In her stunning new novel, Gruen returns to the kind of storytelling she excelled at in Water for Elephants: a historical timeframe in an unusual setting with a moving love story. Think Scottish Downton Abbey.
After embarrassing themselves at the social event of the year in high society Philadelphia on New Year’s Eve of 1942, Maddie and Ellis Hyde are cut off financially by Ellis’s father, a former army Colonel who is already embarrassed by his son’s inability to serve in WWII due to his being colorblind. To Maddie’s horror, Ellis decides that the only way to regain his father’s favor is to succeed in a venture his father attempted and very publicly failed at: he will hunt the famous Loch Ness monster and when he finds it he will restore his father’s name and return to his father’s good graces (and pocketbook). Joined by their friend Hank, a wealthy socialite, the three make their way to Scotland in the midst of war. Each day the two men go off to hunt the monster, while another monster, Hitler, is devastating Europe. And Maddie, now alone in a foreign country, must begin to figure out who she is and what she wants. The novel tells of Maddie’s social awakening: to the harsh realities of life, to the beauties of nature, to a connection with forces larger than herself, to female friendship, and finally, to love. – Goodreads
I’m a Sara Gruen fangirl. I’ve read everything she’s wrote, including Water for Elephants, before it was a movie, or popular (because I’m a book hipster). I’m very protective of Water for Elephants in a ridiculous way. This is all to say that Gruen’s writing will carry me through stories that I may not be interested in normally — including one about the Loch Ness Monster. Sorry, I don’t get the appeal of Nessie.
What was interesting about At the Water’s Edge was the fact that it wasn’t really about the search for the Loch Ness Monster, Nessie was on the backburner a lot. This book was more about Maddie’s growth and ooh boy is there a lot of growth in this book. How could there not be with a backdrop of World War II and Scotland? Who during World War II heads towards the war, and not away from it? Maddie, her husband Ellis and his friend Hank. Ellis and Hank aren’t fighting in the war themselves due to color blindness and having a flatfeet. All three of them, in their own way, are fighting their own demons — their own Nessie.
Ellis, Hank, and Maddie all fall apart throughout this novel. The close group breaks apart and is a shadow of who they once were. Everyone in their own way is an asshole and that’s what makes the dynamic interesting. While not all characters redeem themselves, there is some redemption which makes reading it worth while. What also made it worth while was listening to it. The narrator was amazing.
They needed the perfect assassin.
Boy Nobody is the perennial new kid in school, the one few notice and nobody thinks much about. He shows up in a new high school in a new town under a new name, makes a few friends, and doesn’t stay long. Just long enough for someone in his new friend’s family to die — of “natural causes.” Mission accomplished, Boy Nobody disappears, moving on to the next target.
But when he’s assigned to the mayor of New York City, things change. The daughter is unlike anyone he has encountered before; the mayor reminds him of his father. And when memories and questions surface, his handlers at The Program are watching. Because somewhere deep inside, Boy Nobody is somebody: the kid he once was; the teen who wants normal things, like a real home and parents; a young man who wants out. And who just might want those things badly enough to sabotage The Program’s mission.
In this action-packed series debut, author Allen Zadoff pens a page-turning thriller that is as thought-provoking as it is gripping, introducing an utterly original and unforgettable antihero. – Goodreads
From the first line of this book I was enthralled. Could not put it down enthralled. Part of me is almost glad I sat on it for as long as I did because now I can go to the second book right away. The other part of me is of course annoyed I waited for so long, because it was so good. Boy Nobody, which has now changed titles to I am the Weapon, is the story of Boy Nobody, a teen who wants a normal life, but doesn’t have anything close to one. He has parents, Mother and Father, who are nothing more than his bosses, his handlers. He is alone and more importantly, he is a killer. That is Boy Nobody’s speciality: he is a trainer killer.
