Category Archives: Books I Received From The Publisher

The Keeper of Lost Things (mini-review)

Finished The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan. I received a copy for review. 

Anthony has been collecting lost objects in the hope of eventually reuniting them with their owners. It’s a compulsion after he lost something precious: his fiancee’s St. Theresa medal–which he lost on the day she died. It becomes his way to atone. 

This novel is definitely more character-driven than plot-driven. As a result, it took me some time to really get into the story. Once I did, though, I was completely in love. 

These characters are all delightful. Be patient, but if you are, you will adore this story. 

On Turpentine Lane

Finished On Turpentine Lane by Elinor Lipman. I received a copy for review. 

Faith’s life is going along fine. She has an easy job that she likes, even if it’s not intellectually stimulating. She has a fiance, even if he’s walking across the country–with enough time to pose for pictures with pretty women but not enough time to call her back. And she has a new house that she loves, even if it may have been the site of a murder. Or two. Certainly no more than three. It’s all murky. 

I adore this book. It’s so clever and fun and Faith is my new imaginary best friend. She’s sort of like an American Bridget Jones, if Bridget had more self-confidence and much less insecurity. 

I think this is my first Elinor Lipman and now I need to find her backlist. 

Recommended. 

The Hate U Give

Finished The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I received a copy for review. 

Starr is the only witness to a police-involved shooting that left one of her best friends dead. She is afraid to talk about it (primarily because it could end up making one of the neighborhood gangs mad at her; secondarily because she now doesn’t want to be near any police officers). The events leading up to and immediately after the shooting are harrowing and Starr has a hard time moving past them (and understandably so; it’s not something you’d ever really get over). But as time does go on, Starr starts to find her voice. 

There are no words for how much I love this book. I appreciate the care that Angie Thomas took to ensure that the book shows good cops too, because hopefully that will make it easier for everyone to read this novel without feeling defensive. 

I’m white. I grew up thinking that police officers were there to help me. Starr’s experience would have been completely foreign to me if I hadn’t moved to Baltimore ten years ago. Even before what happened to Freddie Gray (and I am so proud to live in a city where the accused officers were indicted and did face trial, and a city where our elected officials marched with protesters), I had heard stories of people whose experiences with police weren’t as benign as mine have been. I also know we have good cops…but there are bad ones, too. I believe there are more good than bad, but I also know it’s hard for some people to get justice. 

This novel shows what can happen when it feels like you’ll never find that justice. It’s not condoned but it is explained. 

Highly, highly recommended. 

A Separation

Finished A Separation by Katie Kitamura. I received a copy for review. 

A young woman and her older husband have separated. No one else knows (well, except for the man she is now seeing). When her mother-in-law calls to see why Christopher hasn’t returned her calls and why is he in Greece anyway, she decides to go and tell him she wants a divorce. And then he turns up missing there, too. 

This was compared to Gone Girl, and that is incredibly inaccurate. (Yes, there’s a missing person but there’s also a level of suspense. I was not at all captivated by this as I was Gone Girl. On the plus side, the characters are all much nicer, so if you need that, definitely opt for this. Unless you also need resolution. There are a lot of unanswered questions here (which I like; it seemed very realistic). 

A Separation is very well-written but it left me cold. 

#famous

Finished #famous by Jilly Gagnon. I received a copy for review. 

Rachel isn’t very active on social media. She mostly uses Flit to send goofy pictures to her best friend, Mo…but then a pic she takes of Kyle (a guy she kind of has a crush on) goes massively viral. As in, now the whole country knows her viral. Kyle gets all the benefits (a ton of new followers and basically all the compliments) and Rachel gets ripped to shreds (both online and IRL). Still, if nothing else, at least Kyle talks to her…could something maybe happen?

