Book Review – Modern Lovers

Book Review – Modern LoversModern Lovers by Emma Straub
three-stars
Published by Riverhead Books on May 31st 2016
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Chick Lit
Pages: 353
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis:

From the New York Times‒bestselling author of The Vacationers, a smart, highly entertaining novel about a tight-knit group of friends from college—their own kids now going to college—and what it means to finally grow up well after adulthood has set in.

Friends and former college bandmates Elizabeth and Andrew and Zoe have watched one another marry, buy real estate, and start businesses and families, all while trying to hold on to the identities of their youth. But nothing ages them like having to suddenly pass the torch (of sexuality, independence, and the ineffable alchemy of cool) to their own offspring.

Back in the band’s heyday, Elizabeth put on a snarl over her Midwestern smile, Andrew let his unwashed hair grow past his chin, and Zoe was the lesbian all the straight women wanted to sleep with. Now nearing fifty, they all live within shouting distance in the same neighborhood deep in gentrified Brooklyn, and the trappings of the adult world seem to have arrived with ease. But the summer that their children reach maturity (and start sleeping together), the fabric of the adults’ lives suddenly begins to unravel, and the secrets and revelations that are finally let loose—about themselves, and about the famous fourth band member who soared and fell without them—can never be reclaimed.

Straub packs wisdom and insight and humor together in a satisfying book about neighbors and nosiness, ambition and pleasure, the excitement of youth, the shock of middle age, and the fact that our passions—be they food, or friendship, or music—never go away, they just evolve and grow along with us.

My review:

I really wanted to love Emma Straub’s Modern Lovers for a number of reasons. First of all, the title Modern Lovers hints that this will be a sexy and entertaining read. Second, it has been on pretty much every 2016 Must-Read book list that I’ve come across. And third, just look at that bright, fun cover – all by itself, it’s practically guaranteeing a light, fun read.

Sadly, as ready as I was to fall in love with Modern Lovers, it ended up just being an average read for me. I liked it enough to finish it, but overall I found it to be somewhat underwhelming, especially when compared with all of the hype surrounding the book. Maybe all that hype had built up unrealistically high expectations in my mind, but I was fully expecting this to be one of my favorite reads of 2016 and it didn’t come close.

Let me start off by mentioning a few things that I did like though because the book definitely has aspects that I enjoyed.

1. I love that it was set in the neighborhoods of Brooklyn. New York City is my favorite place in the whole world, but I get so distracted by all that Manhattan has to offer that I have yet to make it across the Brooklyn Bridge to visit Brooklyn. Modern Lovers makes me want to hop on the train and head up there right now and do just that.

2. Short, easy to read chapters. Even as I struggled with whether or not I actually liked the book, the chapters were so easy to breeze through that my “Okay, I’ll give it one more chapter to see if I change my mind” quickly turned into “Oh wait, I’m already at the end!”

Okay, so on to what I had issues with…

I tend to enjoy books where I can connect with the characters in some way. I consider myself to be the target audience for this book as I am in the same age range as Elizabeth, Zoe, Andrew, and Jill, and I thought that I would totally be able to relate to their post-college lives and their ever-evolving friendships with one another. Although I did enjoy how Straub drew each character as flawed and therefore completely realistic, I just unfortunately found them all to be, for the most part, unlikeable and because I didn’t like most of them, it was hard to care about or connect with anything they were going through. For me, there was nothing sexy or fun about these “Modern Lovers.” Elizabeth, a real estate agent, seemed like she could only really relate to the lives of her friends and neighbors in terms of what kind of real estate deals she could make if they were to break up and need to sell their home and buy new ones. Zoe, while more likeable and more relatable than Elizabeth, was incredibly frustrating at times because of the unnecessary drama that she seemed to be creating for herself and Jill. Andrew, by far, was my least favorite character in the book. He was a walking hippie-wannabe mid-life crisis and I just wanted to scream at him to go get a job. The only adult character I even remotely cared for was Jill, who I did sympathize with because as the only one of the group who didn’t go to Oberlin College, she is on the outside looking in a lot of times and it can be awkward for her. It makes her more vulnerable and more interesting than the other three characters.

About the only thing I found interesting about this group of adults was the drama regarding their old college band. One of their former members, Lydia, went on to become a famous singer but ultimately died at the age of 27, thus joining the infamous ’27 Club’ of other famous musicians who tragically died at the same age (Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, to name a couple). Someone wants to make a movie about Lydia and her life, so there’s a lot of drama surrounding the face that Andrew, Zoe, and Elizabeth have to give permission to use their music and for there to be characters modelled after their lives as members of the band. I actually found this part of the story so interesting and Andrew, Zoe, and Elizabeth so much more interesting as these rock-n-rolling college students that I found myself wishing that there was a book about them instead of these humdrum middle-aged versions of themselves.

Okay, so I clearly didn’t care for the adults in Modern Lovers. That said, however, I will add that I very much enjoyed seeing their children interact. Ruby, who is Jill and Zoe’s daughter, and Harry, son of Elizabeth and Andrew, have a budding maybe/maybe not romance that begins when they end up in an SAT prep course together. Harry is a sweet kid, naïve for his age, and in that sense, may perhaps be the most likeable character in the entire novel. Ruby is much more experienced and takes it upon herself to educate Harry in the area of romance. While her motives and how much she truly likes Harry might be unclear, their flirtation and budding relationship does stand in refreshing contrast to the mundane middle-aged drama of their parents. Seeing what was going to happen between Ruby and Harry was probably what kept me reading until the end. For me, this probably would have been a stronger read if the narrative point of view had just been through the eyes of Ruby and Harry, maybe with the parents just on the periphery. Having the story filtered through 6 points of view was a little much for me.

