Monthly Archives: March 2016

In Real Life

In Real Life Book Cover In Real Life
Jessica Love
Juvenile Fiction
March 1, 2016

Hannah Cho and Nick Cooper have been best friends since 8th grade. They talk for hours on the phone, regularly shower each other with presents, and know everything there is to know about one another. There's just one problem: Hannah and Nick have never actually met. Hannah has spent her entire life doing what she's supposed to, but when her senior year spring break plans get ruined by a rule-breaker, she decides to break a rule or two herself. She impulsively decides to road trip to Vegas, her older sister and BFF in tow, to surprise Nick and finally declare her more-than-friend feelings for him. Hannah's romantic gesture backfires when she gets to Vegas and meets Nick's girlfriend, whom he failed to mention. And it turns out his relationship status isn't the only thing he's been lying to her about. Hannah knows the real Nick can't be that different from the online Nick she knows and loves, but now she only has one night in Sin City to figure out what her feelings for Nick really are, all while discovering how life can change when you break the rules every now and then.



Real rating: 3 1/2 stars

“In Real Life” is a quick read that still packs a punch in the acceptance of the difference between expectations and reality.

I really appreciated that the book took seriously the importance of friendships that can form online.  Some of my best friends were met online through mutual interests (let’s be real, those interests revolve mostly around books), and I value them as much as the ones made “in real life.”   The expectation of someone you have met online measuring up to what you have made them out to be in your head is a major part of the book, but the same thing is true of those we meet elsewhere.  Learning to adjust your expectations to reality is a part of growing up.  Honestly, many a failed relationship is due to not accepting that, including everything from friendships to marriages.

The characters were typical teenagers, and I believe their reactions to circumstances were accurately portrayed.  However, Hannah could be more than a little bit judgmental, and the adult in me wanted to scream at some of the bad decisions they were all making.  None of this ruined the plot for me, but it did cause me to deduct a star.

Bonus:  It’s a diverse book!

“In Real Life” is a book that will resonate with anyone who has a bond formed with someone they met online.  I believe it’s a good read for anyone upper middle grade and up.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations


Nookietown Book Cover Nookietown
V.C. Chickering
February 23, 2016

A funny, emotional and at times racy novel about a service connecting married men (with their wives' consent!) and divorced women.



My first instinct was to give “Nookietown” two stars, but then I reconsidered because there is a strong possibility that this is a case of “it’s not you, it’s me” book syndrome.

I requested it because the plot seemed like a fun and easy read.  It was an easy read in the traditional sense of the phrase, but I despised the characters so much that I found myself dreading trying to finish it.  There was also quite a bit of suspension-of-disbelief required, which is to be expected in a book about husband swapping, but it went way beyond what was to be expected.

That being said, I really do think quite a few people will enjoy “Nookietown” and find it the perfect summer beach read.  Don’t pass on it just because of my review if the premise sounds interesting to you.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

As this is an adult book, there are no content warnings.

The Smell of Other People’s Houses

The Smell of Other People's Houses Book Cover The Smell of Other People's Houses
Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
Random House Children's Books
February 23, 2016

In Alaska, 1970, being a teenager here isn’t like being a teenager anywhere else. This deeply moving and authentic debut is for fans of Rainbow Rowell, Louise Erdrich, Sherman Alexie, and Benjamin Alire Saenz. Intertwining stories of love, tragedy, wild luck, and salvation on the edge of America’s Last Frontier introduce a writer of rare talent.

Ruth has a secret that she can’t hide forever. Dora wonders if she can ever truly escape where she comes from, even when good luck strikes. Alyce is trying to reconcile her desire to dance, with the life she’s always known on her family’s fishing boat. Hank and his brothers decide it’s safer to run away than to stay home—until one of them ends up in terrible danger.

Four very different lives are about to become entangled. This unforgettable book is about people who try to save each other—and how sometimes, when they least expect it, they succeed.
Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock was born and raised in Alaska. She worked many years fishing commercially with her family and as a reporter for Alaska Public Radio stations around the state. She was also the host and producer of “Independent Native News,” a daily newscast produced in Fairbanks, focusing on Alaska Natives, American Indians, and Canada’s First Nations. Her writing is inspired by her family’s four generations in Alaska.



