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To make the best of my four days of tech hell migrating laptops, I read Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard.
Ms. Shepard is going to be speaking at the SCBWI Summer Conference in LA so it was prime time to read something she wrote.
The books made me think Gossip Girl meets The Babysitters Club.
I loved having the four POVs of each of the best friends who became strangers after the mysterious disappearance of their fifth best friend in middle school. The story unfold three years later.
The pacing is fantastic. A definite page turner. By spending a chapter with each of the four girls, the reader gets to watch everything unfolding in their lives.
There are a few mysteries in the story. Firstly, all four remaining friends are receiving notes and texts about their biggest secrets from the past and their current secrets. Things only their missing friend would know and things no one should know now. Then there is the mystery of something they did together back in 6th grade and refer to as The Jenna Thing from 6th grade.
And finally, the mystery of what happened to their fifth friend, Alison.
There’s a good amount of flirtation and sexual situations too. I found myself rooting for Spencer and Wren.
“Never trust a pretty girl with an ugly secret” is a fantastic hook.
It was a fun read and a fast read. Definitely worth checking out. I can see why it made the NYT Bestseller list.
This is a beautifully written, heart rending book about becoming yourself. It’s about how hard it is to break out of the confines of who you are expected to be.
The story is told through chapters alternating the POV between Mina, the older sister, and Suna, the younger sister.
Mina and Suna are the daughters of hard working Korean immigrants. Their mother expects great things from Mina. But because of Suna’s hearing impairment, she is always left in Mina’s shadow.
This is not a story of an overachieving sister though. Mina’s big secret? She can’t do math and her grades are in a tail spin. She’s so bound up her lies she can’t see any way out.
Until she meets Ysrael…
It’s a fragile lovestory where the triangle involves Mina choosing between Suna and Ysrael. Between herself and her mother.
Mina is at that point in her life where everything is closing in, but she doesn’t realize how many choices there are–if she will only own them.
The writing is absolutely breath-stealing. Sentences I found myself rereading to absorb just how powerful and image creating they were.
An Na sets a scene so well. I will definitely refer back to this book for how to bring a setting to life without paragraphs of description. She conjures up the library, the beach, the mexican restaurant with such vividness that I am sitting beside Mina trying to prod her along.
A stunning book and a great YA read!
You can find out more about the writer here.
And purchase the book here.
In honor of this week’s blog contest (click here for contest info) where you can win a free autographed copy of Paige Shelton’s Fruit of All Evil, I decided to repost my review of her book. Just so you’d know what a great prize this is.
The best Christmas present I got (excluding the Ipad from Mom)?
The ARC for Paige Shelton’s second book in the Farmers’ Market Mystery series, Fruit of All Evil.
Ms. Shelton does it again with a deliciously good twist. There are enough possible suspects and a variety of clues that leave you uncertain over who the murderer is until the protagonist begins putting the pieces together in the last 40 pages.
The protagonist, Becca Robins is a quirky, true-to-life character. I wish I could set up a stall next to her at the farmers’ market.
I love how believably Becca becomes entangled in what should be police business. Her amateur sleuth foibles are hilarious. Laugh out loud moments included: the cat-in-the-hen-house and the ledge-climbing. Ms. Shelton does an excellent job bringing the reader along with Becca on all her escapades to the point where I held my breath out there on the ledge with Becca.
The other members of the farmers’ market are all well-rounded and endearing, from the curmudgeony Abner to the super-efficient Allison. The setting is always well done, I can picture Linda’s gingerbread house and Drew’s culinary masterpiece of a kitchen. I am not a fan of setting, but it’s worked in and done so well, I scarcely realized I’d read those paragraphs until the image of the place fills my mind.
The plot moves quickly and the transitions are seamless. Every scene builds on the one before it.
The voice is captivating and I can’t imagine anyone not liking Becca. Especially as she tackles the job of “Number One” (maid of honor) to her friend Linda.
