere, she won’t have a future anywhere.

Before long, Trix feels like she might finally belong with this special group of women in this tiny town in Kansas. But when her past comes back to haunt her, she’ll have to decide whether to take a chance on this new life . . . or keep running from the one she’s always known.

With lovable and flawed characters, an evocative setting, and friendships to treasure, A Constellation of Roses is the perfect companion to Miranda Asebedo’s debut novel The Deepest Roots.”

One of my favorite tropes is when a child or teenager has to live someplace they don’t want to be with either a foster family or with family they don’t know. They don’t want to be there and they don’t want to give the situation or the people a chance, and then they do and it ends up being wonderful for everyone. I think it’s because it always makes me think of The Great Gilly Hopkins, but it’s been played out dozens of times since then. It always makes me cry but in a good way.

A Constellation of Roses is the perfect example of this. Trix wants to be with her mom but if she can’t, she’s fine on her own, thanks. But then she’s sent to live with family she didn’t know she had (her dad’s relatives) in a town that she’s never heard of. It’s a major adjustment, of course, but they’re good people and they make Trix better, too.

I loved this book and basically everyone in it. I would happily spend hundreds more pages in this world.

Hello. Nice to see you.

I’ve been on a bit of a blogging hiatus lately. I’ve read some great books (I especially recommend The Fountains of Silence and The Testaments! I also loved Book Love, The Remaking and Ninth House!) and am currently reading another great one (Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha).

I’ve been spending time with friends and watching The Good Place a lot (it’s my favorite show and I don’t want to think about it being over soon).

I’m hoping to see Dr. Sleep soon. I’m excited for a lot of upcoming movies, too (probably most excited for the Little Women remake out at Christmas, and I know my mom and I will see the Tom Hanks Mr. Rogers movie, too. I fully expect to cry).

I’ve missed going to the movies (the last two I saw in the theater were IT: Chapter Two and Downton Abbey*) and I hope to make up for it soon.

* = I contain multitudes

The Witches Are Coming

Finished The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West. I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

The firebrand New York Times columnist and bestselling author of Shrill–soon to be a Hulu series starring Aidy Bryant–provides a brilliant and incisive look at how patriarchy, intolerance, and misogyny have conquered not just politics but American culture itself.

What do Adam Sandler, Donald Trump, and South Park have in common? Why are myths like “reverse sexism” and “political correctness” so seductive? And why do movie classics of yore, from Sixteen Candles to Revenge of the Nerds, make rape look like so much silly fun? With Lindy West’s signature wit and in her uniquely incendiary voice, The Witches are Coming lays out a grand theory of America that explains why Trump’s election was, in many ways, a foregone conclusion.

As West reveals through fascinating journeys across the landscapes of pop culture, the lies that fostered the catastrophic resentment that boiled over in the 2016 presidential race did not spring from a vacuum. They have in fact been woven into America’s DNA, cultivated by generations of mediocre white men and fed to the masses with such fury that we have become unable to recognize them as lies at all.

Whether it be the notion overheard since the earliest moments of the #MeToo movement that feminism has gone too far or the insistence that holding someone accountable for his actions amounts to a “witch hunt,” The Witches are Coming exposes the lies that many have chosen to believe and the often unexpected figures who have furthered them. Along the way, it unravels the tightening link between culture and politics, identifying in the memes, music, and movies we’ve loved the seeds of the neoreactionary movement now surging through the nation.

Sprawling, funny, scorching, and illuminating, The Witches are Coming shows West at the top of her intellectual and comic powers. As much a celebration of America’s potential as a condemnation of our failures, some will call it a witch hunt–to which West would reply, “So be it. I’m a witch and I’m hunting you.””

This book feels incredibly timely. It could’ve been literally written last week, what with Lindy West mentioning the limitations of kindness as a political device and Greta Thunberg. (Is she a literal witch or has she just been paying better attention than the rest of us? Is it both? They’re probably not mutually exclusive.)

I laughed out loud multiple times and I also sighed more than once. I highlighted parts of my egalley and shared them on my Facebook* and shared some via text to some of my favorite people.