One day, Boy Nobody is assigned to kill the mayor of New York City, but this assignment is very different for him. The mayor reminds him of his father, and his way in with the mayor is his daughter, Sam, who happens to be Boy’s age. What Zadoff does well is immerse the reader into the world, not only did I feel like I was in New York City with these characters, but I also felt like I was in high school again with them. The awkwardness of being in high school, and the uncomfortable in your own skin comes out. You want to be yourself, but being yourself is often the worst thing you could do. Boy has started high school so many times, and has had so much training from The Program, that to him it’s just another target. Or so he keeps telling himself.
Mother and Father catch on to the fact this is not just another target, something is shifting within Boy and this is not a good thing. They must nip it in the bud ASAP. While Boy tells them continuously that he can handle it, he really can’t. He starts to miss the boy he once was, the boy he should have been. Although his target is the mayor of New York, he reminds him of the father he once had and he is having problems separating the two. Then the assignment kills, he is no longer meant to kill the mayor, but Sam, the mayor’s daughter. Can Boy do that? In a short period of time he’s fallen in love with her and he can’t kill the person he loves. That’s impossible.
This is the perfect first book in the series, it hooked me in and made me demanding more.
FIRST HE LEARNS YOUR DARKEST FEARS…
THEN HE MAKES YOU LIVE THEM.
With a serial rapist loose on the streets of Savannah, hotshot detective Ryne Robel needs all the help he can get for his task force. And he needs it now, before another woman falls victim. But Abbie Phillips isn’t what he bargained for. Sent from an exclusive group of the best criminologists in the country, she’s smart, fierce…and distracting. She may be a brilliant forensic profiler, but Ryne needs answers, not psychobabble and head games.
However, Abbie convinces him that head games are exactly what this elusive suspect is all about. The seemingly random acts of torture are actually calculated to match each victim’s darkest fears. And the stakes are rising. While they study the devious psychopath, he’s watching them — the next objects of his horrifying obsession.. – Goodreads
I have figured out a few things while cleaning my bookshelves. I own a lot of paperback romance novels. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely no regrets about this. But it also means that from someone who recently inhaled YA novels, this is a change. But it’s a fun change.
Walking Nightmare is the story of Abbie and Ryne two people who do not want to work together. Ryne is an overly hotshot detective who does not need anyones help, until it comes to this case that plagues him. A serial rapist is on the loose and Ryne cannot get ahead of the rapist and finally needs all the help he can get. What he doesn’t expect is Abbie Phillips. Abbie is a no-nonsense criminologist who has no time for anything but solving crimes. They don’t want to work together because they don’t need each other, but of course, they kind of do.
Ryne hates that Abbie uses psychology and Abbie hates that Ryne is stuck in his way, but they work together well. They’re both a bit fucked up, but that fucked up background is what also assists them in being able to be good at their job. Abbie and Ryne both use their jobs to cope, as many people do and what they find out is when together: fireworks. Glorious fireworks. But of course nothing is simple. Abbie has to deal with her older sister coming back into her life and Ryne is still trying to get into the head of the rapist and it’s not a place anyone really wants to be.
While the two characters are challenging each other, they are also being challenged, which is a theme that follows them throughout the novel. Brant excels at not only romantic suspense, but suspense in general. I was enthralled, I could not put this book down, which was hard as I was reading four other books at the time (as I do.) I cannot wait to see where Brant goes with the rest of the series with the companion novels.
Stolen as a child from her large and loving family, and on the run with her mom for more than ten years, Callie has only the barest idea of what normal life might be like. She’s never had a home, never gone to school, and has gotten most of her meals from laundromat vending machines. Her dreams are haunted by memories she’d like to forget completely. But when Callie’s mom is finally arrested for kidnapping her, and Callie’s real dad whisks her back to what would have been her life, in a small town in Florida, Callie must find a way to leave the past behind. She must learn to be part of a family. And she must believe that love–even with someone who seems an improbable choice–is more than just a possibility.