This book is adorable. Rachel is the kind of heroine I love: super smart, really sarcastic and, yes, insecure. (Rachel c’est moi.) And Kyle, though completely oblivious, is a total sweetheart. I picture him as a smarter but just as sweet Joey Tribbiani. He’s not dumb but he’s just…he’s so unaware of what’s going on. Because everyone’s nice to him, he genuinely thinks they’re nice to Rachel, too (as opposed to calling her a slut and fat and advising her to kill herself). 

This book is just what I needed. It’s incredibly fun and made me smile throughout. Recommended. 

Piecing Me Together

Finished Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson. I received a copy for review. 

Jade has big dreams but she’s not sure how to make them come true. She knows she wants to be an artist (she’s currently into collages) and she knows she needs a scholarship to go to college. But…how to get from here to there? Enter a mentoring program. (Which is sort of helpful and sort of not). 

I loved this book. It’s incredibly complicated (Jade is black and attends a mostly white school. Once she started going there, it’s affected her relationships with her neighborhood friends. And it’s hard to be friends with people at her school because they don’t get it, either. 

Most people don’t consider themselves racist. Racism is for people like Steve Bannon, right? But there are a lot of ways to be racist. Like, for example, assuming Jade is going to shoplift from a store and making her leave a bag when white women all over the same store are still toting theirs. 

This novel could start a lot of great conversations. Highly recommended. 

The Lost Woman

Finished The Lost Woman by Sara Blaedel. I received a copy for review. 

This mystery has a ton going on but the non-spoiler version is that people are turning up dead and one of the victims was already sort of presumed dead (she was reported as a missing person years before). There isn’t a connection (until, of course, there is) and that connection is shocking and also perfectly feasible. 

Most mysteries may not be good for book club choices (what can you discuss, really? Motives? And I am not slamming mysteries; I think they’re wonderful) but this one would be. There are a lot of things to talk about with this one, though. 

Of course though, any long-term series hinges on its leads. That is probably the real secret to Sara Blaedel’s success. I’m not sure there are many better leads than Louise Rick.

Highly recommended. 

All the Lives I Want

Finished All the Lives I Want by Alana Massey. I received a copy for review. 

The subtitle of this essay collection implies that it is a fun, frothy set essays on celebrity. Possibly it discusses the way that we feel we know celebrities, that they are our friends (or enemies) when all we know are their carefully created personas. 

Instead, these essays are about famous women we all have opnions on, including Britney Spears, Anna Nicole Smith and my beloved Winona Ryder. They take a more scholarly approach (think the sociology of celebrity) as well as a very personal relaying of their relationship to the author’s life. 

This is not the journey I expected to take but one I loved anyway. 

The Mothers

Finished The Mothers by Brit Bennett. I received a copy for review. 

This is a really hard book to describe and still do it justice. Luke (a pastor’s son) and Nadia (a really smart girl who is grieving and uses sex as an escape) accidentally get pregnant. Nadia has goals for her life and motherhood is not one of them. She decides to get an abortion and that decision reverberates for years. 

My favorite thing about this is the fact that the narrators are the older women from the church and that is just as fabulous as you’d expect. 

My second favorite: the abortion is dealt with seriously and it is both absolutely the right decision and a hard one that they still grapple with. (My third favorite: Nadia doesn’t kill herself because of it or hate herself forever.)

This is such a clever book and it’s so hard to imagine it’s a debut. I am so excited to see what her future books will be like and my expectations are high. 

Recommended. 

A Tragic Kind of Wonderful

Finished A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom. I received a copy for review. 

Mel is 16 and is bipolar. Her family knows but no one else does. She’s sure that no one will want to be her friend if they know. As a result, she keeps her friends at a distance. Except, of course, that only works for so long. 

Eric Lindstrom is becoming one of my favorite authors. His books deal with damaged people (and people who aren’t damaged for the reasons you may initially think they are) and he does present them as PEOPLE, not as diagnoses. 

I loved Mel but I love every character in this novel. And I can’t wait to read what he does next. 

Highly recommended.