While this was ultimately a disappointing read for me because it didn’t live up to all of the hype, I would still recommend Modern Lovers to anyone who is looking for an easy read, perhaps for their vacation. I clearly did not connect with these characters and their lives, but perhaps you will.

Rating: 3 stars

three-stars

About Emma Straub

Emma Straub is from New York City. She is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Modern Lovers, The Vacationers and Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, and the short story collection Other People We Married. Her fiction and nonfiction have been published in Vogue, New York Magazine, Tin House, The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, and the The Paris Review Daily. She is a contributing writer to Rookie. Straub lives with her husband and two sons in Brooklyn. A more illustrated version of this appears at M+E.

Waiting on Wednesday – Spotlight on Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

New WoW“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.

My “Waiting On” Wednesday selection for this week:

Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

girl in pieces

Publication Date: August 30, 2016

From Amazon:

For fans of Girl, Interrupted, Thirteen Reasons Why, and All the Bright Places comes a novel Nicola Yoon, author of Everything, Everything, calls “a haunting, beautiful, and necessary book that will stay with you long after you’ve read the last page.”

Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people do in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you. Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.

A deeply moving portrait of a girl in a world that owes her nothing, and has taken so much, and the journey she undergoes to put herself back together. Kathleen Glasgow’s debut is heartbreakingly real and unflinchingly honest. It’s a story you won’t be able to look away from.

Advance Praise for Girl in Pieces:

“Equal parts keen-eyed empathy, stark candor, and terrible beauty. This book is why we read stories: to experience what it’s like to survive the unsurvivable; to find light in the darkest night.”-Jeff Zentner, author of The Serpent King.

“Raw, visceral, and starkly beautiful, with writing that is at times transcendent in its brilliance. . . . An unforgettable story of trauma and resilience.”–Kerry Kletter, author of The First Time She Drowned.

“A breathtakingly written book about pain and hard-won healing . . . I want every girl to read Girl In Pieces.”-Kara Thomas, author of The Darkest Corners.

“A Girl, Interrupted for a new generation….The story of the mad girl is ultimately a story about being a girl in a mad world, how it breaks us into pieces and how we glue ourselves back together.”—Melissa Febos, author of Whip Smart and Abandon Me.

“Dark, frank, and tender, Girl in Pieces keeps the reader electrified for its entire journey. You’re so uncertain if Charlie will heal, so fully immersed in hoping she does.”—Michelle Wildgen, author of Bread and Butter and You’re Not You.

“Girl in Pieces has the breath of life; every character in it is fully alive. Charlie Davis’ complexities are drawn with great understanding and subtlety.”-Charles Baxter, author of National Book Award finalist The Feast of Love.

“Charlie Davis has been damaged and abused after several years of living on the streets, but she is fiercely resilient. Though it will appeal to readers of Ellen Foster, Speak, and Girl, Interrupted, Girl in Pieces is an entirely original work, compulsively readable and deeply human.”-Julie Schumacher, author the New York Times bestseller Dear Committee Members.

“In Glasgow’s riveting debut novel, readers are pulled close to Charlie’s raw, authentic emotions as she strains to make a jagged path through her new life. Love and trust prove difficult, and Charlie’s judgment is not well honed, but her will to survive is glorious.”—Booklist, Starred review.

“Heartbreaking and thick with emotion,…[Girl in Pieces is] for avid fans of Jennifer Niven’s All the Bright Places or Susanna Kaysen’s Girl Interrupted.”-SLJ.

* * * * *

I’m excited about this one because it just sounds like it’s going to be such an intense read. I’m also stoked because of the advanced reviews that state it’s a great book for those who are fans of All the Bright Places and Girl Interrupted, since those are two books that I absolutely loved!

I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me your link in the comments below and I’ll stop by and check out your WoW selection for this week. 🙂

Top 10 Things Books Have Made Me Want to Do after Reading Them

top ten tuesday

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Things Books Have Made Me Want To Do or Learn About After Reading Them.   What a great topic, although I felt a little lame because although inspired to do all of these things, there are very few of them that I have actually done. There’s still time though! 🙂

Top Ten Things Books Have Made Me Want To Do or Learn About After Reading Them

 

1. Learn How to Ride a Horse

01

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

2. Take a ride down the Mississippi River

02

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

3. Learn Archery

03

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

4. Move to New York City

04

Here is New York by E.B. White

04a

Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

5. Travel to Italy

05

A Room with a View by E.M. Forster

beautiful ruins

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

6. Climb up the Bell Tower at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

06

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

7. Start a Blog

07

Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

8. Become a Teacher and Inspire Young People

08

Dead Poets Society by N. H. Kleinbaum

9. Become an Attorney

09

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

10. Find a group of best friends and never let them go

10

The Group by Mary McCarthy

You may be wondering which of these I’ve actually done? Well, I’ve ridden a horse, traveled to Italy, started a blog, climbed up the bell tower at Notre Dame, taught young people, and I’ve thankfully found myself a group of best friends that are like family to me. I have shot a bow and arrow once, but I won’t go so far as to say I’ve learned archery, haha.