Trish Doller writes incredibly real teens, and this searing story of love, betrayal, and how not to lose your mind will resonate with readers who want their stories gritty and utterly true. – Goodreads
My life with my dear friend Erica is based on few things: a little bit of food, a lot of snark and book recommendations. Erica has never recommended me a book that I didn’t like. It’s a joke between us by this point because she has such spot on recommendations for me it’s nice.
This book was no different. I resisted reading it for months because it wasn’t a me book and what if I hated it? How could I look Erica in the face if I hated it? My worries were silly and not needed. Where the Stars Still Shine sucked me in right away. For various reasons. The first is this is a story I cannot remember reading before. What happens when you’re on the run with your mom and you get caught and are sent back to your father who always loved you and is trying? Callie’s mom has always loved her in her own way, but she was also a mom on the run who often looked out for herself and only herself. While Callie hates to think of her mom as selfish, she ultimately was selfish and now Callie has a dad who is trying to love her while not scaring her away.
It is a world that Callie really doesn’t know what to do with. She doesn’t know how to function when not on the run and putting down roots is something that confuses her. Why does she want to become comfortable with people if she she’ll just leave? Callie’s family loves her and seems to all live in this new city where her father lives. It’s the type of small town where everyone seems related but it’s big enough that people can still date.
While Callie adjust to having a dad, his wife and two brothers, she also has to adjust to the giant Greek family she comes from. The giant family who while thrilled she is back, is not only waiting for her to crack like her mother did, also wants her to be the child she was when she left and she’s not. If Callie is being honest with herself, she doesn’t know who she is. She has a cousin who jumps into the role of BFF, even though Callie didn’t ask, and the boy, Alex, that everyone asks her to stay away from but she doesn’t, because Callie has had to fend for herself for so long and have so many walls up, she doesn’t know any different.
This book swept me up and I didn’t want it to end. I hate that I feared it, because there was nothing to fear, it was everything I ask for in a YA novel: family, friends, finding yourself, love and the not perfect ending, but one with hope.
What if your birthday wish turned you into someone else?
Lavender and Scarlet are nothing alike. Scarlet is tall, pretty, and popular — the star of the soccer team and the queen of the school. Lavender is . . . well, none of these things. Her friends aren’t considered cool, her hair is considered less than uncool, and her performance at the recent talent show is something nobody will ever forget — even though she really, really wants it to be forgotten.
There’s only one thing Lavender and Scarlet know for sure they have in common: the same birthday.
They’ve never had parties together. They’ve never swapped presents. But this year, because of two wishes that turned all too true, they are about to swap something much bigger than presents. Because the morning after their birthdays, Lavender is going to wake up in Scarlet’s body . . . and Scarlet is going to wake up in Lavender’s. But in order to change back, they’re going to have to figure out how to be someone completely opposite of who they ordinarily are… – Goodreads
There is only one word for me to use to sum up this book and that word is: cute.
This book is super cute. It is the story of two girls who could not be more different if they tried. While Lavender is the awkward, sarcastic girl who has never fit in, Scarlet is the Queen Bee and she knows it. Yet, with the help of a bit of magic the two begin to know each other better than they ever wanted to. On their 13th birthday, they both make wishes and wake up the next morning to find each other in the other persons body. After the initial shock, they both try to adapt. Scarlet starts to pick up Lavender’s sarcasm, while mellowing her out and Lavender picks up being nicer, while making Scarlet have a bit more of a bite.
Lavender also struggles going from the nobody, to the person everyone acknowledges and Scarlet struggles going from everyone’s BFF to the person everyone mocks and makes fun of. Both of them quickly realize the life they haven’t wasn’t nearly as bad as they originally thought. While their lives weren’t ideal, and really who’s 13 year old life is, they both found an understanding of not only the other person, but of each other.
The book worked, even with the bit of “magic” that make it seem out there. It works. Proof that Standiford has the middle grade language down is the fact that most of this was a very uncomfortable read for me. Not that I was bullied as a child nearly as bad as Lavender was, but it was still painful for me to read because everyone has those feelings in them, or knows that child and your heart will go out to them. I wanted more of this book, but I also believed that Standiford left this book in the perfect spot for the reader to imagine what happens next.
