Sunday, December 1, 2019

Book Reviews - Sure Thing Kind of Reads

Sometimes you just need books that are a "sure thing" in your life. I had been feeling a little meh lately about what I'd read (it's bound to happen at some point), so for 3/4 of these I was very intentional in choosing things I knew I'd love. Good news is that with the remaining 1/4 I really dug it, too! Onto the latest reads. . . 

The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger was a read that could not have come out at a given time as it pairs quite well with the college admissions scandal. This one revolves around happenings in a Colorado town. The public school system is opening up a new school for gifted children. The story then treks how various children and more importantly PARENTS react to the news. Upon the news being announced, people feel a certain kind of way and more importantly act a certain kind of way from there. Some of the behaviors are overt, but much of this involves secrets and lies along the way. This was a fascinating and all too real look at (mostly) parents and (somewhat) kids willing to do whatever it takes to be considered elite. The story weaves together really well, and it does a good job of building suspense around certain secrets. This is the selection for my book club in January, and there is so, so much we'll have to discuss, and I cannot wait. This has so many dynamics at play in its privilege and deceit in all the intersecting relationships, and again, it's so much to digest and dissect! I love a read with the drama of a Lifetime movie, and this delivers on that level so hard. This is definitely a pageturner worth checking out.

Read this book if - You like your drama on high will all the secrets and lies. You want a drama focused on the unhealthy lengths parents go to for their kids.

Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain was another great read by a masterful storyteller. One of the things I love most about Diane Chamberlain is the way she weaves stories in the past and present together. This upcoming January 2020 release is another instance of her amazing work. This story begins in 2018. After serving time for a crime she took the fall for on behalf of an ex, Morgan is given an offer for immediate release. This is contingent on her going to a small North Carolina town to restore a mural. That's great except art restoration isn't really her thing. She's confused as to why she's been specifically requested for the task, but accepts and goes from there. Back in 1940, Anna Dale has won an art contest to design a mural (the same mural, obvs) for this small North Carolina town. With her arrival, there is some resentment, some intrigue and definitely some drama. In the present, there is lingering mystery about Anna Dale's story. It's revealed bit by bit as the story goes. Morgan also has her own secrets, and those are also slowly revealed. There is also the big question throughout of why Morgan and how she came to be connected to Anna's restoration. It's no secret I love a good dramatic tale that blends the past and present, and this again is such a good story told in this way. Thanks to St. Martin's Press for the advanced look at this. And y'all, if you aren't reading Diane Chamberlain, you need her stories in your life. Trust me.

Read this book if - You love a good mystery that blends the past and present. You love secrets grounded in characters with all the depth and intrigue.

Freeing Finch by Ginny Rorby was a middle grade novel full of all the feels. Finch is navigating the grief of losing her mom, the new normal of living with her stepfather and his new wife (one of her mom's nurses), the ongoing absence of her dad, and the reality of her gender identity. Along the way, Finch has found a friendship with Maddy, her neighbor who loves and cares for animals. This gives her a connection she craves and a place where she can go to truly be herself. Y'all, again this was so many feels, and I always appreciate when a middle grade novel takes on emotion with an authentic depth. I also love that this took on a teen seeking to find her place in the world via a main character with identities that don't always get a voice. The story is multilayered as Finch is navigating so many emotions and experiences, and that is what made it so powerful and real. I'm a bit behind on reading my advanced copy of this October release (but the good news is that this means it's out now), and thanks to Starscape for the book and exposing me to this beautiful story.

Read this book if - You're looking for a book of the middle grade variety that will have you all up in your feels.

Introvert Doodles by Marzi Wilson was a book I read because I just needed this kind of humor and awesomeness in my life. As an introvert, sometimes you just need to check out someone/something that gets you. This just so perfectly captures the life of an introvert. I found myself nodding in agreement and laughing as I read through these. If you are an introvert (and/or if you know and love one), this is another great window into what life is like for us. This is a quick read, but it just puts so much positive energy into the world, and I absolutely loved that. I read this because it was something I knew I was sure to love, and goodness did I ever. It's very meta for an introvert to read about being an introvert, but again, it's just the best.

Read this book if - You like your introverted reflections with a heaping does of humor.

Onto the next ones!