Missing, by Kelley Armstrong: Armstrong’s books are always compulsively readable for me, and this YA mystery/thriller about teenagers disappearing from a poor Appalachian town was no exception. However, there were some plot holes and an irritating resolution to the mystery.
Close Enough to Touch, by Colleen Oakley: Interesting novel about a woman who is severely allergic to other human beings and almost died the one time she kissed a boy as a teenager. Jubilee has been a shut-in for nine years after leaving high school, but when her mother dies and her financial support disappears, she is forced to get out into the world, earn a living, and reconnect with other people. Definitely a page-turner, but the epilogue was disappointing and didn’t feel in sync with the rest of the book.
Beartown, by Fredrik Backman: Wow, this is nothing like Backman’s previous books. He has really outdone himself with this story of a small Swedish town that lives and dies by its hockey club. When a 15-year-old girl is raped at a party thrown after a big hockey win, the town is divided in its reactions. We get many different perspectives, and the book is emotional, moving, and thoughtful. VGR
I Found You, by Lisa Jewell: Well-crafted thriller featuring three storylines that eventually intersect: a secret tragedy from twenty years in the past, a young newlywed’s missing husband, and a single mom trying to help a man who has lost his memory. As always, I enjoy Jewell’s character development. VGR
A Season of Daring Greatly, by Ellen Emerson White: Enjoyable YA contemporary featuring pitching phenom Jill Cafferty, who becomes the first female drafted by an MLB team in this novel. This book is all about baseball and women blazing trails. If you enjoy stories about sports, especially women in sports, you will like this book.
The Collapsing Empire, by John Scalzi: Great start to a new SF series by Scalzi. Humans have spread out throughout the universe, thanks to the mysterious “Flow” which allows spaceships to be transported fairly quickly from world to world. The Interdependency has created an empire where each world depends on the others for survival. Unfortunately, the Flow has become unreliable, and newly crowned Emperox Cardenia has a lot to deal with. VGR
The Keeper of Lost Things, by Ruth Hogan: A novel about an old man with a tragic past who has spent his entire life collecting small items other people have lost. When he dies, he leaves the whole collection to the rather uninspired character of his personal secretary, who has been floundering around after a divorce. He asks her to try to return the objects to the people who have lost them. The story bounces between the present, a back story that will eventually tie into the present, and small character sketches for some of the lost objects. There is also a vein of the supernatural running through the story. It could have come together spectacularly if done well, but it never clicked for me and I didn’t really care about any of the characters.
Not a Drop to Drink, by Mindy McGinnis: Interesting dystopian survival story where the breakdown of society has been caused by a water shortage. Lynn has grown up with her mother defending their pond from all comers; she shot and killed her first intruder when she was still a child. When her mother dies, she ends up befriending a neighbor and meeting three people who need her help – a teenage boy (of course), his little niece, and his pregnant sister-in-law. Lynn takes the niece in to care for her, falls for the boy, and a lot of crazy, violent events happen when they all clash with outsiders. I was pretty surprised at a major plot twist near the end, and am interested in reading the next book (I believe it’s a duology).
Geekerella, by Ashley Poston: A cute YA Cinderella retelling set in the world of SF fandom. Light, fast read.
The Boy on the Bridge, by M. R. Carey: A prequel to The Girl with All the Gifts; At first, I had trouble getting in to the story even though it was really interesting. A group of soldiers and scientists are traveling the British countryside to study the hungries (zombies), and there are a lot of different characters to keep track of. But the story gained steam towards the end, and overall it was terrific, especially the epilogue. VGR
We Are Okay, by Nina LaCour: LaCour writes beautifully, and this short novel dealing with grief, loss, families, and betrayal was poignant and moving. Marin has been hiding from everyone since her grandfather’s death. When her best friend/ex-girlfriend Mabel shows up at her dorm at Christmas break, Marin is forced to confront the past and start embracing the future. VGR
It’s Not Me, It’s You, by Mhairi McFarlane: Cute British rom-com about Delia, who proposes to her boyfriend of 10 years and then immediately after he reluctantly says yes, she finds out he’s been cheating on her. She moves to London to live with her best friend and sort her head out and starts working for a small PR firm with questionable ethics.
In a Handful of Dust, by Mindy McGinnis: I’m a sucker for a good post-apocalyptic road story, and this fits the bill. The story takes place about 10 years after Not a Drop to Drink finished, when a polio outbreak in their small community has forced Lucy and Lynn to hit the road and try to walk from Ohio to California in search of a better life. Events consistently resolve a little too neatly, and the ending was somewhat frustrating, but overall it was an enjoyable sequel.
The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, A Conspiracy of Kings, by Megan Whalen Turner (Audiobooks): I listened to these four books throughout the month to refresh my memory before my hold for Thick as Thieves comes in, and they were even better than I remembered. The series gets stronger as you read, though The King of Attolia may be my personal favorite. Turner writes nuanced and fascinating characters, plots, and politics. VGR
Rise and Shine, Benedict Stone, by Phaedra Patrick: I quite enjoyed Patrick’s first book, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, and forgave it some problems as it was a debut. Judging by the Goodreads reviews on this book, I’m in the minority, but I did not like this book at all. I disliked all the characters as well as the plot. I did keep reading and finished it, but it was not an enjoyable process. Benedict Stone is a middle-aged man whose wife has left him because they can’t have children and Benedict is obsessed with trying to make a family any way possible (except just accepting their situation and his wife as is). Benedict’s teenaged niece shows up on his doorstep out of the blue (he’s been estranged from his brother for almost two decades) and tells him a pack of lies, but somehow helps him fix all his problems and the rest of the small Yorkshire town’s as well.
New Boy, by Tracy Chevalier: This is the next offering in the Hogarth Shakespeare series, and Chevalier does an excellent job placing Othello in a sixth-grade playground in 1970s suburban DC. The entire story takes place in one day, and the sense of gloom and foreboding is excellent as friendships, love, betrayal, and tragedy play out in an intensity heightened by the compact storyline. VGR
This Is How It Always Is, by Laurie Frankel: This book is about a loving family with five sons – except the youngest son, Claude, wants to be Poppy and wear dresses. Beautifully written novel focusing on gender dysphoria and family. VGR
The Jane Austen Project, by Kathleen A. Flynn: Fun time-travel novel. In the future, time travel is possible, and two researchers are sent back to Jane Austen’s time to try to recover some letters her sister had burned, as well as a manuscript that was never published.
Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay, by Jill Mansell: Easy read, but not my favorite Mansell. As always, Mansell combines several storylines in a small Cornwall town, and happily ever afters prevail for the most part after standard rom-com antics.
The Unexpected Everything, by Morgan Matson: YA about a Type-A control freak teen with a dead mother and distant politician father who has her whole life turned upside down the summer before her senior year for various reasons. Easy, fast read.