Tag: family

Book Review: The Bookshop of Yesterdays, by Amy Meyerson

bookshop
Image belongs to Park Row Books.

Title:   The Bookshop of Yesterdays
Author:   Amy Meyerson
Genre:   Fiction
Rating:   4.5 out of 5

Miranda Brooks loves her job as a teacher in Philadelphia. She loves her boyfriend, Jay, whom she just moved in with, and she’s looking forward to their first summer together. Until she receives a package in the mail and a clue and knows that one of her uncle Billy’s scavenger hunts has started. Except the clue is closely followed by a call from her mother:  Billy is dead.

Growing up, Miranda loved her uncle, a seismologist. He taught her so many things using scavenger hunts, and she always loved the adventure. But when she turned 12, her mom and Billy had a fight, and she never saw him again. When she returns to California for the funeral, she finds that Billy has left her Prospero Books—his beloved bookstore, now teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.

Her mother will barely mention Billy—she didn’t even go to his funeral—and Miranda knows the scavenger hunt will lead her to the truth about the fight when she was twelve, the truth her mother doesn’t want her to know. Miranda works to untangle Billy’s clues while she searches for a way to save Prospero Books, the legacy Billy left her. Soon she realizes just how deep the secret her family has hidden for years goes—and wonders if happiness looks different than it did at the beginning of summer.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that I love a book about a bookstore, a book filled with literary clues and references. I enjoyed everything about this novel:  the setting (Can I just move into Prospero Books?), the clues, the mystery, and especially Miranda herself. I loved how her mind works, and how determined she is to unearth her family’s secrets. An excellent, engrossing read!

Amy Meyerson lives in Los Angeles. The Bookshop of Yesterdays is her first novel.

(Galley provided by Harlequin/Park Row in exchange for an honest review.)

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Book Review: Little Do We Know, by Tamara Ireland Stone

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Image belongs to Disney-Hyperion.

Title:   Little Do We Know
Author:   Tamara Ireland Stone
Genre:   YA
Rating:   5 out of 5

Hannah and Emory are next-door-neighbors and best friends. Until a few months ago, when they had a fight and said some things they can never take back. Hannah’s life at the Christian school her father runs is great, but is her faith really her own, or is it something she just picked up from her family? These questions become even harder when she realizes she may never get the chance to live out her dreams and gets involved with someone she should never have been involved with.

Emory is preparing for her UCLA performing arts audition and enjoying every moment she has left with her boyfriend, Luke. They’ll be going off to separate colleges, and she knows they don’t have much time left. Emory just wants to avoid her memories of the fight with Hannah—and what caused them.

The distance between the two girls seems unsurpassable, until the night Hannah finds Luke in his car outside Emory’s house, doubled over and on the verge of death. In the aftermath of that ordeal, the girls seek to sort out their differences, and realize their friendship is the strength that keeps them both afloat.

I loved this book. I could relate to Hannah so much, and the way she struggles with defining her own faith, while fighting for the chance to chase her dreams, was both poignant and uplifting. She makes some bad decisions, but learns from them, and changes as a result. Emory is a vibrant girl who practically dances across the pages. Her outgoing personality hides a secret—and a fear of the future. The two of them are drawn back together because of Luke, but their friendship is the backbone of this wonderful novel.

Tamara Ireland Stone is a New York Times-bestselling author and her novels have won several awards. Little Do We Know is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Disney-Hyperion in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: How to Walk Away, by Katherine Center

how to walk away
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:   How to Walk Away
Author:   Katherine Center
Genre:   Fiction, romance
Rating:   4 out of 5

Margaret Jacobsen was on the cusp of everything she’d dreamed of:  her dream job, a fiancé who’s absolutely perfect, and her wonderful life about to start. Until a plane crash leaves her burned and paralyzed, and that wonderful life disappears from view.

In the hospital, Margaret has six weeks of healing time; after that, she must go home, and the optimal healing time has passed, meaning if she can’t walk by then, she never will. So Margaret throws herself into her efforts to heal, with the help of a surly physical therapist who pushes her to do her best—and whose bad attitude is a challenge.

