The Legend of Greg by Chris Rylander

I ignored people telling me to read this for WAY too long! So don’t make the same mistake I did! Pick this up immediately! In Greg’s Chicago, there is an underground world filled with Dwarfs and Elves! But Greg doesn’t know that. All he knows is that he has one best friend and a dad who is always off looking for weird natural remedies and teas. But all of that changes when his dad is abducted by a… troll?! This book is a crazy fun adventure filled with a fully thought out magical world set under my very own feet. As well as being fun and entertaining, it’s also a great story of acceptance of all people, regardless of race (even if those races are magical in this book). Greg is a powerful underdog and I wish that I had him around as a role model when I was growing up.

5-stars

Scream All Night by Derek Milman

I requested this at the library after seeing it on a bunch of lists, which I don’t usually do because I have so much other stuff to read that I already own. But I am so glad that I did. Scream All Night is a completely unique concept, pulling the reader into the bizarre world of cult horror films. Milman’s writing is great. I can’t count the amount of times I laughed out loud and said “This is SO GOOD!” more times than I can count. While the situations in the book are completely unique, they are somehow also incredibly relatable. I love these characters, this setting, and the writing. I just want more.

4-stars

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

This book is so adorable (and steamy, if that’s what you’re looking for). Stella Lane is an econometrician who has Autism. After a comment from a co-worker who she might have a crush on, Stella realizes that she doesn’t know how to be in a relationship. So she hires Michael, a super attractive escort, to teach her how to date people. This book is incredibly addicting and fun, as well as a great reminder that you don’t always appear to others in the way that you think you do. I love these characters so much.

5-stars

Genesis by Brendan Reichs

Nemesis left me hanging and so I inhaled Genesis.  And this book is so much more intense than I ever imagined it could be.  I love this series.  Set in our real world, Reichs messes with the reality around us and speculates a way in which the world could survive a horrible disaster.  If you haven’t read the first one yet, go out and get it as well as Genesis because you will need to read it immediately after.

The characters change and grow in this book more than they did in the first one.  Morals are questioned, status is commented on, and everyone is tested.  I breezed though this long book because I needed answers.  And now I need the next one!  What more could possibly happen to these characters?!?

4-stars

Tin Man by Sarah Winman

This short novel sure packs a punch.  It took me about 20 pages to relax into the writing style as it is very unique but once I was there, I was fully absorbed into this book.  Tin Man tells the story of different kinds of love, whether it be romantic or just friendly.  The three main characters are fascinating and I just wanted them to live the best lives possible.  Winman uses dramatic irony to completely rip your heart out.  Make sure to have tissues handy. A perfect quick, cathartic read.

4-stars

Just the Funny Parts by Nell Scovell

This book is a fascinating look into the comedy and television writing world.  Nell Scovell has accomplished so much and yet her name isn’t a household one, which is crazy to me.  Her stories are insanely topical at this time and it is amazing how much she has been able to get done in a world that is not really pro-women.  She is an inspiration and this book helped to reinvigorate my love of comedy and writing at a time when I was debating all of my life choices.

4-stars

Freddie Mole: Lion Tamer by Alexander McCall Smith

Freddie comes from a poor family and never feels like he has a purpose in the world.  That is, until he joins the circus.  He learns all about the circus and even becomes an understudy for some acts.  This was a fun beginning chapter book.  I loved the beginning the end but just felt like middle sagged a bit.  Kate Hindley’s illustrations, though, are so adorable.

3-stars

Relative Strangers by Paula Garner

I read this one for the Chicago Young Adult Book Festival and was shocked to find that my college, Lawrence University, was in this book!  That was such a great surprise in a great book.  Paula Garner deals with questions of identity in such an interesting way, telling the story of a teen girl who learns that she lived in foster care as a child.  Her adventure to find these lost years brings up questions of what really makes a family.  Plus, there is some impossible romance, which always is fun to read in a way that hurts at the same time.

4-stars

Noir by Christopher Moore

Christopher Moore is the king of weird.  This book started out so normal, following the format of a typical noir.  I was concerned that it wasn’t going to be his normal weird but I soon found that to not be the case.  Moore plays beautifully with the style and manner of storytelling that comes with a noir.  He takes real, historical events and weaves them into a tale involving aliens and government cover up.  The perfect fun read when life is getting you down.  Because no matter how bad you might have it, you won’t have it as bad as these characters.

4-stars

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

This book is amazing even though I never knew how I felt about it while I was reading it.  All I knew was that I needed to keep reading it.  It wasn’t until I had finished the book that I knew that it was a very special book.

Jones has taken on a heavy and difficult topic, dealing with wrongful imprisonment and the way that it affects the world around them.  She has created three very different characters who can never all be happy at the same time but I couldn’t help but root for all of them at the same time.  This book made me so incredibly mad at the world.  Our prison system is broken and needs to be changed.  Fiction like this is important because it brings issues like this to the forefront and really helps show a whole new audience what is happening.  Combine that with Jones’s amazing prose and you have an unstoppable book.

5-stars

Wizardmatch by Lauren Magaziner

This book is SO MUCH FUN!  Magical children, a wizard competition, lots of references to goats.  What more could you ask for?  This is a true underdog story as well as a great girl power tale.  Magaziner’s writing is hilarious and filled with adventure and whimsy.  She has created a fully formed world that I never wanted to read.  A must read for children and adults alike.

5-stars

French Exit by Patrick deWitt

Undermajor Domo Minor is one of my all time favorite books and so I was very excited to see that Patrick deWitt had a new book coming out.  That said, I was quite disappointed.  I think that this would have been a fine book if I didn’t have such high expectations going in.

Let’s start with the good.  I really love the way deWitt writes dysfunctional people.  His characters are terrible people that I want to hate so badly yet I want them to succeed and have good lives, something I don’t usually feel with unlikable characters.

Not much actually happens with those characters, though.  The plot is underwhelming and I didn’t feel like I actually got anything out of the book when I finished reading it.  The story didn’t stick with me and I probably won’t think about this book much.

3-stars