“A scrumptious gem of a story!”—Jennifer A. Nielsen, New York Timesbestselling author of The False Prince
Meet Gladys Gatsby: New York’s toughest restaurant critic. (Just don’t tell anyone that she’s in sixth grade.)
Gladys Gatsby has been cooking gourmet dishes since the age of seven, only her fast-food-loving parents have no idea! Now she’s eleven, and after a crème brûlée accident (just a small fire), Gladys is cut off from the kitchen (and her allowance). She’s devastated but soon finds just the right opportunity to pay her parents back when she’s mistakenly contacted to write a restaurant review for one of the largest newspapers in the world.
But in order to meet her deadline and keep her dream job, Gladys must cook her way into the heart of her sixth-grade archenemy and sneak into New York City—all while keeping her identity a secret! Easy as pie, right? – Goodreads
This book has been on my radar for months, probably even a year and while I’ve been wanting to read it, I just haven’t had time. Then one day I saw it at the library and knew it was time. Now, if anything, I’m mad at myself that I waited so long to read it. I had friends like, Jen and Kim, who loved it and I should have known I would, too. And fine, they were right. I did love it. I was hooked from the very beginning. This book was the cutest and I cannot recommend it more to people.
All Four Stars is the story of Gladys, a girl who does not fit in, in her family. Her family will eat whatever, and Gladys is constantly critiquing meals and wants to only eat the best. In fact, we first meet Gladys as she is making crème brûlée and kind of sort of starts her kitchen on fire with a blow torch. Gladys, very logically blames her parents for this, if they would have brought her a proper kitchen blow torch she wouldn’t have had to use a giant one which set everything a blaze.
Gladys’ parents just want her to be interested in normal 11 year old things. Playing outside, having friends, watching TV (something besides the cooking channel!) All of these things don’t interest Gladys, she likes cooking, eating amazing food, and fresh ingredients. Slowly however, throughout All Four Stars, Gladys learns it is possible to not only have friends, but be true to yourself. Her teacher has decided that everyone in the class will be writing a paper on what they want to be when they grow up. Gladys turns in her first paper about how she wants to be a veterinarian and her teacher sees through it right away, there is no passion and she calls Gladys on it and makes her re-write the paper. What Gladys’ doesn’t expect is to win the contest in her class and have the essay be sent into the newspaper in New York City.
Once her essay is in New York City, it makes it’s way to the food editors desk and the next thing Gladys knows she has been asked to be a temporary food critic and of course she loses her mind, mostly because she can’t do this alone. Through various people in her life, including her next door neighbor and a friend at her school, she has a chance at making it. All Four Stars is a solid, cute novel that left me not only hungry, but also wanting more.
Girls started vanishing in the fall, and now winter’s come to lay a white sheet over the horror. Door County, it seems, is swallowing the young, right into its very dirt. From beneath the house on Water Street, I’ve watched the danger swell.
The residents know me as the noises in the house at night, the creaking on the stairs. I’m the reflection behind them in the glass, the feeling of fear in the cellar. I’m tied—it seems—to this house, this street, this town.
I’m tied to Maggie and Pauline, though I don’t know why. I think it’s because death is coming for one of them, or both.
All I know is that the present and the past are piling up, and I am here to dig.I am looking for the things that are buried.
From bestselling author Jodi Lynn Anderson comes a friendship story bound in snow and starlight, a haunting mystery of love, betrayal, redemption, and the moments that we leave behind. – Goodreads
This book pulled me in from the moment it started to describe Door County and it was that accurate. I was born and semi-raised in Wisconsin. I have visited Door County numerous times in my life and Anderson very much got that feeling in The Vanishing Season. I went into this believing that The Vanishing Season was a ghost story, and while there is a ghost story, there is so much more to this story than just the ghost.
This is a haunting, slow moving story about that thing that fears people the most: growing up. Maggie moves to Door County from Chicago and slowly begins to fit in to the town. Through a job and becoming friends with Pauline, Maggie begins to feel like she fits it. Pauline also introduces Maggie to Liam, who is Pauline’s boyfriend and while the three become good friends, things change when Door County becomes a haunting location for disappearing girls. Because of the disappearing girls, everyone is on alert, including Maggie, who’s parents send her south to Milwaukee and her aunt’s house for safety. That is where the lines begin to blur, and Maggie becomes close to Liam. What I found most interesting about The Vanishing Season is Anderson was able to make me feel sympathetic for characters that would usually drive me bonkers.
My heart hurt during this whole book because it is not an easy read and the ending isn’t either. Looking back at The Vanishing Novel there really was no other choice to end the novel, it really was the only choice, but it doesn’t hurt any less.
