Recommended: yep For a book about a person writing a book, for some free therapy, for two characters who blend beautifully well, for a nuanced look at mental illness (Specifically one that’s usually played for laughs, dismissed, feared, etc)
Wendy Moore hides her collection of pilfered bric-a-brac from everyone, including her husband. He thinks she licked her kleptomania in therapy more than a decade ago. Therapy did help, as did focusing her attention on motherhood. But now Wendy’s gardening and furniture-refinishing hobbies fill up only so much of the day, leaving the recent empty nester lonely and anxious—a combination likely to trigger her little problem. She needs a project, fast. Luckily, Harper Ross—a single, childless younger woman in desperate need of highlights—just moved in next door.
The only thing Harper wants to change is the writer’s block toppling her confidence and career. Then a muse comes knocking. Sensing fodder for a new antagonist, Harper plays along with Wendy’s “helpful” advice while keeping her career a secret so Wendy keeps talking. Sure, she’s torn about profiting off her neighbor’s goodwill—especially when Wendy’s matchmaking actually pans out—but Harper’s novel is practically writing itself.
Just as a real friendship begins to cement, their deceptions come to light, threatening Wendy’s and Harper’s futures and forcing them to reconcile who they are with who they want to be. Easier said than done.
Recommended: yep For a story with “last day to live” vibes, for a lot of character reflection, for lovely settings and journeys that’ll make your feet itch to wander
It was supposed to be a good day.
On the one-year anniversary of her divorce, Alex Martinez is getting closure—and margaritas with her two best friends. But just before the celebratory meetup, Alex is clobbered by life once again. Damping the cheer is the diagnosis of a brain tumor she can’t pronounce, a procedure she’d rather postpone, and the prospect of what to say to an already heartbroken mother. Not that Alex plans to tell her anything anytime soon.
Going from blissful to blindsided in one afternoon, Alex has other plans: to be impulsive and embark on an adventure she’ll never forget. Expected destinations: the Grand Canyon, Puerto Rico, and zip-lining through Costa Rica. Unexpected companion: a hiker named David who’s found a woman after his own heart. But no matter how enriching the journey, how long can Alex keep running?
It’s time to accept past griefs, reconnect with her mother, and find her way back to happy. For Alex, whatever the future holds, maybe everything she really needs to face is right where she left it.
Recommended: yes! Middle school classrooms (and even young high school) would be EXCELLENT, for a look at accessible youth activism, for a lot of fascinating learning about the bad AND the good of natural disasters, for two other “serious” storylines for the MCs that handle really difficult situations, for a book that has really mature students which was a breath of fresh air (having been one of those and not the partiers, it was nice to see a book acknowledge I existed as more than a lame side character foil of boringness)
Explosive volcanic eruptions are cool, really, cool. They inject ash into the stratosphere and deflect the sun’s rays. When eighth grader Jamie Fulton learns that snow fell in June in his hometown because of an eruption on the other side of the world, he’s psyched! He could have snowboarded if he’d lived back in 1815 during the year without a summer.
Clara Montalvo, who recently arrived at Jamie’s school after surviving Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, has a different take all this. She is astounded–and disturbed–by Jamie’s frenzied enthusiasm for what she considers an obvious disaster. The teens’ battling arguments cause science class disruption and create academic trouble: Jamie’s headed for a failing grade in science, and may not even graduate from eighth grade; Clara’s scholarship hopes are dashed.
And school isn’t the only place where Jamie and Clara are facing hardship: as they quarrel whether natural disasters can be beneficial, their home lives are also unraveling. Uncertainty about Jamie’s wounded brother returning from Afghanistan and Clara’s unreachable father back in Puerto Rico forces the two vulnerable teens to share their worries and sadness. As their focus shifts from natural disasters to personal calamities to man-made climate changes, the teens take surprising steps that astonish them. Ultimately, through hard work and growing empathy for each other, as well as for their classmates’ distress over the climate change affecting their lives, Jamie and Clara empower themselves and the people they touch.
Recommended: sure! For a romance that is all the right things a person would want, for a HUGE amount of dirty thoughts and actions, for a story that just makes you feel good
Lizzy “Overachiever” Chung, Esq. has her life mapped out neatly: * Become a lawyer. Check. * Join a prestigious law firm. Check. * Make partner. In progress.
If all goes to plan, she will check off that last box in a couple years, make her parents proud, and live a successful, fulfilled life in L.A. What was not in her plans was passing out from a panic attack during a pivotal moment in her career. A few deep breaths and a four hour drive later, Lizzy is in Weldon for three weeks to shed the burnout and figure out what went wrong. And what better place to recharge than the small California town where she spent her childhood summers with her best friend, Jack Park.
Jack Park didn’t expect to see Lizzy back in Weldon, but now he’s got three weeks to spend with the girl of his dreams. Except she doesn’t know of his decades-long crush on her–and he intends to keep it that way. She’s a high-powered attorney who lives in L.A. and he’s a bookkeeper at his family’s brewery who never left his hometown. He can’t risk their friendship on a long shot. Can he? When Lizzy decides that the local bookstore needs a little revamp, of course, Jack is going to help her bring it back to life. But the more time they spend together, the harder it becomes to ignore there might be more than just friendship among the dusty shelves and books…
Recommended: yup For women learning about themselves (especially romantically/sexually), for a story about a young woman figuring out what she wants and how to go after it
June Chu is the “just good enough” girl. Good enough to line the shelves with a slew of third-place trophies and steal secret kisses from her AP Bio partner, Rhys. But not good enough to meet literally any of her Taiwanese mother’s unrelenting expectations or to get Rhys to commit to anything beyond a well-timed joke.
