Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

Published: June 21st, 2016

“Kate Battista feels stuck. How did she end up running house and home for her eccentric scientist father and uppity, pretty younger sister Bunny? Plus, she’s always in trouble at work – her pre-school charges adore her, but their parents don’t always appreciate her unusual opinions and forthright manner.

Dr. Battista has other problems. After years out in the academic wilderness, he is on the verge of a breakthrough. His research could help millions. There’s only one problem: his brilliant young lab assistant, Pyotr, is about to be deported. And without Pyotr, all would be lost.

When Dr. Battista cooks up an outrageous plan that will enable Pyotr to stay in the country, he’s relying – as usual – on Kate to help him. Kate is furious: this time he’s really asking too much. But will she be able to resist the two men’s touchingly ludicrous campaign to bring her around?”

Review:

This book was …interesting. Confusing, but interesting. It’s a book that you’ve never really heard of this specific story being told before.

In the beginning of this book, my attention was not grabbed. I didn’t really find anything that captivated me from the beginning. I pretty much felt the same throughout the book. I felt like I read the same chapter over and over even though the pages were ascending.

I ended up giving this book a higher rating than I originally thought I would based on the ending. The ending was totally unexpected for me and I felt like it had me questioning about the whole book from the beginning. Overall, it was short and quick, but confusing and not that captivating at all.

Rating: ★★★

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman

Published: November 1st, 2016

“From the New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, and Britt-Marie Was Here comes an exquisitely moving portrait of an elderly man’s struggle to hold on to his most precious memories, and his family’s efforts to care for him even as they must find a way to let go.

“Isn’t that the best of all life’s ages, an old man thinks as he looks at his grandchild, when a boy is just big enough to know how the world works but still young enough to refuse to accept it.”

Grandpa and Noah are sitting on a bench in a square that keeps getting smaller every day. The square is strange but also familiar, full of the odds and ends that have made up their lives: Grandpa’s work desk, the stuffed dragon that Grandpa once gave to Noah, the sweet-smelling hyacinths that Grandma loved to grow in her garden.

As they wait together on the bench, they tell jokes and discuss their shared love of mathematics. Grandpa recalls what it was like to fall in love with his wife, what it was like to lose her. She’s as real to him now as the first day he met her, but he dreads the day when he won’t remember her.

Sometimes Grandpa sits on the bench next to Ted, Noah’s father—Ted who never liked math, prefers writing and playing guitar, and has waited his entire life for his father to have time for him, to accept him. But in their love of Noah, they have found a common bond.

Grandpa, Grandma, Ted, and Noah all meet here, in this peculiar space that is growing dimmer and more confusing all the time. And here is where they will learn to say goodbye, the scent of hyacinths in the air, nothing to fear. This little book with a big message is certain to be treasured for generations to come.”

Review:

A novella based on the lifestyle of Alzheimer’s disease: very hard to read. I can’t imagine someone going through that.

This was very short and sad. However, I think that Fredrik Backman did a beautiful job of portraying what it is actually like to have this awful disease. He switched things up and sometimes it was a little confusing to keep up with, but the story was amazingly written.

Rating: ★★★★

 

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown

Published: August 30th, 2016

“Joanna Gordon has been out and proud for years, but when her popular radio evangelist father remarries and decides to move all three of them from Atlanta to the more conservative Rome, Georgia, he asks Jo to do the impossible: to lie low for the rest of her senior year. And Jo reluctantly agrees.

Although it is (mostly) much easier for Jo to fit in as a straight girl, things get complicated when she meets Mary Carlson, the oh-so-tempting sister of her new friend at school. But Jo couldn’t possibly think of breaking her promise to her dad. Even if she’s starting to fall for the girl. Even if there’s a chance Mary Carlson might be interested in her, too. Right?”

Review:

Joanna Gordon is one of my favorite characters in a book ever. I picked up this book thinking it was just another LGBTQ+ high school story, but I was wrong. This is the story of a young girl who knows who she is and what she wants, but she has to be silenced. Her father, a priest who speaks on the radio, asks her to lie low when they move to a small new town of Rome, Georgia. Coming from Atlanta where Jo was known and loved, she agrees and tries to fit in with the high school crowd.

“Rome, Georgia, is definitely where queer girls go to die.”