And the recipes at the back sound scrumptious.
Dying to get your hands on a copy?
I can’t wait for the next book in the series so that I can return to the town of Monson!
I just finished Jennie Bentley’s first book in her Do-It-Yourself series! I know a couple years late. LOL. But I just picked it up this summer. Fatal Fixer-Upper doesn’t disappoint. Avery is a plucky, likable protagonist (and a believable Manhattanite sans the Sex in the City crap). Before I finished page 1, I’d signed on to read until the end. (And pick up the other books in the series)
Her boyfriend, Philippe, is someone I’d swear I met in NY. Setting the story in a small Maine town where Avery fixes up an old Victorian was a stroke of genius. (At least to me since I love old Victorian homes and I’m from New England.) The chemistry between Avery and the hero is a slow pressure cooker. You feel it building and you know it’s going somewhere. Or at least you hope it does.
The plot weaves in a missing history professor and Maria Antoinette. Without missing a beat, Jennie delivers the perfect blend of background information and historical stuff so you can solve the mystery without overwhelming the reader.
The writing is top-notch. Jennie’s writing style sucks the reader in and holds onto them until the last page. And as a nice cherry on your banana split of a book, there are do-it-yourself renovation tips at the end of the book.
Have to confess I had an idea of who the killer was from about half way through the book, but I wasn’t 100% certain until I got to the last 50 pages.
Now I need to go buy the rest of the series.
I am a huge fan of Charlaine Harris and have enjoyed all fours of her series. I love the Sookie Stachkouse novels and eagerly anticipate each release. So why did it take me so long to read this book? Weirdly enough, I like to hold onto them so I don’t have to wait so long in between each book. So if I delay reading it, the next one is much closer.
Once again, she pulled me right back to Bon Temps. I loved how she wove everything together with the weres and the fairies. Each book sees the subplots move forward, the characters evolve, and the main plot reach a conclusion of sorts.
Overall, a fast paced, fun read. I couldn’t put the book down this afternoon and sped through the last 60 pages. What I really enjoy about Ms. Harris’ books is that you can see her writing grow with each book and that’s pretty amazing.
The only thing that confused me is that the Trueblood series on HBO changes stuff and so I got a bit confused on points where the show went in another direction since I read books 1-6 a while back. Other than that zero complaints on this book.
Here’s an amazing book trailer for a phenomenal book by Catherynne M. Valente. I started Palimpsest July 1. The first day of my summer. I finished it July 14. Not because it took me so long to read. No. This book is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It touched my soul, made me question my life, shed tears, and think about happiness in a whole different light. So I chose to savour it. To read just enough each day. Until I got to the last hundred pages. Then I had to know how it ended. I tore through them and felt justly rewarded for my efforts.
Rarely do I walk away from a book feeling like I learned something important or grew as a human being. This book did that for me. The last book that had a similar effect? Ten years ago–Alessandro Baricco’s Ocean Sea.
Palimpsest delves into sexuality, desire, obsession and what the heart wants most. It made me re-examine why getting what we most want is so very difficult and inevitably requires sacrifice of something that felt so important.
The prose are strikingly gorgeous throughout. Valente weaves this fable together perfectly so that the reader goes on their own journey of self discovery. One of my favorite passages in the book talks about living alone as being “a skill, like running long distance or programming old computers. You have to know parameters and protocols…You have to allow yourself to open up until you are the exact size of the place you live, no more, or lese you get restless. No less, or else you drown.”
Today I had a bunch of appointments, which meant lots of waiting…and I got to finish E.J. Copperman’s Night of the Living Deed! This is the first book in “a haunted guesthouse mystery” series. People, I read this book in 2 days. This is super fast for me. Normally, it’s a book a week in my spare time. So that means–it’s really good!
The plot is well executed and clues are carefully laid out throughout. I’m starting to think I am not so good at solving mysteries though because I couldn’t figure it out until it all played out.
