The Thing About Leftovers – C. C. Payne

the thing about leftoversFizzy is a young girl going through a lot of changes in her life. Her parents have divorced, her father remarried, and now her mother has a new beau in her life. Fizzy isn’t particularly enamored with either of these step-parents, and they aren’t necessarily supportive of her being around either. Throughout the changes and chaos in her life, Fizzy has one passion to default to for relief and creativity: cooking. She and her aunt cook constantly in preparation for a cooking competition that Fizzy desperately wants to win. School also becomes a relief for Fizzy. Through some chance encounters, she makes a quirky and supportive new best friend, and a dashing yet complicated fellow starts tagging as long as well. Over the course of a year, Fizzy realizes that life isn’t necessarily as horrible as it might seem, and that friends and family will always be there to love and support you.

I picked up this book somewhat randomly, intrigued by the quirky title, and read it voraciously until I was finished. The writing style immediately engaged me, and the story was relatable and touching in many ways. This story made me laugh, cry, and think. The writing was captivating and I felt like I was a part of Fizzy’s world and going through her struggles right there with her. I can’t wait to read more from this author!

eGalley review                                                            Publication date 7.19.16

Posted in realistic fiction | Tagged ,

Learning to Swear in America – Katie Kennedy

Learning to Swear in AmericaRussian boy genius Yuri Strelnikov  is a 17-year-old with a PhD in Physics.  The Americans recruit him when it is discovered that an asteroid is blazing toward Earth on a collision course with California, exactly where NASA has assembled the best and brightest to figure a way out of this deadly impact.  Yuri has only a few days to work the math, find a solution, and then convince those much older to accept his anti-matter plan.  Oh, he meets a quirky girl along the way.  Yuri struggles with culture shock and delights over his first girlfriend all while saving mankind.

What a fun book!  Yuri’s voice is deadpan, witty, and humorous, wrangling out a wry smile from me with each chapter.  The story moves at a brisk pace and best of all, celebrates intelligence, math, and science!  There is a tiny bit of  foul language.  After all, Yuri learns to swear in America.  Highly recommend.

eGalley review                      Publication date 7.5.16

Posted in highly recommend, science fiction | Tagged , ,

1941: The America That Went to War – William M. Christie

1941 The America That Went to WarThis is the story of the end of an era. The last year before America lost its innocence, the year before everything changed. It is told, month by month, with an event that occurred in that month as the theme. And so the year begins with a discussion of politics in January, reflecting Roosevelt’s third inauguration. February it’s the Oscars and popular entertainment. March begins with the opening of the National Gallery of Art, and we learn about art, education and literature. Jump to July and it is sports. August is leisure time and travel. You get the idea. This is a great way to get a feel for what the country was like, what the people were talking about, what their interests were. I enjoyed the book and recommend it for anyone who loves history.

eGalley review                                               Publication date 7.5.16

Posted in adult, nonfiction | Tagged

The Doomed City – Arkady Strugatsky, Boris Strugatsky (Translated by Andrew Bromfield)

 

doomed cityIn the 1970s the Strugatsky brothers’ science-fiction novels were wildly popular in the USSR.  This novel was their favorite, but was so politically risky that it was kept secret and only published in the late 1980s, sixteen years after it was completed. It is a dark novel about an experimental city, inhabited by people transported from many places and many times, all struggling to make sense of senseless rules. It is a nightmarish, unpleasant, gritty book. I have enjoyed other Strugatsky books, but this one was too much for me. Its satire was far too depressing, and left me feeling far too uncomfortable. Of course that was their purpose, but I just couldn’t handle it.

eGalley review                                    Publication date 7.1.16

Posted in adult, fiction

The Leaving – Tara Altebrando

The leavingSix kindergarteners don’t return home from school.  They are missing for eleven years.  Then one night, five are returned.  Blindfolded, they are dropped off in a playground in town with a map to their home in their pocket with no memories of where they have been. Now sixteen, they try to blend into families who are strangers.  As memories slowly return, the police assist in determining what happened and why one of the missing, Max, did not return.

The premise of this story is good but would benefit from a bit more editing.  The author only focuses on two of the five returned kids, Lucas and Scarlett.  The others had such minor roles that when mentioned, I had to remind myself of who they were.  Apparently when the kindergarteners went missing, Max’s little sister, Avery, was only three or four yet she now feels a strong romantic bond to Lucas.  What four-year-old develops a close relationship with her five-year-old brother’s best friend and sustains those memories for eleven years?  When the clues are pieced together, my first thought was the at the police did not do a very good job when they were first taken.  Also, one of the kindergarteners saw a title of a book, The Leaving, on the principal’s desk and that is why they called it The Leaving.  She was able to read the title of a book with just a quick glimpse.  What kindergartener can do this, especially at the beginning of the school year?  The premise was good, the suspense built well, but the missteps detracted from the overall story.

eGalley review                                          Publication date 6.7.16

Posted in mystery, suspense | Tagged

When Friendship Followed Me Home – Paul Griffin

When Friendship Followed Me Home - CopyBen was in the foster care system since he was an infant.  When he was around 10, he was adopted by his speech therapist.  It was a wonderful fit for both of them.  However, she was elderly and had health issues.  A few years after being adopted, his mother dies quite unexpectedly and once again, Ben’s future is uncertain.  Before his mother dies, a cute stray dog follows Ben home from his second home, the public library.  The librarian takes a caring interest in Ben where he meets the librarian’s vibrant daughter, Halley.  Halley names the dog Flip and suggests Ben trains him to be a reading therapy dog.  Halley, Ben, and Flip are inseparable.  Halley’s family becomes Ben’s.  They need Ben as much as he needs them.  Halley has cancer.  It is a daunting battle but Halley is very brave and positive, just as positive as Ben is in dealing with all that life throws at him.

This beautiful story flows so smoothly and explores so many of the highs and lows of  emotions.  The supporting characters sparkle but never take the shine away from the three main characters, Ben, Halley, and Flip.

eGalley review                          Publication date 6.7.16

Posted in realistic fiction | Tagged ,

Just One Damned Thing After Another: The Chronicles of St. Mary’s Book One – Jodi Taylor

Just One Damned Thing After Another“History is just one damned thing after another” Arnold Toynbee

Well, this was fun! The eccentric Brits at St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research are very secretly traveling back in time to better understand historical events, but it’s not such an easy job. One wrong move and history will fight back, sometimes with lethal consequences.  Madeleine Maxwell, historian and archaeologist, is attracted to the job opportunity at St. Mary’s. Max is outspoken and always in some sort of trouble, so she might fit right in at St. Mary’s. The pay is terrible, working conditions worse, but the chance to see history as it happens is priceless.

The story is not all fun and games. People die right and left. Bad things happen. Relationships flourish, and they die. That’s life. Max is a great protagonist, a complex character with lots of flaws. And the rest of the cast are equally quirky. The book can’t be put down, and I loved every minute.  Seven books in the series have been published in Great Britain and this first book is now being published in the U.S.  I look forward to reading them all.

eGalley review                              Publication date 6.7.16

Posted in adult, adventure, highly recommend | Tagged ,