This is the story of family and what it feels like to be closeted (which is horrible). In this book, you watch this out-and-proud girl become unsure of herself and who she is. Her whole life is flipped upside down. She is leaving her comfort zone where her best friend is (who is also out), her father got remarried to a new woman who’s family doesn’t necessarily agree with Jo’s lifestyle, and the worst: she is falling for a girl at her new school when she promised her father she would lay low.

This was an amazing book that I read from start to finish in a day. I couldn’t believe how great this book was. There’s a few things that I’d like to point out in this story:

Characters: The characters in this book were awesome. I love when a book has good character development. For example, I didn’t like Jo’s father’s new wife or her best friend in the beginning. I automatically didn’t like them because I felt like they were bad for her. Then, I switched and liked them both, and hated her father. At the end, everything was great and all characters developed beautifully.

Joanna Gordon: I wanted to give her a separate point because she is one of my favorite characters ever. She is this beautiful, young woman who portrays herself in such an amazing light. She is so strong and wonderful. Ugh, I love her and I would love to reread this again just to grasp the strength she has.

High School: I think Jaye Robin Brown wrote about how high school can be in an amazing way. High schoolers can be extremely vicious and especially if they found out a secret that no one was supposed to know about. I can understand why Jo’s father asked her to hide herself because he was afraid for her, but I felt like it went deeper than that. Read this and you’ll find out why.

Overall, I wish I could give this book a hundred stars. It really, truly deserves them. But since I can’t: 5/5 all the way!

 

This Is the Story Of You by Beth Kephart

Published: April 12th, 2016

“On Haven, a six-mile long, half-mile-wide stretch of barrier island, Mira Banul and her Year-Rounder friends have proudly risen to every challenge. But when a superstorm defies all predictions and devastates the island, when it strands Mira’s mother and brother on the mainland and upends all logic, nothing will ever be as it was. A stranger appears in the wreck of Mira’s home. A friend obsessed with vanishing is gone. As the mysteries deepen, Mira must find the strength to carry on—to somehow hold her memories in place while learning to trust a radically reinvented future.

Gripping and poetic, This Is the Story of You is about the beauty of nature and the power of family, about finding hope in the wake of tragedy and recovery in the face of overwhelming loss.”

Review:
“Haven is heaven without the e.”

Haven, a six mile long, half a mile wide island off of Atlantic City is the home where everyone knows each other. I picked up this book because of the cover at my local library. I didn’t know that it was based in New Jersey until a few pages in. As a New Jersey resident and frequent Jersey shore goer, I thought this book would be something I would be extremely interested in.

This Is the Story of You has three separate parts. This book started out for me how We Were Liars did. I feel like I was dragging through the first part. When I finally reached the storm, the book progressed very well. The third part is the reason why I gave this book four stars.What. An. Ending.
One thought came to my mind when I read the synopsis: Hurricane Sandy. Hurricane Sandy was a massive storm that ripped apart the shores of New Jersey leaving some dead and many homeless. As I read this book, I feel that the author really did a great job with describing the storm and how it occurred.

I would recommend this to young-adult lovers with a passion for mystery because the ending is very, very well written.

Rating: ★★★★

The Debt by Karina Halle

Published: August 29th, 2016

“Her life changed in an instant.
And he’s the only one who could have prevented it.

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Pact and The Lie comes a new standalone contemporary romance about those McGregor men.

Jessica Charles shouldn’t have even been in London when the unthinkable happened.
She should have been back at home in Edinburgh, perhaps hanging with her boyfriend, having drinks with her sister or doing yoga with her group of friends. She should have been going on in her normal, dependable life as always.
But on that fateful day in August, when a mentally-ill ex-soldier opened fire in public, Jessica’s world changed forever.
Now single and crippled from the gunshot wounds, Jessica finds herself scared and alone, losing faith in herself and humanity with each agonizing moment that passes.
That is until a stranger enters her life. A stranger who makes her live again.
Keir McGregor has always been the strong, silent type. Throw in tall, dark, and handsome and you’ve got pretty much the perfect Scotsman.
Except Keir is anything but perfect. He’s got a past he’s running away from and a guilty conscience he can’t seem to shed. But the more time he spends with Jessica, the more he falls in love with her.
And the more his secret threatens to tear them apart.
He may have been a stranger to her.
But she’s never been a stranger to him.”

