Review: The Recipe Box by Viola Shipman

This is a charming story about Samantha moving back home to small town Michigan from her temporary pastry chef stint in NYC. Though her big city boss was a total jerk, Samantha did leave behind good friends and big dreams.

She didn’t realize that her dreams could be fulfilled in Michigan if she’d only give it a chance. Back at her family’s orchard, Samantha spent time with her mom and grandmother, finding out little by little just how special the family recipe box was. I loved how her two worlds collided via the recipe box, giving Samantha the opportunity of a lifetime – if she decided to take it.

I loved the orchard setting, the convivial relationships among the women, persistent Angelo, and that awesome recipe box. I couldn’t quite identify with Samantha’s personal struggles, and the story was fairly predictable, but in the end I was satisfied — much like I am when hearing the expected crunch of an apple. All good stuff.

-calliope

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Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

“Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or a performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find to magic in this world.”
My goodness!! I am so excited after finishing this book! I pretty must wanna write, “GO READ THIS!” and just leave it at that, but I won’t.

I’ve been told by quite a few people that this book is super fun and intriguing, and will keep you on your toes. And they were so very right. I had so many theories as I was reading. It’s hard to know what’s going to happen when you’re told not to believe anything to you see or hear.

It’s only a game…

Famous last words.

Scarlett and Tella have grown up under the evil hand of their father. In fact, his scenes had me wincing quite a bit. Evil is an understatement. But the girls have a chance to run away to Caraval for a few days and escape their life, before Scarlett is forced to marry someone she’s never met. But things don’t turn out the way that they hoped. The game has a way of changing you, if you’re not too careful.

When Tella is kidnapped, the game gets more real. Scarlett must rely on the help of Julian, the sailor who seems to have an ulterior motive behind his actions, in order to rescue her before the five days is up. Scarlett has always done what needs to be done, in order to protect her sister, so this will push her far beyond her imagination.

As she spends more and more time with Julian, she starts to question everything about him. Romance has no place in this game. By the end, no matter what her feelings are for Julian, it’s all about her sister. Scar will do whatever it takes to find Tella and escape their father.

This is another YA book I’ll be adding to my list. No only is there a sweet romance in the background, this book will keep you on the edge of your seat and have you constantly guessing. A real page turner. In fact, if you liked the movie Now You See Me, then you will like this book. Nothing is real, and yet it is. It’s only a game, and yet it isn’t…

SO.MUCH.FUN.

~Melpomene

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Review: Middlemarch by George Eliot

This is a book I wish I had read a very long time ago. I wish I was reading it over and over again. There are just so many characters involved and I know I missed out on bits…but never fear, I am already starting it over again!

This book is just so delightful. I was so angry at some of these people. I adored some of these people. I was totally exasperated with some of these people. With some of them, I was all three things at different points within the novel.

When I started this novel, I won’t lie, I thought Dorothea was a bit silly. However, by the end of the book I loved every single thing about her. I wouldn’t change a single thing about her.

There are just so many things going on in this novel! So many little storylines that all make up the day-to-day life in Middlemarch…I feel as if I really MUST do a re-read to make sure I have not neglected or overlooked anyone.

I wish I could recommend this book to every single person in the universe. There just aren’t words enough to express how much I enjoyed it. At the same time, it makes me a bit sad because I know most of my friends would ask me what the big deal was and they found it boring.

So these feelings just leave me a bit dejected and I don’t even know how to deal with that.

This is how much this book means to me…I am heartbroken over a perceived notion that my mates won’t enjoy it that much…how crazy is that…

although I must say….many of the problems the characters of Middlemarch found themselves in could have just been avoided entirely if people had just spoken their minds…

So I say now…Go forth and read this book…Love it as much as I do…and if you don’t like it…well….shame on you!!!

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now Middlemarch by George Eliot

Review: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

I’m always a bit suspicious when one book is compared to another. It’s for that very reason I was hesitant to consider this one, described in one review as “the next Harry Potter.” But the blurb was intriguing enough to encourage me to give it a try. And I’m glad I did.

