Category Archives: 2017 Books

He Said/She Said

Finished He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly. I received a copy for review. 

This is told from two perspectives and goes back and forth in time. Kit is an eclipse chaser and has been since childhood. His girlfriend Laura is a recent convert. One trip, they stumble across a rape. (Laura arrives during the attack; Kit only sees the aftermath.) 

That is basically the most straightforward part of the book. For the rest, we keep learning new things; each revelation throws other things into doubt. 

This book is an actual masterpiece. I have no idea how Erin Kelly manages to write books like these, how to have every new detail be a complete surprise but also make perfect sense. 

Recommended. 

Fanny & Dice

Finished Fanny & Dice by Rebecca McFarland Kyle. I received a copy for review. 

Depending on your knowledge of Greek mythology, you know who Persephone and Eurydice are. What you may NOT know is that they escaped the Underworld and lived in the Wild West. This is that story. (I know, vague! But you need to experience this, and Dice is a heroine for the ages.)

This book is completely delightful and also really hard to categorize. It’s paranormal historical fiction but also (as the cover blurb says) “supernatural chick lit.” This should not work but it really does. 

I completely love Dice and her efforts to fit in (which she does REALLY WELL, especially considering the fact that she has missed hundreds of years of what’s been happening in the world) and her single-minded love of all things music. 

I hope there is a sequel; I need to know what happened to Dice after the book ends. 

Recommended. 

Necromantic Shenanigans (mini review)

Finished Necromantic Shenanigans by JA Campbell and Rebecca McFarland Kyle. I received a copy from the authors for review. 
Elise and Hagatha are necromancers who have moved to opposite ends of a small Colorado town. The book is 13 stories of their exploits. 

This is super hard to describe. It’s over the top and insane and really clever. Not all of the jokes landed for me, but most of them did. And it’s unusual to read a paranormal novel that is way more funny than scary (this is actually not scary at all, so if you need a Halloween read that won’t keep you up all night, grab this one–you won’t regret it). 

The Unlikelies

Finished The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone. I received a copy from the publisher for review. 

Sadie’s friends are all graduating but she has a year left. She’s not sure what to do, beyond her summer job at a farmstand. Then she saves a baby (long story) and gets invited to a sort of Hero Teens award ceremony. She quickly bonds with them and they ultimately dub themselves The Unlikelies and set out to improve the world (also a long story). 

I love the concept of this–the idea that you and some friends could do good in the world with very little effort. 

The execution felt a little flat for me, though. I didn’t really love any of the characters and, although they talked about kindness and preventing bullying, they were all pretty judge-y (especially Sadie). 

I enjoyed this, but not as much as I hoped to. 

The Sunshine Sisters

Finished The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green. I received a copy from the publisher for review. 

If you love movies, you probably know Ronni Sunshine. She’s done a bunch and, while she’s not super famous, you’d know her if you saw her…but that was years ago. Now she has ALS and she wants two things: her daughters to forgive her (and become close, which they currently are not) and for them to help her die. Neither of those are likely. 

There are few authors who are more of a summer go to for me than Jane Green. While this is one of her heavier books, it’s also incredibly fun. And I love the sisters–Nell, who seems incredibly cold; Meredith, the people pleaser who is about to marry a total jerk; Lizzy, the famous one who seems to be repeating their mom’s mistakes. And I even love Ronni, probably because she wasn’t my mom. 

This is a fun novel that will also make you think. That is my perfect vacation read! (Don’t feel you have to wait for a beach or pool or plane, though; this is great any time.)

Highly recommended. 

Once and For All (mini-review)

Finished Once and For All by Sarah Dessen. 

Louna’s mom is a wedding planner (one of the best, actually; certainly the best in the town). She’s helped out for basically ever, even though she’s become rather cynical about the whole thing (not as cynical as her mom and godfather are, though). And then she meets Ambrose. 

There is a lot going on that I didn’t mention. Those few lines don’t even begin to really summarize this novel. 

What you should know: it’s as good as anything Sarah Dessen has ever written and Louna may be my favorite heroine of hers. 

Recommended. 

Saints & Misfits

Finished Saints & Misfits by SK Ali. I received a copy for review. 

Janna is Muslim and wears a hijab. She’s potentially disobeying a tenet of Islam by having a major crush on a non-Muslim boy (and yet…) but the bigger story is that a pious boy at her mosque also tried to rape her. It doesn’t affect her faith but it does affect a lot of her day-to-day life (he’s always around and everyone acts like he’s so awesome). 

And I love Janna and this feminist story (there are plenty of great guys, yes, but there are also a lot of awesome women. Not all of them, but many of them are kickass ladies). I love that she’s so proud of her faith and that she never questions it, even as the jerk who assaulted her is held up as a pillar of Islam. I love her people, who (when they find out) believe her automatically. 

And I love that this is a really positive portrayal of Islam (and I’ve learned a lot about that from this book). 

This book is a sheer delight and you should all read it. Highly recommended. 

From Ant to Eagle

Finished From Ant to Eagle by Alex Lyttle. I received a copy for review. 

Cal killed his little brother, Sammy. That’s the first thing we learn in this book. Soon, we learn there’s a lot more to it than that, but it’s important to know that going in. This is a great book, but it’s also a sad one. 

It’s easy to tell that Cal loves Sammy and that he’s a good big brother. But he wants to spend his summer with Aleta (a new girl) and most of the time, nothing would happen because of it. But Sammy feels left out and then he gets sick. There’s no correlation, of course, but now Cal feels guilty. 

This is such a good book but it’s a hard read. (Not the whole way, of course, but be prepared. This book will carve out your heart.)

Highly recommended. (Have tissues.)

Max and Menna

Finished Max and Menna by Shauna Kelley. 

This novel is told from Max and Menna’s perspectives and goes back and forth in time. The twins are basically the lowest of the low; they’re poor and their mom is an alcoholic (their dad is not around). And they meet Nick. He’s Native American (and, as their older sister snarls at them, the one person worse off than they are). His friendship with Menna deepens and sets off a chain reaction. 

You know how sometimes you read a book and you just know it will break your heart? That’s this one. I read it and hoped for things to go well, and yet as I kept reading, doors leading to positive outcomes started slamming shut. 

It reminded me a little bit of IT, if the Losers Club lived in a normal town without a bloodthirsty clown…but still had the team of bullies after them. 

I loved it. (But the author and I are fighting.)

Highly recommended. 

Antisocial

Finished Antisocial by Jillian Blake. I received a copy for review. 

Anna is just trying to get through her senior year. Her boyfriend broke up with her and her friends are still mad that she ditched them for her boyfriend. And then a hacking scandal starts—someone is sharing all of her fellow students’ secrets. 

This was fun but very superficial. It was compared to Pretty Little Liars, and it does have that vibe. But while those books were over the top and incredibly entertaining, this one took itself a little too seriously. That’s not a bad thing at all, but if you’re going to compare yourself to those books, you need insane happenings. 

I also didn’t really connect with the characters. You don’t need a sense of who they are to feel awful for them (no one wants their texts or Google search history broadcast, right?) but seriously. I should have wanted to cry at some of what happened. 

It sounds like I hated it, right? I didn’t. It was a perfectly entertaining novel. I just hoped for more.