Audiobook Review: Miss Kopp Investigates by Amy Stewart

Title: Miss Kopp Investigates (Kopp Sisters, #7)
Author: Amy Stewart
Narrator: Christina Moore
Publisher: Mariner Books
Publication date: September 7 , 2021
Print length: 320 pages
Audiobook length: 8 hours 17 minutes
Genre: Historical fiction
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher; audiobook via Audible
Rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Life after the war takes an unexpected turn for the Kopp sisters, but soon enough, they are putting their unique detective skills to use in new and daring ways. 

Winter 1919: Norma is summoned home from France, Constance is called back from Washington, and Fleurette puts her own plans on hold as the sisters rally around their recently widowed sister-in-law and her children. How are four women going to support themselves? 

A chance encounter offers Fleurette a solution: clandestine legal work for a former colleague of Constance’s. She becomes a “professional co-respondent,” posing as the “other woman” in divorce cases so that photographs can be entered as evidence to procure a divorce. While her late-night assignments are both exciting and lucrative, they put her on a collision course with her own family, who would never approve of such disreputable work. One client’s suspicious behavior leads Fleurette to uncover a much larger crime, putting her in the unlikely position of amateur detective.  

In Miss Kopp Investigates, Amy Stewart once again brilliantly captures the women of this era—their ambitions for the future as well as the ties that bind—at the start of a promising new decade.  

The Kopp Sisters books are a mix of historical fact and fictional storytelling, as author Amy Stewart follows the lives of three real sisters and brings them to glorious life through her excellent writing.

In Miss Kopp Investigates, the 7th book in the series, the three Kopp sisters have returned home to New Jersey in the aftermath of World War I, but all is not well. Their older brother Francis has died suddenly, leaving behind a pregnant wife (Bessie), two children, and piles of debt. The sisters are grieving their loss, but they’re also the Kopp sisters — which means that they absolutely do not wallow or give up. Instead, they stand beside their bereaved sister-in-law and come up with plans to support her and the children, even though this means giving up their own dreams.

For Constance, who’s been the lead character in the series so far, this means turning down her dream job, a position with the Bureau of Investigations in Washington training women in law enforcement. For Norma, the bossy, curmudgeonly sister whose crazy ideas about messenger pigeons ended up working brilliantly during the war, it’s a return to New Jersey instead of staying in Europe to do relief work with a friend. And for Fleurette, the youngest sister who dreams of stardom on the stage, it’s abandoning her hopes of moving out and preparing for her return to her singing career.

Alas, poor Fleurette also has a damaged voice after a bad case of strep throat, and her once-beautiful voice isn’t coming back to her as it was. Now, with a new plan to support Bessie, Fleurette feels sad and unfulfilled and as though all her hopes are gone. Enter John Wood, a slick-talking divorce lawyer already acquainted with the Kopps, with a proposition for Fleurette. Why not use her acting skills in a new and different way? Divorces in New Jersey can only move forward if there’s cause, and he has clients who need evidence of adultery, even if none actually occurred. Fleurette’s role would be to be photographed (fully clothed!! nothing actually unseemly!!) being embraced by a man as if caught in the act. Her face would not be shown, she’d be protected by one of the law firm employees at all times, and she’d earn very good money for her efforts.

At first, Fleurette is shocked… but then she starts to think about it as playing a role. She’d pick her own costumes and characters, put in an evening’s work, and would earn enough to really contribute to the household. Why not?

I was surprised to discover that Miss Kopp Investigates focuses on Fleurette’s adventures — her first time as the lead character. Constance is mostly in the background, and while Norma is her grumpy, bossy self here, she’s also secondary. I admit that I was a little hesitant about spending that much time with Fleurette, who has often seemed shallow and self-centered in previous books, but I ended up being delighted by her fresh voice and her determination (as well as her occasional silliness and vanity).

Without going too much further into the plot details, I can say that Fleurette’s story takes some unexpected turns, and while her pursuits are done on her own and in secret, her story still intersects throughout with her sisters’ and with their shared goal of supporting and protecting their brother’s family.

The author once again provides snappy dialogue and distinct characters — both the Kopp sisters as well as the supporting and minor characters — and roots it all in a portrayal of post-war life that feels real and well-researched.

The plot zips along, and while settling back into post-war life is perhaps not quite as exciting as the war years, it’s still entertaining to see how the Kopp sisters fend for themselves and chart their own course.