So what have books inspired you to want to do or learn?

Book Review – Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet

Book Review – Magic Bitter, Magic SweetMagic Bitter, Magic Sweet by Charlie N. Holmberg
three-half-stars
Published by 47North on June 28th 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 296
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 

Goodreads Synopsis:

Maire is a baker with an extraordinary gift: she can infuse her treats with emotions and abilities, which are then passed on to those who eat them. She doesn’t know why she can do this and remembers nothing of who she is or where she came from.

When marauders raid her town, Maire is captured and sold to the eccentric Allemas, who enslaves her and demands that she produce sinister confections, including a witch’s gingerbread cottage, a living cookie boy, and size-altering cakes.

During her captivity, Maire is visited by Fyel, a ghostly being who is reluctant to reveal his connection to her. The more often they meet, the more her memories return, and she begins to piece together who and what she really is—as well as past mistakes that yield cosmic consequences.

From the author of The Paper Magician series comes a haunting and otherworldly tale of folly and consequence, forgiveness and redemption.

* * * * *

My Review:

Charlie N. Holmberg’s Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet was a much darker story than I was expecting. I think maybe that pretty cover fooled me into thinking I was heading into a light, fluffy, and whimsical read.  While I did find the read to be whimsical, instead of the light and fluffy, however, I found myself immersed in a tale full of weighty themes and relevant life lessons, the dominant one being that you have to take responsibility for choices that you make because actions have consequences.

Maire is a young woman who learns this lesson the hard way. When the story opens, Holmberg grabs the reader’s attention immediately as she begins to describe Maire.  Maire is working as a baker and, curiously enough, has the ability to infuse her baked goods with qualities such as hope, strength, generosity, love – basically whatever qualities she chooses. Those qualities are then passed on to those who eat the baked goods.  What makes Maire even more interesting is that she has lost her memory – she has no idea who she is, where she came from, and no memories at all prior to the moment that a woman named Arrice found her in the forest a few years earlier and brought her to her own home to live.  Although Maire is somewhat curious about who she is and where she came from, overall she is content with the life she is living and so doesn’t dwell on her true identity too much.  Right away I found Maire to be an endearing protagonist, both because of her magic, which she seems to use only to help people, and because the memory loss gives her a human and vulnerable quality.  I found myself immediately in her corner, cheering her on, as the real action of the story began.

Holmberg then begins to deftly weave in a few plot twists, the first of which being Fyel. Maire is outside one day when she encounters Fyel, a translucent man all dressed in white, who also has wings of some sort.  He tells Maire that he is not from this world, but that he knows who she is and that she must try to remember as well.  Many of his remarks are cryptic and he refuses to tell her much more because he says she won’t believe his far-fetched tale and that if she denies the truth, she will be lost to his world forever.  He says she must piece the story together herself so that she will believe it.

Maire then becomes obsessed with trying to figure out who she is, but soon after this encounter, we have another plot twist – marauders attack Maire’s village and she is sold into slavery.  Strangely enough, her new master Allemas seems to already know who she is and even acts as though he has been searching for her, even though Maire is pretty sure they’ve never met.

The story takes a dark turn at this point because Allemas is a cruel and unpredictable master and Maire does not fare well working for him, especially once he realizes that Fyel has also found Maire. By this point, Maire is desperately trying to figure out who she is, what her connection to Allemas is, and especially what her connection to Fyel is. The second half of the book primarily follows Maire on her journey as she discovers her true identity, how she ended up where she is, and most importantly, as she realized that what happened to her was a direct consequence of choices she made in her other life. Maire’s journey is particularly fascinating in the sense that with each new memory she has about her past, her body undergoes a change as she slowly starts to transform back into what she was before she lost her memory and ended up here.

I did notice a few plot holes here and there as I was reading — things that happen that seem a little too coincidental or even the fact that Maire doesn’t seem to think it’s at all strange that she has this unusual magical baking ability, but I still thought overall this was a great read. While, like the magical baking itself, I’m not sure they really added much to the plot of Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet, I thought Holmberg’s whimsical touches, such as weaving various fairy tales such as Alice in Wonderland, Hansel and Gretel, and The Gingerbread Man into her story, made the story an immensely fun read.  What I really liked though were the darker threads that ran through it.  Offsetting those whimsical fairy tales as Maire discovers her true identity, is a dark tale that is reminiscent of both Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the Book of Genesis in the Bible.  I loved the added weight those elements gave to the overall story.

For me, the main weakness of the story was the ending. I felt like there was this huge build up to the reveal of Maire’s identity and then a rush to wrap things up, with years tacked on in an epilogue. I would have liked a little more explanation as to what specifically happened from Maire’s return home to what we see in the epilogue. That part just felt too abrupt for me. Other than that though, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet is a book I would recommend to anyone who enjoys fantasy. I probably wouldn’t recommend it to children, because even though it has those fun shout outs to familiar fairy tales, I think the darker parts of the story, particularly some things that happen to Maire along the way, would make it too violent and frightening for younger readers.

Thanks so much to Netgalley, 47North, and to Charlie N. Holmberg for allowing me the opportunity to preview this book.

Rating: 3.5 stars

three-half-stars

About Charlie N. Holmberg

Charlie Nicholes Holmberg was born in Salt Lake City, Utah to two parents who sacrificed a great deal to give their very lazy daughter a good education. As a result, Charlie learned to hate uniforms, memorized all English prepositions in alphabetical order, and mastered the art of Reed-Kellogg diagramming a sentence at age seven. She entered several writing contests in her elementary years and never placed.

