Review: Roam by C.H. Armstrong

Most of us have never experienced being homeless. And if we’re very lucky, we never will. Not so for seventeen-year-old Abby.

Being in high school is hard. It’s even harder when you’re keeping a secret that could ruin your social standing. In Abby’s case, that secret is that she and her family are homeless. It wasn’t always this way. Once upon a time, not so long ago, they had everything. A nice house, good jobs, friends, all that a teenage girl could want.

But one mistake led to another, and one stroke of bad luck piled on top of another. And just like that, Abby finds herself living in the family’s van. Eating at soup kitchens, cleaning up in public bathrooms, trying to stay warm while sleeping in parking lots…it’s a lot for anyone to handle. Abby’s determined, however, to overcome this gigantic obstacle. With the help of some new friends, will she be able to do it?

I loved this story from beginning to end. It’s a reminder of how quickly things can change, of how everything can be gone in the blink of an eye. And it’s also a reminder that we never truly know what someone is going through.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Roam

Advertisements

Review: The Birds, the Bees, and You and Me by Olivia Hinebaugh

If only all parents could be as open and approachable as Lacey’s…this thought kept running through my head as I read this one.

A teenage mom herself, she’s determined to not have Lacey’s life take the same path. So Lacey’s always been raised in an open household where no issue is off limits. And that includes any and all things related to sex. So it’s just natural that Lacey would become the “expert” at school for sex ed advice.

Except that Lacey’s never even kissed anyone, let alone had sex. But when she sees her school pushing an abstinence-only policy, she’s determined to take a stand. Even if that means trouble.

Unusual for sure, probably not everyone’s cup of tea. And likely more than a few people will disagree with the author’s stance on this issue. But I liked it soooo…

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Birds, The Bees, and You and Me

Review: The Memory of You by Jamie Beck

Great start to a new series! Steffi is offered a job renovating a room in her ex boyfriend’s mom’s house… and that about says it all, doesn’t it?! Seriously loved the good relationship between Ryan’s mom and Steffi – and the slow refreshment of a friendship between Ryan and Steffi. Good, solid story with likable characters, great dialogue, and cool references to the state I call home. I’m looking for book 2 as soon as this review is done being written!

-calliope

Buy THE MEMORY OF YOU

Review: The Songbird by Marcia Willett

Love how this new-to-me author develops so many characters in such a clear and natural way so as not to confuse this reader who usually likes easy escape reading. The characters are distinct, but not caricatures or stereotypes; they’re of every generation – and even the olders and youngers are relatable.

Especially memorable are William, who after years of doing what his wife wants, finally grows a pair and does the Right Thing; Mattie, who is loving and innocent and fun and young – and so so sincere; and Tim, who moves to the cottage with a heavy burden, and leaves the cottage with someone to share it with.

Though my copy was an ARC, I was a little taken aback by the formatting – especially all of the proper nouns that weren’t capitalized, and the majority of sentences that started with lowercase letters. Just threw off the flow for me and made the act of reading a little bit of a chore.

Besides that, I really enjoyed this cast of 10 or so characters, living their lives, figuring out their problems, getting to know each other and themselves. There’s not a whole lot of action, but Willett does write a story filled with poetry, deep thoughts, and emotion.

-calliope

Buy THE SONGBIRD

Review: A Miracle on Hope Street by Emma Heatherington

Everyone loves a Christmas miracle, and though agony-aunt columnist Ruth Ryans has advised many a citizen on how best to obtain theirs, she has no hope for her own. It all started when Ruth’s dad died, and her zest for life, her job and her friends kind of just went kaput.

But a couple of pals unexpectedly lift her up, and Ruth muddles through the letters for her column, realizing that the loneliness of her readers jibes with her own. She tries reaching out to others – and it works, nudging her out of her own head. There’s one big hurdle — finding her mom — and that thread carries throughout most of the book, providing a backbone for the subplots.

This is a feel-good book that gives hope to people missing their loved ones — without being contrived or syrupy sweet. I pegged the ending way back in the mid to early chapters, but that’s okay, because a happily ever after is a happily ever after… and that’s what I’m looking for 6 weeks before Christmas!

By the way, you’ll meet the most beautiful people in this book. My favorites are Gloria – what an angel – and Nicholas, the pianist. They spread joy far and wide, and Emma Heatherington is wonderful for writing them.

-calliope

Buy A MIRACLE ON HOPE STREER

Review: The Last House on Sycamore Street by Paige Roberts

The Last House on Sycamore Street frames up a slice of life as a suburban mom. You’ve got the preschool /playdate social stratosphere, the how-much-should-i-work dilemma, and the keeping up with the Joneses drama. Except the Joneses are the former owners of the last house on Sycamore Street.

I liked this book – I could identify with the mom and her struggle to work but not work too much. I LOVED that she and her husband had a great marriage – something not every contemporary novel ensures. And the kids were cute – their smarts, their antics, and their occasional obnoxiousness.

But the former homeowners. Whew. What a piece of work those two are. And there’s the rub. I thought with a nutty couple like that, there would be bound to be a plot twist or a psychological thriller element. No such luck, and so I was a bit disappointed. (But to be fair, it was an expectation I came up with from thin air!) So… not a very climactic story, but a contemporary look at life in the suburbs from a people-pleasing mom’s perspective.

-calliope

Buy THE LAST HOUSE ON SYCAMORE STREET

Review: Mercy’s Chase by Jess Lourey

FBI agent Salem Wiley is a tough cookie who was raised by an even tougher cookie. In this book 2 of a series, Salem needs to solve a decades-old mystery involving Stonehenge, secret codes, and underground societies.

I never knew who to trust in this book (I mean, neither did Salem!), and that kept me on the edge of my seat. Even when Salem thought she knew someone… e.g. Agent Lucan Stone… she had no guarantee that her government partners, family members, or colleagues had her back.

I loved the adventure and the suspense, I totally missed a fabulous clue about who the bad guy was, and I got to be a fly on the wall watching conspiracy theories and patriarchal politics intersect. Plus, Salem Wiley pretty much had me by the arm, bringing me from one point of interest to another, giving me the sightseeing tour of a lifetime. Really a fun ride.

-calliope

Buy MERCY’S CHASE