Shelf Control #280: Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

Title: Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour
Author: Morgan Matson
Published: 2010
Length: 343 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

When you’re on a road trip, life is all about the detours. . . .

Amy Curry is having a terrible year. Her mother has decided to move across the country and needs Amy to get their car from California to Connecticut. There’s just one small problem: Since her father died this past spring, Amy hasn’t been able to get behind the wheel. Enter Roger, the nineteen-year-old son of an old family friend, who turns out to be unexpectedly cute … and dealing with some baggage of his own.

Meeting new people and coming to terms with her father’s death were not what Amy had planned on this trip. And traveling the Loneliest Road in America, seeing the Colorado mountains, crossing the Kansas plains, and visiting diners, dingy motels, and Graceland were definitely not on the itinerary. But as they drive, Amy finds that the people you least expected are the ones you may need the most—and that sometimes you have to get lost in order to find your way home.

How and when I got it:

I bought the Kindle edition over five years ago.

Why I want to read it:

This is another book that’s been in my Kindle library for long enough that I forgot all about it! I must have seen it on as a Kindle Daily Deal and decided to grab it.

I haven’t been reading a whole lot of YA lately, but this one does sound like fun. I’m always up for a good road trip story, and I’ve heard such good things about Morgan Matson. The plotline sound very cute and also like it could be touching, since it deals with loss and grief and tough family situations.

What do you think? Would you read this book?

Please share your thoughts!


__________________________________

Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments or link back from your own post, so I can add you to the participant list.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

Through affiliate programs, I may earn commissions from purchases made when you click through these links, at no cost to you.

Buy now: Amazon – Book Depository – Bookshop.org

Top Ten Tuesday: Covers That Made Want to Read/Buy the Book

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Titles or Covers That Made Want to Read/Buy the Book. I think I’ve done quite a few title-related TTT lists, so let’s focus on covers! Below are 10 covers that caught my eye and made me NEED the book.

  • The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
  • What Should Be Wild by Julia Fine
  • The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
  • The Mina Lima edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
  • Outlawed by Anna North
  • The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman
  • The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moren-Garcia
  • Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour
  • Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Cress by Marissa Meyer

What books have you bought because of their covers? Please share your TTT links!

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The Monday Check-In ~ 8/2/2021

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My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

And back to the East Coast I go! I’m spending one week back east so I can spend time with my father at his nursing home. Apart from visiting every day, I don’t have anything in particular planned so far. I’ll need to do a little work most days, but other than that, hope to catch up with a few old friends and see some family, walk at some pretty beaches and parks, and (of course) fit in a lot of reading!

What did I read during the last week?

Mistletoe & Mr. Right (Moose Springs, #2) by Sarah Morgenthaler: The cover basically tells you all you need to know! I finished the audiobook of this light romance set in a cute Alaskan town. It’s feel-good fluff, and I liked it a lot.

It’s In His Kiss (Bridgertons, #7) by Julia Quinn: Bridgerton books are always fun, and #7 is no exception! My review is here.

Pop culture & TV:

Between the Olympics and visiting houseguests, I really didn’t spend too much time in front of the TV (other than watching swimming, gymnastics, and — oddly — rugby). But, I did manage to get caught up on season 2 of A Discovery of Witches, which made me really happy (and made me want to reread the books.)

Fresh Catch:

No new books! I mean, yeah, I did buy a couple of Kindle books and got a couple of ARCs via NetGalley… so I guess I should actually say — no new physical books!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig: I’m at close to 30%, and I hate to say it, but I think I’m going to pause for now. I’m not quite ready to call this one a DNF, but I’m just not really in the mood at the moment, so I’ll set it aside and see how I feel if I read some other books and then come back to it.

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz: After reading Barbara’s great review over at Book Club Mom, I couldn’t resist starting this book right away (and yay for my library having a digital copy available at exactly the right moment.) I’m just getting started, but I’m liking it so far.

Now playing via audiobook:

Enjoy the View (Moose Springs, #3) by Sarah Morgenthaler: Giving in to temptation and continuing straight on through the Moose Springs book!

Ongoing reads:

Outlander Book Club is doing a speed-re-read of Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, #8 in the Outlander series. We’re reading and discussing 5 chapters per week. Let me know if you want to join in — the more, the merrier! This week: Chapters 66 – 70.

Also in book group, we’ve just started a group read of A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, which we’re reading over the course of 3 – 4 weeks. I know I read this back in high school, but really don’t remember much about it.

