Category Archives: Fiction

A Man Called Ove (mini-review)

Finished A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. 

I read this for book club. I had heard that this book, and his others, are amazing but I hadn’t read them until now. I’m so glad I did. 

Ove lives alone since his wife died and all he wants now is to be with her again. Except he now has annoying new neighbors. And a cat. And people who seriously will not leave him alone, ever. 

This is just a lovely book. I don’t have enough words to do it justice. Read it now. 

Highly recommended. 

The Wonder

Finished The Wonder by Emma Donoghue. I received a copy for review. 

Lib is a nurse (trained by Florence Nightingale!) in England when she’s called to Ireland to investigate Anna. She’s 11 and hasn’t eaten in months. Rumor has it that it’s a miracle. 

There’s a lot more going on than that and this book deals with huge themes (not the least of which is faith) and I will give you my non-existent fortune if you see the things in this book coming. 

I’ve loved Emma Donoghue’s books for years (before Room!) and her books are all different but all excellent. 

Don’t miss this one. Highly recommended. 

A Night In With Audrey Hepburn

Finished A Night in with Audrey Hepburn by Lucy Holliday. I received a copy for review. 

Things aren’t going well for Libby Lomax. She’s about to make her major acting debut (relatively speaking–she’s in a hideous costume but she’s got a speaking line!) when she humiliates herself in front of the super cute lead actor by setting her hair on fire…which, of course, leads to the end of that particular role. Except when she gets to her new apartment, she learns she has a roommate: Audrey Hepburn. Ghost? Hallucination? Brain tumor?

I flew through this delightful book. I love Libby and I spent a lot of the book cringing for her as things kept going wrong. (Think Bridget Jones-level mishaps.)

And who doesn’t want Audrey Hepburn as a surprise visitor? (Subsequent books have Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly stopping by. I want to read them but given my choice, I’d probably opt for Katharine Hepburn and Lauren Bacall.) 


Only Daughter

Finished Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra. I received a copy for review. 

It’s been 11 years since Bec Winter vanished. She had been acting strangely before–claiming that there was a ghost or something in her house, saying that blood would appear in her room despite there being no obvious injuries. Now someone claiming to be Bec has come home. (She was arrested for shoplifting and she looked like Bec, so she knew it would work to get her off the hook.) Except Bec’s family is kind of weird. Now fake-Bec (we never know her name) wants to solve the mystery of what happened. 

This novel is just really, really unsettling. I spent most of the time viewing everyone as a suspect–poor Bec; there are a lot of potential killers in her life. And then we learn what happened and it is just both completely unexpected and completely obvious. Anna Snoekstra tells us everything; we just ignore what doesn’t fit our own preferred narrative of what happened to Bec. 

Highly recommended. 

Cradle and All

Finished Cradle and All by James Patterson. I received a copy for review. 

This was published years ago (I know I read it in high school or maybe college) but has been updated and repackaged as a YA novel. 

If you missed it the first time, this is about two teens (Kathleen and Colleen; the former is American and the latter is Irish). Both are pregnant. Both are virgins. According to prophecy, one is carrying the second coming and the other…well, you’ve seen Rosemary’s Baby. The problem is, no one knows which baby is which. That’s where Anne comes in. It’s her job (with a couple priests) to figure out who’s carrying the Beast and what to do about that. (Hint: it does not bode well for that baby.)

Like all of James Patterson’s books, this one is a pageturner. I didn’t remember which baby was the devil so that was helpful. It’s not really the kind of book that sticks with you but it’s a lot of fun. It would’ve been a great beach read but it’s out in plenty of time for Halloween, and that’s even better. 


Finished Pasadena by Sherri L. Smith. I received a copy for review.
Jude’s best friend is dead. Everyone knows that Maggie drowned but no one knows exactly what happened. Her family says it’s an accident; most of her friends think it was suicide. Jude believes Maggie was murdered, though, and she’s going to figure out who and why. 

This novel is called an homage to noir, and I can see that (though this book is a lot less dark–which is not the same thing as me saying it’s a light read). This is a story about broken people and the ending…I didn’t see it coming and it hit me hard. 


We Are Unprepared

Finished We Are Unprepared by Meg Little Reilly. I received a copy for review. 

As you know, storms are getting worse and worse; experts say this will continue. In the novel We Are Unprepared, a monster superstorm is predicted. 

In a small Vermont town, people react by joining one of three groups: religious, civic-minded or the preppers. Ash, our narrator, joins the civic-minded group and tries to help the town plan; his wife, Pia, becomes a prepper. 
This is a book I should’ve loved. I am incredibly fond of disaster stories and we’ve seen how plausible this is. Also, it’s interesting the way the town splintered into separate factions. I enjoyed those two aspects. 
I have two problems with the book. The first is that the storm, when it came, was barely part of the novel at all. What was the point of having it happen at all?
The second was the bigger problem. Ash is our narrator; he’s a jerk who views everyone else with kind of a thinly-veiled contempt. He may not even be aware of it but he dislikes or at least seems to look down on almost everyone else. As the story is told from his perspective, that means I was annoyed with pretty much everyone, too (though that could definitely be my own failing). 

Rise the Dark

Finished Rise the Dark by Michael Koryta. 

This is the second in Michael Koryta’s series about Markus Novak. If there is not a third book, I think I will die. That is not an exaggeration. 
If you read his novels, you know what to expect: a book so tense, I stopped breathing at least five times.

This is the rare second book that’s even better than the first. And oh that cliffhanger. 

You need this book. And all of his others.

Highest of all possible high recommendations. 

Small Great Things

Finished Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. I received a copy for review. This review will be republished closer to its release date. 

According to the author note in the back of the book, Jodi Picoult has been working on this book for 20 years. I’m sure that was frustrating but the end result was that this was released at the perfect time. This book is essential reading for this point in history. 

Small Great Things is the story of three people. Ruth is a nurse, and a great one. She works with newborn babies and loves her job. One day, though, a baby is born to white supremacist parents and they make it clear they don’t want a black nurse to care for or even touch their son. That’s gross but sure–until the baby has a medical emergency and Ruth is the only one there. She hesitates before helping and then gets charged with a crime for it. Her lawyer is a white woman named Kennedy. She is determined that race not be used in the defense. 
So obviously this is a novel about racism. We all recognize racism from someone like Turk (the white supremacist). But what we don’t always see is racism that’s more insidious. The racism that I’ve seen in Baltimore, where people express regret that Freddie Gray died in police custody and then, in literally the next breath, say, “But of course he was no saint…” 
The racism that leads people to eye groups of young black men suspiciously. The racism that leads to black children being labeled aggresssive even if they are doing the exact same thing that white children are doing. 
The racism we don’t recognize because it’s the racism we are all at least a little guilty of. 
Highly recommended. 

Red Right Hand

Finished Red Right Hand by Chris Holm. I received a copy for review. 

This is the second book in the Michael Hendricks series (after The Killing Kind). Hendricks is a hitman who takes out other hitmen. Now he’s trying to keep a federal witness alive–the catch is that a lot of people believe he’s already dead. He’s also trying to bring down the Council, a shadowy group that’s tried to kill him. 

This book is insane in the best way. I couldn’t stop reading it and I was very nervous, hoping Hendricks and his associates would stay alive. (The Council is scary, guys!)
I hope there are more books and either way, I hope Chris Holm has a new book out soon. He’s one of my favorites. 
Highly recommended.