2013 Releases

Recommendation Tuesday: A Darker Shade of Sweden (Stories)

Recommendation Tuesday started as a joke and is now an official thing. If you've got a book to recommend on this or any Tuesday, tweet me at @FullShelves and I'll help spread the word.

View all of the past recommendations over here. 

This week, Sandra is getting in on the fun and recommending a collection of short stories she really, really enjoyed, A Darker Shade of Sweden. 

Without any sense of shame, I admit to judging a book by its cover. I laser in on a beautifully bound book. But, a book can’t get by on looks alone. Intelligent writing is what truly endears it.

A Darker Shade of Sweden edited by John-Henri Holmberg has it all: beauty and brains. 

 

Recommendation Tuesday: A Darker Shade of Sweden (Stories)

Evocative Gothic Horror: Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea

Gothic horror wrapped in mystery, intrigue and the supernatural was just the right blend in April Genevieve’s Tucholke’s Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea. And when I finished the final page, I was left tapping my fingers, thinking,

"Sequel, please. Puh-lease. I am not good at waiting. Patience is not a virute."

Well, I'll be waiting for it until August of 2014.

*taps fingers*

 

Twin teens, Violet and Luke, live alone in the once decadent mansion their grandmother dubbed “Citizen Kane.” Built by their fabulously rich and influential ancestors, Citizen Kane could comfortably settle into an Edgar Allen Poe story. Its wine cellar holds a chilling atmosphere perfect for The Cask of Amontillado.

Citizen Kane sits aloof atop a ridge overlooking the Atlantic, a crumbling tribute to a glorious past and a cold reminder of the depth of despair that is the present reality. The town of Echo situated near the dying mansion looks upon the twins' abode with scorn taking comfort in the downfall of a once rich and powerful family.

Violet and Luke's artistic parents leave them for months at a time while they pursue their dreams in vibrant oils and acrylics inspired by the art and history found only in Europe. "Here's some money," they would say on their way out the door. "Make it last until we return."

The money always lasted until it didn't.

Evocative Gothic Horror: Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea

More Grit, More Awesome: Deadshifted (Edie Spence #4) by Cassie Alexander

When a series progresses to a certain point, it becomes nearly impossible to discuss without revealing important facets of the previous installments. Such is the case of Cassie Alexander's Edie Spence series, which is now deep into the series at book number four, Deadshifted.  So uncharacteristic brevity on my part is a necessity when talking about how Deadshifted brings even more gritty badassery than the previous installment, Shapeshifted.

I've written extensively about each of the books chronicles the misadventures of Chicago nurse Edie Spence, who found herself embroiled in the paranormal underworld in an effort to save her drug addict brother. This series has a lot to offer: action, drama, strong narrative voice and, of course, Edie's tumultuous love life--if you can call it that. 

[Note: Very minor spoilers of the sort revealed in the official book summaries follow.] 

Edie's latest exploits arrive while she an shapeshifter boyfriend Asher attempt to decompress from their recent encounter with some very nasty paranormal critters and their stressful day jobs at a health clinic in a tough Chicago neighborhood. They've embarked on a cruise and are basking in that new love glow. A promise of better things to come means that things are looking up for Edie.

Naturally, this being Edie's life, those precious moments of blissful peace don't last.

More Grit, More Awesome: Deadshifted (Edie Spence #4) by Cassie Alexander

A Surprising, Satisfying Sequel: Fractured by Sarah Fine

It was a reminder of what we’d lost—and also that my senior year was rapidly coming to a close. I’d barely noticed. Prom was in three weeks, and graduation was only a month after that. It was hard to believe that a few months ago, I’d assumed I’d be here with Nadia, enjoying all of this. Now that Nadia was gone, I had nothing to look forward to except the hope that I could prevent a bunch of evil spirits from overrunning Rhode Island. ”

Sarah Fine's Sanctum was a real surprise when I discovered it earlier this year. It had all the things I love about adult fantasy--grit, flawed characters, adventure, big consequences--in a compelling young adult package. Needless to say, I eagerly anticipated the sequel, Fractured.