So many books, so little time…

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Book Review: It’s In His Kiss (Bridgertons, #7) by Julia Quinn

Title: It’s In His Kiss (Bridgertons, #7)
Author: Julia Quinn
Publisher: Avon
Publication date: 2005
Length: 407 pages
Genre: Romance
Source: Purchased
Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

IF IT’S IN HIS HEART… IT’S IN HIS KISS

MEET OUR HERO…

Gareth St. Clair is in a bind. His father, who detests him, is determined to beggar the St. Clair estates and ruin his inheritance. Gareth’s sole bequest is an old family diary, which may or may not contain the secrets of his past… and the key to his future. The problem is—it’s written in Italian, of which Gareth speaks not a word.

MEET OUR HEROINE…

All the ton agreed: there was no one quite like Hyacinth Bridgerton. She’s fiendishly smart, devilishly outspoken, and according to Gareth, probably best in small doses. But there’s something about her—something charming and vexing—that grabs him and won’t quite let go…

MEET POOR MR. MOZART…

Or don’t. But rest assured, he’s spinning in his grave when Gareth and Hyacinth cross paths at the annual—and annually discordant—Smythe-Smith musicale. To Hyacinth, Gareth’s every word seems a dare, and she offers to translate his diary, even though her Italian is slightly less than perfect. But as they delve into the mysterious text, they discover that the answers they seek lie not in the diary, but in each other… and that there is nothing as simple—or as complicated—as a single, perfect kiss.

I had yet another airplane flight this week, and so I turned to yet another Bridgerton book for company. Book #7, It’s In His Kiss, jumps ahead to the 8th and youngest of the Bridgerton offspring, Hyacinth, who is 22 years old when the story opens. It’s her 4th season out in society, she’s had six unsuitable proposals in her previous three season, and while she’s not on the shelf yet, that moment isn’t quite as far away as it once was. Is is because Hyacinth is too picky, or is it because she’s too opinionated and outspoken, not willing to play the shy maiden? Whatever the reason, Hyacinth both really wants to find a husband and doesn’t want to relinquish her ability to think and make her own decisions — not a combination that typically leads to romantic bliss.

(Of course, it’s a little challenging for me to picture Hyacinth as old enough to be married, since we saw her on the Netflix series looking like this:)

Hyancinth – the early years

Hyacinth is devoted to Lady Danbury, the elderly woman who rules society with her imperiousness and the stomping of her cane, and the two have a weekly visit during which Hyacinth reads aloud from the latest melodramatic pulp novel.

Lady Danbury’s grandson is Gareth St. Clair, a notorious rake known for his irresponsible ways and a string of opera singer mistresses, as well as for never, ever courting a young lady from the ton. Gareth has been estranged from his harsh, domineering father for ten years, and his father seems determined to run the family wealth into the ground, especially now that Gareth’s older brother, the presumed heir, has died at a young age, leaving Gareth to inherit the family title and holdings.

When Gareth comes into possession of his paternal grandmother’s diary, written in her native Italian, he needs a translator, and fortunately, Hyacinth is proficient in the language. They agree that she’ll work on a translation, and as they check in on the progress, the two become increasingly attracted to one another. Through the translation, Hyacinth learns that the grandmother was very unhappy in her marriage and that she had a secret — a trove of jewels that she brought with her from Italy and hid somewhere in Clair House. As far as Gareth knows, no one else is even aware that the jewels exist, but they could be the answer to the debt Gareth seems destined to inherit.

As in the other Bridgerton books, there’s some delicious flirtation and chemistry between the two main characters, as they’re thrust together repeatedly. There are shenanigans and near-disasters, as Hyacinth refuses to sit home demurely when there’s adventure afoot, and she repeatedly drives Gareth to distraction by taking risks with her safety and her reputation in order to help him on his quest.

Between the more light-hearted escapades, there are also weightier moments, told through Gareth’s perspective, as he struggles with his social status, his father’s animosity, and a secret that could deprive him of everything he hopes for, including Hyacinth’s regard.

It’s In His Kiss is a fun outing in the world of the Bridgerton clan, although I do with we’d had more glimpses of the rest of the family. Daphne, Anthony, and Penelope make brief appearances, Lady Violet is a more active and present character, and the rest, while mentioned, are all offstage.

I did really enjoy this book, as I have the other books in the series, but of course, there are some elements that feel a bit cringe-inducing.