The Vanishing Season is hard to describe because this is easily a book in which nothing happens and that is not a bad thing. This book pulled me in with flawed, realistic characters that act like teenagers, that break your heart. While The Vanishing Season is my first book by Anderson, it will not be my last.
Pretty, flighty Daisy Devreaux can either go to jail or marry the mystery man her father has chosen for her. Arranged marriages don’t happen in the modern world, so how did the irrepressible Daisy find herself in this fix?
Alex Markov, as humorless as he is deadly handsome, has no intention of playing the loving bridegroom to a spoiled little feather-head with champagne tastes. He drags Daisy from her uptown life to a broken down traveling circus and sets out to tame her to his ways.
But this man without a soul has met his match in a woman who’s nothing but heart. Before long, passion will send them flying sky high without a safety net… risking it all in search of a love that will last forever.– Goodreads
The last thing that Daisy wants to be part of is this fake marriage, she wants to be married for love and ultimately part of a family. Her parents were never really her family and now she’s married to Alex, a humorless man who has married Daisy as part of a rouse. Alex is in this as a favor to Daisy’s father and Daisy is doing it because it was this marriage or jail. Through miss-communication Daisy and Alex are constantly fighting and it’s adorable because they clearly start to develop feelings for each other.
The best part of Kiss An Angel is the fact it takes place outside of Daisy’s comfort zone, the majority of the book takes place at a circus. The both have presumptions about each other and refuse to believe anything but those said presumptions. It also doesn’t help that Alex’s childhood has made it hard for him to believe in love. Daisy is really nothing but love and sunshine. Well, in comparison to anyone Alex is sunshine and love. He is the product of his childhood and because of that Daisy often feels like she is talking to a brick wall.
What is amazing to me is how Phillips constantly writes fully fleshed characters, most of the characters of the zoo hated Daisy because she married Alex and Alex used to be the lonewolf of the circus. How did she tame Alex? Why does no one know nothing about her? Why does she refuse to work? Why did she steal that money from the circus? Of course what they don’t know is how so much of the situation is set up. No matter what question is asked, Daisy was set up. Not only was she set up, but Alex also defends her to the circus which continues to ostracizes her in the group. What she doesn’t expect is to fall in love with a baby elephant in the circus. This comes from the fact, in part she is not an animal person, but quickly Daisy feels a bond to this elephant because she understands what it’s like to be kept in a spot they never asked to be in. I know, it sounds corny and like a stretch, but it works. It works so well. And the background characters? Broke my heart. They were constantly well thought out and I had feelings for them. I rarely have feelings for the background characters, because that’s where they are: in the background. But these characters were so well thought-out and added so much to the story that I wouldn’t mind separate stories about them!
This story was however about Alex and Daisy. They also slowly fall in love with each other, the problem is Alex doesn’t believe in love, at all. His childhood was the worst, and he refuses to accept her love. So instead they banter, and it’s cute, adorable banter and if Phillips does one thing well, it’s banter. I believed in their romance so much that when their hearts broke, my heart broke. They just want the other to admit to loving the other, but when one doesn’t believe in love it’s very hard to believe anyone saying “I love you.”
So much happens in this story that it is more than just a “simple romance” novel, which is a pet peeve of mine. It has so many layers and emotions that I spent most of this novel with my heart in my throat because I was so full of feels. I cannot recommend this book more to any romance lover.
A paperback edition of three novellas set within the world of the New York Times bestselling Girl of Fire and Thorns series, previously available only digitally: The Shadow Cats, The Shattered Mountain, and The King’s Guard.
The Shadow Cats is told from the perspective of Elisa’s older sister. Discover how their sibling rivalry looks from Alodia’s viewpoint, and find out why Alodia agrees to marry her sister off to King Alejandro of Joya de Vega.
The Shattered Mountain revolves around Elisa’s best friend and handmaiden, Mara. Before she meets Elisa at the rebel camp in The Girl of Fire and Thorns, she suffers her own tragedy. Her village is destroyed and she must lead the few young survivors to safety.
The King’s Guard centers on Hector, Commander of the Royal Guard and Elisa’s true love. Set years before The Girl of Fire and Thorns, it shows us fifteen-year-old Hector as a new recruit. He must prove himself—and he discovers a secret he must keep forever.– Goodreads
Last year I read and loved Rae Carson’s series The Girl of Fire and Thorns, which to be honest I’m still a little shocked about. Mostly because to this day I am not a fantasy person. But..I liked it. And recently when Carson’s short stories came out in one volume I knew I wanted to read them. Of course a TBR happens and well, books get pushed down. Then, thanks to my library overdrive app, The Girl of Fire and Thorns Stories appeared as an audiobook and it was fate. FATE I SAY.