[Tiny spoilers for Sanctum ahoy, though I've attempted to be as vague as possible.]

Fractured picks up shortly after Sanctum ended, which narrator Lela back home in Rhode Island. We find the power dynamics between she and love interest and Shadowland Guard Malachi have shifted. She's the boss, with a crew of guardians under her command. They're battling the demon-like mazikin, as in Sanctum, but this time they're on Lela's home turf, and the few people she's allowed to become close to her are all in danger, making the stakes even higher than before.

Life as it was now: a weird intersection of normal and crazy, of life and beyond-life, afterlife, undead, whatever. I put my hand to my heart and felt it beating, remembered feeling Malachi’s pounding through his shirt as he kissed me. Were we alive? Were we here on borrowed time? Did we have a right to live or only to serve as Guards? Did we have a future, or were we headed back to the dark city when we were done? Did anything we did here, apart from eliminating the Mazikin, matter? Could we keep anything for ourselves?”

Second books in a series are a tough thing. In a lot of ways, when a first book is good, the second book's role as the second act in a three-act series (as in the case of a trilogy) can feel more like a bridge to the conclusion rather than a gripping story. Fortunately, Fractured avoided this fate, and is--in many ways--a stronger book than the first.

Shifting the setting from the Shadowlands to modern-day Rhode Island was a bold move, since it radically altered the character dynamics, and it really paid off.

A Surprising, Satisfying Sequel: Fractured by Sarah Fine

The Sly Subversiveness of Molly O'Keefe's Wild Child

It's no secret that Molly O'Keefe's novels are my favorites in the very crowded contemporary romance genre.  Her books, which on their surface follow the norms of romance novels (since that's what they are), are brilliantly subversive. All of the novels I've read by this author riff on romance archetypes and conventions in a deliciously satisfying manner. Molly's latest, Wild Child, is no different.

Wild Child focuses on Monica Appleby, famous reality television teen wild child, who wrote a bestselling tell-all memoir of her raucous and destructive formative years. She's alone, her closest friend having recently died and not having a relationship with her mother, and has returned to the town of Bishop, Arkansas to write her follow-up book, this time chronicling the events of her parents' tumultuous relationship and her father's subsequent death. Monica is all hard edges and walls, unwilling to make even casual connections with anyone.

Monica ignored Jackson as he slid into the booth across from her. First the Cracker dude and now Jackson. Good Lord, weren’t the headphones a giveaway? Did she need to make a Do Not Disturb sign? This was why she so rarely went to coffee shops to work, preferring her own company and her own music.

 

The mayor of Bishop is Jackson Davies, who dropped out of law school and returned to his hard-luck hometown to raise his younger sister, Gwen, after their parents were killed in a car accident. Jackson never wanted to make Bishop his home; the town is dying, with an empty factory gathering dust and many of the town's residents struggling in the blighted economy. His father was mayor of Bishop as well, and his goal at the town's leader is the turn the economy around, make sure his sister is safely away at college and then get out of town.

The Sly Subversiveness of Molly O'Keefe's Wild Child

A Fresh Shapeshifter Story: Skulk by Rosie Best

Skulk’s anything but a typical paranormal teen fiction. Shapeshifters in Rosie Best’s novel consist of foxes, ravens, rats, butterflies and spiders—no wolves need apply to this world. And, Skulk is urban fantasy in the truest sense of the term, with a rich city-focused setting of London, complete with graffiti and urban wildlife that’s not what it appears.

At the center of this story is sixteen year old Meg Banks, a teen girl who appears to have it all. Her mother’s a highly-respected member of Parliament and her father’s a genius with money. Meg attends an exclusive school that churns out students headed for only the best universities and the brightest futures. 

Except…

Meg’s perfect parents, perfect school, perfect life is nothing more than a tarnished cage locking in an unconquerable spirit who struggles to find self expression, individuality and ultimately freedom from her cruel and demanding mother and her aloof father.

