Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Not for the faint of heart. Then again – would you expect anything else from a book about 4 high school “it girls” and the damage they cause? It’s real. Uncomfortable. In your face. There were parts of it I didn’t enjoy – a particular awful moment springs right to mind.

But there’s a draw to the visceral, raw feel to a magnification of the truly terrible things about high school. Not a happy book. Not a fun book. But an almost pleasure-pain to flashback to a time when everything felt important – and self-destruction was in the water.

I’m not sure that I’d recommend this. I feel incredibly sad – introspective. So I’ll say “read at your own risk.”

Mr Darcy’s Diary by Amanda Grange

It was cute. The diary form keeps it pretty shallow – but it’s not like these characters are new to anyone. It was sort of romantic to see things from Mr Darcy’s side, but no new ground was covered there. All the best romantic parts are from P&P.

It was a quick read. Definitely could be read in a sitting. There was some extra stuff at the end that I didn’t love. I guess I wanted the author to stay in more comfortable territory.

Overall a cute and quirky read for the P&P connoisseur.

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne Valente

Diving in the Bahamas. Surrounded by warm clear water. Fish so beautiful and bright that your chest aches. Something vivid and alive. You are literally immersed in another world. That’s what Catherine Valente gives you.

Sure, you can sit on the surface and look down at the fish and the coral. You can stand on the beach and let the waves hit your ankles. But that doesn’t compare to letting go and jumping in – Surrounding yourself with something alien that speaks to that primal part of you.

There’s watching the pretty fish in the tank, and then there’s swimming with the sharks.

The Nightingale By Kristin Hannah

Read it. I think that’s the most important thing I can say in this review. Read it bc you want something real. Something beautiful. Bc you want to learn and remember. Read it bc it will change you a little.
Vianne and Isabelle are French sisters in 1941. They’re 10 years apart, and it would seem, vastly different people. When war comes Vianne and Isabelle react in their own way. Isabelle is rebellious and angry. Vianne is terrified – mostly for her children.
This is world war 2 as told to us through the stories of 2 exceptional women. Terrible things happen – parts are difficult to read. I read 3 other books during the 5 days this book took – simply so I could breathe. I cried twice and sobbed at the end. This was a story of suffering told with a light hand. Never manipulative. Never over the top. But mostly this was a story of bravery. Immense bravery that is absolutely inspiring. Even with the pain – the atrocities – the sadness – I finished the book inspired and happy by the bravery and kindness in Kristin Hannah’s world. I was afraid to read this book – but I’m so thankful that I did.

The Perfect Wife by Lynsay Sands

Many books ask you to suspend reality – a little or a lot. It’s difficult, though, when the book asks you to throw common sense out the window. Lord.

Paen (y’all – I have no idea how to pronounce this and couldn’t find any help on the Interwebs. I spent the book calling him Peon, Pain, and Penn in my head) and Avelyn are an arranged bride and groom who didn’t know each other before the wedding. Avelyn has self-esteem issues and Peanut has the personality of cardboard. About a bazillion bad things happen to Avelyn – which crushes her already fragile ego (Peony remains a weird and mostly irrelevant side-character through all of this). And then there’s a super-stupid sub-plot (bc this book, which was already resemblant of the Three Stooges, really needed extra hijinks) that didn’t help anything out.

On a good note – it was a quick and simple read. On an extra bad note – an author repeatedly describing kissing as “passionately” begins to convince me that the kisses were anything but.

Bear, Otter, and The Kid by TJ Klune

My 3 stars isn’t fair to this book. The things that I didn’t love about this story are likely things other readers would enjoy.

Bear is a sensitive and kind young man who becomes responsible for his kid brother. Like a good parent Bear puts the Kid first. And, also like many good parents, he’s conflicted and overwhelmed by who he becomes when someone else takes priority.

Bear has become somewhat isolated as a 21-year-old pseudo parent. He’s also (reasonably) resentful of a life that sees him working on worrying when he should be at college – living solely for himself.

These things come to a head when a male friend comes back into Bear’s life. Bear has a girlfriend when the book starts. However, Bear has his head in the sand about a lot of things. So that’s what the book comes down – how Bear (doesn’t) handles his feelings on some of the really big important things in life.

TBH, this book felt realistic. Hard. The stuff Bear goes through isn’t the worst stuff ever, but that’s the point. It’s the things that so many of us go through every day. And it kinda chips away at you – especially if you’re Cleopatra (yeah, Bear is the absolute queen of DeNial).

This is the third book I’ve read by TJ Klune. The other 2 felt different (The Lightning-Struck Heart was hilarious and Wolfsong was one of the my books of 2016.) This one gave me all the feelings. Not a bad thing but not what I wanted right now. My respect for TJ Klune continues to grow. I’m enjoying all of his facets, and I look forward to seeing more.

A Kiss At Midnight by Eloisa James

For the first 50 pages or so I just couldn’t get into this book. But once Kate and Gabriel met it was fire! This was a retelling of Cinderella – with some changes (Victoria was really sweet and Henry was better than a fairy godmother) that made it better. Mostly this book was great bc Gabriel and Kate were both smart. Never did a moment arise when I shook my head or rolled my eyes. They had a ton of common sense – and fell in love despite it. They were always respectful and honest (love that!) and sweet and snarky. So much great in this book – absolutely my favorite in the series.