Patina by Jason Reynolds


Originally published: 2017

What it’s about: A young teen girl dealing with a new school and a new family situation while finding her place on a new track team.

What made me pick it up: I’ve been wanting to read something by this author for a while. When I saw this audio was available I placed a hold.

My favorite parts: As a former track runner I enjoyed the depictions of how important running is for a runner, as well as how much it is a team sport even though it seems so individualistic. Made me want to run a relay again. I also enjoyed how much this was a just a plain every day story about a regular girl and her situation and how she is dealing with it. It was incredibly authentic both in relationships and experiences.

Who it’s great for: Older chapter book readers looking for a good, but realistic, story. Those looking for proof that you can come through any situation. Runners and wannabe runners.

Erica’s rating:


Find this book on Amazon(affiliate link) or in your local library.


 

Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen

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Originally published: 2017

What it’s about: A teen girl who is working through the grief and guilt of losing her baby sister.

What made me pick it up: I was reading The Kite Runner when I just got really sick of what a fucking bummer it was so I went looking for a lighter book and stumbled upon this YA novel in audio on OverDrive. On double speed you’ll get through it in just a couple hours.

My favorite parts: I enjoyed the authentic depictions of various types of grieving and the discussion of and character arrivals at forgiveness. The relationships between all the teen characters were great, and very realistic. I appreciated the way it dealt with heavy themes in a hopeful way and didn’t feel like it was including horrific incidents just for show (looking at you, Kite Runner). It reminded me of Sarah Dessen novels mixed with just a smidgen of John Green.

Who it’s great for: Anyone struggling through something heavy who wants a break. Those looking for a quick, engaging read.

Erica’s rating: three-and-a-half-shells


Find this book on Amazon or in your local library.


 

The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green

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Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: After a horrendously neglectful and abusive childhood with their movie star mother, the three Sunshine Sisters are brought back together to deal with her impending death.

What made me pick it up: Jane Green is just the right level of fiction for me. Not terribly literary but not too fluffy either. I had previously read Summer Secrets and seen her speak and enjoyed both so I definitely keep an eye on her upcoming to her books now.

My favorite parts: Yes, there are love stories and mostly happy endings but there is real drama in this book as well. The damage of their childhood affects each sister differently, but definitely has negative consequences in their adult lives both in how they deal with their trauma but also in how they support or fail each other. I always appreciate personal transformations through adversity and all three of the sisters go through this in one way or another.

Who it’s great for: Readers looking for chick lit or romance with a little more substance. Fans of domestic fiction and family stories.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Get this book on Amazon or at your local library.


 

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

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Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: Rishi heads to a coding camp to finally meet and get to know Dimple, the woman his parents have selected for him to marry. Dimple is trying to become a world changing app developer and can’t figure out why some weirdo at coding camp is stalking her and talking about marriage.

What made me pick it up: It was getting a lot of press and play on Twitter. The cover is very engaging.

My favorite parts: This excellent YA novel is a wildly entertaining comedy of errors. While the timeline is, of course, a little condensed I really felt the emotions were authentic. I enjoyed the communication between teens and their families and even though it was a struggle, it was honest. The story line also incorporated the pressures of Indian-American children to uphold family traditions and cultural expectations while making their own way in America.

Who it’s great for: Teens of all ages. Anyone who wants a fun, light story and quick read. Readers looking for diverse books.

Erica’s rating: four-and-a-half-shells


Get this book on Amazon (affiliate link) or at your local library.


 

The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

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Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: After their son dies unexpectedly, an estranged couple continue his friendship and Boy Scout project to assist an old woman.

What made me pick it up: It was listed along with A Man Called Ove in a reader’s advisory request we got at the library. In making sure my recommendations of The Rosie Project, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, and Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk were on the money I had to do a little research. That led to checking out the audiobook and here we are.

My favorite things: This book is an excellent blend of old lady recounting her history like in Lillian Boxfish, unique individual who sees the world different and behaves oddly like Rosie Project, and heartfelt relationship building and personal transformation like in Ove. There is so much to like, but it is tempered a bit by the fact that the loss here is of a young child. More than anything though I loved how much this author illustrated that we are all fallible humans trying our best while living unavoidably messy lives. We might do anything for those we love but maybe not the best way, or maybe not at the right time. It is heartbreaking story of loss but also of hope.