She might not have said yes, but she didn’t say no.

Granted, explicit verbal consent wasn’t a thing in the 19th century, but reading this through today’s lens make me uncomfortable.

Additionally, Gareth is so afraid that Hyacinth will call off their engagement if she hears certain things about him that he realizes his best option is to seduce her. She’s clearly interested and responsive to him physically, but again, the idea that he’s going to deliberately set out to “ruin” her so she’ll have no choice about marriage makes me very unhappy — even though the sex is definitely consensual when it finally happens.

Still, Gareth and Hyacinth share a knack for banter and humor that keeps this book on the lighter side:

Gareth thought his head might explode. “Good God, woman, have you been listening to anything I’ve said?”

“Of course I have. I have four older brothers. I can recognize a supercilious, pontificating male when I see one.”

Surprisingly, there seems to be more time spent on Gareth and his POV than Hyacinth, but still, the book works, and is a fun addition to the overarching Bridgerton storyline. And as I’ve learned, I can always count on a Bridgerton book for some good, engaging, but not too heavy travel reading.

Will I continue with the Bridgertons? Well, of course!

That’s seven Bridgerton children happily married, two more to go!

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Through affiliate programs, I may earn commissions from purchases made when you click through these links, at no cost to you.

Buy When He Was Wicked at AmazonBook Depository – Bookshop.org

Shelf Control #279: The Widow’s War by Sally Gunning

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

Title: The Widow’s War
Author: Sally Gunning
Published: 2006
Length: 336 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

The Red Tent meets The Scarlett Letter in this haunting historical novel set in a colonial New England whaling village.

“When was it that the sense of trouble grew to fear, the fear to certainty? When she sat down to another solitary supper of bread and beer and picked cucumber? When she heard the second sounding of the geese? Or had she known that morning when she stepped outside and felt the wind? Might as well say she knew it when Edward took his first whaling trip to the Canada River, or when they married, or when, as a young girl, she stood on the beach and watched Edward bring about his father’s boat in the Point of Rock Channel. Whatever its begetting, when Edward’s cousin Shubael Hopkins and his wife Betsey came through the door, they brought her no new grief, but an old acquaintance.”

When Lyddie Berry’s husband is lost in a storm at sea, she finds that her status as a widow is vastly changed from that of respectable married woman. Now she is the “dependent” of her nearest male relative—her son-in-law. Refusing to bow to societal pressure that demands she cede everything that she and her husband worked for, Lyddie becomes an outcast from family, friends, and neighbors—yet ultimately discovers a deeper sense of self and, unexpectedly, love.

Evocative and stunningly assured, The Widow’s War is an unforgettable work of literary magic, a spellbinding tale from a gifted talent.

How and when I got it:

I bought the Kindle edition 10 years ago. (!!)

Why I want to read it:

I got my first Kindle in 2011, and immediately began filling it up with books I found on sale or offered free. I don’t know which category this book fell in, but I do know that — according to the dates in my Kindle library — this was among the first 10 or so books I acquired.

I actually didn’t even remember that I had this until just now! But I can see from the description that this is a book that would have caught my attention. I do love a good historical novel, and I’m always on the lookout for historical fiction that either introduces me to a period I don’t know enough about or to a perspective I wouldn’t have otherwise.

Colonial-era historical fiction always appeals to me, and there’s something about The Widow’s War that catches my eye. I’m always interested in hearing the voices of women from different historical eras, particularly from times when a woman’s voice would have been silenced or subservient to the men around her. Reading the synopsis makes me want to know more about Lyddie, who she is as a person, and how her struggle for independence turns out.

I’m so glad I rediscovered this on my e-book list!

What do you think? Would you read this book? And can you recommend any other Colonial-era historical novels?

Please share your thoughts!


__________________________________

Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments or link back from your own post, so I can add you to the participant list.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

Through affiliate programs, I may earn commissions from purchases made when you click through these links, at no cost to you.

Buy now: Amazon – Book Depository – Bookshop.org

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’d Want With Me While Stranded On a Deserted Island

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Books I’d Want With Me While Stranded On a Deserted Island. I love this! This topic is really making me think… or over-think? If I was stranded… which means reading the same 10 books over and over again… potentially forever…

Hmmm, what to pick, what to pick? Here are my ten:

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Not a surprise for anyone who knows me… I’ve already read this book (and series) multiple times, but if I’m going to be stuck on a deserted island indefinitely, I think I need Jamie and Claire for company.

