I just finished the brilliant debut novel, STRANGE SWEET SONG, by Adi Rule. The vibrant book sits at my side now. I’ve been carrying it around with me...moreI just finished the brilliant debut novel, STRANGE SWEET SONG, by Adi Rule. The vibrant book sits at my side now. I’ve been carrying it around with me, reluctant to shelve it. It’s still resonating. Sing da Navelli has no idea of the dangers she will face when she enters Dunhammond Conservatory of music hidden deep in the forested mountains. She’s there to sing, and hopefully win the lead role in her favorite opera, Angelique. But her true voice only comes alive when she enters the forbidden forest where the murderous beast, the Felix, dwells. And the beast she calls forth in her desire to win the cherished lead role, must be reckoned with. The story’s twist and turns are delightful, the conclusion, masterful. “A distinct type of silence follows Marta’s aria. There would never be anything as vulgar as applause at a rehearsal, but from time to time, a special silence comes from everyone thinking the same thing: That was great.” These lines from page eighty-eight perfectly describe how I felt after reading STRANGE SWEET SONG. (less)
A BLIND SPOT FOR BOYS is a gorgeously written coming home story. I cherish a book that can make me both laugh and cry. A BLIND SPOT FOR BOYS did just...moreA BLIND SPOT FOR BOYS is a gorgeously written coming home story. I cherish a book that can make me both laugh and cry. A BLIND SPOT FOR BOYS did just that in page after page. Shana, still reeling from a caustic breakup with college boy, Dom, uses her arsenal of pest control techniques to keep perspective boyfriends away. I loved the humorous anecdotes with Shana’s smart boy repellent quips, but beneath it all, Shana hides a damaged heart. Shana’s unsure if she can trust herself around boys after being blindsided by Dom. She pours herself into her beloved photography work, a passion she shares with her father, until her lens lands on Quattro, and she sees something remarkable in his eyes. This beautiful book is all about seeing. About losing vision — her father’s suffering from retinal neuropathy and will be blind within six months — about the fear that shakes us when we’re forced to really look at the truth about ourselves. It’s about traveling far from home as the family takes a life-changing trip to Machu Picchu and nearly lose their lives in a mudslide, and about coming home again to love and truth and the possibility of sharing broken hearts, because Quattro has his own close-kept secret he won’t share with anyone. Not anyone. Unless . . . . Well, I won’t spoil the story’s most private moments, neither Shana’s nor Quattro’s. Because these moments are well worth reading up to as the story tension builds and builds to its perfect conclusion. Now to settle in and wait for Justina Chen’s next book. I hope the wait won’t be too long. (less)
Do you ever wonder what the boy is thinking? What he’s feeling? Why he’s acting the way he does? Here’s a way to open his treasure box of secrets! LUK...moreDo you ever wonder what the boy is thinking? What he’s feeling? Why he’s acting the way he does? Here’s a way to open his treasure box of secrets! LUKE’S JOURNAL is a companion follow-up novella to Katherine Grace Bond’s terrific YA novel, THE SUMMER OF NO REGRETS. This honest, raw, and personal journal should be read only after you finish THE SUMMER OF NO REGRETS. LUKE’S JOURNAL gives a privileged personal peek into Luke’s tumultuous life. I discovered why he risks his heart with Brigitta, (a girl like none other he’s met before), yet why he breaks his promises to her and deserts her again and again, flying from the small town he’s hiding out in. LUKE’S JOURNAL unveiled the real reasons he’s so secretive, who he’s fiercely protecting, and why he can’t tell the whole truth to anyone, even Brigitta. In the first novel, I understood why Brigitta took the risk to spend the night at the seaside hotel with Luke. I didn’t know what drove Luke from his house, what made him run away that day. Until now. (And I’m not giving it away). If you’ve finished reading THE SUMMER OF NO REGRETS, want to visit these beloved characters again and see the story from the boy’s point of view. Here’s your chance. (less)