Along the way, Margaret must deal with heartbreak, family secrets, and the realization that life sometimes doesn’t turn out like we plan—and that’s okay.

I enjoyed this so much that I read it straight through in just a couple of hours! Margaret is an inspiring person I’d love to hang out with. What she goes through after the plane crash is captured in blistering detail, and I can relate to the mental reevaluation that’s necessary when you wake up in the hospital with your whole world changed. If you like smart fiction with a bit of romance, a heroine whose determination will inspire you, and a quirky family, this book is for you!

Katherine Center lives and writes in Houston, Texas. How to Walk Away is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Crossing, by Jason Mott

the crossing
Image belongs to Harlequin/Park Row.

Title:  The Crossing
Author:   Jason Mott
Genre:   YA/dystopian
Rating:   3.5 out of 5

At first, the disease only took those over age 90, putting them into a sleep they never awoke from. Gradually, the victims grew younger, and the world realized eventually no one of childbearing age would be left awake—or alive. Accusations of blame arose, followed by the war.

Virginia and Tommy have spent most of their lives in the foster care system, fighting to stay together. But now the draft threatens to keep them apart forever. So they run away, headed for Florida and a space shuttle lunch that could be the last hope of mankind.

In a world gone mad, people try desperately to forget the truth, but Virginia remembers everything:  ever single detail of everything she’s ever seen or heard. The Memory Gospel brings the past alive for her, but it makes her blind to some things. As Tommy and Virginia flee across the country, they have only themselves to depend on, but can they bear the cost of the truth?

This was an intriguing novel, with a premise unique in the dystopian books I’ve read. The world, filled with war and the Disease, is frankly terrifying. Virginia and Tommy’s history is sad, yet their love for each other remains strong.

I found Virginal pretty unlikable. Her perfect memory makes her think she’s smarter than everyone around her, and, while that may be true in some cases, she only remembers her memories, not necessarily the truth. She’s a selfish person whose intellect makes her push people away. Despite that, this was an engrossing read.

Jason Mott is a New York Times bestselling author. The Crossing is his newest novel.

(Galley provided by Harlequin/Park Row in exchange for an honest review.)

 

Book Review: The Way You Make Me Feel, by Maurene Goo

the way you make me feel
Image belongs to Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (BYR).

Title:   The Way You Make Me Feel
Author:   Maurene Goo
Genre:   YA
Rating:   4 out of 5

Clara Shin and her friends are rebellious and anti-anything-too-trendy-and-popular. Clara is always pulling pranks and cracking jokes to keep people at arm’s length, but when a school prank goes too far, Clara ends up sentenced to work her dad’s food truck with her enemy all summer long.

Rose Carver is an uptight goody-two-shoes, but as Clara is forced to spend time with her, she realizes Rose is really just from a family of overachievers and she is scared to fail. She’s never had a friend, and she and Clara work to figure out their relationship while working the KoBra.

When Clara meets Hamlet, the boy who works the coffee shop near one of their stops, she’s intrigued, but he’s not her usual type at all; Hamlet is much too nice and polite for that. Then Clara realizes the way things have always been may not be all there is out there, and who she’s always been may not be based on the truth.

I loved this book! Clara’s relationship with her single dad is funny, open, and absolutely perfect. She’s always thought her social influencer mother was the thoughtful parent, but she learns that things aren’t always what they seem.

Clara’s sarcasm and biting humor were over-the-top in the beginning, but as her summer “punishment” opened her eyes to the truth, she truly changes as a person. Hamlet is almost too good to be true, and he serves as a great foil for Clara’s pessimistic worldview. Lots of humor and social commentary in this one, making it a fun, enjoyable read.

Maurene Goo is a young adult author who lives in California. The Way You Make Me Feel is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Girl and the Grove, by Eric Smith

the girl and the grove
Image belongs to Flux Books.