This is the book we need right now. Yes, parts made me angry, but most of it gave me hope. I feel like we’re all dealing with right-wing gaslighting and it’s good to have someone saying, “No, this is all really happening. No, you’re right.”

Also? It’s so funny. Like, ridiculously funny. Like, laugh so hard on your commute that the stranger next to you will get up and move away funny. So it’s a win-win!

* = Yes, I have a Facebook page still. Mark Zuckerberg is awful and the site is awful but it’s where I see my friends and pictures of their kids and grandkids. It’s where I see pictures of my friends’ dogs and cats and where I learn how to be a better person, thanks to a lot of my intersectional groups and my smarter-than-me friends.

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman

Finished Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“Coming of age in a culture that demands women be as small, quiet, and compliant as possible–like a porcelain dove that will also have sex with you–writer and humorist Lindy West quickly discovered that she was anything but.

From a painfully shy childhood in which she tried, unsuccessfully, to hide her big body and even bigger opinions; to her public war with stand-up comedians over rape jokes; to her struggle to convince herself, and then the world, that fat people have value; to her accidental activism and never-ending battle royale with Internet trolls, Lindy narrates her life with a blend of humor and pathos that manages to make a trip to the abortion clinic funny and wring tears out of a story about diarrhea.

With inimitable good humor, vulnerability, and boundless charm, Lindy boldly shares how to survive in a world where not all stories are created equal and not all bodies are treated with equal respect, and how to weather hatred, loneliness, harassment, and loss–and walk away laughing. Shrill provocatively dissects what it means to become self-aware the hard way, to go from wanting to be silent and invisible to earning a living defending the silenced in all caps.”

I’m so sad that I didn’t read this years ago. Lindy West has started to feel like one of my best friends, and I’m really excited to watch the Hulu show based on this book. I understand that it’s BASED ON (the main character is named Annie, not Lindy) but I fully expect to love it.

Lindy is the literal best and her essays make me happy. And, sometimes, leave me sobbing in public. Or laughing in public. Or furious. Or multiple reactions at the same time. Either way, it’s the voice I most want to hear right now. (Style I most want to read right now? I don’t know. I didn’t outsource this to Lindy West.)

Highly recommended.

 

Jane Anonymous

Finished Jane Anonymous by Laurie Faria Stolarz. I received a copy for review. This will be out on January 7.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Bestselling author Laurie Faria Stolarz returns with Jane Anonymous, a gripping tale of a seventeen-year-old girl’s kidnapping and her struggle to fit back into her life after she escapes.

Then, “Jane” was just your typical 17-year-old in a typical New England suburb getting ready to start her senior year. She had a part-time job she enjoyed, an awesome best friend, overbearing but loving parents, and a crush on a boy who was taking her to see her favorite band. She never would’ve imagined that in her town where nothing ever happens, a series of small coincidences would lead to a devastating turn of events that would forever change her life.

Now, it’s been three months since “Jane” escaped captivity and returned home. Three months of being that girl who was kidnapped, the girl who was held by a “monster.” Three months of writing down everything she remembered from those seven months locked up in that stark white room. But, what if everything you thought you knew―everything you thought you experienced―turned out to be a lie?”

You guys, this book. First off, I read it like it was my job. I couldn’t put it down and when I DID have to (like, to do my actual job), I kept thinking about it and wondering what the next chapter would bring.

I like the new trend of showing what life is like after a traumatic event. Jane’s kidnapping and time in captivity is obviously horrible, but her life doesn’t magically snap back into place once she manages to return to her normal existence. Her time away has completely changed her and it’s hard for her to relate to her parents or old friends.

This was a hard book to read in a lot of ways, but it’s not as harrowing as it could be. I kept rooting for Jane, and I kept rooting for her parents and her friends to find a way back to her.

Highly recommended.

The Map from Here to There

Finished The Map from Here to There by Emery Lord. I received a copy for review. This will be out on January 7.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Acclaimed author Emery Lord crafts a gorgeous story of friendship and identity, daring to ask: What happens after happily ever after?