The Lord of the Rings (one-volume edition) by J. R. R. Tolkien

Is it cheating to pick an all-in-one edition of three books? I’m declaring that this counts! I’ve been wanting to go back and reread LOTR, and with endless reading time to fill, it seems like a perfect opportunity to really dig in and enjoy.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I’m tempted to just fill my list with all-in-one editions of all my favorite authors, such as a complete-works-of-Jane-Austen volume, if I had one… but I’ll hold back and stick to actual individual books…

In which case, I’d have to pick just one Jane Austen, although it’s a tough choice and I might want to swap for Persuasion. But really, can’t go wrong with any Jane Austen books!

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

I’ve been obsessed with this book since reading it last year and then re-reading it this year. I can’t imagine ever getting tired of re-reading it!

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

I’ve read this book several times already, but each time, it affects me in new and different ways.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare

I still have my edition of The Riverside Shakespeare from my college days, and it’s not exactly a light, portable volume. Still, if I were stranded on a deserted island, at least I’d finally have time to get to all the plays I haven’t read yet! (I know I said I wouldn’t do any more all-in-one books, but I had to make an exception for Shakespeare.)

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

I think this is a book that I haven’t spent enough time with yet in my life. I’ve read it only once, and I’ve always meant to go back to it again, at least once. And if not while stranded, then when?

The Far Pavilions by M. M. Kaye

Yet another book that I’ve sworn to re-read at some point. Since it’s over 900 pages, this will last a good long while!

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Such a beautifully written book! I listened to the audiobook my first time around, and I think lying on the beach of my deserted island with this book in hand would give me a whole new opportunity to enjoy it all over again.

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht

This just seems like a really practical choice for a deserted island situation. Although if I were truly being practical, then this list should include a medical book, something on identifying edible plants, and perhaps a book on sending smoke signals?

What books would you want along on a deserted island? Please share your TTT links!

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The Monday Check-In ~ 7/26/2021

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My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

I have barely had time to read this week! We have family visiting, which is awesome, but also means that my usual “me time” has kind of disappeared. I’ve also spent most of the week working at my office rather than at home, and while it’s been fun to be back and see coworkers again, it’s a BIG adjustment in terms of lifestyle. (Whaaaaat??? I can’t wear pajama pants and slippers all day?)

What did I read during the last week?

Any Way the Wind Blows by Rainbow Rowell: The 3rd and final book in the Simon Snow trilogy! I’m so sad to see it come to an end. I love these characters so much! My review is here.

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix: Just as weird as you’d expect a new horror novel by this author to be! My review is here.

Bookish events:

This past weekend, my book group had a Zoom discussion with William Kent Krueger, the author of the beautiful This Tender Land. He was witty and engaging, very open to answering our questions, and so smart and kind. As if I had any doubt, I absolutely need to read more of his books! (I haven’t gotten around to writing an actual review of the book yet, but my two-word version is: Loved. It.)

Pop culture & TV:

I’ve been watching season 2 of Never Have I Ever on Netflix, and it’s just as good as season 1! I’d hoped to finish already, but well, life gets in the way.

Puzzle of the Week:

This week, I did my 4th and final puzzle in a series (The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady). This was a tough one — so much grass! Green, green, and more green. But I really liked it.

Fresh Catch:

Related to my recent puzzles, I only just learned that the puzzles are based on illustrations from a book — and once I knew that, I just had to have it. I bought myself a copy this week, and it’s beautiful:

I also treated myself to another book by William Kent Krueger, after our amazing book group discussion with him. Although I think the group may select this one as a monthly read for next year, so now my dilemma is — read now, or wait for the group?

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig: I loved Wanderers when I read it last year, and I’m really excited to be starting this new book.

Now playing via audiobook:

Mistletoe & Mr. Right (Moose Springs, #2) by Sarah Morgenthaler: I’ve listened to about half so far. It’s sweet and charming — definitely light entertainment, which is something I needed this week.

Ongoing reads:

Outlander Book Club is doing a speed-re-read of Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, #8 in the Outlander series. We’re reading and discussing 5 chapters per week. Let me know if you want to join in — the more, the merrier! This week: Chapters 61 – 65.

So many books, so little time…

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Book Review: The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

Title: The Final Girl Support Group
Author: Grady Hendrix
Publisher: Berkley
Publication date: July 13, 2021
Length: 352 pages
Genre: Horror
Source: Purchased
Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

A fast-paced, thrilling horror novel that follows a group of heroines to die for, from the brilliant New York Times bestselling author of The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires.

