A Taste of the Truth


Yeah, yeah, I know… I’m totally a fiction girl, BUT I’ve had some really great nonfic reads on my nightstand lately! Let’s do this!

–Marissa

Hunger by Roxane Gay is just… hard to read. Not only for what the sexual abuse she endured at a young age that sent her on a path of self-destruction, but for the raw honesty of what it’s like to live in this world as a plus-size woman. Her writing is honest, accessible, real, true, and so many times, I felt like she was echoing my own thoughts. Powerful stuff – a worthy, worthy read.

American Fire by Monica Hesse was just… great. If you liked Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel or Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance, this is right up that alley! Hesse chronicles a series (like, nearly 100) of arson-fueled fires that were lit up and down a Virginia coast, and the who-and-why is just as fascinating as the fires themselves. She also delves into the story of a dying town, commerce, culture, and of course, love. Un-put-down-able!

The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs was just… SOOO good. Riggs chronicles her diagnosis of cancer (but a good prognosis!), the loss of her mother, and her eventual rediagnosis of cancer (not a good prognosis). Though you know she loses her battle, she writes with such grace and dignity and humor and accessibility. I really loved this memoir, and felt her loss from the world when I was through…

I also read Flat Broke with Two Goats by Jennifer McGaha (an advanced reader’s copy from ALA, to be released January 1 of next year – I liked it!), as well as How To Be Married by Jo Piazza (which I thoroughly enjoyed!).

Young Adultin’


Time for another round of reviews, this time with a focus on my recent Young Adult reads – let’s go!

–Marissa

The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich was a Book of the Month pick for me, and has been getting press for being an inventive LGBT young adult novel. I dug the premise… teens are groomed to be “love interests” – supporting players who get close to people who have been determined to be important to the future (think presidents and scientists, etc). But… where one love interest wins the heart of their target, their competitor is not so fortunate. Even though I loved the premise, I thought the love story actually fell flat and didn’t feel as passionate or committed or angsty as it could/should. It felt like it was trying to be too many things, and the world-building fell flat for me. I’m all for LGBT lit for teens, but I’m not sure this is the best around, in my very humble opinion.

The Gatekeepers by Jen Lancaster had been hooked when Lancaster herself talked about it during ALA and I snagged an advanced copy – this is her first foray into young adult lit, and into such a serious topic. A well-to-do Chicago suburb appears to have it all…except for that high rate of successful students committing suicide-by-train. Thought-provoking, at times hard to read, and well-intentioned, I really liked this, and think it will be absolutely discussion-worthy for teens and adults. (Release date: October 10th)

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon has been the buzzy young adult book this summer, and why not? It’s adorable! Dimple is smart, sassy and has her heart set on a geeked out summer camp… what she is not set on is the arranged marriage to Rishi that is on the horizon. A surprise meeting, a thrown Starbucks, and a lot of water under the bridge later, will these two fall for each other anyway? Cute, cute, CUTE!

I also read Textrovert by Lindsey Summers (cute, fast, former Wattpad novel), as well as Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia, which was quirky, unique, and total love letter to folks caught up in a fandom of any kind.

Summer Daze

I can’t believe it’s already AUGUST – when did that HAPPEN?!? I feel like the summer has flown by, but I’ve made some memories along the way. How was your summer, lovelies?

I’ve been… taking in a baseball game… exploring old cemeteries… I LEARNED HOW TO RIDE A MOTORCYCLE (hello, bucket list item!)… we explored Marengo Cave and St. Meinrad abbey in southern Indiana… I went to the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago (and got a bitchin’ hotel room view out of the deal)… we saw sunsets and moonrises… we explored Twin Swamps and took a boat ride on the Ohio River… we visited the Lou (Louisville) and I had my first bibimbap… and we rolled the Bookmobile to the county Fair. Whew!

Roll on that fall weather, I say….

Fiction-y Finds


Where has the time gone, friends? Summer is just flying by! Despite the longer days and hotter temperatures, I’ve actually been able to get LOTS of reading done, so let’s catch up with each other, shall we?

–Marissa

Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf was a great zip-right-through-it read! Former nurse Amelia lost her hearing in an accident two years ago, and since then has been trying to make peace with her situation, her failed marriage, and her career trajectory. While out with her service dog, she discovers a dead body…and finds herself in the middle of a web of lies and trouble. This was super readable, a great premise, and had a unique protagonist! I loved it!