Stevie Bell has achieved her goal. Being accepted at the exclusive Ellingham Academy is all she’s wanted for a very long time. But it’s not for the reason most people would think. It’s a fabulous private school, for sure. And for a highly gifted child such as herself, it’s a dream come true. Stevie, however, has other motives. As a budding young detective, she’s obsessed with solving a decades-old mystery. What exactly happened at Ellingham Academy all those years ago when the owner’s wife and daughter disappeared? Stevie is certain that SHE can be the one to figure it out. Of course, her present day world isn’t without risks of its own…

I absolutely love this character. She’s smart and determined and confident. The other characters aren’t bad, but it’s Stevie who steals the show. The story is told alternately in present times and the time of the original crime. The author allows us to get into Stevie’s head as she works out the details of the original crime while simultaneously dealing with current events. My only complaint is that the book ends with a MAJOR cliffhanger leading me to wait impatiently for the next book.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Truly Devious

Review: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Beautiful. Poetic. Haunting. Lyrical. This latest story from Celeste Ng is all that and more.

Izzy has finally gone over the edge. Everyone knew it was going to happen eventually. But what caused this inevitable collapse? Things are never as simple as they seem, and that rule applies to the Richardson house being burnt to the ground by their erratic, youngest daughter.

Rewind to the beginning. That’s when Mia and her daughter Pearl arrive in town. At first just tenants in a rental house owned by the Richardsons, they soon find themselves ingrained into the family. Pearl finds friendship among the four Richardson children while Mia takes up employment as their housekeeper. Their nomadic, artistic lifestyle is too tempting to resist. Soon their lives are intertwined in unimaginable ways. But all families have secrets, and these two families are no exception. As secrets typically go, when one is discovered another soon follows. Some secrets aren’t so big, others are huge and life changing.

These characters are amazing, every single one of them. Mrs. Richardson is controlling and disciplined beyond belief. Mia is free spirited and thoughtful. The teenagers are, well, what you would expect of teenagers. The way they all come together is simply spellbinding. This is a story that I both wanted to end and wanted to last longer at the same time. An outstanding tale!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Little Fires Everywhere

Review: Sociable by Rebecca Harrington

Quirky novel about the culture of social media – using it, creating it, changing it, and earning a living by it. While most of the characters were in their 20s, a few unlikeable chaps were more my age (forty-cough-ish). I just couldn’t wrap my head around grown men acting so silly about making lists a la buzzfeed. The male characters were intolerable at best.

I did like the development of Elinor, and the characters of some of the other women. Elinor was a little wayward but as soon as she got rid of a certain albatross she was able to come into her own.

All in all, I think that (1) I’m not the right demographic for this book (twenty-somethings will appreciate more, I think!), and (2) I’m just too much of a realist to get into unrealistic realistic fiction. Or maybe I’m just clueless. Do people really live like that in the city? Is working for a social media company actually that prestigious? SOCIABLE may have been intended as satire, or maybe something tongue in cheek. Maybe it was totally mocking society. I’m not sure, but whatever it was supposed to be, I think it went over my head.

-calliope

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Review: Little Woodford by Catherine Jones

This story is a cute telling of a slice-of-life in an English village. After her husband dies, Bex moves to tiny Woodford with her children – and there she has to navigate the stereotypical town gossip, church ladies, and the snooty do-gooders — all while trying to move in, fit in and make her own footprint as the new lady in the fancy house.

I enjoyed this predictable bit of fun, despite having to suspend my disbelief a couple of times. I mean, does Bex ever grieve?! Is Olivia that perfect?! In Little Woodford Miss Jones gives us a new adventure, a little mystery, a romance or two, teenagers figuring out life, some good guys, some bad guys, and a bunch of regular Joes making the most of small town living. Charming.

-calliope

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