Contemporary

A Solid Story Collection: The Firefly Dance by Sarah Addison Allen & Others

A Solid Story Collection: The Firefly Dance by Sarah Addison Allen & Others

The title itself of this collection of novellas and short stories, The Firefly Dance, evokes an image of a warm summer evening—beautiful and breezeless, fireflies flittering in the dusk like jewels against a velvet sky. And like that quintessential summer scene, this unique collection brought me smiles, magical wonderment and even a few tears.

In My Dreams by Sarah Addison Allen

Sarah Addison Allen’s In My Dreams was the first novella I read--and the reason I snagged this collection from the library. I had read all of her novels with the exception of this one, and I couldn't bear to skip this one. I dove into it expecting a luscious read. Luscious does begin to express the beauty of In My Dreams.

This lovely tale told in the voice of Louise about her, her mother, her great aunt Sophie and a rich array of characters including her dog Lazarus that she seemingly brought back from the dead.

 

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A Feel-Good Novel with Surprising Weight: It Felt Like a Kiss by Sarra Manning

A Feel-Good Novel with Surprising Weight: It Felt Like a Kiss by Sarra Manning

But then again, one kiss from someone could mean more than a two-year relationship with someone else. A kiss could change your life.

Sarra Manning’s Unsticky is a novel I recommend all the time—I love how Manning plays with common tropes and archetypes, subverting them into fresh and witty stories. Her newest novel, It Felt Like a Kiss, is no different. And, it has the added bonus of being something of a companion novel to Unsticky, as Vaughn from that novel plays an important role in this one as the owner of the art gallery where It Felt Like a Kiss protagonist Ellie Cohen works.

Ellie lives a carefully-produced life, a reaction to her chaotic, bohemian upbringing with her musician mother.

...when all around you was chaos, you needed to find some area of your life that you could control and let that define you. It didn’t matter that she was on free schoolmeals and had a mother who wore leopard-print catsuits and dressed her in charity-shop clothes, when Ellie had the neatest handwriting in her class and was homework monitor five years in a row. Or when she had a tidier bedroom and better manners than her many cousins, who all lived in two-parent, semi-detached splendour in Belsize Park. When your boss was giving you hell and your flatmates were fighting and you’d been dumped again, there was something cathartic and peaceful in spending the afternoon in your pristine, minimalist office, rearranging your reference books by height and colour. So, a girl who could parade around Glastonbury in a spotless white dress was a girl who was calm and in control. Sometimes you had to fake it to make it.

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

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.

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Podcast #11: Personal Agency in Fiction with Author Mindi Scott

Podcast #11: Personal Agency in Fiction with Author Mindi Scott

We're super-excited to have a two-part episode of the podcast with our friend and a favorite author, Mindi Scott. Mindi is the author of two outstanding books for teens, Freefall (2010, Simon Pulse) and Live Through This (2012, Simon Pulse).

Mindi's novels are "quieter" stories focussing on characters taking control of their own lives--stories of personal agency. We thought it would be great to have her talk about this theme in the context of not only her own books, but those she recommends as well. Mindi brought up some fascinating concepts related to how these types of stories are constructed, so we hope you enjoy!

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