Esther (Essie) Hicks is the youngest child featured on the reality TV show Six for Hicks. She's grown up in the spotlight, and now that she's seventeen, is desperate to find a way to separate herself from her family's Evangelical way of life. When her mother finds out that Essie is pregnant, Essie sees an opportunity and runs with it. There's finally a way for her to escape from underneath her Mother's thumb. And if all goes well, she can provide the same opportunity for a boy at school who has secrets of his own. This was an interesting look at how on-camera lives differ from those that are off-camera, and how public faith isn't the same as what is practiced at home.
This Alice in Wonderland prequel tells the story of Catherine, an aspiring baker living in the Kingdom of Hearts, who has caught the eye of the child-like King. Forced to attend his ball and face his inevitable proposal, the King's plans are foiled when the brand new Joker's performance is interrupted by the Jabberwock, a beast never before seen in Hearts, something only heard about in stories. The Joker, Jest, saves Cath and sends her safely home, but not before making an impression on the girl - soon all she can think about is Jest and his golden eyes. While publicly courting the King, she is secretly pining after Jest. Just when it seems like Cath might be able to achieve her dream of opening a bakery and marrying the man she loves, things start to go terribly wrong.
Goal Diggers is supposed to be one-of-a-kind reality TV - billed as a feminist series, it focuses on female entrepreneurs, their relationships with each other, and how they build their business empires. Instead of building each other up, however, the women are more often than not pitted against each other, causing just as much drama as a 'normal' reality TV show. So much drama, in fact, that one of them ends up dead by the end of the season.
The Favorite Sister is an interesting commentary on the entertainment industry, as well as the relationships between women that society deems acceptable. It's technically a thriller, but this one builds slowly, and the suspense only enters the story during the last third of the book. Still, well worth the read!
Noah Keller is an average American boy living in 1989. He's pumped for soccer practice after school, and his friend's birthday party on Saturday (they're going to see Indiana Jones!). He's average, that is, until his parents pick him up from school one day, the car is packed with everything they own, they tell him his name is not Noah, and they are moving to East Germany. Noah - now Jonah - is still spinning when they land in Berlin and move into their new apartment, home for the next six months. Understandably, Noah/Jonah has a difficult time adjusting to communist Germany - not only because of the constant monitoring by security officers (they are, after all, American and worthy of suspicion) but because he has what he has deemed the Astonishing Stutter, made exponentially worse when he tries to speak in German. Things seem hopeless for Noah, until he meets Claudia, the girl who lives in the apartment below him.
I loved the humor and heart in Cloud and Wallfish, and it was especially fun to get a kid’s view of Berlin during the tail end of the Cold War. A perfect history-lesson-in-disguise for intermediate readers.
Tom Hazard isn't immortal....he just ages really, really slowly. He's been around since the 1590s, but looks like he hasn't yet had his mid-life crisis. And he's not the only one. An entire society of people who seem to defy the laws of aging has formed - a support group of sorts - that ensures they stay safe and hidden from scientists who may wish to perform any number of experiments on their extremely unique bodies. How To Stop Time explores Tom's time on earth, the history he has experienced first hand, the people he has brushed up against, and his struggle to remain optimistic year after year after year...after year. Although the subject matter seems somewhat heavy, Matt Haig infuses just enough humor and wit to make this an unexpectedly fun read.
This book is what we all need - kickass black girls in fancy dresses killing zombies. Jane McKeene attends Miss Preston's School of Combat in Baltimore, just one of many schools that were refurbished after The War Between The States to educate young black and Native American citizens in the art of zombie killing. Jane is one of the best in her class, and when she graduates will become an Attendant for a wealthy white lady, to protect her from any threats, living or dead. However, when Jane notices families going missing in her area, she becomes entangled in a conspiracy from which she cannot escape. This is a gripping book about family, race, and the best weapon with which to kill the undead.
Picture your ideal honeymoon...you're probably on a beach right? Perhaps a margarita in hand? Well, that's not exactly what Natalie and Doug Larson are up to the day after their wedding. Instead, they set off on a multi-day canoe trip in the deep wilderness of the Adirondacks. In and of itself, it would be a challenging trip, but things start to go wrong soon after they set off. The water levels are low, so they are forced to carry their canoe more than expected, and when they hit a particularly rough set of rapids, their GPS goes tumbling into the water. What's supposed to be a time of post-nuptial bliss turns into a fight to survive - and there's something even more dangerous in the Adirondacks than lack of food and water. This was a page-turner, and one that will make you think twice about trekking into the wilderness unprepared (and convince you to stick with the traditional margarita-consuming beach vacation!).
The Meade Creamery has been a staple in Sand Lake for decades, ever since it was founded during the war by Molly Meade, in an attempt to keep her mind off the fact that her beau was off in the trenches. It has employed only girls every summer since, and it's a coveted job. Amelia has been working there since 8th grade, and this year she's promoted to Head Girl. She just knows that this is going to be the best summer ever, until she shows up to the stand early the week before opening day, and finds Molly's body inside. Though she's thought to have no living family, a great-nephew shows up and takes over the operation. Amelia is determined not to let the presence of a boy disturb her perfectly planned summer, but things soon go awry, and it results in a funny, heartwarming summer romp. This book is perfect for budding entrepreneurs, and those just looking for a fun read.
In the future, rising sea levels and increased global temperature have made the coast essentially uninhabitable and has increased class tensions. The government enacted a new program that will send 500 citizens that live below the cliffline (read:poor) to Pacifica, an island paradise with blue skies and even bluer waters. A place without industrial waste and pollution, where food and clear water is plentiful. It sounds like a dream come true, but Marin is a pirate who spent her childhood on the ocean, and knows that there's no such island. Where is the government really sending these people, and why?
Emergency Contact is about two lost souls finding each other in a very Millennial way (and that doesn't mean it's a bad thing!). Penny meets Sam when he has a panic attack on the side of the road, and she has everything he needs to calm down in her Mary Poppins-esque bag of necessities. They exchange numbers, and carry on their relationship solely via text. It's the best of both worlds - you can share your deepest feelings and concerns with someone without all of the awkward in-person interactions. Things are great until Penny's roommate drags her downtown for a cup of coffee - at the coffee house where Sam works. This was a fun spring read that made me laugh out loud.
Charles Frazier returns with another Civil War epic, this time about a woman largely forgotten by history, and yet inextricably intertwined with an infamous character of American History - Jefferson Davis. Varina married this man - twice her age - because her father had gambled away the family's savings and she knew her marriage prospects were few and far between. She thought she would have a calm, happy life married to a farmer; maybe if he got ambitious, he would be a state senator. Her life took a path she never could have imagined, filled with highs and lows unimaginable to most. Varina is a well crafted story based in history with which lovers of Southern fiction will be enthralled.
Detroit Free Press reporter Keith Gave was the first person to make contact with members of what would infamously become known as the Red Wings' Russian Five. When the Wings drafted members of the Soviet hockey league, they did so knowing that many obstacles stood in the way of actually getting those players on the ice in Detroit. Gave's book starts with his initial meeting with the players, follows the five players throughout their entire lives, both on the ice and off, through defection from the Soviet Union, to Stanley Cup championships and unimaginable tragedy. I am not a sports fan by any stretch of the imagination, but was sucked into this story straight away. Written like one long newspaper article, due to Gave's reporting background, this was a quick read that was both humorous and uplifting.