Read the rest-->

A Fresh Shapeshifter Story: Skulk by Rosie Best

Romantic, Yet Unsatisfying: Time After Time by Tamara Ireland Stone

Despite that the time travel elements were entirely undeveloped, I enjoyed Tamara Ireland Stone's debut novel, Time Between Us. I was swept up in Bennett and Anna's sweet, yet challenged, romance spanning decades, quite literally. 

Sure, Bennett's ability to travel from his timeline in 2012 to Anna's in 1995 was effectively unexamined and consequences related to the ripple effect of time travel were only considered when it aided the plot. But it was a solid romance--and I'm a shameless sucker.

As I mentioned in my review of Time Between Us, I hoped that the intricacies and consequences of traveling through and altering time would be explored further. Because this is more of a romance, I didn't expect it reach All Our Yesterdays level, but I'd hoped for more--and I effectively got nothing in that regard.

Read the rest--> 

 

Romantic, Yet Unsatisfying: Time After Time by Tamara Ireland Stone

Romance, Post-High School Paths & Sexism in Stir Me Up by Sabrina Elkins

Sabrina Elkins' debut novel, Stir Me Up, has a lot going for it: a charming romance, a positive undertone regarding female sexuality and a great portrayal of how the college track right after high school isn't the best thing for everyone (more of this, please). Unfortunately, just as many frustrating, unnecessary and un-nuanced plot and character issues kept Stir Me Up from being that satisfying read I hoped it would be. 

High school senior Camille (Cami) grew up in her father's French restaurant in Vermont, and dreams of a career much like her father's. Becoming a chef is truly her passion, and over the years, she's slowly earned her father's trust as she's worked her way up from prepping vegetables to making the restaurant's soup du jour once a week. While her father wants her to attend University of Vermont so she can keep her future options open, Cami knows what she wants: a future in the kitchen of a top restaurant. 

Her world is disrupted, though, when her stepmother Estella's nephew (whom she raised), Julian, moves into Cami's house. Julian is a 20-year old Marine who was severely injured in an IED explosion in Afghanistan. He's lost part of one of his legs and sustained numerous other injuries. Understandably, he's angry and hostile.

Read the rest--> 

 

Romance, Post-High School Paths & Sexism in Stir Me Up by Sabrina Elkins

When Bad Marketing Happens to Good Books: Just One Year by Gayle Forman

 Sometimes the wind blows you places you weren't expecting: sometimes it blows you away from those places, too.

When I found an early copy of Just One Year on the shelf at University Bookstore in Seattle last week, I could not have been more thrilled. The sequel to Just One Day (which I loved) was hands-down one of my my anticipated novels of the season. I couldn't wait to see where Allyson and Willem's story went, since Just One Year promised to "pick up where Just One Day ended.

 

Except that's a lie. Just One Year doesn't pick up where Just One Day, the book, ended. Instead, it begins as just one day, the day Allyson and Willem spent together, ends. If you've read Just One Day, you know that it spans the year following that day, so Just One Year effectively hits rewind on the timeline for the thing that happens on the final page of Just One Day.

It's important to understand that how the Just One Year has been marketed and the actual story between the covers are two entirely different things.

Read the rest--> 

When Bad Marketing Happens to Good Books: Just One Year by Gayle Forman

List-O-Rama: Embracing the Weird

I have a soft spot for bizarro stories. You know what I mean, the weird, but captivating, tale that you never fully understand but like nonetheless. Here are a few of our recommendations for the next time you want to embrace the weird.  

Coaltown Jesus by Ron Koertge (Candlewick, Oct. 8, 2013)

“‘Oh dear,’ said Jesus. 

Walker was able to ask ‘What?’ They’d stopped in front of a Balk’s Hardware. A sign in the window said, 

ALL KINDS OF NAILS

Jesus stared at his hands. ‘I mean nails are a miracle and God is in them, but they still give me the shivers.’”

Ron Koertge specializes in strange stories and he's an author whose books reliably work for me. Koertge's known for his verse novels, but this is more of a fractured prose (my term) style that works for this odd little story of a boy who seeks, and receives, divine intervention in coping with his brother's death. This is an irreverent little story with one of the more unusual doses of magical realism I've read. It's a short book at 128 pages, so if you're looking for something completely outside your normal wheelhouse that'll make you laugh, check out Coaltown Jesus.