Being a nerd, Charlie started writing fan-fiction as a teenager in between episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. She became a full-fledged band geek with mediocre talent in high school, where she met her husband. While she strove to win his attention by baking him cookies and throwing ramen noodles at his house, he didn’t actually ask her out until six years later.

Charlie began taking writing seriously during her undergrad at Brigham Young University, where she majored in English and minored in editing. She finally won a few writing contests. She graduated with her BA in 2010 and got hitched three months later. Shortly afterwards, her darling husband dragged her to Moscow, Idaho, where he subsequently impregnated her.

In summer 2013, after collecting many rejection letters and making a quilt out of them, Charlie sold her ninth novel, The Paper Magician, and its sequel to 47North with the help of her wonderful agent, Marlene Stringer. She currently lives with her family in Utah. Someday she will own a dog.

(Did she mention her third book, The Master Magician, totally made the WSJ bestseller list? Because it totally made the WSJ bestseller list.)

Waiting on Wednesday – Heartless by Marissa Meyer

New WoW“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.

My “Waiting On” Wednesday selection for this week:

Heartless by Marissa

heartless

Publication Date: November 8, 2016

From Amazon:

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland―the infamous Queen of Hearts―she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

In her first stand-alone teen novel, the New York Times-bestselling author dazzles us with a prequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

* * * * *

Alice in Wonderland is one of my favorite childhood stories, so I’m excited for Heartless because I love the idea of getting a possible backstory on the infamous Queen of Hearts.

I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday. Is anyone else excited for Heartless?

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Books Set Outside the U.S.

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Books Set Outside the U.S. I think this is a great topic because even though I definitely enjoy books that are set all over the world, I do tend to gravitate to those set in the U.S. I’m looking forward to seeing what titles my fellow bloggers suggest.

My Top 10 Books Set Outside the U.S.

01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10

1. A Tale for the Time Being – Ruth Ozeki. (Setting: Japan and Cortes Island, British Colombia (Canada).

Goodreads Synopsis: In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying, but before she ends it all, Nao plans to document the life of her great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in a ways she can scarcely imagine.

Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.

Full of Ozeki’s signature humour and deeply engaged with the relationship between writer and reader, past and present, fact and fiction, quantum physics, history, and myth, A Tale for the Time Being is a brilliantly inventive, beguiling story of our shared humanity and the search for home.

2. Beautiful Ruins – Jess Walter. (Setting: Edinburgh, Scotland, Porto Vergogna, Italy, and some U.S.)

Goodreads Synopsis: The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks out over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and spies an apparition: a tall, thin woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, he soon learns, an American starlet, and she is dying.

And the story begins again today, half a world away, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio’s back lot—searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier.

What unfolds is a dazzling, yet deeply human, roller coaster of a novel, spanning fifty years and nearly as many lives. From the lavish set of Cleopatra to the shabby revelry of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Walter introduces us to the tangled lives of a dozen unforgettable characters: the starstruck Italian innkeeper and his long-lost love; the heroically preserved producer who once brought them together and his idealistic young assistant; the army veteran turned fledgling novelist and the rakish Richard Burton himself, whose appetites set the whole story in motion—along with the husbands and wives, lovers and dreamers, superstars and losers, who populate their world in the decades that follow.

Gloriously inventive, constantly surprising, Beautiful Ruins is a story of flawed yet fascinating people, navigating the rocky shores of their lives while clinging to their improbable dreams.

3. Under the Tuscan Sun – Frances Mayes. (Setting: Tuscany, Italy).

Goodreads Synopsis: Frances Mayes—widely published poet, gourmet cook, and travel writer—opens the door to a wondrous new world when she buys and restores an abandoned villa in the spectacular Tuscan countryside. In evocative language, she brings the reader along as she discovers the beauty and simplicity of life in Italy. Mayes also creates dozens of delicious seasonal recipes from her traditional kitchen and simple garden, all of which she includes in the book. Doing for Tuscany what M.F.K. Fisher and Peter Mayle did for Provence, Mayes writes about the tastes and pleasures of a foreign country with gusto and passion.

4. White Dog Fell from the Sky – Eleanor Morse. (Setting: Africa).

Goodreads Synopsis: Eleanor Morse’s rich and intimate portrait of Botswana, and of three people whose intertwined lives are at once tragic and remarkable, is an absorbing and deeply moving story.

In apartheid South Africa in 1976, medical student Isaac Muthethe is forced to flee his country after witnessing a friend murdered by white members of the South African Defense Force. He is smuggled into Botswana, where he is hired as a gardener by a young American woman, Alice Mendelssohn, who has abandoned her Ph.D. studies to follow her husband to Africa. When Isaac goes missing and Alice goes searching for him, what she finds will change her life and inextricably bind her to this sunburned, beautiful land.

Like the African terrain that Alice loves, Morse’s novel is alternately austere and lush, spare and lyrical. She is a writer of great and wide-ranging gifts.

5. Cutting For Stone – Abraham Verghese. (Setting: Ethiopia).

Goodreads Synopsis: A sweeping, emotionally riveting first novel — an enthralling family saga of Africa and America, doctors and patients, exile and home.

Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa. Orphaned by their mother’s death in childbirth and their father’s disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution. Yet it will be love, not politics — their passion for the same woman—that will tear them apart and force Marion, fresh out of medical school, to flee his homeland. He makes his way to America, finding refuge in his work as an intern at an underfunded, overcrowded New York City hospital. When the past catches up to him — nearly destroying him — Marion must entrust his life to the two men he thought he trusted least in the world: the surgeon father who abandoned him and the brother who betrayed him.

An unforgettable journey into one man’s remarkable life, and an epic story about the power, intimacy, and curious beauty of the work of healing others.

6. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson. (Setting: Sweden).

Goodreads Synopsis: Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected financial journalist, watches his professional life rapidly crumble around him. Prospects appear bleak until an unexpected (and unsettling) offer to resurrect his name is extended by an old-school titan of Swedish industry. The catch—and there’s always a catch—is that Blomkvist must first spend a year researching a mysterious disappearance that has remained unsolved for nearly four decades. With few other options, he accepts and enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues. Little is as it seems in Larsson’s novel, but there is at least one constant: you really don’t want to mess with the girl with the dragon tattoo.

7. The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah. (Setting: France).

Goodreds Synopsis: In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France…but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When France is overrun, Vianne is forced to take an enemy into her house, and suddenly her every move is watched; her life and her child’s life is at constant risk. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates around her, she must make one terrible choice after another.

Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets the compelling and mysterious Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can…completely. When he betrays her, Isabelle races headlong into danger and joins the Resistance, never looking back or giving a thought to the real–and deadly–consequences.

With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah takes her talented pen to the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France–a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.

8. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. (Setting: Paris, France).

Goodreads Synopsis: WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE
From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.

Doerr’s “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” (San Francisco Chronicle) are dazzling. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, he illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, a National Book Award finalist, All the Light We Cannot See is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer “whose sentences never fail to thrill” (Los Angeles Times).

9. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden. (Setting: Japan).

Goodreads Synopsis: A literary sensation and runaway bestseller, this brilliant debut novel presents with seamless authenticity and exquisite lyricism the true confessions of one of Japan’s most celebrated geisha.

In Memoirs of a Geisha, we enter a world where appearances are paramount; where a girl’s virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love is scorned as illusion. It is a unique and triumphant work of fiction – at once romantic, erotic, suspenseful – and completely unforgettable.

10. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon. (Setting: England).

Goodreads Synopsis: Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, for fifteen-year-old Christopher everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbor’s dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructive universe is threatened. Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favourite (logical) detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is funny, poignant and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally.

Book Review – Faithful by Alice Hoffman

Book Review – Faithful by Alice HoffmanFaithful by Alice Hoffman
Also by this author: Practical Magic
four-stars
Published by Simon & Schuster on November 1st 2016
Genres: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 272
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Goodreads Synopsis:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Marriage of Opposites and The Dovekeepers comes a soul-searching story about a young woman struggling to redefine herself and the power of love, family, and fate.

Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.

What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.

Here is a character you will fall in love with, so believable and real and endearing, that she captures both the ache of loneliness and the joy of finding yourself at last. For anyone who’s ever been a hurt teenager, for every mother of a daughter who has lost her way, Faithful is a roadmap.

Alice Hoffman’s “trademark alchemy” (USA TODAY) and her ability to write about the “delicate balance between the everyday world and the extraordinary” (WBUR) make this an unforgettable story. With beautifully crafted prose, Alice Hoffman spins hope from heartbreak in this profoundly moving novel.

My Review of Faithful:

Alice Hoffman’s latest novel Faithful focuses on Shelby Richmond and the painful and emotional journey that she takes after a car accident leaves her best friend Helene brain dead. Shelby, who was driving the car that night, comes away from the accident relatively unscathed, and so is wracked by tremendous guilt that she has, in essence, killed her friend. The guilt eats away at Shelby to the extent that she repeatedly tries to take her own life and ends up in a psychiatric hospital. Even after checking out of the hospital, Shelby still basically just withdraws from her life. She gives up on high school and going to college, shaves her head, takes drugs, and hides in her parents’ basement most of the time, avoiding human contact as much as possible. Helene may be in a coma and kept ‘alive’ only by life support, but Shelby is just a shell of herself as well.

I have to say that this is probably one of the hardest books I’ve ever had to read, not because it’s difficult or poorly written, but rather, because the way Hoffman gets into Shelby’s head and portrays that gut wrenching sense of loss and guilt is so powerful that I felt myself getting sucked down with Shelby. The writing is just that powerful and authentic. I actually had to stop reading for a while because it was so upsetting and emotional draining for me. I almost didn’t go back to it either, but I ultimately really wanted to know if Shelby was going to be okay or not.

Once I was able to continue reading, I was relieved to see that Shelby does eventually start to climb out of the pit of misery she was trapped in. Her journey in the second half of the book is still an emotional roller coaster at times, as the human experience often is, but with the help of some unlikely characters – a homeless girl with a tattooed face, a motley assortment of dogs, a mysterious guardian angel who sends her beautiful postcards encouraging her to forgive herself and live, and a best friend that she meets while working in a pet store – Shelby starts to figure out how to move on from the guilt that has enveloped her for so long.

What I Loved:

Shelby – With Shelby, Hoffman has created a protagonist that I can definitely relate to. That car accident is something that could happen to any one of us at any time and I think most of us would react in similar ways to how Shelby did. How do you live with yourself when you believe that you have destroyed someone else’s life?