It’s senior year, and Paige Hancock is finally living her best life. She has a fun summer job, great friends, and a super charming boyfriend who totally gets her. But senior year also means big decisions. Weighing “the rest of her life,” Paige feels her anxiety begin to pervade every decision she makes. Everything is exactly how she always wanted it to be–how can she leave it all behind next year? In her head, she knows there is so much more to experience after high school. But in her heart, is it so terrible to want everything to stay the same forever?

Emery Lord’s award-winning storytelling shines with lovable characters and heartfelt exploration of life’s most important questions.”

It’s been a while since I read The Start of Me and You, but this book can also function as a standalone. (Details came back to me as I read this one, but all I remembered at first was how much I loved the first one.)

The best part about this book is the way it deals with how it goes after you get what you wanted. Paige and Max are a great couple and they’re now dealing with waiting for college acceptance letters. I don’t think that time is dealt with enough in YA (although it’s highly possible that I’m just reading the wrong books) and The Map from Here to There shows how stressful it is to actually try and decide your entire life, based on very little information. What if you pick the wrong school or the wrong major? What if you don’t get in anywhere? What if you hate it?

It was stressful for me but it all feels so much worse now.

This book is also really fun. I liked reading about Paige and Max but my favorite was Paige and her friends. They feel like real best friends and they’re fantastic.

I love everything about this book. Highly recommended.

The Giver of Stars

Finished The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Set in Depression-era America, a breathtaking story of five extraordinary women and their remarkable journey through the mountains of Kentucky and beyond, from the author of Me Before You and The Peacock Emporium .

Alice Wright marries handsome American Bennett Van Cleve hoping to escape her stifling life in England. But small-town Kentucky quickly proves equally claustrophobic, especially living alongside her overbearing father-in-law. So when a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library, Alice signs on enthusiastically.

The leader, and soon Alice’s greatest ally, is Margery, a smart-talking, self-sufficient woman who’s never asked a man’s permission for anything. They will be joined by three other singular women who become known as the Horseback Librarians of Kentucky.

What happens to them—and to the men they love—becomes a classic drama of loyalty, justice, humanity and passion. Though they face all kinds of dangers, they’re committed to their job—bringing books to people who have never had any, sharing the gift of learning that will change their lives.

Based on a true story rooted in America’s past, The Giver of Stars is unparalleled in its scope. At times funny, at others heartbreaking, this is a richly rewarding novel of women’s friendship, of true love, and of what happens when we reach beyond our grasp for the great beyond.”

I was a little hesitant to read this, because Me Before You smashed my heart into multiple pieces and I wasn’t prepared for another book to do the same. But books about books are my favorite thing, and so I took a chance.

I absolutely adore this book and the women in it. We spend the most time with Alice and Margery, but Beth and Izzy and Kathleen and Sophia are all amazing women, and I would’ve loved more time with them.

It’s a love letter to books and the way that they can improve lives, but more than that, it’s about friendship. These women love each other and have each other’s backs, and it was a great thing to see.

I’m sad it’s over. I could’ve easily read another 400-ish pages about them.

The Witches Are Coming

Finished The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West. I received a copy for review. It’s out early next month.

Summary (from Goodreads):

The firebrand New York Times columnist and bestselling author of Shrill–soon to be a Hulu series starring Aidy Bryant–provides a brilliant and incisive look at how patriarchy, intolerance, and misogyny have conquered not just politics but American culture itself.

What do Adam Sandler, Donald Trump, and South Park have in common? Why are myths like “reverse sexism” and “political correctness” so seductive? And why do movie classics of yore, from Sixteen Candles to Revenge of the Nerds, make rape look like so much silly fun? With Lindy West’s signature wit and in her uniquely incendiary voice, The Witches are Coming lays out a grand theory of America that explains why Trump’s election was, in many ways, a foregone conclusion.

As West reveals through fascinating journeys across the landscapes of pop culture, the lies that fostered the catastrophic resentment that boiled over in the 2016 presidential race did not spring from a vacuum. They have in fact been woven into America’s DNA, cultivated by generations of mediocre white men and fed to the masses with such fury that we have become unable to recognize them as lies at all.