I also recommended Koertge's Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses, a collection of fairytales retold in poetry, if you're looking for more Koertge weirdness.

Read the rest --> 

 

List-O-Rama: Embracing the Weird

Love Overdue by Pamela Morsi: Unevenness Defined

“D.J. considered herself some kind of an expert in compartmentalizing. It was undoubtedly a genetic trait. She’d shown early talent in boxing up every aspect of her life, careful never to taint any experience with another. Everything about life, the precious, the bitter, the uncertain, could be perfectly managed and excellently controlled if it was kept securely on its own.”

I read this one because another book by Morsi, The Lovesick Cure, was highly recommended to me, and was analyzed in-depth on Romance Novels for Feminists. So, of course, instead of reading that book, I read this random Morsi novel, Love Overdue, with one of those can't-resist-cute covers.

Yes, I am a sucker for those covers with the feet--don't judge me too harshly. 

While there were a number of elements that worked for me, particularly Morsi's writing--which is fast-paced and flows nicely, Love Overdue exemplifies the mixed bag, uneven novel, which are some of the hardest to write about. 

Read the rest --> 

Love Overdue by Pamela Morsi: Unevenness Defined

Lauren Graham's Someday, Someday Maybe & What 'New Adult' Could Be

“Once again, I’ve been thwarted by the massive difference between my vision of the successful me and the me I’m currently stuck with.”

I recently listened to the audiobook of Lauren Graham's debut novel, Someday, Someday Maybe and really enjoyed it. The Gilmore Girls and Parenthood actress penned a surprisingly fresh novel, which, while predictable and in need of a bit of smoothing out in terms of the prose, succeeded in charming me from beginning to end. Graham's voice is fresh, and infused with authentic comic moments.

Someday, Someday Maybe also gave me pause in that it represents the sort of story I'd love to read more of, the stories that I'd hoped the burgeoning "New Adult" thing would and could be. 

Someday, Someday Maybe follows Franny Banks, struggling to create an acting career for herself in New York City in 1995. She's set a deadline for achieving undefined "success" and that deadline is rapidly approaching. She's had a few gigs and been accepted into a prestigious acting course, but as she's watching the clock tick on her future, she wonders if she's going to be another has-been who couldn't make her dreams become reality. Franny ponders the wisdom of her audacity to to wish for something special, since she doesn't think she's particularly exceptional. 

Would Franny be better off getting a teaching certificate, like her father would like, going home and marrying her "backup plan"? Is all the rejection and instability worth it? 

Read the rest! 

Lauren Graham's Someday, Someday Maybe & What 'New Adult' Could Be

Uneven, Yet Compelling - Just Like Fate by Suzanne Young and Cat Patrick

I think about how Simone offered me the choice to stay or go—and how it so easily could have gone the other way. For a moment, I wonder what life would look like had I gone down the other path.

I’m a sucker for “Sliding Doors”-style stories. Even though much of the time, they don’t work for me, the concept of one decision or moment being the tipping point for a series of divergent events intrigues me. I guess, philosophically-speaking, I believe there’s something to that notion. 

Because of that, I was excited to learn that Suzanne Young—who’s novel The Program was a real surprise for me this summer—co-wrote a novel with Cat Patrick, Just Like Fate, examining this very concept. 

The novel introduces Caroline, a teenager who’s beloved grandmother, with whom she lives, is hospitalized with a stroke. She’s been at her bedside, panicky when she discovers that Gram won’t recover. All she can think of is escape, and her best friend provides just the chance by inviting her out to a party. At this point, the story diverges into two paths: “Stay” and “Go.”

Uneven, Yet Compelling - Just Like Fate by Suzanne Young and Cat Patrick

Thought-Provoking, High-Concept - You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle

This is not a soap opera, folks. This is my life.
And it is absolutely, positively as unamazing as you can get.

You Look Different in Real Life is a high concept novel, one that at face explores the experiences of five teens who are the subject of an ongoing series of Up-style documentaries, but at its core examines the way we construct identities, or identities are assigned to us. 