The Dogs! – It’s probably crazy to say this, but the dogs are my favorite characters in the book. If ever there was a book that shows the healing power of pets, and especially dogs, it’s this one. Shelby might have rescued The General, Blinkie, and Pablo from the horrible environments they were living in, but those dogs saved her just as much as she saved them. They give her purpose and focus where she had none, and they give her someone to love who will love her back unconditionally.

Maravelle and her kids – Maravelle is Shelby’s best friend from her job at the pet store. She’s a single mom trying to raise three kids on her own and has her hands full. Even with all of that, she still befriends Shelby, this scrawny little bald-headed loner girl. Maravelle and her family basically become Shelby’s second family and in many ways help her way more than her own family ever could. Like those crazy dogs, they show Shelby how to live, love, and just connect with people again.

The Anonymous Guardian Angel – I found this character fascinating as well, especially trying to guess who it could possibly be. How does this person know what Shelby is going through? Why do they care? Why are they so determined to help her through her struggles? I thought Hoffman added an interesting twist by having this little thread of mystery flow through the story.

What I Didn’t Love:

It might upset some people when I say this and there are probably many who won’t be bothered by it at all, but I found the whole situation with Helene unsettling. Her parents are obviously not ready to say goodbye to their daughter, even though her injuries are such that there’s no way she’s going to recover. They choose to keep her on life support in a hospital bed in their home for years. Their home becomes little more than a shrine where people line up to see Helene and ‘interact’ with her because it is said that to do so makes miracles happen. I know it’s a personal choice and I couldn’t even say what I would do if my own child ended up like Helene, but it was just disturbing to read.

Who Would I Recommend Faithful to?

I would recommend this to any reader who likes a book that is going to make them feel. It’s an emotional roller coaster and it’s not for the faint of heart. When Shelby is low, she is about as low as it gets. If you’ve suffered a loss of your own and have come back from it, I think you would feel a kinship to Shelby and her journey.

Rating: 4 stars

four-stars

About Alice Hoffman

alice hoffman

Alice Hoffman was born in New York City on March 16, 1952 and grew up on Long Island. After graduating from high school in 1969, she attended Adelphi University, from which she received a BA, and then received a Mirrellees Fellowship to the Stanford University Creative Writing Center, which she attended in 1973 and 74, receiving an MA in creative writing. She currently lives in Boston.
Hoffman’s first novel, Property Of, was written at the age of twenty-one, while she was studying at Stanford, and published shortly thereafter by Farrar Straus and Giroux. She credits her mentor, professor and writer Albert J. Guerard, and his wife, the writer Maclin Bocock Guerard, for helping her to publish her first short story in the magazine Fiction. Editor Ted Solotaroff then contacted her to ask if she had a novel, at which point she quickly began to write what was to become Property Of, a section of which was published in Mr. Solotaroff’s magazine, American Review.
Since that remarkable beginning, Alice Hoffman has become one of our most distinguished novelists. She has published a total of twenty-three novels, three books of short fiction, and eight books for children and young adults. Her novel, Here on Earth, an Oprah Book Club choice, was a modern reworking of some of the themes of Emily Bronte’s masterpiece Wuthering Heights. Practical Magic was made into a Warner film starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. Her novel, At Risk, which concerns a family dealing with AIDS, can be found on the reading lists of many universities, colleges and secondary schools. Hoffman’s advance from Local Girls, a collection of inter-related fictions about love and loss on Long Island, was donated to help create the Hoffman Breast Center at Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MA. Blackbird House is a book of stories centering around an old farm on Cape Cod. Hoffman’s recent books include Aquamarine and Indigo, novels for pre-teens, and The New York Times bestsellers The River King, Blue Diary, The Probable Future, and The Ice Queen. Green Angel, a post-apocalyptic fairy tale about loss and love, was published by Scholastic and The Foretelling, a book about an Amazon girl in the Bronze Age, was published by Little Brown. In 2007 Little Brown published the teen novel Incantation, a story about hidden Jews during the Spanish Inquisition, which Publishers Weekly has chosen as one of the best books of the year. Her most recent novels include The Third Angel,The Story Sisters, the teen novel, Green Witch, a sequel to her popular post-apocalyptic fairy tale, Green Angel. The Red Garden, published in 2011, is a collection of linked fictions about a small town in Massachusetts where a garden holds the secrets of many lives.
Hoffman’s work has been published in more than twenty translations and more than one hundred foreign editions. Her novels have received mention as notable books of the year by The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, Library Journal, and People Magazine. She has also worked as a screenwriter and is the author of the original screenplay “Independence Day,” a film starring Kathleen Quinlan and Diane Wiest. Her teen novel Aquamarine was made into a film starring Emma Roberts. Her short fiction and non-fiction have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe Magazine, Kenyon Review, The Los Angeles Times, Architectural Digest, Harvard Review, Ploughshares and other magazines.
Toni Morrison calls The Dovekeepers “.. a major contribution to twenty-first century literature” for the past five years. The story of the survivors of Masada is considered by many to be Hoffman’s masterpiece. The New York Times bestselling novel is slated for 2015 miniseries, produced by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, starring Cote de Pablo of NCIS fame.
The Museum of Extraordinary Things was released in 2014 and was an immediate bestseller, The New York Times Book Review noting, “A lavish tale about strange yet sympathetic people, haunted by the past and living in bizarre circumstances… Imaginative…”
Nightbird, a Middle Reader, was released in March of 2015. In August of this year, The Marriage Opposites, Alice’s latest novel, was an immediate New York Times bestseller. “Hoffman is the prolific Boston-based magical realist, whose stories fittingly play to the notion that love—both romantic and platonic—represents a mystical meeting of perfectly paired souls,” said Vogue magazine. Click here to read more reviews for The Marriage of Opposites.