Okay so the prologue of this book had me in tears. Karina Halle really made me feel like I was there in Jessica’s shoes living this moment along with her. It was so much in a few pages that it had me very emotional. This book was honestly the quickest I was ever grabbed into a novel. I like true crime novels, and in the beginning, that’s what it felt like, but from the eyes of a witness. I honestly couldn’t believe the twists and turns this book threw at me. It was sad, then happy, then angry, then disappointing, then happy again and this book pulled my emotions in every direction. Jessica feels like one of the strongest characters I’ve ever encountered in a book. She doesn’t take any shit, and I applaud her for that. Keir was also a wonderful character and I’m glad things ended the way they did. I didn’t know that this book was part of a series, so it was a little confusing with the other characters. If you plan on reading this book, I would read the others first to get to know the other family. If not, it was perfect as a standalone as well.

Rating: ★★★★★

Being Brooke by Emma Hart (Barley Cross #1)

Published: December 13th, 2016

“My name is Brooke Barker…

And I’m a freaking disaster.

No, seriously. I’m a college drop-out working a dead-end job, my best friend Carly’s dog gets more action than I do, and I have more bad dates in my diary than there are movie remakes.

Not to mention I’m completely and utterly in love with Cain Elliott.

The problem? He’s in a relationship. With a girl who’s so plastic she makes Barbie cry herself to sleep with jealousy.

The second problem? He’s my best friend.

My shut-up-and-put-on-Harry-Potter, yes-this-is-your-shirt, help-I-have-no-power, crap-I’m-out-of-tampons, kinda best friend.

And that’s all he can be, right?

Right.”

Super cute. This book is a modern day love story and definitely shows what it is like to be a hot mess with a cute boy best friend. This kind of story is my FAVORITE, so it’s was easy to fall in love with this book. Brooke is the girl from the small town of Barley Cross, GA, and has no idea what to do with her life. She is a clumsy, messy, and funny kind of girl. Cain Elliot is her best friend that would help her with anything she needed at the drop of a hat. Of course it’s meant that they are going to fall in love. They have another best friend Carly that helps them figure out their feelings (and maybe finds her own on the way). The only thing about this book that I didn’t like is that it didn’t grab me 100% from the beginning. I loved every part of it once I got into it. So keep reading if you feel the same, and I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Rating: ★★★★

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Published: May 3rd, 2016

“I made the wrong choice.”

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.”

I love this book. I love this book. I love this book. It starts out with a girl named Lina who’s mother is very ill which sent a shock through her system. During her mother’s treatments, her mother would tell her stories about a man named Howard. Howard lives in Italy where her mom did years of college for photography. After her mother’s passing, Lina was shipped off to Tuscany against her will. There, she meets Howard and his assistant at the cemetery where Lina will be living, and is given her mother’s journal that she kept during that time. This is a tale of a daughter following her mother’s footsteps to uncover secrets not only about her mother’s past, but also her past as well. She meets Ren (Lorenzo) who is Italian in the United States, but American in Italy. He helps Lina by reading the journal as well and taking her to the places that were specified to help uncover the clues that her mother left behind. There is one quote that really stuck out to be in this book:
“You know, people come to Italy for all sorts of reasons, but when they stay, it’s for the same two things.”

“What?”

“Love & Gelato.”

Rating: ★★★★★

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

Published: January 5th, 2016

“10:00 a.m. The principal of Opportunity High School finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m. The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03 a.m. The auditorium doors won’t open.

10:05 a.m. Someone starts shooting.

Told from four different perspectives over the span of fifty-four harrowing minutes, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.”

I should start by saying that this book definitely has some trigger warnings that should be mentioned before reading this. It was a very quick read for me, but it was definitely very hard to get through. The small town of Opportunity, Alabama is shook to the core when an ex-student locks all students and teachers in the auditorium after an assembly and opens fire. The four perspectives that this story is told by is the brother of the girl trapped inside, the girl who is frantically looking for a way out (the sister of the brother mentioned), a track runner who was outside running when she heard the first shot, and lastly, the sister of the shooter. This book shows what is going through the head of a student who needs help, but was never given any by his teachers, friends, or family. It is a very, VERY sad story, so take caution when reading.

Rating: ★★★★★