The Goddesses by Swan Huntley was an ALA advanced reader copy (ARC) score, and has been pretty buzzy, and with good reason. Nancy and her family have just relocated to Hawaii, and in a bid to reinvent herself, she attends a yoga class. Making an instant connection with the instructor, Nancy finds herself pulled more and more into her friendship with Ana, and the lengths we go to as women in friendship – and manipulation. Even though you know how it will end, you can’t look away…. great setting, characters, and slow ratcheting up of suspense! I couldn’t put it down!

George & Lizzie by Nancy Pearl was another ALA score, because hello, Nancy Pearl’s debut novel. 🙂 Told in forwards-and-backwards, slightly choppy and disjointed style (which I was fine with), Pearl tells the story of George and Lizzie’s relationship, as well as who came before they found each other. At times irreverant, wry, and of course, well written, I enjoyed this one! (Release date: September 5th)

I also read The Little French Bistro by Nina George, and I swear I can’t see what all the hype is about – I hated it! I also reread All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Grennwood – what a different take from the first time I read it! I read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (enjoyable!), as well as The F Word by Liza Palmer (ugh), and The Fall of Lisa Bellow by Susan Perabo (all that for THAT ending?!), and I listened to The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney (I liked it!). Whew!

These and Those Titles


TWO nonfiction books in a row?! The world is gonna spin off its axis! 😉

–Marissa

Miss You by Kate Eberlen was so exactly the right book at the right time for me. Tess and Gus meet fleetingly in Florence, and then the rest of the book follows the two of them as they navigate growing up, relationships, jobs, families and more. But will they or won’t they find each other again? Clever, cute, warm and emotional, I really loved this one!

Driving Miss Norma by Tim Bauerschmidt was a great non-fiction read, and an easy one. Tim’s mother Norma was diagnosed with cancer at an advanced age after the death of her husband, and rather than undergo treatment, she chose instead to drive the country in her son’s RV, seeing all that she wanted to see. Sweet and warm, and inspiring, this was an easy memoir…

Bleaker House by Nell Stevens sounded like *such* an interesting title to me: girl is given four months to write a novel for her MFA program anywhere in the world, and she chooses a totally deserted island in the Falklands. I *wanted* to like this so much more than I did – what a great setup! Instead it was about her being lonely and hungry, counting out raisins and not writing a novel. Not my favorite…

 

Nifty New Titles

 


I can’t believe it’s really, really summer, y’all. This spring has just flown by! I’ve been trying to keep up with some new reads, so let’s see…

–Marissa

Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane was just…yeah. SO good. It feels like much more of a character study – and with a female protagonist at that – but then the last 100 pages are just BONKERS as Lehane cranks up the suspense and mystery. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but Lehane really does know how to keep a reader reading. I really loved how this one unfolded – recommended!

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach had a lot of buzz when it came out, and though I had to find out what happened in the end, I found the reading of it super slow going. Ava and Zelda are estranged twins, so when Ava receives word that Zelda has died in a fire, she comes home to unravel the mystery of her sister – which are myriad. The ending took me by surprise, and though I ultimately gave this a thumbs up, I really did find the reading of it a bit glacial.

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins… everyone wants to read the follow-up to Girl on the Train, right? Even me…reluctantly, since I didn’t really LIKE Girl on the Train (though I found the movie better, for once!). This one has… problems. Too many narrators, short and choppy chapters, and no flow – and the reveal was just… eh. Not recommended!

I also read You May Kiss the Bride by Lisa Berne, which was a great new Regency romance novel. Yay!

Spring Has Come and Gone…

….and I don’t know where it went! This spring has gone SO quickly, friends… how about for you? How have you been been spending your days?

As for me, I’ve been…

Enjoying the spring sights and flowers around Sunnymeade… mourning the end of Black Sails…visiting museums and good eats (and tiara try-ons!) in Chicago…going to see Ina Garten live in St. Louis with Johnna and her hubby…visiting the Garden of the Gods for a hike ’round… introducing Zoe to the boy (who clearly HATE each other *grin*)…rockin’ a Relay For Life bake sale… visiting our town’s brand new dog park… and basically enjoying each day as it comes.

Happy Summer, friends!