Whether it be the notion overheard since the earliest moments of the #MeToo movement that feminism has gone too far or the insistence that holding someone accountable for his actions amounts to a “witch hunt,” The Witches are Coming exposes the lies that many have chosen to believe and the often unexpected figures who have furthered them. Along the way, it unravels the tightening link between culture and politics, identifying in the memes, music, and movies we’ve loved the seeds of the neoreactionary movement now surging through the nation.

Sprawling, funny, scorching, and illuminating, The Witches are Coming shows West at the top of her intellectual and comic powers. As much a celebration of America’s potential as a condemnation of our failures, some will call it a witch hunt–to which West would reply, “So be it. I’m a witch and I’m hunting you.””

This book feels incredibly timely. It could’ve been literally written last week, what with Lindy West mentioning the limitations of kindness as a political device and Greta Thunberg. (Is she a literal witch or has she just been paying better attention than the rest of us? Is it both? They’re probably not mutually exclusive.)

I laughed out loud multiple times and I also sighed more than once. I highlighted parts of my egalley and shared them on my Facebook* and shared some via text to some of my favorite people.

This is the book we need right now. Yes, parts made me angry, but most of it gave me hope. I feel like we’re all dealing with right-wing gaslighting and it’s good to have someone saying, “No, this is all really happening. No, you’re right.”

Also? It’s so funny. Like, ridiculously funny. Like, laugh so hard on your commute that the stranger next to you will get up and move away funny. So it’s a win-win!

* = Yes, I have a Facebook page still. Mark Zuckerberg is awful and the site is awful but it’s where I see my friends and pictures of their kids and grandkids. It’s where I see pictures of my friends’ dogs and cats and where I learn how to be a better person, thanks to a lot of my intersectional groups and my smarter-than-me friends.

What Happens in Paradise

Finished What Happens in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand. I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Secret lives and new loves emerge in the bright Caribbean sunlight, in the follow-up to national bestseller Winter in Paradise

A year ago, Irene Steele had the shock of her life: her loving husband, father to their grown sons and successful businessman, was killed in a helicopter crash. But that wasn’t Irene’s only shattering news: he’d also been leading a double life on the island of St. John, where another woman loved him, too.

Now Irene and her sons are back on St. John, determined to learn the truth about the mysterious life -and death – of a man they thought they knew. Along the way, they’re about to learn some surprising truths about their own lives, and their futures.

Lush with the tropical details, romance, and drama that made Winter in Paradise a national bestseller, What Happens in Paradise is another immensely satisfying page-turner from one of American’s most beloved and engaging storytellers.”

This is exactly the book I needed. Elin Hilderbrand writes irresistible novels, and this one is no exception. I loved Winter in Paradise and this one is just as good.

I can’t even imagine what will happen in the next book, but I’m really excited to find out. I want to find out more about what exactly Russ was doing and how culpable he is in all his business partner’s shady dealings (I’m guessing more than even Rosie knew), but I’m just as invested in the lives of the people left behind. Will Irene end up with Huck? Will Baker and Ayers end up together? Will Cash ever grow up? I have so many questions and the next and final book probably needs to be 1,000 pages long to answer them all.

While I probably have a year or so to wait, at least I have a lot of her backlist to try and work through. Challenge accepted.

The Grace Year

Finished The Grace Year by Kim Liggett. I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“SURVIVE THE YEAR.

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.”

This is over 400 pages, but I would’ve been happy to spend more time with Tierney and this world.

The Grace Year has been compared to The Handmaid’s Tale, and it’s a fair comparison. Women and girls in this world are treated similarly, and it’s easy to see that one of the easiest ways to conquer women is to subjugate them and punish them, make them afraid of each other.

I would really like a prequel to see how this became the norm; I’m fairly sure that it wasn’t always this way. (NOTE: there’s no real reason for me to think that, but I do.)

This book is unsettling but it’s also amazing. I loved it and hope there are more books set in this world. Highly recommended.