In horror movies, the final girl is the one who’s left standing when the credits roll. The one who fought back, defeated the killer, and avenged her friends. The one who emerges bloodied but victorious. But after the sirens fade and the audience moves on, what happens to her?

Lynnette Tarkington is a real-life final girl who survived a massacre twenty-two years ago, and it has defined every day of her life since. And she’s not alone. For more than a decade she’s been meeting with five other actual final girls and their therapist in a support group for those who survived the unthinkable, putting their lives back together, piece by piece. That is until one of the women misses a meeting and Lynnette’s worst fears are realized–someone knows about the group and is determined to take their lives apart again, piece by piece.

But the thing about these final girls is that they have each other now, and no matter how bad the odds, how dark the night, how sharp the knife, they will never, ever give up.

The Final Girl Support Group is set in our contemporary world, but with one key change: Remember all those slasher movies of the 80s and 90s? The ones where seemingly unstoppable madmen stalk groups of victims through the woods or at summer camps, using increasingly bizarre weapons to kill and kill and kill? In the world of The Final Girl Support Group, those movies are film adaptations of real-life murder sprees. The surviving Final Girl of each horrific act of murder sells her franchise rights, and the film versions make them into pop culture superstars… and highly scrutinized attractions for all sorts of stalkers and murder fans and other dangerous folks.

As the book opens, the support group is meeting, although after 16 years, it’s unclear to some of the members why they continue to meet. Nothing changes, and they devolve into bickering, yet they all need the group in their lives. For the women in the group, their lives after their incidents have taken different paths, yet none can be said to be truly healthy or normal. One woman is a junkie, one married for wealth and lives a pampered life surrounded by security walls and cameras, one, confined to a wheelchair, is a political activist, and our narrator Lynnette lives a life of absolute paranoia and devotion to safety. Only Dani, living in a long-term relationship on a remote ranch, and Adrienne, who runs a camp for victims of violence at the same site where she was once a Final Girl, seem to be anywhere close to living truly fulfilled lives.

When Adrienne fails to show for group the day after news coverage shows a new massacre at her camp, the group is fearful and soon learns the worst — Adrienne has been tracked down and murdered. They all flee, each seeking some form of safety. For Lynnette, she knows in her bones that nowhere is truly safe. She has countless escape routes and backup plans, but when all fail her, she has to go on the run and start to rely on people besides herself, something she’s never been willing to do.

The Final Girl Support Group is a horror story in which we learn, in bits and pieces, about the horrific scenes of violence that each of these women survived as young girls. It’s also a story of escape, with a road trip thrown in, and a story of friendship and connection, as this group of women — who have only their victimhood in common — are thrown together despite mistrust and even outright dislike to try to defeat the ultimate bad guy.

I tore through the book pretty quickly, but I’m not sure that it truly worked for me. The story is somewhat disjointed — we learn about each woman’s particular horror story over the course of the novel, but having the details doled out as they were kept me from truly understanding their experiences as we meet them. I never felt particularly connected to some of the characters, and actually found it confusing to keep them all and their particular traumas straight.

Lynnette is fascinating, although being inside her mind can be exhausting. I wish we’d learned more about her awful history earlier in the book as well. There seem to be a lot of barriers before I could feel like I had a good grasp on who she is and, more importantly, what happened to make her the way she is.

The book includes media snippets in between chapters, talking about the Final Girl movie phenomenon or including excerpts of articles about the girls or pieces of their police interrogations. These are fun, but again, something about the pacing and the way information is included made the overall narrative feel confusing to me.

I did really like the overall concept — that slasher movies are basically depictions of real events, and that certain franchises get sequels because in their real lives, the bad guys keep coming back, over and over and over. For a Final Girl, it’s never really over.

The Final Girl Support Group builds to a fast-paced, dramatic sequel that feels worthy of a scary slasher movie scene all its own.

I’ve read most of Grady Hendrix’s other novels (there just one I still need to read!), and I’ve loved them all so far. He writes bizarre, quirky, weird horror, and it’s usually right up my alley. The Final Girl Support Group didn’t quite work for me the same way his other books have. I got caught up in the story, but always felt like I was missing something. I recommend it, but not quite as much as, for example, Horrorstor or The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires.

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Through affiliate programs, I may earn commissions from purchases made when you click through these links, at no cost to you.