The characters are quirky and lovable. Even the contentious ghost Maxie has redeeming qualities (which you won’t see until the end). The single mom renovating the house is a great protagonist and I enjoyed seeing everything through her eyes. I love love love the ghost aspect of the story. And the dynamics between the characters–they play off each other beautifully.
The setting–Jersey Shore sans Snooki–is perfect for the book.
The blurbs on the book are completely on target. This is a great tale. I skipped watching TV to finish it tonight.
I just finished the novel, Secondhand Spirits, by Juliet Blackwell, which is described as a witchcraft mystery. It was a fun read with a great twist ending involving murder and a missing child.
The protagonist, Lily Ivory, has been an outsider her whole life. She moves to San Fran, hoping to lay down roots. But old habits die-hard and self-doubt rears its ugly head. By the end of the book, the author leaves you wanting to know more about Lily and the two men in her life, Max and Aidan. I can’t wait to read the second book in the series.
The first two pages immediately drew me in. Actually, from the first line–witches recognize their own– the story hooked me. Several times, I nearly missed my subway stop because of this book–definitely a good sign.
The setting of San Fran worked well. Having visited a few times, I could picture places that Lily went. It also is a great place for Lily to explore who she is–just perfect!
The main plot and subplots wove together so well, you didn’t even notice them. As a reader, I found myself wondering what next and not being able to guess. I really enjoyed going along for the ride and having no idea where we would end up. Made me finish the last 50 pages tonight.
I just finished Paige Shelton’s Farm Fresh Murder and it was a deliciously good read! I hate when I put the clues together before the book is done, but this one kept me on the edge of my seat until the very end. Paige did an excellent job of introducing a slew of interesting characters in such a way that you never knew who the killer was. It’s a great twist ending. One of the best books, I’ve read this year.
Her characters and setting feel so real, you’re dying to drive down to Bailey’s and pick up some of Becca’s pumpkin preserves. Personally, I wasn’t sure a farmer’s market could be that exciting. Boy was I wrong. Her writing makes me contemplate giving up the city life to grow strawberries.
The supporting characters are so well written they guarantee the series will be worth reading.
The protagonist is likeable, quirky and loyal–all of which conspires to make for a great tale. I cannot wait to read the next one in the series and find out more about Becca’s love life and the goings on at the farmer’s market. I’m hooked.
And a huge congrats to Paige Shelton for the book hitting #35 on the New York Times Bestseller List–check out her posting on it and find out more about her tattoo promise!
Victoria Laurie’s Psychic Eye series is off to a great start with me. I’m a bit behind but I’m a fast reader. Besides, I love having several books ahead of me to look forward to. The first book, Abbey Cooper: Psychic Eye, is a total page turner that kept me on the edge of my seat. I picked up the other books in the series and am awaiting their arrival from Amazon.
Abbey’s the kind of protagonist I like. She’s got a complicated relationship with her family (even her beloved sister), she’s taken some hits in life and keeps going, and she’s got a great sense of humor. Her struggle to pay bills and renovate her newly purchased fixer upper house are the perfect foil to her profession as a psychic. Something grounding in a very ungrounded life. She tries her hand at online dating and brings a yummie man into her life…again with some unexpected complications. Nothing’s easy, even for a psychic and I think that’s what makes her so likeable.
The mystery is very well written and I broke my rule about only reading on the subway. (So the rule is: Read other authors on the subway, work on my novels at home). I ended up finishing her book a couple nights ago. I also picked up her ghost hunter series and I plan to read them too.
The mystery itself had a nice amount of twists and revelations that kept me wondering who the killer was and how he might strike again. I don’t want to give too much away, but definitely worth checking out if you’re into paranormal mysteries.
As a side note, I thought it was very cool that Victoria Laurie is a psychic intuitive herself and modeled Abbey after parts of herself. It leant an authentic feel to the entire story.