Lorie Ann Grover has created a unique world in this sharp, compelling fantasy. The story is set in a male dominated society ruled by strict Madronian...moreLorie Ann Grover has created a unique world in this sharp, compelling fantasy. The story is set in a male dominated society ruled by strict Madronian laws and dark rituals. Born female, Tiadone must live as a declared male if she wants to survive. Tiadone conditions herself to be a stoic, physically strong, reliable male. She trains to prove her worth doing border patrol with her lifelong friend, Ratho, but love for Ratho tears away at her tough exterior. When Tiadone witnesses the evil at the very center of the authoritarian overlord’s (the Madronian’s) rituals. When her heart demands justice and freedom, she’s forced to do the most courageous thing of all; live in the light of the truth. Or die in it. (less)
Blaisdell's book PLUMB CRAZY is brilliant! Working as a plumber's helper through the blazing hot Texas summer while seeking a "smokin' hot boyfriend",...moreBlaisdell's book PLUMB CRAZY is brilliant! Working as a plumber's helper through the blazing hot Texas summer while seeking a "smokin' hot boyfriend", Elva braves humiliation on her way to emancipation. With lively language, sassy humor, and unforgettable characters, PLUMB CRAZY is a sheer delight. (less)
Paradox starts with a terrific premise. A girl wakes up in a spaceship on a strange planet not knowing who she is or what she’s doing there. The note...moreParadox starts with a terrific premise. A girl wakes up in a spaceship on a strange planet not knowing who she is or what she’s doing there. The note pinned to her spacesuit says her name is Ana. A second note gives her only the smallest clue of her mission on Paradox. A.J. Paquette’s face paced sci-fi novel is an edge-of-the- seat read full of plot twists that lead to a surprising ending. (less)
A brilliant piece of historical fiction. Once again Indu Sundaresan has brought history to life in this well-researched novel tracing the story of the...moreA brilliant piece of historical fiction. Once again Indu Sundaresan has brought history to life in this well-researched novel tracing the story of the 186-carat Kohinoor diamond from 1817, when Maharajah Ranjit Singh held Shah Shuja captive to procure the highly coveted gem, through years of war and royal intrigue in the Punjab -- a time of bloodshed, betrayal, and annexation -- to the time of English rule when the priceless gem is secreted overseas to Queen Victoria in England. The Mountain of Light tells the unflinching truth of how India lost this priceless diamond to England.
From start to finish, Sundaresan takes the reader on a journey. Her lush settings are illuminated with beautiful descriptions of the play of light. She uses words to paint her scenes the way a fine artist uses a brush. The rich settings help the reader not only see, but experience the time period as the story of the Kohinoor unfolds. But above all it’s her characters that stand out. From rich maharajahs to poor old women who sell chai to the soldiers, each person comes alive on the page.
We experience romance, abandonment, murder, and betrayal. We glimpse alluring women like Roshni, a mysterious veiled princess in Lahore Fort. We see love for beauty, wealth, land, and family turn to butchery, fratricide, and finally chilling victory over a place and a people. The novel, told in many voices and many viewpoints, finally traces the story of Maharajah Dalip Singh (the last Maharajah of the Punjab and final owner of the Kohinoor before it left India). His story, above all, leaves a lasting impression on the reader’s mind.