Title:   The Girl and the Grove
Author:   Eric Smith
Genre:   YA
Rating:   3.5 out of 5

Leila hasn’t had an easy life. Bounced from foster home to group home, the only constant she’s had is her best friend Sarika. Now Leila is adopted, and she loves her new home, even if she’s still waiting on the other shoe to drop and her new parents to decide they don’t want her.

To make new friends, Leila joins an environmental group at a local high school, and soon finds herself chatting with the cute leader of the group, whose ex-girlfriend is determined to make trouble for Leila and Sarika.

Then the voice in Leila’s head starts demanding her attention, and her coping methods no longer work. On impulse, she follows the voice’s direction to a grove deep in the local park. The grove is a place of old magic, and Leila discovers the truth about herself, and a danger that threatens the entire city.

A YA book about environmental issues? Yes, please. Throw in a diverse cast of characters who also fight against racism, and that upped my interest even more. I loved the premise of this novel, and the magical element made it even more promising. With Leila’s fears and insecurities from being adopted front and center, there was a lot going on in this book.

However, Leila and Sarika weren’t consistent enough to make them completely believable to me. Leila had a wonderful strength, was very outspoken and strong-willed, yet sometimes she seemed so naïve and childish in her thoughts and actions. Sarika was brazen towards others, although she showed her softer side to Leila. Their friendship was amazing, but then they’d throw in an f-bomb or two, and it seemed totally out-of-character, as if the cussing was just to make them seem more adult. Gratuitous profanity just didn’t fit the rest of their character. Actually, all of the teenagers had this dichotomy of personality, so their actions and personality were never cohesive. I never got a good sense of the why behind this erratic behavior.

Eric Smith is an author and literary agent. The Girl and the Grove is his newest novel.

(Galley provided by Flux in exchange for an honest review.)

@ericsmithrocks #thegirlandthegrove

Book Review: The Stars at Oktober Bend, by Glenda Millard

the stars at oktober bend
Image belongs to Candlewick Press.

Title:  The Stars at Oktober Bend
Author:   Glenda Millard
Genre:   YA
Rating:   4.5 out of 5

Alice is fifteen but to everyone else, she is forever twelve:  she has acquired brain injury as the result of an assault she can’t remember, and now her electrics don’t work. She can speak, but her words don’t always come out right. Instead, she writes poetry; beautiful, haunting, anonymous poetry that she leaves all over town, hoping that someday, someone will read her words.

Alice lives with her brother, Joey, and her grandmother, in a house that’s mostly hidden from the rest of the world. Alice doesn’t go to school. Instead, she writes, ties fishing flies, and takes care of her grandmother. Her family is her world, and she wants things to stay the same forever.

Then Alice meets Manny, a boy who reads her poems and wants to hear her speak. Manny was forced to become a boy soldier, and he still suffers from PTSD. In Alice he finds comfort. But not everyone in town wants Alice, her family, or Manny to be happy, and as Alice finds out more of the truth surrounding her life, she will be faced with her greatest fears.

I’m not a fan of stream-of-consciousness writing, nor with lack of proper punctuation or capitalization. The parts of this novel from Alice’s point-of-view employed this, and I initially considered not finishing this. However, I got so drawn into Alice’s tale that I stopped noticing these things—they absolutely made sense for Alice, and by the end of the book, I had forgotten they existed.

This is a book with a lot of sadness, but there is joy and hope as well. I found this very lyrical and compelling, and Alice and her family broke my heart, as did Manny and his story. The other people in town were infuriating, but typical for society, making this a highly believable book to read (even if it made me angry). A very good read, and one I highly recommend.

Glenda Millard is an award-winning author from Australia. The Stars at Oktober Bend is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Lion of the South, by Jessica James

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Image belongs to Patriot Press.

Title:  The Lion of the South
Author:  Jessica James
Genre:  Fiction, historical, romance
Rating:  4/5

Julia Dandridge grew up in Virginia. On the estate of her father’s friend, she ran wild, learning to ride and fish from Landon, who finally made Julia feel she was part of a family. Until she turned sixteen and Landon’s mother shipped her off to an aunt and uncle she’d never met, where she grew to adulthood in Washington society. Amid the Civil War, everything changed.