While June’s mother insists she follow in her (perfect) sister’s footsteps and get a (full-ride) violin scholarship to Northwestern (to study pre-med), June doesn’t see the point in trying too hard if she’s destined to fall short anyway. Instead, she focuses her efforts on making her relationship with Rhys “official.” But after her methodically-planned, tipsily-executed scheme explodes on the level of a nuclear disaster, she flings herself into a new relationship with a guy who’s not allergic to the word “girlfriend.”
But as the line between sex and love blurs, and pressure to map out her entire future threatens to burst, June will have to decide on whose terms she’s going to live her life—even if it means fraying her relationship with her mother beyond repair.
Recommended: YES! For lots of laughter, for a delicious take on the regency husband-catching story, for a romance you can cheer for, for dramatic scenes full of tension (sexual and dangerous!)
Kitty Talbot needs a fortune. Or rather, she needs a husband who has a fortune. Left with her father’s massive debts, she has only twelve weeks to save her family from ruin.
Kitty has never been one to back down from a challenge, so she leaves home and heads toward the most dangerous battleground in all of England: the London season.
Kitty may be neither accomplished nor especially genteel—but she is utterly single-minded; imbued with cunning and ingenuity, she knows that risk is just part of the game.
The only thing she doesn’t anticipate is Lord Radcliffe. The worldly Radcliffe sees Kitty for the mercenary fortune-hunter that she really is and is determined to scotch her plans at all costs, until their parrying takes a completely different turn…
Recommended: For folks who like character identity exploration, for almost-meetings and vague magic saturating the real world. Not for a strong, clear plot or robust exploration of magic
In River City, where magic used to thrive and is now fading, the witches who once ruled the city along with their powerful King have become all but obsolete. The city’s crumbling government is now controlled primarily by the new university and teaching hospital, which has grown to take over half of the city.
Moving between the decaying Old City and the ruthless New, four young queer people struggle with the daily hazards of life―work, school, dodging ruthless cops and unscrupulous scientists―not realizing that they have been selected to play in an age-old drama that revives the flow of magic through their world. When a mysterious death rocks their fragile peace, the four are brought into each other’s orbits as they uncover a deeper magical conspiracy.
Devastating, gorgeous, and utterly unique, We All Fall Down examines the complex network of pain created by power differential
Recommended: sure For a light k-pop-y romance, for a normal girl + superstar pair that’s a bit easier to believe, for characters who you can root for
Elena Soo has always felt overshadowed. Whether by her more successful older sisters, her more popular twin brother, or her more outgoing best friend, everyone except Elena seems to know exactly who they are and what they want. But she is certain about one thing – she has no interest in going to prom. While the rest of the school is giddy over corsages and dresses, Elena would rather spend her time working to save the local community center, the one place that’s always made her feel like she belonged.
So when international K-pop superstar Robbie Choi shows up at her house to ask her to prom, Elena is more confused than ever. Because the one person who always accepted Elena as she is? Her childhood best friend, Robbie Choi. And the one thing she maybe, possibly, secretly wants more than anything? For the two of them to keep the promise they made each other as kids: to go to prom together. But that was seven years ago, and with this new K-pop persona, pink hair, and stylish clothes, Robbie is nothing like the sweet, goofy boy she remembers. The boy she shared all her secrets with. The boy she used to love.
Besides, prom with a guy who comes with hordes of screaming fans, online haters, and relentless paparazzi is the last thing Elena wants – even if she can’t stop thinking about Robbie’s smile…right?
Recommended: sure For people who like to see the good in others, for a real story about human connection, for a story that makes you feel inspired and motivated
When Amy Daughters reconnected with her old pal Dana on Facebook, she had no idea how it would change her life. Though the two women hadn’t had any contact in thirty years, it didn’t take them long to catch up—and when Amy learned that Dana’s son Parker was doing a second stint at St. Jude battling cancer, she was suddenly inspired to begin writing the pair weekly letters.
When Parker died, Amy—not knowing what else to do—continued to write Dana. Eventually, Dana wrote back, and the two became pen pals, sharing things through the mail that they had never shared before. The richness of the experience left Amy wondering something: If my life could be so changed by someone I considered “just a Facebook friend,” what would happen if I wrote all my Facebook friends a letter?
A whopping 580 handwritten letters later Amy’s life, and most of all her heart, would never, ever, be the same again. As it turned out, there were actual individuals living very real lives behind each social media profile, and she was beautifully connected to each of those extraordinary, flawed people for a specific reason. They loved her, and she loved them. And nothing—not politics, beliefs, or lifestyle—could separate them.
Recommended: yup!! For a trope-y book that ends up going way past the tropes, for a lighthearted yet fairly deep story, for a whirlwind set over 3 months but feels like so much more than that
After spending summer vacation in the Philippines with family, Lara returns to school eager to catch up with her close knit group of girlfriends. But within minutes of reuniting with her friends, she learns that not one, not two, but all three of them are now in relationships that blossomed over the summer. And to make matters worse, Lara’s long time frenemy, James, won’t stop bugging her in class and eventually forces her into tutoring him everyday after school.
Surviving high school was never easy to begin with, but with occupied friends, a hectic Filipino family, and her annoying childhood enemy pestering her more than ever, Lara tries to juggle everything, while trying to figure out her own place in the chaos.