This was a solid set of three stories, all short and take place before the first book in the series. While they are not needed to understand the series (for those who hate novellas) but they do add to the story, and they made me miss the characters. Mostly Hector, because I do love and adore Hector. Hearts in my eyes for that Hector. But the first two weren’t about Hector and I still enjoyed them. You learn more about Elisa’s older sister, and you understand her from a completely different point of view. Same goes for the second story, The Shattered Mountain, you learn more about Mara, Elisa’s best friend, and she goes through so much that the reader doesn’t really understand and then in The Shattered Mountain your heart breaks for her so much.
And then there is The King’s Guard which it’s obvious to whom it’s about. HINT: Hector! Oh Hector, our sweet boy who learns more in his 15 years than anyone should. Again, while it isn’t required to read these to understand The Girl of Fire and Thorns series, I do recommend it. It gave me feels I was in denial about for years.
As a lawyer in a large Manhattan firm, just shy of making partner, Clementine Evans has finally achieved almost everything she’s been working towards—but now she’s not sure it’s enough. Her long hours have led to a broken engagement and, suddenly single at thirty-four, she feels her messy life crumbling around her. But when the family gathers for her grandmother Addie’s ninety-ninth birthday, a relative lets slip hints about a long-buried family secret, leading Clemmie on a journey into the past that could change everything. . . .
Growing up at Ashford Park in the early twentieth century, Addie has never quite belonged. When her parents passed away, she was taken into the grand English house by her aristocratic aunt and uncle, and raised side-by-side with her beautiful and outgoing cousin, Bea. Though they are as different as night and day, Addie and Bea are closer than sisters, through relationships and challenges, and a war that changes the face of Europe irrevocably. But what happens when something finally comes along that can’t be shared? When the love of sisterhood is tested by a bond that’s even stronger?
From the inner circles of British society to the skyscrapers of Manhattan and the red-dirt hills of Kenya, the never-told secrets of a woman and a family unfurl.– Goodreads
While I have read and even listened to many Willig books, this was a change from her previous novels, which are all part of a series, The Ashford Affair is a stand alone. That being said it still highlights Willig’s strong writing, while showing two different time periods. Told in two time periods: early 20th century and then later 20th century we are taken into Clemmie’s life and family. While the name Clemmie makes me cringe, she is a solid character who has devoted her life to being a lawyer, and quickly realizes she doesn’t have much to show for it besides a job that she basically hates. Her engagement has ended (see job) and her grandmother just celebrated her 99th birthday. Her grandmother’s birthday celebration slowly changes everything for Clemmie.
Her grandmother, Addie, is the other half of the story. Addie grew up in Ashford Park, after a devistating accident that took her parents away from her. Addie’s aunt has made it clear that Addie is not meant for Ashford Park as her father married a lower class. Addie’s cousin Bea however has never treated her this way. Addie and Bea are true family, and not just because their family, but because they are the family they made for each other. Lately I’ve been very big about the family you not only have, but also the family that you chose. Although they were forced together, Addie and Bea are the family that they ended up choosing for each other. While the world around them is changing, they constantly try to be there for each other. This bond however is tested when Bea tests the bonds of their friendship by an act that most friendships can not sustain through. Addie and Bea always needed each other, but were also very jealous of each other. One more than the other, which comes out during the pivotal moment.
Back in present day, 1999, Clemmie knows nothing about Addie and Addie’s lie. This hits Addie like a lead balloon when Addie looks like she is on her death bed at her party and Clemmie worries she has no more time left. Through use of excellent parallels, Willig not only compares and contrasts the two characters but life in general with love and loss. Clemmie also has Jon, a cousin through marriage, to assist her through this, she isn’t doing this alone.
This was a quick paced story that wove together and made me hang on to every word quite well. Willig showed she will not only be known for her series, but also her stand alones. I cannot wait to see what will come from her next.
This past Saturday, October 10, I had the pleasure of going to my local Barnes and Noble and seeing the Epic Reads Fall tour come through town. Going to Barnes and Noble book signings are very weird for me because I am very loyal to my local indies and I never know how they work. Actually all of my Barnes and Noble signings that I have gone to have been out of state (Oceanside, CA and Las Vegas, NV). This is a long winded way to say I had no idea what to expect. Because it was on the other side of town, my BFFSarah and I got there about 45 minutes before it was to begin and noticed this set up. The event was going to be held in the fiction rotunda, by the cactus (it’s Phoenix, OF COURSE THERE WAS CACTUS) and by the 50 Shades display. Or as I called it, what was once twilight fanfiction. Closer to the store started to set up chairs, and people slowly started to file in. Sarah and I began to worry when there weren’t many people there, because we love YA and we want everyone to! Thankfully as the event started it became a packed house and was ultimately a lot of fun!