The audiobook is wonderful, with the talented Christina Moore once again absolutely shining as she brings Constance, Norma, and Fleurette to life. Listening to her speaking as Norma, we immediately know exactly what sort of person she is — tough, take-charge, no backing down, and probably a nightmare to actually live with. Likewise for Fleurette — the narrator absolutely nails her youth, her vision of herself and what she yearns for, just by speaking in her voice.

Amy Stewart has shared that this is the last Kopp Sisters book, at least for a while. She hasn’t said she’ll never go back to their stories, just that she has no plans to do so at this time and will be working on other projects. While that’s very sad news and I hope she does end up continuing this series, Miss Kopp Investigates also ends in such a way that we readers can feel satisfied with where we’re leaving the family. As the author has said, she’s leaving them in a good place, and we can still have the pleasure of imagining what’s next!

I do love this series, and recommend the books whenever I can. If you’ve read this far, you’ll absolutely want to read Miss Kopp Investigates! And if you’re an audiobook listener, then do check out the audiobooks for the Kopp Sisters series. You’ll be in for a treat!

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The series so far:
Girl Waits With Gun
Lady Cop Makes Trouble
Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions
Miss Kopp Just Won’t Quit
Kopp Sisters on the March

Dear Miss Kopp


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Signed copies available via Downtown Brown Books

Shelf Control #286: Sorry I Missed You by Suzy Krause

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: Sorry I Missed You
Author: Suzy Krause
Published: 2020
Length: 315 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

A poignant and heartwarming novel about friendship, ghosting, and searching for answers to life’s mysteries.

When Mackenzie, Sunna, and Maude move into a converted rental house, they are strangers with only one thing in common—important people in their lives have “ghosted” them. Mackenzie’s sister, Sunna’s best friend, and Maude’s fiancé—all gone with no explanation.

So when a mangled, near-indecipherable letter arrives in their shared mailbox—hinting at long-awaited answers—each tenant assumes it’s for her. The mismatched trio decides to stake out the coffee shop named in the letter—the only clue they have—and in the process, a bizarre kinship forms. But the more they learn about each other, the more questions (and suspicions) they begin to have. All the while, creepy sounds and strange happenings around the property suggest that the ghosts from their pasts might not be all that’s haunting them…

Will any of the housemates find the closure they are looking for? Or are some doors meant to remain closed?

Quirky, humorous, and utterly original, Sorry I Missed You is the perfect read for anyone who has ever felt haunted by their past (or by anything else).

How and when I got it:

I believe this was one of Amazon’s free monthly choices for Prime members last spring, so I grabbed it.

Why I want to read it:

Honestly, I didn’t even remember that I had this on my Kindle until I went looking for ideas for this week’s Shelf Control post! It must have been a spontaneous click on the “buy now” button…

In any case, don’t we all need light, cheery contemporary stories from time to time? I can’t tell from the description whether there is actually supposed to be a ghostly element to the story (I’m guessing not), but it sounds like fun. I like the sound of strangers becoming friends as they look into mysterious messages, and it sounds like it would be a good upbeat read.

IWhat 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: Books on My Fall 2021 TBR List

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 on My Fall 2021 To-read List. It’s so hard to stick with just 10! There are so many books I’m dying to read… but for purposes of this list, I’m sticking with upcoming new releases this time around.

Looks like my October and November will be especially busy!

Going by release date (except for #1), my top 10 are:

Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone by Diana Gabaldon

Release date: November 23rd

The book I’m most excited for! My family will have to excuse my anti-social obsessive reading behavior over Thanksgiving.

Horseman by Christina Henry

Release Date: September 28th

Ambush or Adore by Gail Carriger

Release date: October 1st

The Vanished Days by Susanna Kearsley

Release date: October 5th

A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow

Release date: October 5th

A Twist of Fate by Kelley Armstrong

Release date: October 5th

Well Matched by Jen DeLuca

Release date: October 19th

Grave Reservations by Cherie Priest

Release date: October 26th

Gilded by Marissa Meyer

Release date: November 2nd

Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

Release date: November 30th

What books are on your TTT list this week? Please share your links!

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The Monday Check-In ~ 9/20/2021

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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.

Photo by Genaro Servu00edn on Pexels.com

Hey, hey, it’s my birthday!

I don’t make much of a fuss about it, and my plans are pretty low-key. I’m working today, after all! But my husband and I did enjoy a nice pre-birthday dinner out this past Friday, at a favorite restaurant that has a really pretty outdoor seating set-up.

Other than that… 3 of the 4 of us on my work team have September birthdays, so we had a group lunch to celebrate last week.

And I’ve been told that we’ll do a family dinner out sometime this week, depending on everyone’s schedules.

Meanwhile, I feel blessed to have a wonderful family, all in good health!

Blogging update:

When it comes to blogging, I haven’t been feeling it, really, over the last couple of weeks — probably because I’ve been traveling and super busy. I just wrote my first review in about two weeks!

I’m still reading, but trying to balance reading the spur-of-the-moment books that I pick up with my ARC pile, so I don’t end up loaded down by obligation reading. It’s always a challenge!

All this to say — I’m still here, just pulled into too many directions right now to be very good about regular blogging or spending time keeping up with other people’s blogs the way I want to.

I’m sure things will settle down… eventually… and I’ll get back to (more or less) normal routines.

What did I read during the last week?

Rosemary and Rue (October Daye, #1) by Seanan McGuire: Super fun to go back to the beginning of this fabulous series via audiobook!

When Sorrows Come (October Daye, #15) by Seanan McGuire: In addition to listening to the first in the series, I read the brand-new release in the ongoing October Daye series. My review is here.

The Pick-Up by Miranda Kenneally: A fun, quick read by a terrific YA author. My review is here.

Pop culture & TV:

I watched the first 3 episodes of Y: The Last Man. Really liking it so far!

Fresh Catch:

I didn’t buy any new books this week, but I did treat myself to two new bookish shirts:

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

An Observant Wife by Naomi Ragen: This is a sequel to An Unorthodox Match, which I found so interesting. I’ve only just started this book — looking forward to getting further into it.

Now playing via audiobook:

Miss Kopp Investigates (Kopp Sisters, #7) by Amy Stewart: A new Kopp Sisters book is always a treat, and I just love the narration for these audiobooks!

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. This week: Chapters 101 – 105.

Haven’t started this one yet, but our next group classic read will be Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak. We’re starting next week!

So many books, so little time…

boy1

Book Review: The Pick-Up by Miranda Kenneally

Title: The Pick-Up
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication date: September 7, 2021
Length: 250 pages
Genre: YA contemporary
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley
Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

When Mari hails a rideshare to a music festival, the last thing she expects is for the car to pick up a gorgeous guy along the way. Mari doesn’t believe in dating–it can only end with a broken heart. Besides, she’s only staying at her dad’s house in Chicago for the weekend. How close can you get to a guy in three days?

TJ wants to study art in college, but his family’s expectations cast a long shadow over his dreams. When he meets Mari in the back of a rideshare, he feels alive for the first time in a long time.

Mari and TJ enter the festival together and share an electric moment but get separated in a crowd with seemingly no way to find each other. When fate reunites them (with a little help from a viral hashtag), they’ll have to decide: was it love at first sight, or the start of nothing more than a weekend fling? 

Miranda Kenneally, author of the terrific Hundred Oaks series, is back with a fresh new stand-alone YA novel. The PIck-Up is a quick read with sweet romantic moments as well as more serious reflections on family and damaged relationships.

When TJ and Mari meet in a ride-share, their immediate attraction gives each a fresh burst of hope and excitement, and as they spend time together at the music festival, their connection seems instant and electric. At first, seeing them separated by the crowd and trying to find one another again, despite not exchanging contact info, I thought we were in for a story about missed connections and long searches. But thankfully, this wasn’t that!

Instead, TJ and Mari do manage to reconnect, thanks to the intervention of their friends, and commit to spending more time together over the weekend.

They each bring baggage, though. TJ is in Chicago for the weekend staying with his older brother, to whom he always compares himself and finds himself lacking. TJ’s family expects him to study business when he starts college in the fall, but he secretly yearns to pursue his passion for art.

Meanwhile, Mari is staying with her dad, stepmom, and stepsister for the weekend before returning to her home in Tennessee. Her parents divorced after her father’s affair with the woman he ended up marrying, and Mari’s mother is so consumed by anger and bitterness that she takes it out on Mari. Her verbal abuse has taken a frightening turn to the physical, and Mari both wants to stay with her father and is scared to mention it, for fear that it’ll just make things with her mother even worse.

As TJ and Mari spend time together, they each experience the highs of early attraction and emotional connection, but each also has to contend with their own fears and insecurities.

The story is told in chapters that alternate between TJ and Mari as narrators, and it’s a really effective way to show how their perspectives on the same events can be different and still make sense to the person experiencing it. While they’re both struggling with family issues, Mari’s are much more serious, and her scenes of confronting her father with her feelings and her fears are deeply affecting.

While there are plenty of serious matters portrayed throughout The Pick-Up, there’s also a lot of fun, from scenes at the festival to a Ferris wheel ride to goofy beach shenanigans. Mari and TJ have chemistry, and I really enjoyed Mari’s stepsister as a character as well.

Miranda Kenneally has a gift for creating well-drawn teen characters who feel real. They’re not idealized — they’re complicated and messy and emotional, and that’s what makes them so compelling to read about.

I really enjoyed The Pick-Up, just like I’ve enjoyed pretty much everything I’ve read by this author. Check it out!

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Buy now at Amazon – Book Depository – Bookshop.org

Book Review: When Sorrows Come (October Daye, #15) by Seanan McGuire

Title: When Sorrows Come (October Daye, #15)
Author: Seanan McGuire
Publisher: DAW
Publication date: September 14, 2021
Print length: 384 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Source: Purchased
Rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Toby’s getting married! Now in hardcover, the fifteenth novel of the Hugo-nominated, New York Times-bestselling October Daye urban fantasy series.

It’s hard to be a hero. There’s always something needing October “Toby” Daye’s attention, and her own desires tend to fall by the wayside in favor of solving the Kingdom’s problems. That includes the desire to marry her long-time suitor and current fiancé, Tybalt, San Francisco’s King of Cats. She doesn’t mean to keep delaying the wedding, it just sort of…happens. And that’s why her closest friends have taken the choice out of her hands, ambushing her with a court wedding at the High Court in Toronto. Once the High King gets involved, there’s not much even Toby can do to delay things…

…except for getting involved in stopping a plot to overthrow the High Throne itself, destabilizing the Westlands entirely, and keeping her from getting married through nothing more than the sheer volume of chaos it would cause. Can Toby save the Westlands and make it to her own wedding on time? Or is she going to have to choose one over the other?

Includes an all-new bonus novella! 

I’m willing to put a stake in the ground and state definitely that all October Daye books deserve at least 4 stars. (Well, maybe not quite books 2 & 3, but the series was still finding its footing at that point, so we’ll just pretend those were growing pains.)

15 books in, I’m at that difficult point in a series where I love the characters so, so much that I just want them all to be perfectly happy all the time. But where’s the excitement in that? So naturally, even though this book is very much about our lead character’s wedding, knowing October Daye, it absolutely can’t go off without a hitch. And lots of blood.

In When Sorrows Come, Toby and Tybalt are finally almost at their wedding day. Toby very much wants to marry Tybalt, but also very much does not want anything to do with wedding planning. Just tell her when to show up, basically. And so, the whole gang is off to Toronto, to the demesne of the High King, to celebrate the couple’s big day.

And of course, they stumble right into a nefarious plot to overthrow the High King, complete with Doppelgangers, assassination attempts, and a household thrown into chaos. What’s Toby to do but wade into the thick of things, figure out the deadly plot, and still make it to her wedding in one piece?

The story is action-packed, but also leaves time for Toby to reflect on how her relationship with Tybalt has grown over time, her relationships with the other members of her found family, and what might come next in the tangled world of Faerie.

All the favorite characters are here, Toby has some lovely reunions with long-lost connections, and there are some teary-eyed sentimental beats that left me feeling swept away. Plus, as I mentioned, buckets of blood.

When Sorrows Come includes the humor and wit that feature in all Seanan McGuire books. I adore the writing! Some choice selections from minor moments:

One entire wall was ovens and stoves and open holes leading to oceans of flame that probably had some reasonable name like “pizza ovens” or “big fucking baking place,” but looked to me a lot more like gateways into the human concept of Hell.

… and …

Maybe the knowe understood that we really weren’t civilized people and was just trying to save us the embarrassment of me forgetting which fork was supposed to go in my salad versus which fork was supposed to go in the person I was trying to kill.

… and …

If everyone got to stab someone on my wedding day except for me, I was going to be even more annoyed than I already was.

… and …

Being fae doesn’t make you immune to being a massive nerd. It just gives you more time to really plumb the depths of your potential nerdery.

You get the idea.

I gave this book 4.5 stars instead of 5, mainly because the sedition plotline really is a way to prolong the lead-up to the wedding, and the more it stretched on, the more annoyed I got at the delay. Just let Toby and Tybalt get married already!

Needless to say, the book ends with the wedding, and includes a bonus novella at the end, “And With Reveling”, set at the wedding reception, that adds a nice little finish filled with humor and love.

It’s often a fear that in an ongoing series, once the wedding happens, the story is basically done. But clearly, Toby and Tybalt getting married doesn’t equate to a Happily-Ever-After, The End, Nothing More to Say. There are many challenges and adventures ahead of them, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

After their Land of Disney honeymoon.

In case it isn’t perfectly clear, this is my favorite urban fantasy series, and I recommend it to one and all. Start at the beginning with Rosemary and Rue (which I just re-read via audio this week), and keep going. It gets better and better, and you’ll love the characters as much as I do.

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Buy now at Amazon – Book Depository – Bookshop.org

Shelf Control #285: The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows

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 Truth According to Us
Author: Annie Barrows
Published: 2015
Length: 486 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

In the summer of 1938, Layla Beck’s father, a United States senator, cuts off her allowance and demands that she find employment on the Federal Writers’ Project, a New Deal jobs program. Within days, Layla finds herself far from her accustomed social whirl, assigned to cover the history of the remote mill town of Macedonia, West Virginia, and destined, in her opinion, to go completely mad with boredom. But once she secures a room in the home of the unconventional Romeyn family, she is drawn into their complex world and soon discovers that the truth of the town is entangled in the thorny past of the Romeyn dynasty.

At the Romeyn house, twelve-year-old Willa is desperate to learn everything in her quest to acquire her favorite virtues of ferocity and devotion—a search that leads her into a thicket of mysteries, including the questionable business that occupies her charismatic father and the reason her adored aunt Jottie remains unmarried. Layla’s arrival strikes a match to the family veneer, bringing to light buried secrets that will tell a new tale about the Romeyns. As Willa peels back the layers of her family’s past, and Layla delves deeper into town legend, everyone involved is transformed—and their personal histories completely rewritten.

How and when I got it:

I picked up a paperback edition several years ago, most likely at our annual library sale.

Why I want to read it:

I don’t think I even read the synopsis of this book until just now as I started writing my Shelf Control post! The main reason I picked up a copy is that Annie Barrows is one of the authors of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which I really enjoyed.

I’m a fan of historical fiction, but I’ve realized that I haven’t read much set during the 1930s with a focus on New Deal projects, rather than focusing on the build-up to World War II. I do think this sounds really different and interesting — plus, a book group friend spoke highly of this book, and I tend to take her word for it when she recommends a book!

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: Books with Numbers in the Title

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 with Numbers in the Title. I did this topic in 2019 (my post is here), going in numerical order from 1 to 10 — so to avoid repeating myself, this time I’m going to stick with numbers greater than 10!

Keeping it simple, my ten books are:

What books are on your TTT list this week? Please share your links!

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The Monday Check-In ~ 9/13/2021

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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’m back!

I just spent a wonderful week in North Carolina with my daughter, splitting our time between Raleigh/Durham and the Asheville area. We hiked, shopped, enjoyed amazing views, beautiful outdoor spaces, read tons, and enjoyed each others’ company.

Now I’m home again, catching up on emails, blogging, bills, and laundry. Sigh. Back to the real world!

What did I read during the last week?

Between long hours on airplanes and quiet times where we both indulged our love of reading, I did manage to get through a few books this week. I wrote up a wrap-up post (here) with reviews of all my new reads from the past two weeks. These are the books I finished during my travels:

Pop culture & TV:

The only TV viewing I did this past week was watching the first couple of episodes of the new season of What We Do In the Shadows. Love it so much.

Fresh Catch:

Even though I read an ARC of this book, when I saw a paperback in a used book store, I had to have it:

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Sunrise by the Sea by Jenny Colgan: I started this book on the flight home, and the hours zipped by!

Now playing via audiobook:

Rosemary & Rue (October Daye, #1) by Seanan McGuire: My daughter is as big a fan of the October Daye series as I am, so we decided to indulge in the first audiobook of the series while on our road trip.

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. This week: Chapters 96 – 100.

Haven’t started this one yet, but our next group classic read will be Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak. We’ll be starting at the end of September. If you’re interested in participating, just let me know!

So many books, so little time…

boy1

Travel reading wrap-up (fall 2021): A batch of mini-reviews — high school drama, Aztec vampires, and classics retold

I’ve just returned from a one-week trip (which was all sorts of awesome), and realize that I’ve fallen way behind on my reviews. Here’s a quick wrap-up of what I read while I was away (and the week before, when I was already in pre-trip mode). As always, a mix of genres, topics, and new vs old.


Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado: A YA story starring a plus-sized Latina high schooler who dreams of a first kiss, even while feeling like she’ll never measure up. The story emphasizes the importance of true friendship and trust, as well as body positivity. Charlie experiences a first relationship, has her relationship with her best friend tested, gains confidence as a writer, and learns to stand up for herself and not let others’ negativity undermine her belief in herself. While there are some plot points that I found frustrating (such as a mother whose toxicity about Charlie’s weight is never truly resolved, and unnecessary break-ups with both her boyfriend and her best friend), I loved the lead character enough to make this a really enjoyable read overall.

Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: This is my 3rd book by this author, but it definitely won’t be my last. Certain Dark Things is a gritty, noir-ish story of vampires, gangs, and drug runners in Mexico City. The main character is a teen boy who devotes himself to helping a lone Aztec vampire escape the city and the various other clans of vampires who want to see her and her people wiped out. It’s a fascinating spin on the world of vampires, and while I would have liked to have seen a bit more on the origins and natures of the different vampire species, I still really enjoyed this book. It’s dark, fast-paced, and surprising.

Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.


Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers: I guess I should have read the full synopsis, instead of deciding after just the first sentence that this book sounded like fun. The main character wakes up alone in a Las Vegas hotel room with a vague, hung-over memory of having married an adorable woman the night before. All she has to go on is a note left by the woman with a radio station listed. Grace decides to track down the mystery woman… but for the most part, despite the potential rom-com set-up, this is a story about a woman trying to find her place in the world, figure out who she’s meant to be, and understand her relationships with family and friends. Maybe because I went into it with incorrect (or incomplete) expectations, I was mostly frustrated and annoyed by the depth’s of the main character’s introspection and occasional selfishness.

Rating:

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle: This YA retelling of Romeo and Juliet offers a fresh perspective — that of Rosaline, the girl Romeo loved before meeting Juliet. Here, the teens are seniors at an upscale California high school. Rose has been looking forward to reuniting with Rob, her best friend and boy next door since they were small children, especially since their near-kiss right before he left for his summer job. But within a few days of school starting, Rob dumps Rose for the new girl in town — the mysterious Juliet, who also happens to be Rose’s cousin. I really liked the way the author turned the classic story into a contemporary YA drama, and found her portrayal of Rose very thoughtful as well as being a creative twist on a tale that’s been told and retold so many times. When You Were Mine follows some, but not all, of the original’s storyline, and the little differences keep this book fresh and engaging. Sure, I have a few quibbles and would have liked to see a few plot points handled differently, but overall, this is quite a good read.

Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Bennet Women by Eden Appiah-Kubi: Another classic retold! This twist on Pride and Prejudice centers on the “Bennet Women” — the young undergraduate women living in Bennet House at Longbourn College. EJ (the Elizabeth stand-in) is a senior studying engineering and the RA of Bennet House, who holds the values and standards of Bennet House dear to her heart. Her best friends are a trans woman, Jamie, who’s our Jane stand-in, and Tessa, who has a smaller role and seems to be taking the place of Charlotte Lucas. While hitting the major plot beats of P&P, it’s a fresh take full of woman power and feminism, with a nicely diverse cast and some clever approaches to the expected storylines. I really appreciated how EJ’s education and aspirations were given prominence. Here, marriage isn’t a goal or even talked about much — it’s about finding love and respect while also finding themselves, pursuing their dreams, and not giving in to the many ways the world outside of Bennet House might want to limit their opportunities or pull them down.

Rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

That’s my reading round-up! And now, back to all the ARCs and other books calling my name…

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