The three things I love to read most? YA lit, historical fiction, and Asian-American lit. So when a book like Pioneer Girl comes along that combines an obsession with Little House on the Prairie and a narrator whose parents emigrated from Vietnam, I’m all in. The basic premise is this: Lee Lien’s grandfather owned a small cafe in Vietnam in ...
Not a Drop to Drink has been on my to-read list for several months, and I finally had a break in my ARC schedule long enough to read this. It gets all kinds of rave reviews, and so I’d been dying to get to it. Turns out, I thought it was… well, bleak. Heart-wrending. It’s not gruesome, or dark. It’s ...
For months, now, I’ve been on the lookout for a good, clean, read I can recommend wholeheartedly for a book group. This, friends, is it! When I came across the ARC for From the Kitchen of Half Truth, it was called Nutmeg, which I found charming. I’m not sure what’s up with the wordy title change, but don’t let that ...
May I just say that I love Thanksgiving? It’s my absolute favorite holiday–the food, the family, the food…. So the premise (um, and the title. And frankly, the cover art) of Ellen Cooney’s Thanksgiving appealed to me, completely: “the story of one family through many generations, as Thanksgiving dinner is prepared.” In execution, the premise is a little less on-point. ...
After a long spate of YA novels these last few weeks, I was rather excited to get my hands on The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe, a general fiction novel I put on hold a couple of months before it was published, back in July. Blueberry is a nice little book. It’s a predictable little love story, incorporating a little ...
After slogging through my last read, I was really looking forward to this sweet little Sarah Dessen that was waiting patiently on my nightstand. Dessen is just the kind of author you like to come home to to after a long day: warm, complex characters, a family-oriented plotline, and delightfully, undistractingly, beautifully thoughtful writing. In short: this was just ...
I read Lock and Key on the recommendation of a friend. This one is hard. Dessen’s writing never disappoints, but I found Lock and Key a little more tough to read, simply because the subject matter was so difficult: abandonment, homelessness, strained family ties, alcoholism and drug use. And yet, amongst all the upsetting, traumatic things going on in this book, Dessen manages to ...
Initially, I really disliked Flipped. I had a hard time getting used to Bryce’s voice (irritated. Short-tempered. Immature.) and put it in time out on the nightstand for a couple of evenings. I found, though, that I had to find out what happened to Juli, and so I went back. Van Draanen has a clear ability to give characters their ...
Reading Along for the Ride finally helped me to realize that Dessen's books have a strong mother/daughter conflict theme. It seems appropriate, considering that it's such a universal experience for teenaged girls. I appreciate a) that Dessen doesn't recycle the same characters and crisis each time--in each book, the characters and issues are fresh and interesting, even when read ...
There were parts of Blackbird House I absolutely delighted in, and others I just felt lukewarm about. I'm not generally much for short stories--I like my reading to have some thread of plot or continuity. Happily, Hoffman accomplishes exactly this with Blackbird House: each story moves forward a generation, but takes a character from the last, and each centers ...