Book Haul from my Trip to the Green Valley Book Fair

book haul

Heaven on Earth for this bookworm is a trip to the Green Valley Book Fair. Located in Mount Crawford, Virginia, in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, the Green Valley Book Fair is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, book sales in the mid Atlantic region. Book lovers from up and down the east coast come to check out the selection each time the fair opens its doors, and it’s only open six times a year for about 2 weeks each time so bookworms near and far subscribe to the Fair’s mailing list to make sure they don’t miss each year’s fair dates.

The Green Valley Book Fair may not be much to look outside from the outside — just a giant warehouse building out in the middle of cow country — but once you walk in, book lust immediately sets in. The warehouse is huge, several floors, and holds roughly half a million books in pretty much every fiction and nonfiction category you can imagine, including young adult, children’s, classics, contemporary, African American, science fiction, fantasy, research, political, history, religion, cookbooks, audio books, and so much more. In addition to the incredible selection of books, there are also gift items like notebooks, t-shirts, puzzles and games. And the discounts are always excellent, 60-90% off retail!

Credit:  nbc29.com

Credit: nbc29.com

What I love about the Green Valley Book Fair is that you truly never know what you’re going to find when you walk through those doors. I’ve been going almost every year since I first discovered the fair in 1997 and can only think of a few times when I have walked away empty handed and those times were mainly due to lack of money on my part, not lack of selection. Instead, a typical trip to the book fair ends with me wondering how I’m ever going to fit all the books I’ve purchased into my car or onto my bookshelves once I’ve gotten them home. You won’t find the newest titles, but you will definitely find some recent releases as well as some older titles by your favorite authors. It’s like hunting for buried treasure!

For more information about the Green Valley Book Fair, visit their website at gobookfair.com.

Without further ado, here’s what I got on my latest trip to the Green Valley Book Fair. I spent $159 this time and was able to get not only all of the books shown in the photo below, but an equally large stack of children’s books for my son and another stack of nonfiction for my husband, 56 books in total between the three of us.

book haul

1. Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

2. Golden Son by Pierce Brown

3. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

4. Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

5. That Summer by Sarah Dessen

6. Landline by Rainbow Rowell

7. The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

8. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

9. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

10. Cress by Marissa Meyer

11. Landing by Emma Donoghue

12. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

13. Home Again by Kristin Hannah

14. Nora Webster by Colm Toibin

15. Apex Hides the Hurt by Colson Whitehead

16. John Henry Days by Colson Whitehead

17. The One and Only by Emily Giffin

* * * * * * * * * *

Happy Reading to me!

Have any of you ever visited the Green Valley Book Fair or have you read any of these titles?

Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic

Book Review:  A Darker Shade of MagicA Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1) by V.E. Schwab, Victoria Schwab
Also by this author: A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic, #2)
four-stars
Series: Shades of Magic #1
Published by Tor Books on February 24th 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 400
Also in this series: A Conjuring of Light
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis: Kell is one of the last Antari, a rare magician who can travel between parallel worlds: hopping from Grey London — dirty, boring, lacking magic, and ruled by mad King George — to Red London — where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire — to White London — ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne, where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back — and back, but never Black London, because traveling to Black London is forbidden and no one speaks of it now.

Officially, Kell is the personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see, and it is this dangerous hobby that sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to take her with him for her proper adventure.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save both his London and the others, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — a feat trickier than they hoped.

My Review:

What an entertaining read! Thanks so much to Stephanie at Chasm of Books for hosting the giveaway in which I won this book. I wasn’t sure what to expect going in since I had never read anything by V.E. Schwab, but I thoroughly enjoyed A Darker Shade of Magic. It contains all of the perfect ingredients for a fabulous fantasy read – immensely likeable protagonists, completely detestable antagonists, epic world building, magic that apparently has a life of its own, dangerous adventures and action-packed fight scenes, and just to make sure there’s something for everyone, even a little love story thrown in for good measure.

What I Loved about A Darker Shade of Magic:

The Many Sided Coat – It might sound silly, but that coat is seriously an effective attention grabber! Schwab captivated me immediately when she opens her novel by describing Kell and his mysterious coat of seemingly endless sides. Watching Kell manipulate the fabric and transform it into basically an entire new garment, my brain immediately kicked into high gear and I had questions that I wanted answers to. How can one coat be folded and refolded like origami into whatever style Kell requires at the moment? Why would Kell need such a coat? So, yes, silly as it may sound, the coat is what initially hooked me on this story. Bravo to the coat!

Kell – Kell is pretty much impossible not to like. He is charming and quirky and because he is also one of the last of his kind, the Antari, I immediately felt protective of him. He is also one of the most intriguing characters in the novel because of his unique ability to use his blood to create doors between worlds and travel through them. I also have no idea why, but every time I read about Kell, in my mind, he looks like Peter Pan, haha.

