Category Archives: Books I Received From The Publisher

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. 

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.)

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. 

Tash Hearts Tolstoy

Finished Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee. I received a copy for review. 

Tash and her best friend Jack have created a web series called Unhappy Families. It’s an updated version of Anna Karenina. (As you may have guessed from the title, Tash is a fan.) The series ends up going viral and she has to deal with newfound popularity. 

Here’s all the awesome stuff that isn’t in that synopsis: the book is about friendship and family and all the various types of love. Because Tash is asexual and it’s not the most interesting thing about her. She likes guys and can appreciate them but she doesn’t want to have sex. She likes romance ok but that is as far as she’s interested in going; she doesn’t want to have sex with anyone, ever. And her friends are confused but supportive because they are awesome. 

And I love Tash’s family. Her parents are great and her sister is moody but great, and this book feels like real life but better. 

All I want is for Kathryn Ormsbee to write a billion more books and release them in a James Patterson-style way. I want new books every month and yes that is unreasonable but her books are awesome and I love them. 

Highly recommended. 

What is the Bible?

Finished What is the Bible? by Rob Bell. I received a copy for review. 

Like basically every Rob Bell book ever, this one is controversial. I’m not entirely sure why, since “People wrote the Bible, and you have to (a) view it as a whole instead of as separate parcels and (b) consider the context of the time” is not exactly a revelation. 

I think most would agree that the wording of the Bible is deliberate (repeated phrases, for example, showing that Jesus is the fulfillment of earlier prophecies and parts of the Bible). 

Odds are, a lot of conservatives have decided that everything he says is heresy…but when you have someone encouraging people to read the Bible and then actually THINK ABOUT IT, I’m pretty sure that’s only a good thing. 

The Names They Gave Us

Finished The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord. I received a copy for review. 

Lucy’s life is perfect: she loves her parents, her faith is rock solid and her boyfriend is amazing. Except when her mom’s cancer comes back, it all falls apart. Lukas wants to put things “on pause,” and she’s angry at God. And when she gets a summer job at a camp for troubled kids, she even loses her parents (physically; their relationship is still good). 

This book is Emery Lord’s best yet and that’s saying something. Lucy is the most realistic girl I’ve met in ages. I completely understood her anger and the way she struggled to still believe in God. 

The camp is one of my favorite settings ever. I love the other counselors and the campers. I would like a book about any of them, please. 

I especially love the relationship between Lucy and her parents, who are just really excellent people. Having involved parents is starting to become more common in YA novels, and that makes me happy. And Lucy’s parents are amazing. 

I adored every page of this novel. Highly recommended.