Buy now at Amazon – Book Depository – Bookshop.org

Book Review: Any Way the Wind Blows (Simon Snow, #3) by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Any Way the Wind Blows (Simon Snow, #3)
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication date: July 6, 2021
Length: 579 pages
Genre: Young adult fantasy
Source: Purchased
Rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

In Carry On, Simon Snow and his friends realized that everything they thought they understood about the world might be wrong. And in Wayward Son, they wondered whether everything they understood about themselves might be wrong.

In Any Way the Wind Blows, Simon and Baz and Penelope and Agatha have to decide how to move forward.

For Simon, that means deciding whether he still wants to be part of the World of Mages — and if he doesn’t, what does that mean for his relationship with Baz? Meanwhile Baz is bouncing between two family crises and not finding any time to talk to anyone about his newfound vampire knowledge. Penelope would love to help, but she’s smuggled an American Normal into London, and now she isn’t sure what to do with him. And Agatha? Well, Agatha Wellbelove has had enough.

Any Way the Wind Blows takes the gang back to England, back to Watford, and back to their families for their longest and most emotionally wrenching adventure yet.

This book is a finale. It tells secrets and answers questions and lays ghosts to rest.

Carry On was conceived as a book about Chosen One stories; Any Way the Wind Blows is an ending about endings. About catharsis and closure, and how we choose to move on from the traumas and triumphs that try to define us.

Note: I’ll try not to be too spoiler-y about Any Way the Wind Blows, but since this is the 3rd book in a trilogy, there will be spoilers for the first two books. You have been warned!

In Carry On, we meet Simon Snow, the most powerful magician of his generation. Simon is the Chosen One, the boy destined to save the World of Mages from its most dastardly threats. Carry On is very much a Harry Potter-esque story — Simon is an orphan, brought to Watford, England’s school of magic, and nurtured as the protégé of the Mage, the school’s powerful, dashing headmaster who exerts influence over all elements of the magical world.

But what would have happened to Harry Potter if, rather than killing the evil Lord Voldemort, he grew in power only to discover that his beloved mentor Albus Dumbledore was actually the villain, set on gathering all power for himself and bending the magical world to his own wishes? This is more or less where Simon finds himself at the end of Carry On. He and his friends confront the greatest evil, ready for the ultimate showdown, only to discover that it’s the Mage himself who’s behind all the bad. And then, inadvertently, Simon kills him.

The end.

But what happens to Simon next? What happens after you face your biggest foe and win, but cause death and the end of the life you knew?

In Wayward Son, Simon and his friends go on a roadtrip in America, experiencing challenges and dangers and adventure, while also giving Simon time to process how very upended his life has become. It’s very action-packed, and there isn’t a whole lot of time for contemplation.

But in Any Way the Wind Blows, back in England, it’s time to confront their futures. For Simon, he’s finally romantically involved with Baz, who was his nemesis and awful roommate during their years at Watford, only to eventually realize that beneath their mutual distrust and dislike was a simmering attraction and depth of feelings. For Simon’s bestie Penelope, she’s ready to resume being the cleverest magician around, except she’s brought a Normal (Muggle) back from American on a mission to cure him of a demonic curse — and as a result, has to not only put all her magical skills to the test, but also challenge magical society’s prejudices about non-magical people. And for Agatha, Simon’s former school girlfriend, she has to find a way to make sense of her life apart from being the beautiful girl always being rescued by Simon.

They all have a lot to deal with, clearly.

Simon suffers the most of all of them. At the end of Carry On, he lost all his magic, but ended up with dragon wings and a tail. He’s madly and passionately in love with Baz, and they’re trying to have a relationship, but at the same time, Simon absolutely doesn’t know how to be intimate or open with another person. It’s not just about physical intimacy — he loves Baz and knows that Baz loves him, but he has literal panic attacks when they get too close. Simon has spent his early life in foster homes, has no family, and has spent his formative years being a savior. What does he do when he has no magic, can’t save anyone, and no longer belongs in the world he thought he was meant to save? And how does he let Baz in when he doesn’t understand himself or who he is?

Simon and Baz’s relationship has ups and downs throughout the book, and parts are painful to read. They’re awkward, and Simon is so clearly suffering. He’s so full of want, but also so fearful, and he just doesn’t know how to be. Baz is absolutely lovely with Simon, even as he also learns more about his own (vampiric) nature and what that might mean for the rest of his life.