“The Smell of Other People’s Houses” is an engaging and unique literary novel that is a joy for all of the senses.

What I loved most about the book is the descriptions of the sights, sounds, and obviously, the smells.  They are so vivid that you feel as though you are standing in the characters’ places.  Everyone knows that different houses have different smells, but the author made the smells match the personalities of those living in the houses.  It’s difficult to explain, but you will see what I mean if you read the book.

There are four main characters, and the story is told from each point of view.  It’s very interesting to read how they interpret one another (including the smells of the others’ homes) and how their stories weave together.  I also need to say that this is a wonderfully diverse book!  The author grew up in Alaska and you can tell she has an intimate knowledge of the various people who make up the land.  There is nothing but love for the many cultures, while also not being afraid to point out some of the systemic issues present in the area.

“The Smell of Other People’s Houses” is a beautiful book meant for those who enjoy reading about the lives of others.  It’s meant to be savored, not devoured, and therefore will probably be best suited for those not looking for a fast-paced plot.  I can say that it is a story that will stick with me and most likely be read several more times.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence, Alcohol Abuse, Drug Abuse, Child Abuse, Domestic Violence

Herbie’s Big Adventure

Herbie's Big Adventure Book Cover Herbie's Big Adventure
Jennie Poh
Curious Fox
August 25, 2016

Herbie is a little hedgehog who is perfectly happy at home with his mother. But one day Mommy tells Herbie that it's time to go exploringall by himself! Herbie is so not sure, but ready or not, a westerly wind sweeps Herbie into the wide world...and Herbie's Big Adventure begins! Little Herbie finds that he's braver than he thinks and even makes a friend before coming safely back home to Mommy.



“Herbie’s Big Adventure” has adorable illustrations featuring a little hedgehog out on his first real adventure.  In the story, he is afraid of going away from his mother, but finds out it was all fine in the end.  It would be perfect for little ones who are anxious about going to school or other new places.  My only concern is that Herbie stayed out all night, though I am sure parents will counteract that message.  Otherwise, I would have given it five stars.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Yellow Brick War

Yellow Brick War Book Cover Yellow Brick War
Dorothy Must Die, Book 3
Danielle Paige
Juvenile Fiction
March 15, 2016

In this third book in the New York Times bestselling Dorothy Must Die series, new girl from Kansas Amy Gumm is caught between her home—and Oz. My name is Amy Gumm. Tornadoes must have a thing about girls from Kansas, because—just like Dorothy—I got swept away on one too. I landed in Oz, where Good is Wicked, Wicked is Good, and the Wicked Witches clued me in to my true calling: Assassin. The way to stop Dorothy from destroying Oz—and Kansas—is to kill her. And I’m the only one who can do it. But I failed. Others died for my mistakes. Because of me, the portal between the worlds has been opened. And if I don’t find a way to close it? Dorothy will make sure I never get to go home again. Now it’s up to me to: join the Witches, fight for Oz, save Kansas, and stop Dorothy once and for all.



I’m not even sure if I can objectively review “Yellow Brick War”, and since this one isn’t for a publisher, I’m not even going to try to be dignified.

*flail* Ilovethemsomuch. *flail*


If you can’t tell, I liked the book.  It may be my favorite of the series.

The best plot twist isn’t even in the book.

Is it next year yet?


Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence, Disturbing Imagery

The Awakening of Sunshine Girl

The Awakening of Sunshine Girl Book Cover The Awakening of Sunshine Girl
The Haunting of Sunshine Girl, Book 2
Paige McKenzie
Juvenile Fiction
Weinstein Books
March 1, 2016

Based on the wildly popular YouTube channel, "The Haunting of Sunshine Girl" has been described as "Gilmore Girls" meets "Paranormal"



“The Awakening of Sunshine Girl” is a great follow-up to “The Haunting of Sunshine Girl.”  It has all of the humor and chills of the original, while furthering the story of how Sunshine came to be.

The plot breezes along at an easy to read pace that doesn’t slow down.  All of the favorite characters from the first book are back, just as enjoyable as before, along  with the addition of some new ones.  All of the history of the Luiseach was fascinating and made me want to learn more.