Whether you read The Mountain of Light for its dramatic story, its lush setting, or its vivid characters, this novel will give you insights into history that will change you. (less)
Passage of the Kissing People is a lyrically written novel that evokes the family secrets, dreams, and shames of childhood. In this tale of two famili...morePassage of the Kissing People is a lyrically written novel that evokes the family secrets, dreams, and shames of childhood. In this tale of two families, the Kohlers and the Marossis, seven-year-old Michael Kohler steals a good luck charm from Mama Marossi, hoping the charm will break the Kohler family curse. But the kissing people charm does not stop the oncoming storm that is about to be unleashed on Michael’s family. Even with the charm, Michael cannot save Joe Marossi, whose fears of being locked up in the Sonoma State Home for the Feebleminded, drive him to the leap into the storm-swollen river. The tragedy, and the lies that surround Joe’s drowning, drive a wedge between the two families, and Michael is prevented from seeing his childhood sweetheart, Gisella. Forty years later, the lies surrounding Joe’s death still keep Michael and his father apart. But when Michael receives a cryptic email message from the past, he follows the haunting words back to Sonoma, to childhood memories, to his first love, Gisella, and to the place of his greatest loss. Passage of the Kissing People is both a coming of age story, and a returning to the forbidden land of youth, that place of unnamable joys and sorrows that form us, break us, and sometimes free us. I highly recommend this fiercely beautiful novel by Peter Kahle. (less)
I give The Summer of No Regrets five stars. I loved the main character, Brigitta, from her wonderfully witty dialogue with friends and family, to her...moreI give The Summer of No Regrets five stars. I loved the main character, Brigitta, from her wonderfully witty dialogue with friends and family, to her secret blog (Seeing Starzz: Celebrities Find Their Deep Space, Hollywood’s Hidden Spiritual Quest), a blog that had me laughing out loud. I also loved Brigitta’s quieter side, the part of her that’s seeking her own spiritual answers and closer, more authentic relationships. Brigitta has been in hiding. Enter Luke, the mysterious new boy next door who has his own secrets. Luke promises to “be there for her” but keeps vanishing for days at a time. Still, the handsome boy next door seems to care for her. Should Brigitta trust Luke enough to share who she is with him? Or will that lead her to one more disappointment? The Summer of No Regrets is about secrets, identity, and the promises we make and break. There is so much depth in this story from the perfectly timed romance, to the broken family relationships that make Brigitta hunger for connection. I highly recommend this beautifully written novel that explores the bounty of the human heart. (less)
Startling and Beautiful I just finished Holly Cupala’s novel, Don’t Breathe a Word, a riveting and honest look at the life of a runaway teen. The main...moreStartling and Beautiful I just finished Holly Cupala’s novel, Don’t Breathe a Word, a riveting and honest look at the life of a runaway teen. The main character, Joy, is so vividly drawn that I felt I was inside her skin experiencing everything from her secret reasons for running, her need for love, to her desperate need to survive on the street. But the author didn’t stop there, she brought every character to life with the same attention to detail, the same raw yet beautiful honesty and made me care for them all. In a word, this novel is brilliant. (less)
I just finished many present-day trips to India in the pages of Indu Sundaresan's brilliant new short story collection: IN THE CONVENT OF LITTLE FLOWE...moreI just finished many present-day trips to India in the pages of Indu Sundaresan's brilliant new short story collection: IN THE CONVENT OF LITTLE FLOWERS (Atria Books).
The fabric of these stories is silken, the flow of language itself transports the reader. Though the stories vary in time and place, all of the striking stories take unflinching looks at human relationships. All explore the question of human value.
In "Shelter of Rain" A young doctor, Padmini Marrick, receives a mysterious letter from The Convent of Little Flowers -- the orphanage she left after her adoption at the age of six to come to America. Now her long lost mother is finally contacting her. Why?
In "The Faithful Wife" a reporter tries to stop a town from committing Sati, the ritual burning of a widow -- the widow is twelve years old.
In "The Key Club" wives are highly valued, but there's a catch.
There are too many stories to name here but the tale entitled "Three and a Half Seconds" has to be mentioned. It is riveting and terrifying, all the more so because it is based on a real story of a son's escalating parental abuse.
IN THE CONVENT OF LITTLE FLOWERS is a book to own, cherish, and reread for its beauty and its unflinching look at humanity. Pick up a copy as soon as you can. (less)
This is one of my all time favorite books. Mary Webb was daring enough to write about simple farm folk in the days when readers only wanted to read ab...moreThis is one of my all time favorite books. Mary Webb was daring enough to write about simple farm folk in the days when readers only wanted to read about the aristocracy. These simple farm folk are, of course, not at all simple. The family story is tragic and glorious. I've read this book over and over again. (less)