Lila – Lila is my spirit animal! Seriously, she is, without a doubt, my favorite character in ADSOM. How can you not love a young lady who is currently a thief but aspires to be a pirate? Lila is fiercely independent, brave, savvy, headstrong, dying for some adventure in her life, and just an all-around fabulous character.

The 4 Londons – I loved how Schwab takes a familiar setting like London, with all of its iconic landmarks, and uses it to build such a unique fantasy world. Instead of just one London, there are four of them, all existing simultaneously but on separate planes and each with different rulers and a different way of life. Red London is Kell’s world, a world where magic is respected, while Gray London is Lila’s world, a world where magic has been forgotten. White London is a dangerous world where monarchs murder their way to the top and where people fight to control magic. And finally, there is Black London, a world that is now forbidden because of something that went tragically wrong with magic there. Schwab lays them out geographically so that one travels from Gray to Red to White and then lies the forbidden Black.

Even though the Londons exist independently of one another now, they were once much more connected and even now, there is still communication between the Red, White, and Gray Londons, with the Antari serving as messengers since they can still move between the worlds. What we learn as we watch Kell travel from one to the other is that there is bad blood between Red and White Londons that stems from the trouble in Black London. When the trouble in Black London started to spread, rather than banding together with White London to fight it, Red chose to close itself off, leaving White to fend for itself. White London therefore maintains hostility towards Red, and so this bad blood is a contributing factor in the overall conflict of the novel.

I think Schwab does a fantastic job of weaving together these four separate Londons into a complex and intricate fantasy world. I haven’t been reading fantasy novels for long, but this is definitely one of the most interesting worlds I’ve encountered thus far in my reading adventures.

Living Magic – The dark magic, a black stone that has somehow been removed from Black London and brought to the other Londons, is seriously one of the coolest parts of the story. It creeps and slithers around, and behaves like a parasite looking for a host. It literally seeks out bodies to take over and then uses them up until they are nothing but ash. Just thinking about it made my skin crawl. It was so creepy, and yet, so fascinating to watch! I also liked that the stone acted like a siren, trying to seduce everyone who came into contact with it. Even Kell, as powerful as he is in his own right, has a difficult time fighting against the stone’s allure.

Themes – Loyalty and Sacrifice: These are two themes that really appealed to me as I read this story. I loved how Kell was willing to sacrifice himself, if necessary, to get the stone back to Black London where it could do no harm. I also thought it said a lot about Kell that he was willing to do whatever it took to save Rhy, who he loves like a brother. Lila also comes to embody loyalty and sacrifice as well when she repeatedly puts herself in harm’s way trying to help Kell.

Relationship between Kell and Lila – I got the distinct vibe that Kell and Lila could be moving in a romantic direction as we continue through the series, but I really liked that it was subtly presented in this first book and not at all a distraction from all of the epic action and adventures that were the story’s central focus. Romantically involved or not, Kell and Lila make a pretty amazing team and I’m looking forward to reading more of their adventures together.

Anything I Didn’t Love?

Pacing? – I can’t even really call it a dislike, but the pace of the early chapters was a bit slow for me. It makes sense in that Schwab is explaining the concept of the 4 Londons and how they relate to each, as well as introduce all of the story’s major players, but I still struggled a few times because I really wanted to get to the action. I will say though to anyone who starts reading and feels the same way – stick with it! The payoff is so worth it! Think of it like a roller coaster where you’re slowing climbing that first huge hill and then you go over the top and WHHHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! It’s like that 

Would I recommend this book?

Without hesitation! I think people new to fantasy would love it, as well as anyone who is already a fantasy fan. It’s just a hugely entertaining read!

Rating: A strong 4 stars!

four-stars

About V.E. Schwab

ve schwab

Victoria is the product of a British mother, a Beverly Hills father, and a southern upbringing. Because of this, she has been known to say “tom-ah-toes,” “like,” and “y’all.”

She also tells stories.

She loves fairy tales, and folklore, and stories that make her wonder if the world is really as it seems.

About Victoria Schwab

ve schwab

Victoria “V.E.” Schwab is the NYT, USA, and Indie bestselling author of more than a dozen books, including Vicious, the Shades of Magic series, and This Savage Song. Her work has received critical acclaim, been featured by EW and The New York Times, been translated into more than a dozen languages, and been optioned for TV and Film. The Independent calls her the “natural successor to Diana Wynne Jones” and touts her “enviable, almost Gaimanesque ability to switch between styles, genres, and tones.”

She is represented by Holly Root at Root Literary and Jon Cassir at CAA.
All appearance and publicity inquiries should be directed to either her agent, or one of her publicists:

Harper: Gina.Rizzo@harpercollins.com
Tor: Alexis.Saarela@tor.com

Waiting on Wednesday – Caraval by Stephanie Garber

New WoW“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.

My “Waiting On” Wednesday selection for this week:

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

caraval th

Publication Date: January 31, 2017

From Amazon:

“A spellbinding tale of sisterhood, love, and betrayal.”
―Sabaa Tahir, New York Times bestselling author of An Ember in the Ashes

How far would you go to save your sister?

Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

* * * * *

I’m excited about this one because some of the advanced reviews compare it to Erin Morganstern’s The Night Circus, which is one of my favorite books! I think I’ve applied for every ARC giveaway on the internet in hopes of winning so I don’t have to wait until January to read Caraval, haha. 🙂

I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday?