36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You — Vicki Grant

17 Oct

 

Publisher: Running Press
Released: Oct 17th 2017
Genre: YA, contemp
Source: ARC from publisher

 

 

Hildy and Paul each have their own reasons for joining the university psychology study that asks the simple question: Can love be engineered?

The study consists of 36 questions, ranging from “What is your most terrible memory?” to “When did you last sing to yourself?” By the time Hildy and Paul have made it to the end of the questionnaire, they’ve laughed and cried and lied and thrown things and run away and come back and driven each other almost crazy. They’ve also each discovered the painful secret the other was trying so hard to hide. But have they fallen in love?

Told in the language of modern romance—texting, Q&A, IM—and punctuated by Paul’s sketches, this clever high-concept YA is full of humor and heart. As soon as you’ve finished reading, you’ll be searching for your own stranger to ask the 36 questions. Maybe you’ll even fall in love.

From Goodreads

This book, guys. THIS. BOOK. So brilliant and funny and heart-warming and just ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. I have loved all of Vicki’s books, but this one is my fave.

First I have to talk about the concept. So so cool! I love that 36 Questions is based on an actual study. It just adds another layer of realism to the story.

The format was very different from other YA contemp books that I have read and it just added to the story telling. I love when authors take a chance like that. Especially when it works out so well.

The writing is just amazing. Most of the book is dialogue and not just any dialogue. Teen dialogue. Which can be hella hard to nail. The flow of the conversation between Hildy and Paul and the back and forth and the teasing and the flirting and the honesty is so spot on it was awkward to read at times. Like I was eavesdropping on a real conversation between two teens trying to navigate their lives while figuring each other out.

I really can’t recommend 36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You enough. I know a couple of people who will be getting this book as a Christmas gift.

 

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So Much Love — Rebecca Rosenblum

10 Oct

 

Publisher:McClelland & Stewart
Released: March 14th, 2017
Genre: Mystery, thriller
Source: Finished copy from publisher

 

 

When a young woman named Catherine Reindeer vanishes without a trace from her small town, those who know her are left to cope with her absence. Moving back and forth from her outer circle of acquaintances to her closest intimates, Rebecca Rosenblum’s first novel reveals how the lives of those left behind can be overturned in the wake of an unexplained disappearance. But at the heart of the novel is Catherine’s own surprising story of resilience and recovery.

When a final devastating loss after months of captivity forces her to make a bold decision, she is unprepared for everything that follows her dramatic escape. Woven throughout are stories about a local female poet who was murdered decades earlier, a woman whose life and work become a lifeline for Catherine during her darkest hours—and who may ultimately hold the key to Catherine’s quest to find solace in the aftermath of unimaginable tragedy.

So Much Love is a haunting novel of longing and loss, the necessity of bearing witness, and how the stories we tell have the power to shape our lives.

From Goodreads

 

This mystery was different from any other mystery I have ever read. The multiple POV and story of two different tragedies, for another author, would be too much and too confusing. But Rosenblum handles both elements and presents a book that is deeply tragic but also, at times, uplifting. And it never feels too busy or over done.

There are some scenes in this book that were difficult to read because of their subject matter and the rawness in the telling. But it’s these scenes that actually give the book the depth that it has. Besides being a stellar mystery, So Much Love is also a character study on how different people deal with tragedy.

So Much Love is a very difficult book to describe due to its uniqueness. All I can say is this is definitely one you will want to read.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine — Gail Honeyman

7 Oct

 

Publisher: Viking
Released: May 9th, 2017
Genre: Adult contemp
Source: ARC from publisher

 

Meet Eleanor Oliphant. She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully time-tabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.

Then everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living–and it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

From Goodreads

OMG this book. The writing. Holy crap. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is one of the strongest cases of show don’t tell that I’ve read in a long, long time.

Everything about this book was spot on amazing. The way the author tackles Eleanor’s lack of social skills and her past is to the point and the emotions of the reader comes from the fact that Eleanor is a broken soul but isn’t fully aware of it. Her becoming self-aware is a key theme of the book and one that is handled without any kind of preaching or talking down to the readers.

If you’ve been to this blog before, then you know the damaged, imperfect character is one of my favourite kinds. I am also a huge fan of the everyday character. Both are strongly represented in this book and while all the characters aren’t necessarily always likeable, they are relatable and I really felt for them. (Probably because I saw myself in them.)

There is nothing fluffy about this book at all. It deals with some hard and relatable issues and I think a lot of readers will fall in love with this book. I know I did.

Fractured — Catherine McKenzie

4 Oct

 

Publisher: Lake Union
Released: Oct 4th, 2016
Genre: Mystery
Source: Purchased copy

 

Julie Prentice and her family move across the country to the idyllic Mount Adams district of Cincinnati, hoping to evade the stalker who’s been terrorizing them ever since the publication of her bestselling novel, The Murder Game. Since Julie doesn’t know anyone in her new town, when she meets her neighbor John Dunbar, their instant connection brings measured hope for a new beginning. But she never imagines that a simple, benign conversation with him could set her life spinning so far off course.

After a series of misunderstandings, Julie and her family become the target of increasingly unsettling harassment. Has Julie’s stalker found her, or are her neighbors out to get her, too? As tension in the neighborhood rises, new friends turn into enemies, and the results are deadly.

From Goodreads

 

McKenzie is one of my fave authors and I have loved ALL of her books. Smart chick-lit with believable characters and plots that may seem somewhat extraordinary at first glance but that she writes with such heart and honestly that they are 100% believable. Fracture is a mystery and a departure from her usual genre, but she writes it with her usual approachable style. Some authors aren’t successful in genre-jumping, but this isn’t the case here at all. Fracture is a well written, well thought out mystery that I absolutely devoured.

These days I’m all about what I call “flash back” mysteries. You know, the ones where the book isn’t told in a linear fashion. We get a glimpse of something that’s happened and then we get some background on what lead up to it. We’re in the dark about what exactly took place, what the trigger event is, until close to the end. And there’s usually a WTF twist. I have been OBSESSED with this kind of mystery lately. Fracture does this brilliantly. For me, it’s the perfect example of this type of story telling. And writing this type of book isn’t easy. McKenzie kept me interested and wondering what the heck was going on without leaving me so confused I was frustrated. I am always in awe of authors who can do this.

I’m also a big fan of the unreliable narrator. This is a dual narrated book and although both narrators are dealing with the same story, their telling isn’t quite the same. I think that this kind of narrator is so true to real life. And it makes the puzzle of the story even more challenging to figure out.

If you are a fan of authors like Ruth Ware and Paula Hawkins, then you will definitely love Fractured.

Shade, the Changing Girl, Volume 1: Earth Girl Made Easy — Cecil Castellucci & Marley Zarcone

5 Sep

 

Publisher: Touchstone
Released: Dec 27th, 2016
Genre: Graphic novel
Source: ARC from publisher

 

 

Far away on the planet Meta, Loma’s going nowhere fast. She’s dropped out of school, dumped her boyfriend and is bored out of her mind. She longs to feel things. That’s where her idol, the lunatic poet Rac Shade, and his infamous madness coat come in. Loma steals the garment and makes a break across galaxies to take up residence in a new body: Earth girl Megan Boyer.

Surely everything will be better on this passionate, primitive planet with a dash of madness on her side and this human girl’s easy life. Only now that she’s here, Loma discovers being a teenaged Earth girl comes with its own challenges and Earth may not be everything she thought it’d be. Megan Boyer was a bully who everyone was glad was almost dead, and now Loma has to survive high school and navigate the consequences of the life she didn’t live with the ever-growing and uncontrollable madness at her side. Not to mention that there are people back on her homeworld who might just want Shade’s coat back.

From Goodreads

I don’t read a lot of graphic novels. It’s one of the genres I want to get more into. So when the chance to review Shade, the Changing Girl, Volume 1 came up I grabbed it.

I really enjoyed it. It did take me a bit to get used to the format and really grasp the storytelling, but that’s because of my lack of knowledge of the genre, not the novel itself. I found the story very interesting and about a quarter of the way through, once I got comfortable with the format, I just devoured it.

Since this is volume 1 I feel that it just introduced the characters and the plot. I wanted to know more about how she’s dealing being in the body of a bully, but I imagine that will happen in vol 2.

This was a cool story and I’m really looking forward to the next novel in the series.

The Child — Fiona Barton

31 Aug

 

Publisher: Penguin Random House
Released: June 27th, 2017
Genre: Mystery, suspense
Source: Finished copy from publisher

 

As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it’s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby?

As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier: A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found. Her heartbroken parents were left devastated by the loss.

But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn—house by house—into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. And she soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women—and torn between what she can and cannot tell…

From Goodreads

 

Oh the twists, the twists, the twists!!!!!

This was an awesome mystery novel and let me tell you, the final twist? I so didn’t see it coming. I literally said “WHAT?” out loud. It caught me completely by surprise and I love that that happened.

It’s hard to talk about it without giving anything away. All of the characters were believable and I love how the author weaves everything together. Everything unfolds at a nice pace and nothing seemed rush or really hectic. The format was more traditional than most of the mysteries I’ve read lately and it reminded me that while I love a mystery with an unreliable narrator, I also love a mystery that moves slower and delves deeper into characters. The pacing and the tone reminded me a lot of the TV show Broadchurch, which is my fave mystery show. I definitely want to read more from this author.

 

The Fashion Committee — Susan Juby

29 Aug

 

Publisher: Penguin Random House
Released: May 23rd, 2017
Genre: YA contemp
Source: ARC from publisher

 

 

What if one contest could change the course of your entire life?

Charlie Dean is a style-obsessed girl who eats, sleeps, and breathes fashion.

John Thomas-Smith is a boy who forges metal sculptures in his garage and couldn’t care less about clothes.

Both are gunning for a scholarship to the private art high school that could make all their dreams come true. And whoever wins the fashion competition will win the scholarship.

From Goodreads

 

Susan Juby is one of those authors that I can always count on to deliver an engaging and amazing and awesome book. She has a way of dealing with serious issues with laughter and an honesty that can be brutal. She is also hands down one of the best writers of misfits and odd characters.

OMG these were interesting characters. And you know what? *SPOILER* They don’t fall in love!!!!!!! This is SOOOO refreshing and unexpected for the genre.

The format of the book is diary entries, and I just loved that. And Juby writes both Charlie Dean and John so differently. Both had very distinct voices and sometimes that’s hard to do.

Charlie Dean is such an optimist and the way she writes about some of the crap in her life so matter-of-factly is heartbreaking. She reminds me a lot of Rachel from Glee in season one. That whole the show must go on and I am always awesome attitude. John, on the other hand, is a bit of a pessimist despite the fact that his life is pretty good. The contrast between their attitudes and situations in life is my favorite part of the book.

This was a pretty unique book for the genre and I think everyone will enjoy it.