We see this experience through the eyes of sixteen year-old Justine, accidental star of a documentary series following five classmates at six, eleven and now sixteen. Leslie and Lance, the directors, have crafted a story for these children, and they each have played into their roles. Justine is sarcastic and rebellious; Felix has been cast as the working class kid (but he also has a secret); Rory is autistic and loves Ren Fair; Keira is elegant and distant; and Nathan is the popular Golden Boy. 

The fact that I go right to thinking about people a.k.a audiences makes me mad, and the fact that I don’t know how to change that makes me even madder. But what can I do?

The thing is, Justine doesn’t feel like the star anymore and has to be dragged into participating in Five at Sixteen by Felix, who dreams of being the focus of this edition of the series. As they reunite once again, the years of their lives being woven together become harder to avoid, and old pain bubbles to the surface once again. 

Thought-Provoking, High-Concept - You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle

A Fresh Detective Novel - Loyalty by Ingrid Thoft

I attended the American Library Association Winter Conference in January in Seattle, Washington. I’d never attended one of the ALA’s conferences and after a few minutes there, wondered why (it would have been an excellent resource when I was teaching full-time).

A new writer, Ingrid Thoft, attended the conference to promote her first novel, Loyalty. I happened to be first in line to meet her and she handed me the novel with a huge smile. Her excitement clearly showed in her eyes when she asked for my name, signed my book and handed it to me--apparently, I was one of the very first people to receive a copy of Loyalty.

Loyalty opens with a woman attempting to ascertain what she’d done to deserve being tied up, blindfolded and laid in the bottom of a boat headed out to sea.

Her arms and legs were cinched together tighter, and she was picked up off of her feet.
Then it was air.
Then water.
Then nothing.

A few pages later Fina, the daughter of a tough lawyer who’s the patriarch of an equally tough family of lawyers, meets with her father who informs her that her sister-in-law has disappeared. It’s her job to find out what happened and where her brother’s wife is.

Fina doesn’t fit her family’s mold. The brothers all finished  law school and belong to the Ludlow law firm solely comprised of members who maintain a take-no-prisoners mentality. Fina, who’s a law school drop-out, works for the family firm as the lead investigator. Her credentials for “tough” stand up to anything the rest of the family can tout.

A Fresh Detective Novel - Loyalty by Ingrid Thoft

Satisfying & Believable, Though Imperfect - Burning by Elana K. Arnold

There's a lot to like in Elana K. Arnold’s sophomore novel, Burning. It’s one of the stronger dual first person point-of-view novels I’ve read since that narrative style has gained popularity. Its ending is incredibly satisfying and believable. And, Burning is a solid exploration of the idea of breaking free and forging one’s own path.

The events of Burning unfold during a single week the summer of Burning Man, around the nearby fictional (though realistic) town of Gypsum, Nevada. Gypsum is a company town, with everyone working at the local gypsum mine, shopping at a company store and living in company-owned housing. When the mine closes, the entire town shuts down with it, leaving its residents scattering. Local boy Ben is set to leave Gypsum thanks to a track scholarship in San Diego, while his family--along with most of his friends who aren’t so fortunate--are heading for Reno in hopes of finding work. 

Passing through Gypsum with her family is Lala, a Romani (Gypsy) girl from Portland, who’s traveling with her extended family when they make a stop in Nevada to earn some quick cash telling the fortunes of Burning Man visitors. Lala’s at a turning point in her life; once she turns 18, Lala will wed her betrothed through an arranged marriage and leave her beloved family. With her wedding date rapidly approaching, Lala questions if that’s the life she wants, and if she really has any choices at all. 

Satisfying & Believable, Though Imperfect - Burning by Elana K. Arnold

A New Favorite, But Not for Everyone - The Diviners by Libba Bray

Libba Bray writes of the wind in the first pages of The Diviners, of how it swoops through New York City, silent witness to all that has been, is and will be.

The wind existed forever. It has seen much in this country of dreams and soap ads, old horrors and bloodshed. It has played mute witness to its burning witches, and has walked along a Trail of Tears; it has seen the slave ships release their human cargo, blinking and afraid, into the ports, their only possession a grief they can never lose ... It ran with the buffalo and touched tentative fingers to the tall black hats of Puritans. It has carried shouts of love, and it has dried tears to salt tracks on more faces than it can number. 

The wind also saw the  Roaring Twenties, a time when anything seemed possible, where money flowed as freely as illegal booze. 

Evie O’Neill felt trapped in a small town with small minds. She ached to jump out of the confines of he life into the glamour and excitement she knew waited for her. Her exuberance and sometimes her rashness made Evie a poor candidate for living happily in a backwoods Ohio community. 

One evening while partying with friends and drinking way too much, Evie stretches the bounds of acceptability for the last time by revealing a town scandal. It lands her in front of her parents with her head pounding from a hangover with mom and dad shouting their displeasure and despair.

A New Favorite, But Not for Everyone - The Diviners by Libba Bray

Different in a Good Way - The Story Guy by Mary Ann Rivers

Often, when a new book or author receives piles of advance praise, I find myself leery of marketing hype. I’ve just been burned too many times, so I proceed with caution these days. However, my interest in Mary Ann Rivers’ debut novella, The Story Guy, was piqued after a rave review from one of my favorite book pushers, Angie of Angieville fame.

A quick 120 pages later, and I can say, y’all, Mary Ann Rivers is an author to watch.

The Story Guy’s main character is Carrie, a midwestern librarian who lives a good life. She has a career she loves, parents with whom she’s close and friends she adores. Despite all this warmth, however, Carrie’s life is also lonely, as everyone around her has a partner and a rich home life.

One of Carrie's favorite distractions is reading the personal ads on a City Paper-type website. (Who hasn't done that, am I right?) These ads are usually pretty sketchy and Carrie finds them refreshingly authentic--these people aren’t playing games, they’re saying exactly what they want out of a relationship. One morning she comes across an intriguing request for a standing Wednesday rendezvous in a public park for “kissing only” and impulsively answers it before she can stop herself.

The following Wednesday, Carrie meets this stranger, Brian, and it sets in motion a radical change in both their lives.

Different in a Good Way - The Story Guy by Mary Ann Rivers

Review: Viral Nation by Shaunta Grimes

Shaunta Grimes’ Viral Nation caught my eye earlier this year for a single reason: the cover.

The cover art depicts a teen girl, wearing very the very teen girl garb of jeans, a hoodie and Chuck Taylor sneakers, standing in the ruins of an urban landscape with an equally awesome-looking dog. 

Having suffered a mild case of Dystopian Burnout, like many readers I approach dystopian and post-apocalyptic stories with a bit of caution. However, Viral Nation is a creative, fresh entry into the crowded dystopian shelves--one that deserves much more attention than it’s received.

Viral Nation is set in a future version of Reno, Nevada. A catastrophic Ebola-like viral outbreak wiped out a large portion of the nation’s population, and the remaining citizens were moved into fifty walled cities across the country, where it’s easier to distribute the critical viral suppressant--discovered thanks to time travel--needed to prevent a future outbreak. 

Review: Viral Nation by Shaunta Grimes

Review: Shapeshifted (Edie Spence #3) by Cassie Alexander

I've been holding off on my review of the third installment of Cassie Alexander wonderfully unique Edie Spence series, as the farther along in a series one gets, the tougher it is to really talk book specifics without ruining the earlier novels.

So, please excuse the vagueness and generalities in my attempt to avoid being spoilerific.

 

Minor spoilers, which are also reference in the book's official summary, follow in this review. If you want to remain wholly unspoiled, read my review of the first novel in this series, Nightshifted.

I cannot express strongly enough how much I abhor being left behind. 

At the conclusion of Moonshifted, much of nurse Edie Spence's "normal" life was reset. The routine and community she'd developed--crazy though it was--fell apart and Shapeshifted finds her trying find a new place for herself in the wild, messy, complicated paranormal world she's embroiled in. This is made all the worst as Edie learns that her mother is terminally ill, and Edie is determined to utilize her, well, unusual, connections to save her.