In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her “uncle” Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf’s, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.
Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.
And Gretchen follows his every command.
Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can’t stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can’t help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she’s been taught to believe about Jews.
As Gretchen investigates the very people she’s always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?
From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she’s ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead. – Goodreads
I need to start this review with the obvious about me: I have my undergrad degree in History, with my thesis in World War II and France, which I gave to my advisor just as Inglourious Basterds came out. This is all to prepare you for the fact I’m fairly picky about World War II fiction. After a full year of nothing but World War II non-fiction books, I required a break from them. Prisoner of Night and Fog is the first one I remember wanting to read. I mean, Uncle Dolf? I AM HERE FOR THIS.
And I was here for this, and then I was disappointed that I was here for this. It is not that Prisoner of Night and Fog is a bad book, because it is not bad at all! It is a really solid book, but it was not the amazing book that I was expecting from my friends’ reviews. What Blankman does well, however, is to humanize Hitler. That is, what Hitler used to win over people was be charming, and lovely, and be this human that everyone wanted to be friends with. Throughout Prisoner of Night and Fog, I felt for Hitler. Don’t get me wrong, I know he’s an asshole, but that is how well Blankman humanized him. In real life, he was awkward, small, and often uncomfortable and that came across continuously throughout Prisoner of Night and Fog. What was interesting was the shift in the main character. Gretchen has spent most of her life under Hitler’s influence. Her father died protecting Hitler, and to Gretchen, he is Uncle Dolf, her lovable yet quirky, popular uncle. Slowly however, Gretchen finds out that her life is not what she was lead to believe and her life is full of very uncomfortable situations.
Her brother is an asshole, her mother is under the thumb of her brother, and her father may have not saved Hitler, but been gunned down instead while being used as a martyr. The whole world that Gretchen knows is gone, she feels she can trust no one, and now wants to know what really happened to her father. And while the plot was fascinating, I never felt connected to the characters. When Gretchen was worried, I was bored. When Gretchen was in love, I was bored and confused. I didn’t get Daniel’s appeal, I also didn’t fully understand Daniel’s interest in Gretchen. When Gretchen did…well, almost anything, I was bored. There had to be more! The plot was so intriguing that the book got better, right?
Sadly, no. While I finished it, my lack of connection made it hard to want to. It took me over two weeks to read this book which is never a good sign for me. I am interested in what Blankman does next, if research is involved, it will be a fleshed out book.
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.– Goodreads
It’s hard to talk about this novel, and not just because I was told to lie. I read We Were Liars on my phone kindle app from Phoenix to Philadelphia and while I was inhaling it, I was emailing Tina going “YOU. MUST.READ.THIS.NOW” because I needed to discuss it with someone. Anyone. Which again, is hard to do when you are told to lie about it. Of course Tina didn’t get all the emails until I landed and got a lot of !!!!!!. :|||||| !!!!!!! WTF DID I JUST READ emails.
- Think old money (a la the Kennedy’s)
- Co-dependent family (with the ~outsider, who questions their small limited world view…a lot)
- A unique romance in the sense, do you want them together? do you want them separate? WHO WILL KNOW
- The aristocracy of the main four characters who come from a co-dependent family that has old money.
Even with those four bullet points, I would have never, ever picked up this novel if I was at home surrounded by my owned books. But on a plane, where I didn’t have a book, I was thrilled to find this on my kindle app as I was approved from Netgalley, I was thrilled I had this. It’s twisted. It’s fucked up. You’ll love that a character calls out most of the main characters for being sheltered and favored. Lockhart’s writing is an almost poetic style which will have it’s critics, but to me, it worked, and worked well. It packed a punch and impacted me in multiple ways. The gap between the older generation and the younger generation also seemed painfully true, particularly with the aristocrat background Lockhart was working with.
I understand that this review doesn’t give much, to anything, at all, but really. This needs to be read, and needs to be read now.