Who it’s great for: Fans of any of the books listed above. Readers looking for solid fiction.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find a copy at Amazon or in your local library.


 

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

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Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: A modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice set in Cincinnati, Ohio.

What made me pick it up: P&P is one of my favorite books ever so I knew I should read this. Needing a new book on vacation made it finally happen.

My favorite parts: This book is straight up fun. Lizzy and her sisters enjoy more independence and autonomy due to the present date and their story lines reflect this, including interracial relationships and LGBTQ characters. I really enjoyed their increase in agency and how the small changes Sittenfeld made to modernize the story actually removed some of the unnecessary drama from the original. CrossFit and reality TV are also incorporated into the story.

Who it’s great for: Austen fans. Fans of modernized classics. Independent women or lovers of them. Anyone up for a good fiction romp.

Erica’s rating: four-and-a-half-shells


Pick up a copy of this book at Amazon or your local library.


 

History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

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Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: Fourteen-year-old Linda lives her life as an outsider, her solitude punctuated by problematic relationships. She struggles to find herself as she navigates intrigue, illness, fringe religions, and death.

What made me pick it up: I loved the cover art and, although I couldn’t remember what it was about, I knew I’d read good reviews.

My favorite things: I gave this a lot of shells because it is very well written and I recognize that it’s a great book, but it’s also a bummer and I’m not a big fan of literary fiction, so at times it kind of made me want to gouge my eyes out. That said, Fridlund’s perfectly crafted prose walk the line between sinister and simply heartbreaking with ease.

Who it’s great for: Readers looking for a complex and unusual coming of age story. Those seeking a young woman protagonist who is believable and strong. Anyone interested in an extremely well-written story.

Abby’s rating: four-and-a-half-shells


Want a copy? Find one at Amazon (affiliate link) or see if it’s available at a library near you.


The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

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Originally published in: 2012

What it’s about: A man escapes his nursing home on his 100th birthday and goes off on a new adventure.

What made me pick it up: It was suggested by Amazon when I was watching the film version of A Man Called Ove. Since I hadn’t read the book, I knew I should before watching the movie. I can’t seem to stay away from old men going on adventure novels, so this was right up my alley.

My favorite things: Allan Karlsson is a great character. Both hapless and lucky, he reminded me strongly of Forrest Gump. And speaking of adventures, he sure has had a lot of them – meeting world leaders, affecting key moments in history. I enjoyed tagging along on all of them, including those that took place in the present day. This jaunt was just a lot of fun.

Who it’s great for: Anyone who liked Arthur Pepper or Harold Fry. Those looking to go on an journey through history and around the world.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Pick up a copy of this book at Amazon (affiliate link) or your local library.


 

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney

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Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: An 85-year-old woman walks around New York City on New Year’s Eve 1984 reminiscing about her 60 years there.

What made me pick it up: It got really good reviews. It had good cover art.

My favorite things: This book wonderfully balances the present Lillian’s experiences in 1980s NYC and Lillian from times gone by. I really liked the spirit of the character – an independent woman when that was still a difficult thing to be, who gets caught off guard by unexpected love, and then sidetracked completely by mental illness. She is feisty and strong and I appreciated her attitude and her indomitable will. You’ll want to be friends with Lillian Boxfish.

Who it’s great for: Fans of New York City. Anyone who has had a feisty grandmother whom they love. Readers looking for a strong female lead and a historical bent in their next novel.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Pick up a copy at Amazon (affiliate link) or your local library.


 

Heist Society by Ally Carter

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Originally published in: 2010

What it’s about: Kat attempts to leave the family business of stealing art but she gets roped back in through an effort to save her father.

What made me pick it up: This was the first pick for a new book club we’re both in. We were looking for a quick, light, and engaging young adult read.

My favorite things: This was a really fun read. There are a few different threads to follow and relationships that become more complicated with each page. I love that the thieves all work off a shared knowledge of cons named for fairytales and bedtime stories. It’s a fast-paced and exciting read that never has a chance to get the slightest bit boring.

Who it’s great for: Good for teens and adults looking for something upbeat and engaging. Fans of Robin Benway’s Also Known As and Ally Carter’s other work. Readers interested in spying, thieving, or just carrying out some good old-fashioned cons.

Abby’s rating: three-and-a-half-shells


Want a copy? Find one at Amazon (affiliate link) or see if it’s available at a library near you.