The authors were introduced and gave a short blurb about what their book is/means to them. Then the moderator asked them a handful of questions and then opened it up to the floor. What I found most fascinating was, from the outside, it seemed that these books didn’t have much in common: fantasy, contemporary, guns, abuse of women, etc. But as the authors discussed more and more about their books the more I realized there are common themes and putting them together was actually genius. Plus, them being put together made me want to read of of these authors books. The five panelists were:
- Amy Ewing, who wrote The Jewel
- Andrea Portes, who wrote Anatomy of a Misfit (and more importantly enjoys the greatest football team ever: The Packers)
- Anna Carey, who wrote Blackbird (and who I’ve met 3 times now and remembers me! And gave me a hug!)
- Heather Demetrios, who wrote Exquisite Captive
- Madeline Roux, who wrote Asylum
As you see, even the titles make it hard to believe that these books have anything in common, but really: THEY DO! And they answered my question during the Q & A. I say this because I ask, what I consider to be a very entertaining question “what book have you read, purely based on the cover?” I need to state that I have stolen this question from a bookseller at Changing Hands, but we’re friends, so I believe it to be okay. I find this question to be interesting for various reasons. One, I find new books with pretty covers, and two, some authors very quickly state they don’t judge books by their cover and always give a very valid reason. All five of these lovely authors gave answers quickly and brought new books to my attention that I am now excited to look into.
Yes, even a librarian judges books by their cover, sorry to spoil that for you.
Also, it was clear throughout this panel that not only do these authors all enjoy the company of each other, but they love what they do. I am a huge reader with no interest in writing and they were happy to discuss not only their craft, but also the reading aspect of their books. Anytime these ladies come back to town I would be more than happy to go to another one of their signings.
Lastly, shout out to the authors that took selfies with me, without even second guessing it.
If you have yet to go to a book sign, I cannot recommend going to one more. Just ask BFFSarah, as I constantly drag her to them.
High-school junior Leila has made it most of the way through Armstead Academy without having a crush on anyone, which is something of a relief. Her Persian heritage already makes her different from her classmates; if word got out that she liked girls, life would be twice as hard. But when a sophisticated, beautiful new girl, Saskia, shows up, Leila starts to take risks she never thought she would, especially when it looks as if the attraction between them is mutual. Struggling to sort out her growing feelings and Saskia’s confusing signals, Leila confides in her old friend, Lisa, and grows closer to her fellow drama tech-crew members, especially Tomas, whose comments about his own sexuality are frank, funny, wise, and sometimes painful. Gradually, Leila begins to see that almost all her classmates are more complicated than they first appear to be, and many are keeping fascinating secrets of their own.– Goodreads
As a mood reader, who has been in a reading slump lately, I am thrilled that I was able to devour this book. Although Farizan wrote a previous book, this is my first book that I’ve read by her, but it will not be the last. I loved Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel. It is the story of Leila, a high school junior who is proud of the fact she does not have a single crush on anyone in her school. Of course, this is a relief to her because not only does her Persian heritage make her stand out from her WASP-y classmates, but if people found out she liked girls, life would become even harder for her and that isn’t something she wants to deal with. It’s understandable, being a teenager is hard enough and she already stands out. Does she want to stand out even more?
What she doesn’t expect is the beautiful new student Saskia to make her have hearts in her eyes which make her question everything. Saskia is not remotely perfect, but Leila doesn’t care. What Leila doesn’t expect is to struggle with Saskia and the feelings she has, particularly because Saskia is very back and forth with her feelings and this causes Leila to be even more confused. Particularly because no one knows that Leila likes girls, including her one family. Farizan wrote the scenes between Leila’s family and her so well that my heart constantly went out to Leila. I marked up multiple pages of the ARC because I enjoyed so many scenes with her mother who just wants Leila to talk to her and love her. Then there is her conservative old world father, who doesn’t always know what to do but always has a dad joke, and her older perfect sister who is everything her parents want from a child. Of course, throughout the book, Leila begins to see that she doesn’t have everything figured out, including her own family.
I found Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel to be realistic in the fact, while I have next to nothing in common with Leila, I related to multiple aspects of her life. High school, cliques, after school activities. While I didn’t have much in common with Leila on the outside, the themes that Farizan wrote are so universal that they are ultimately relateable. Love, heartbreak, friendship, family. Things that everyone wants, doesn’t matter on their age or background.