Review: A French Wedding by Hannah Tunnicliffe 

Lovely story, but not what I expected. I thought, “A wedding! France! Cheese! Pastry!” And I got a wedding… but not until the very very end; France… well a part of France  caught very much in between England and France in language and culture; cheese… yes, but not everyone liked it; and pastry… oh the very best pastries and cakes made by chef Juliette. 

Juliette set aside her personal baggage to be Max’s personal chef. For Juliette, life was even easier that way. When Max invited a bunch of friends to stay at his home for the weekend, Juliette was ready to cook for them like a madwoman. But things went wrong at every turn due to the shadow Max’s mood cast. Whether he meant to or not, Max kind of ruined everything for his friends and his chef. And that kind of ruined the story for me. 
Good writing, good plot, depressing main character. 

-calliope 

Buy A FRENCH WEDDING

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Review: Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

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For a long time, young adult novels pretty much ran the gamut from surviving a bully to falling in everlasting love.  Thankfully times have changed somewhat.  Today’s authors are giving us stories full of believable characters, not just those who fit into a stereotypical mold of the perfect teenager.

Libby has A LOT of things going against her.  She’s overweight, significantly so.  She’s never had a boyfriend.  Her mom is dead.  She’s been homeschooled for the past several years and is way out of touch with the high school scene. She has no friends and has been bullied in the past.  And, oh yeah, she achieved national notoriety when she had to be cut out of her house because of her weight.

But she also has a lot going for her.  She has a loving father.  She’s lost a ton of weight since that infamous incident.  She’s funny, kind, smart, and resilient as all get out.  And she’s back in school after so many years away.  Of course there are struggles, but Libby’s up for the challenge.

And then there’s Jack.  As one of the popular, cool kids he’s the exact opposite of Libby on the outside.  But he has his problems and insecurities, too.  His swagger and confidence comes from a place of insecurity and shame.  He’s covering up a secret that he’ll do anything to protect.

Although Jack and Libby seem to have nothing in common, they’re unwillingly thrown together as the result of a cruel prank.  They find friendship first, and then something more.  Is it possible that two such different people can actually be happy together?

This is kind of a sappy romance book, which I’m usually not a fan of.  But I loved Libby’s spunk and her spirit.  She’s strong and confident as she flies in the face of everyone’s idea of the perfect teenager.  I would only wish that all young girls could have such confidence.  It’s very good most of the time.  Granted, there are parts of the story that were highly unbelievable for me just because I know how society treats people who are different.   It’s certainly something to wish for, though.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Holding Up the Universe

 

Review: The Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati

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There’s something very refreshing about an author who prefaces their book with an explanation of exactly WHY their story is different from the others of the same genre.  That’s a rare find in today’s world.

Catherine knows that it’s coming.  As sure as the passage of time, she’s certain that eventually her debilitating depression/bipolar disorder will rear its ugly head again. And because she knows it’s unavoidable, she has an escape plan.  No way is she going to be caught unaware like the last time things went south.  So she finds comfort in a shoebox. It’s here that she’s stockpiling an arsenal of medication sure to take her away from the pain for good.  She doesn’t see what she’s planning as a selfish act.  In fact, it’s her sacrifice to everyone she loves.  Only when she’s out of their lives can they truly begin to live again.

But something happens as she’s just passively walking through life.  She starts to care again.  First in the form of Michael, her first boyfriend.  And then along comes Kristal, someone who’s dealing with just as much as she is.  Still, she’s bound and determined to follow through with her plan when, not if because she knows it’s inevitable, the darkness once again comes for her.

This book was so very good for too many reasons to list.  The characters are real, raw, and flawed.  Everyone has something they’re dealing with, even if it’s not apparent at first glance.  And Catherine’s journey is difficult.  It’s not all nice and neat and wrapped up in a pretty package by the last chapter.  Real life is very much like that, and to pretend otherwise is not fair.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  The Weight of Zero

 

Review: Detached by Christina Kilbourne

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There’s  a game my fellow Muses & I like to play from time to time.  We call it “Guess the Muse” and it involves guessing which one of our brilliant reviewers has written a certain review.  Yes, we are that predictable at times.  And I’ve been known to gravitate towards books involving young people facing issues of all kinds.  So for this review,  I’m staying true to form.

Anna is in a very dark place.  She enjoys nothing, feels nothing, even tastes nothing.  Everything in her life is just there.  So she dreams of an escape route, even going so far as to make a list of possible ways to commit suicide.  And she makes a few attempts, although none of them come close to being successful.  Until the very last one.

Depression and suicide in teens are always difficult topics to read about. But they’re   important ones because they’re  very real. This book does a good job of telling the story of one such teen in a way that’s entirely believable. Another aspect of the book that I enjoyed was hearing Anna’s story told from three different perspectives: Anna herself, her mother, and her best friend. It’s a reminder that these are issues that don’t just affect one person but instead everyone around that person.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Detached

Review: Cure by Brenda Zalegowski

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Warning:   If you are expecting an in-depth review of this book with complete character analysis and a detailed plot summary, you’ve come to the wrong place.  If, however, you’re looking for a simple directive to read an outstanding book, then carry on.

Let me also preface this very short, brief review by saying that you really must read Brenda’s debut novel, Behind the Falls.  Yes, it’s the precursor to this outstanding story.  And no, it’s not imperative to understanding and loving Cure.  But it will help you fall in love with the characters even more.

This is a story of love and loss, things that we are all familiar with.  Love never comes easy, but then most things worth having never do.  And young love, teen love especially, is that much more difficult.  There are tears and there are smiles.  There are lives lost and lives saved.  And there’s closure, of some sort at least.  Yes, you’ll recognize many of the characters from the first story.  And you’ll meet some new ones.

And that’s all you’re going to get.  I’ve never been one to write a synopsis of a story and call it a review, but I do usually give a bit more than you’re getting with this one.  But I just can’t with this one.  You’ll just have to trust me.  Read Behind the Falls.  And then read this one.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Cure

Review: The Girl with the Wrong Name by Barnabas Miller

51E6IyEo21L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Want an intriguing book with more twists and turns than you can keep track of? Before you’re even halfway through? This latest offering from Barnabas Miller is that and more.

Theo has secrets, and some of them even she doesn’t know. It all goes back to “The Night in Question.” She has a scar, but not much else to pull her memories from. And to make things more difficult, she finds herself pulling away from those she’s always been closest to. So she loses herself in her documentaries as she becomes immersed in the lives of strangers, traveling the streets of New York.

And this is where the story becomes really confusing. You’ll second guess yourself and wonder if it’s all going to make sense at some point. And it will. But not easily.

If you like your stories neatly mapped out for you, then this one isn’t for you. It’s not logical, it’s not sequential, it doesn’t even make sense sometimes. But still, it’s mysterious and compelling enough to keep you reading if for no other reason than to find out just how exactly that scar came to be?!?

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Girl with the Wrong Name

Review: After You by Jojo Moyes

  
Want to know what Louisa does after she loses Will in ME BEFORE YOU? I did too. I fell in love with Lou (CLARK!!!!) and I couldn’t let her go. 

AFTER YOU shows us Lou’s grief, her attempt at supporting the Traynors, her meandering spirit as she tries to find her way back in life, and her maternal side. 

I liked the meandering the best. I mean, when we lose someone, we don’t just jump back into reality. We look for supports and crutches and strongholds… And we are picky, because we don’t want to choose one that will cause more loss. 

Thanks Jojo Moyes for giving us more Louisa. It was enough that we lost Will. 

-calliope

Buy AFTER YOU