As always, Edie's trying to go it alone, while also trying to save everyone.

Review: Shapeshifted (Edie Spence #3) by Cassie Alexander

It's Not You, It's Me - Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Note: You’ll be amused that this started out as part of a group of mini-reviews. Whoops.

While I wasn't enamored with Katie McGarry’s Pushing the Limits as seemingly everyone else was, the character who intrigued me the most in that novel was Beth. Beth’s surly personality piqued my interest as a side character in that book, and her unusual dynamic with Isaac, another secondary character in that novel, made me curious about her story.

So, despite that Pushing the Limits wasn’t a hit for me, when I learned that Beth would be one of the two points of view in the companion novel, Dare You To, I was tentatively excited.

Unfortunately, I am starting to suspect that with McGarry's novels, it comes down to the fact that these simply aren't the kind of stories I enjoy. They are very dramatic. The characters consistently make poor choices that don't make a lot of sense, which nearly always escalates the drama. There are big mistakes and equally big gestures. All of these elements are trends in contemporary, romance-focused fiction at the moment, encompassing young adult, adult and the enigmatic “new adult” categories. 

When it comes down to it, I prefer quieter, more introspective reading.

Not dry, mind you, but I often find the little missteps and subtle, internal conflicts more compelling than grievous misunderstandings.

It's Not You, It's Me - Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Review: Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

Z is not a book for everyone.

It is a novel based on research about Zelda Fitzgerald and her life and relationship with her husband, novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Fowler states at the end of her work that it is,

Fiction based on real people [which] differs from nonfiction in that the emphasis is not on factual minutiae, but rather on the emotional journey of the characters. I've tried to create the most plausible story possible, based upon all the evidence at hand.

The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald's famous novel depicting the obsessive Jay Gatsby and his love for Daisy, is a novel I've always loved. The writing flows like a poem swirling with color, description, romance and tragedy. I do not read it as a love story, rather it’s about illusion. Illusory dreams without a touch of reality based in Gatsby’s head much as Zelda’s life with F. Scott.

Fowler’s account of Zelda’s life brought a new perspective to ponder. 

Review: Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

Review: The Silver Star by Jeanette Walls

Jeannette Walls’ latest novel, The Silver Star, opens with Jean, AKA Bean, recounting the story of how her sister, Liz, saved her life when she was only an infant. Bean (aka Jean) and Liz are sisters, one twelve and the other fifteen, who have faced life as a team. They’ve always stuck together giving one another the stability that their mother did not or could not provide for them. When things got bad in one place, their mother would slide out of town in the dead of night taking her little girls with her.

Bean and Liz, one twelve and the other fifteen, are sisters who have faced life as a team. They’ve always stuck together giving one another the stability that their mother did not or could not provide for them. In one of their quick exits out of town, a problem arose because mom in her dash toward freedom, had stashed things in the trunk leaving her infant child in a carrier on the roof. Dash, rush, run - oops - she forgot the minor issue of said infant left in a carrier on top of the car. Three year old Liz begins screaming her baby sister’s name and pointing at the roof. It took a some time to communicate to the manic mother the state of affairs. She slammed on the brakes, the carrier slid onto the hood, baby’s strapped in, so no harm’s done. 

Their mother loved to tell the story. She thought it was hilarious. Neither child saw the humor. Mom’s version tilted itself in her favor, as always.
Mom was going through a rough period at the time of the near fatal incident. She had a lot on her mind -- craziness, craziness craziness, the girls would say when hearing the story time after time.

Like Half Broke Horses by the same author, The Silver Star is considered fiction, but draws heavily on Walls' own family. The first work of Walls I read was The Glass Castle. It’s the biographical account of her wildly eccentric family, one that defines disfunction. Her father dreamed of building glass castles for his family to live in while he traipsed from one town to the next with them in tow, often leaving under the cloak of night to avoid paying bills--they had no money, so escape was the quick solution while he wove tales of magical new opportunities that would surely appear soon.

 

Review: The Silver Star by Jeanette Walls