To be honest, while I wasn’t exactly bored at any point, I did find Penelope and Agatha’s storylines less interesting than Simon and Baz’s, and since the book alternates focus between the characters from chapter to chapter and section to section, I was always a little reluctant to move away from the main points of interest to delve into the supporting plotlines.

At almost 600 pages, this book is much longer than the previous one, and while I loved it as a whole, I think a large part of that is due to how much I love the characters. When you read a long, involved series, the characters can become more than just people on a page — or at least, that’s true for me when reading really excellent stories with amazing world-building and character development. It’s something of a double-edged sword though, because I become so invested in the characters I love that I don’t particularly want any plot points to get in the way of their happiness… which wouldn’t lead to a very interesting story.

In the case of Any Way the Wind Blows, this means that I was unhappy whenever Simon and Baz were unhappy, even if their unhappiness was part of their journey toward finding their way forward in their relationship. (If I’m making any sense at all…)

In terms of the plot, I enjoyed a lot of this book, although the overarching mystery/drama about the rise of a new Chosen One didn’t particularly resonate for me. There were things I was hoping would happen by the end of the book that didn’t (being cryptic here), and even though that’s hard for me to accept, it makes sense. At the same time, I felt unsatisfied by the lack of answers to certain questions, and felt that the story just kind of ended. There’s an epilogue that gives a lovely ending situation to one character, but it’s a year after the main events of the book… so what happened to everyone else and where are they now??

I love the Simon Snow books as a whole, and I love Simon and Baz so much (and yes, even Penelope and Agatha)… but I wish I’d felt a little more fulfilled when all was said and done. I may need to let this one simmer for a bit and come back to it again, to see if my feelings change over time.

Meanwhile, I think I’ll go back and listen to Carry On all over again, to revisit the origin story with full knowledge of how it all turns out. Carry On is an introduction to a trilogy that — with Wayward Son and Any Way the Wind Blows — ends up not being about a powerful magician in a magical world, but what happens to a formerly powerful magician who doesn’t fit in in any world.

Overall, it’s a fabulous journey with characters who can make my heart happy and also break it into pieces. Come for the magic wands, stay for the Simon and Baz lovefest. And Agatha. And goats (yes, really). And even Penelope and her Normal. As a whole, I heartily recommend the Simon Snow trilogy. It’s not what it seems like it’s going to be, but what it is is very, very cool.

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Shelf Control #278: Night Road by Kristin Hannah

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

Title: Night Road
Author: Kristin Hannah
Published: 2011
Length: 385 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Jude Farraday is a happily married, stay-at-home mom who puts everyone’s needs above her own. Her twins, Mia and Zach, are bright and happy teenagers. When Lexi Baill enters their lives, no one is more supportive than Jude. A former foster child with a dark past, Lexi quickly becomes Mia’s best friend. Then Zach falls in love with Lexi and the three become inseparable. But senior year of high school brings unexpected dangers and one night, Jude’s worst fears are confirmed: there is an accident. In an instant, her idyllic life is shattered and her close-knit community is torn apart. People—and Jude—demand justice, and when the finger of blame is pointed, it lands solely on eighteen-year-old Lexi Baill. In a heartbeat, their love for each other will be shattered, the family broken. Lexi gives up everything that matters to her—the boy she loves, her place in the family, the best friend she ever had—while Jude loses even more.

When Lexi returns, older and wiser, she demands a reckoning. Long buried feelings will rise again, and Jude will finally have to face the woman she has become. She must decide whether to remain broken or try to forgive both Lexi…and herself.

Night Road is a vivid, emotionally complex novel that raises profound questions about motherhood, loss, identity, and forgiveness. It is an exquisite, heartbreaking novel that speaks to women everywhere about the things that matter most. 

How and when I got it:

I bought a paperback edition about two years ago.

Why I want to read it:

I know Kristin Hannah has been a bestselling author for many years, but I’ve only recently read anything by her, and the two books I read (The Great Alone and The Four Winds) both blew me away. I feel in love with the books, the characters, and the settings, and have been wanting to read more of her books.

This sounds like a dark domestic drama. I love stories involving family secrets and found families. The description does make me a little nervous that the events will be too heartbreaking for my poor tender feelings, but I’m also intrigued to find out more about what happens and how the family is changed over time.

What do you think? Would you read this book? Or are there any other Kristin Hannah books you’d recommend?

Please share your thoughts!


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  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
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