Now Julia is back, desperate to escape the prying eyes that keep tabs on her in Washington. She is also eager to see Landon, but finds the bitter, drunken man a far cry from the compassionate, noble young man she knew.

With everyone desperate for news of the Lion of the South—a heroic figure whose daring exploits bring hope to the Confederacy—Julia finds herself forced to choose between loyalty to the society she grew up in and the brother she adores.

The Lion of the South is set during the Civil War, but it leaves the issues behind the war  strictly alone, focusing instead on the lives affected by war and its impact on society. This is a simple, sweet novel that reminds me rather strongly of The Scarlet Pimpernel. The book is a bit predictable but is a light and easy read nonetheless.

Jessica James is an award-winning author. The Lion of the South is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Patriot Press in exchange for an honest review.)

 

More reviews at <a href=” https://tamaramorning.com/”>Tomorrow is Another Day</a>

Book Review: Hurricane Season, by Lauren K. Denton

Hurricane Season
Image belongs to Thomas Nelson.

Title:  Hurricane Season
Author:  Lauren K. Denton
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  4.5/5

Betsy and Ty Franklin run a dairy farm in southern Alabama. Ty is busy with the cows, while Betsy works constantly to manage the farm’s operations. They have a good life, although their inability to have children is tearing them apart. . When Betsy’s younger sister, Jenna, drops her two daughters off at the farm so she can attend a two-week art retreat, their quiet life at the dairy is turned upside down.

Jenna’s free-spirited days are over. Instead, she spends her days managing a coffee shop and caring for her daughters. She yearns for the days when she pursued photography, but that dream took a back seat when she got pregnant and her boyfriend split. Now, she’s offered a two-week stay at the Halcyon artist retreat, and a chance to pursue her dreams and change her life.

With the most active hurricane season on record underway, Betsy and Ty try to save their marriage, while caring for the girls and working to keep the dairy safe from approaching storms. Their lives are in turmoil, and they must wait on Jenna to decide her course before they can move past the storms that fill the hot summer air.

I loved this book! These two sisters are so different, but they both struggle against the truth of their lives—and what they will do about those truths. Betsy and Ty’s relationship is troubled now, but their love for each other shines strong even in the darkness. I related to Jenna and her dreams—and her struggle to decide between chasing those dreams, and the life she has now.

Lauren K. Denton is a USA Today bestselling-author. Hurricane Season is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Rosie Colored Glasses, by Brianna Wolfson

rosie colored glasses
Image belongs to MIRA.

Title:  Rosie Colored Glasses
Author:  Brianna Wolfson
Genre:  Fiction (not quite YA).
Rating:  3/5

Eleven-year-old Willow hates that her parents are divorced. She hates that she and her brother have two separate lives:  one filled with rules and sternness when they’re with their father, Rex; and one filled with laughter and crazy rituals when they’re with their mother, Rosie.

Willow knows how much her mother loves her. Every Spaghetti Sunday, late-night room-painting endeavor, or costumed reenactment of Rocky Horror Picture Show proves it. Her father just yells or gives her more lists to follow. Why can’t she live with her mother all the time?

Then her mother’s behavior changes, and Willow finds herself waking up at her father’s house when she’d fallen asleep at her mother’s. Her mother no longer wants to paint or sing or dance. Her father grows sterner. Willow has no idea what’s wrong, she just wants her old life back.

I wanted to love this book. It takes a heavy topic and explores it from the viewpoint of child who doesn’t know what’s going on. Rosie is a vibrant character, full of music and color and life, while Rex is rigid and rule-bound. The characters are very black-and-white, and the moments when they act out-of-character aren’t explained, just glossed-over. Perhaps the child’s viewpoint made this hard to relate to, but I kept stumbling over the wording and how everyone left Willow so clueless as to what was really going on.

Brianna Wolfson lives in San Francisco. Rosie Colored Glasses is her debut novel.

(Galley provided by MIRA in exchange for an honest review.)