Category Archives: Fiction

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 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. 

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. 

Americanah

Finished Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. 

Ifemelu and Obinze dated in college (and it’s a lot more serious than that sentence implies). When they leave Nigeria for the west, though, things fall apart. (She goes to America; he ends up in England.) This novel traces their separate paths and is so much better than I’m making it sound. 

There is so much to discuss here. Yes, I love the main characters (especially Ifemelu) but there is a LOT of great stuff here, especially about race and the way that changes from area to area. 

Yes, this is a love story, but it also really transcends that. It’s about everything. 

I’m so happy my book club picked this and I can’t wait to discuss it. 

If you haven’t read this, you need to. Highly recommended. 

Arrowood

Finished Arrowood by Laura McHugh. 

When she was eight, Arden’s two-year-old twin sisters vanished. She saw the car that took them and remembers seeing a flash of the girls’ hair as it drove away. They were never found and the kidnapper maintained his innocence. Now, decades later, she’s living in her ancestral home again (she has nowhere else to go; her father recently died and she and her mom aren’t close). And she’s not there long before someone writing a book about her sisters’ disappearance tells her that chances are, her memory of what happened is wrong. 

I really enjoyed this novel. It reminded me of a gothic version of Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places. It is dark and twisty and even though Arden is messed up (understandably!), I couldn’t help but root for her. 

This is also a book where the reader doesn’t know who to trust–even Arden is not necessarily a reliable narrator. As a result, expect to have to pay attention and do some heavy lifting to decide what you think happened to the twins. (We don’t get a 100% guaranteed answer, either, so do not read if you don’t like ambiguity.)

At any rate, I very much enjoyed this. I want to read her first novel now!

Public Relations

Finished Public Relations by Katie Heaney and Arianna Rebolini. I received a copy for review. 

Rose is working in a PR firm and has just landed her first major client. It’s her job to make sure the world thinks that Archie Fox is dating Raya, an up-and-coming musician. Except she’s pretty sure she likes Archie…and he may like her back!

This book is a pure delight. It’s effervescent and should be read on the beach or poolside. It’s the ideal vacation read and I dare you to not smile while you read it. 

I love Rose. She’s clever and so clearly career-driven, so watching her decide to risk everything was a total cheer-worthy moment. 

I loved every second of reading this. Recommended. 

Gwendy’s Button Box

Finished Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar. 

Gwendy met a stranger with a black hat the summer before middle school. He gives her a button box–a magic thing with buttons corresponding to six of the seven continents, plus a red one and a black one. There are also two levers (one dispenses chocolate; the other, valuable silver dollars). We aren’t told explicitly what the buttons do but the implication is that it’s not good. 

THIS BOOK GUYS. First, it’s a Castle Rock story (yaaaaaaaaaaaaaas) and second, it’s connected to the Dark Tower. 

The box and the man who gave it to Gwendy are two of the creepiest things ever. The story is unsettling, which is a really neat trick given the fact that for most of the 175 or so pages, nothing really happens. We just see the effect the box has on Gwendy’s life (a good one, to be fair, until it isn’t). 

This has a co-author but it feels like the most Stephen King story in ages. Highly recommended. 

Since We Fell

Finished Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane. I received a copy for review. 

After an on-air breakdown, Rachel withdraws from life. In fairly short order, she loses her job and her husband. And then she meets (or, rather, re-meets) Brian. And he is smart and charming and incredibly sweet. They fall in love and marry and their life together is perfect…until she starts to suspect that he’s not who he says he is. 

Dennis Lehane’s books are amazing, and so it’s no suprise that this one will keep you guessing. If you can figure out every single place this book is going, you’re smarter than I am. 

It starts as a straight bio of Rachel; it’s very hard not to feel for her. Her childhood is not great and then she falls from grace so hard that it’s beyond heartbreaking. Her demons follow her everywhere and then Brian shows up and believes in her and helps her heal. The realization that he can’t necessarily be trusted is wrenching. And yet it gives her her own strength back, now that she can’t borrow his. 

I don’t want to say more but trust me—you need this. Highly recommended. 

The Red Hunter

Finished The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger. I received a copy for review. 

When she was a teenager, Zoey’s parents were murdered and she was tortured and left for dead. Now she’s an adult and tracking down the people responsible. Meanwhile, Claudia and her teenage daughter are starting over, living in a new house that’s a total fixer-upper. And there are rumors that her house is (a) haunted and (b) the place where a million dollars is hidden. You guessed it—they’re living in Zoey’s old house. 

This book is amazing and I absolutely dare you to stop reading it. There are a few twists but mostly it’s just insanely suspenseful. 

I love how this book basically exists in shades of gray. People are complicated and most of them are good and bad, although a few are all bad. It is a master class in creating real characters and in plotting. (Basically just get this book and read it. You won’t be sorry.)

I am a fairly recent Lisa Unger convert and this makes me wish I could skip all my current TBR and just read her backlist. 

Highly recommended.