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

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

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

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

Miss You by Kate Eberlen

I recently went on vacation and wanted to take a fun “beach read” but I usually hate beach reads. I was really excited to see this on my bookshelf. And it was exactly what I wanted! Miss You is not a typical rom-com. Following two characters for over 10 years of missed connections, it made me respond out loud on many occasions. “Come on, guys! Just meet!” Eberlen’s writing is delightful. I’m always looking for well-written fun books and this is definitely one of those. I read it at the perfect time because I can’t wait to start recommending it for the summer.  Also, it is so delightfully British, another fun plus.

4-stars

Whiskey When We’re Dry by John Larison

I am doing the Book Riot 2018 Read Harder Challenge this year and one of the requirements was to read a western.  I am not a big western reader (I am incredibly squeamish and don’t handle blood and violence very well) so I was daunted by this one.  That was, until our Penguin rep, Brian, came into the store and said, “I have a book I need you to read.  It’s a Western.”  I jumped on the opportunity.

What I got was Whiskey When We’re Dry, a western that focuses on Jessilyn, a 17 year-old girl who finds herself alone in the world following the death of her father.  What I really enjoyed about this book is that nothing came easily to Jessilyn.  She doesn’t just happen to magically be the best sharpshooter.  She doesn’t just happen to survive shootouts.  She doesn’t succeed because of happenstance, which is the feeling I’ve gotten from other genre fiction like westerns (including westerns).  This book felt very realistic while still telling the story of an awesome kickass girl who involves herself in a world that is actively against her.  I am so glad there is a character like Jessilyn out there.  We need more of her.

4-stars

Enigma Variations by Andre Aciman

I loved Call Me By Your Name and so I knew that I needed to check out Andre Aciman’s other work.  I decided to read his most recent book, Enigma Variations, in which he tells the story of Paul, a man who tries to discover himself at different points in his life.  The story is broken up into five different periods of time.  I loved being able to see Aciman use his deep and amazing understanding of the human experience to follow one person over a lifetime, especially since he focused on such a short period of time in Call Me By Your Name.

Aciman is a poet.  His writing is lyrical and beautiful while still being gritty, raw, and incredibly honest.  He doesn’t hold back on any topic, making you absolutely love Paul at some points and making you hate him at others.  He is an author I will definitely be tracking, waiting for what he has for us next.

4-stars

The Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller

Shout-out to Pam Parker for telling me to read this one!  This book completely blew me away.  The cover blurb made me nervous.  Magic and science in one book?  That probably isn’t a book I would enjoy.  But boy was I wrong.

Miller has created a fascinating story placed in the midst of the very real history of WWI.  He calls out the gender issues that were in place by turning the tables.  Sure, women weren’t allowed to do things at the time but that is because they were women and it was the turn of the century!  Instead of going with this view, he flips it, following a male character who isn’t allowed to help out with the war efforts due to the fact that women are the only one with the magical abilities to do so.  And this isn’t just a book that sets out to prove a point.  It is a well-written, fascinating story that I didn’t want to leave.  I was actually shocked to find myself at the end of the novel.  I didn’t want to let these characters go.

5-stars

Tangerine by Christine Mangan

It starts out as a nice story. A woman moves to Tangier with her new husband. Suddenly a friend from her past appears, and the perfect exotic-ness of Morocco begins to fall apart. In her debut, Christine Mangan has created a thrilling, page-turning read. Her characters are rich and she takes an interesting look at the psychology of friendship. This book leads you to believe that it is just going to be a traditional piece of historical fiction, from the opening chapter to the cover design.  But boy does it take a turn and become so much more than that.  This book is straight up terrifying at times.  (Not like spooky monster terrifying but a reminder of how messed up people can be.)  I look forward to what Mangan has in store for us next.

4-stars