I wish I could say more but almost everything I can add would spoil the story in some way.  I’ll leave you with this:  you’ll probably wish you had the next book already in your hands when you turn the last page.

“The Awakening of Sunshine Girl” is a good choice for all of those who enjoy a good ghost story that, while it includes disturbing imagery, actually falls into the clean category.  Only minor language and a few kisses are involved.  It’s also perfect for reluctant readers, though be sure they begin with the first in the series!

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

Mild Language, Disturbing Imagery

Save Me, Kurt Cobain

Save Me, Kurt Cobain Book Cover Save Me, Kurt Cobain
Jenny Manzer
Delacorte Press
March 8, 2016

A chance discovery makes Nico, fifteen, believe that not only is Kurt Cobain, lead singer of the 1990s grung band Nirvana, still alive, but that he might be her real father.



“Save Me, Kurt Cobain” is not a book meant to be read by everyone (which is in no way a bad thing), but for those it is meant for, you will enjoy it immensely.

At its heart, it is the coming-of-age story of Nico Cavan, a girl who has been lost in the world since the age of four.  She is an extremely well-developed character who evokes both sympathy and, at times, rage.  Believe me, sometimes the reader will truly want to shake her and ask what the heck she is doing.  The auxiliary characters are developed to the perfect point of being both mysterious and understood.  In other words, you see them as Nico sees them.

The book is also a love story to music.  While Nirvana is the central band, as is obvious from the title, there are many other good ones mentioned.  I really hope some of the younger readers will give them a try.  I grew up in the Kurt Cobain era, and the facts and stories about him brought an intense wave of nostalgia.  Though I do have to admit I felt ancient when they were classified as oldies that parents listen to.  Many of the facts presented I had never heard, and I found that to add quite a bit of enjoyment to my reading experience.

My only complaint is that the beginning of the book seems to drag somewhat.  All of it is important to where the story goes, so please remember that if you are tempted to stop reading.  It is totally worth it.

“Save Me, Kurt Cobain” will appeal to all of the audiophiles, artists, “freaks”, and the lost.  It’s perfect for both young adults and adults.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

Language, Brief Sexual Situations, Drug Abuse, Discussions of Suicide

This is Your Life, Harriet Chance!

This is Your Life, Harriet Chance! Book Cover This is Your Life, Harriet Chance!
Jonathan Evison
Algonquin Books
September 8, 2015

With Bernard, her husband of fifty-five years, now in the grave, seventy-eight-year-old Harriet Chance impulsively sets sail on an ill-conceived Alaskan cruise that her late husband had planned. But what she hoped would be a voyage leading to a new lease on life becomes a surprising and revelatory journey into Harriet’s past.

There, amid the overwhelming buffets and the incessant lounge singers, between the imagined appearances of her late husband and the very real arrival of her estranged daughter midway through the cruise, Harriet is forced to take a long look back, confronting the truth about pivotal events that changed the course of her life. And in the process she discovers that she’s been living the better part of that life under entirely false assumptions.

In This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! Jonathan Evison has crafted a bighearted novel with an endearing heroine at the helm. Through Harriet, he paints a bittersweet portrait of a postmodern everywoman, her story told with great warmth, humanity, and humor. Part dysfunctional love story, part poignant exploration of the mother-daughter relationship, nothing is what it seems in this tale of acceptance, reexamination, and forgiveness.



“This is Your Life, Harriet Chance” is unlike any other book I have read.  It combines a series of past events presented in the style of the game show “This is Your Life”, the ghost of a recently deceased husband, and a family whose dirty laundry is slowly being hung out for all to see.

This is definitely a meandering book and will best be appreciated by those who enjoy simply being along for the ride.  It jumps all over between past and present.  Even the flashbacks are in no particular order.  The nature of Harriet’s past ranges from pure to scandalous, with everything in-between.  In short, it’s a life that isn’t sugar-coated when looked back upon.  The current family issues that are mixed in do a wonderful job of showing how our past can help shape our futures while not necessarily defining them.  I can’t help but wonder what I would see if I looked back on my life in the same manner.

Overall, “This is Your Life, Harriet Chance!” is an enjoyable read for someone who enjoys the slice-of-life writing style.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

As this is an adult book, there are no content warnings.