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Lauren has been reading since she was born
"I don't believe that anyone who is a legitimately interesting person can be popular as a teenager," says Leila Sales. She gets what it means to be a young, the ups and downs - the feeling of perpetually being an outsider and that high school is never actually going to end. This Song Will Save Your Life, about a girl who hasn't found her niche yet, but discovers a passion for DJ-ing, is exactly the sort of book I would have loved when I was in high school (and still enjoy now!). It's the kind of book teens will relate to and draw comfort from: it really does get better.
What can I say about Rainbow Rowell that hasn't already been said? She gets me. She's a Nora Ephron for the digital age. Each of her three excellent books, while standing alone, share the same clever sweetness - the same wit. I knew I would love Fangirl before I even opened it, and of course I did! Although I've never read or written "fan-fiction" as the main character Cather does, I identified with her intense love of books, her unabashed nerdiness and her weakness for guys with floppy hair. Do yourself a favor and buy this book for yourself and everyone you know!
To paraphrase the great Flannery O'Connor, a good collection of short stories can be hard to find (I'm sorry, Flannery). Even the best authors release compilations that are uneven and flat in the middle like a disappointing cake. Such is not the case with Nine Inches! Perrotta has produced an assortment of stories that complement each other perfectly yet stand alone as well. I tried to pace myself - only reading one story at a time to make the book last longer, but I couldn't help myself and read it all in one sitting. Nine Inches will please not only his loyal fans, but win him new ones too!
I sat down with Andrew Smith's newest on a dark and stormy night, the perfect setting for one of his twisted tales - and what a twisted tale it was! Jack (from The Marbury Lens) is back and so is Marbury, in all its bloody glory. But it's a different version of Marbury and Jack must fight his way through many "Inception"-like layers of reality, each more horrifying than the last, to find his way home, but will it be the same world he left? Passenger is gloriously dark, grim, and violent. I enjoyed every minute of the journey to hell and back!
Jack is a kid who bad things happen to. He’s only met his mom once – that’s not too awful though: his grandparents raised him with every advantage and would do anything for him. His best friend Connor is like a brother to him. But one night Jack drinks a little too much and passes out in a park - and that’s where the real trouble begins. He gets kidnapped by a truly evil man and just barely manages to escape. From there he travels to England and meets a stranger who gives him an odd gift: a pair of lavender sunglasses. Whenever Jack puts on the glasses he is transported to an alternate reality - a barren war-torn world called Marbury. He finds strangers and friends transformed there, and all manner of gruesome crimes. Once he’s been sucked in, he can’t seem to pull free. Jack feels like he’s losing his mind and his grip on reality. This is a disturbing read, but it’s well worth the time.
Imagine living in a world with an expiration date, a world that has lost its collective mind. Due to an incoming asteroid, that is exactly the world Hank Palace lives in. Hank, the policeman who is determined to still do his job, despite the limitations, was introduced in The Last Policeman and his story continues in Countdown City. Is the government really being as transparent as they claim? And is the world really going to end when the asteroid hits? Eager readers (such as myself) will just have to wait to find out!
I'm a huge fan of S.G. Browne: his books are always unique, fantastical, sarcastic and unlike anything I've ever read before. Big Egos does not disappoint! It tells the story of a not-so-distant future where people can be other famous people for a few hours at time (how would you like to be Marilyn Monroe? Or James Bond?), but such adventures are not without consequences. Long-time Browne fans will enjoy every page of this engrossing and thought-provoking read, and new fans will wonder what they've been missing all this time!
Are you looking for a book that will scare the absolute bejesus out of you? Do you like your thrillers to be not only dark and sinister, but exceptionally gory? Then The Shining Girls is the book for you! Think Girl With a Dragon Tattoo but with a time-traveling element (hint: the serial killer can travel back in time, with predictably bloody results!). I couldn't put this book down and I look forward to more sleepless nights provided by this author!
You can't buy happiness, it's true, but this book has me convinced that you can buy some pretty good substitutes! Kwan's talented debut is both a lush, detailed look at the lifestyles of the very wealthy (and very eccentric) and a romance that might not survive the culture shock. As soon as I opened the book I was transported to a foreign and very ritzy world — I wish I was crazy rich!
Flick is on the run from his abusive father, living on the streets and picking pockets to survive. Haunted by the ghost of his brother, Flick is just trying to forget the things he's seen until he's approached by a man who offers him a strange deal: a scholarship to the Mandel Academy, the world's most elite private school, and the proof he needs to land his powerful father in jail. The catch? The Mandel Academy has been training kids to be criminals for over 100 years. Any kind of crime you can imagine: Ponzi schemes, drug manufacturing, taking advantage of war-torn societies, and of course, murder of all kinds. Flick is conflicted, but can't pass up the opportunity to hone his craft and get back at his dad. What follows is a dark, violent, gritty thriller that even adults who don't read YA will love! I can't wait for more from this talented author!
One of the greatest disappointments in my life is that I can never — and will never — know EXACTLY what is going on in a person's head; I cannot know their innermost thoughts, the motivation behind their actions, or what they really do when they are alone. Fortunately for someone as "naturally inquisitive" as me, there are stories that show me exactly that, and Lookaway, Lookaway is just such a collection! It chronicles different members of an old Southern family, whether they be members by marriage, blood, or just periphery, they are all fascinating. Whether you are actually a Southerner by birth, or just in spirit, you will love this novel!
Dear Laurie Notaro,
You, Jen Lancaster, Jenny Lawson, and I need to get together and have the most hilarious, bitchin'-est sleepover ever! Or the most intense, epic author rumble — honestly, I'm fine with either. Thank you for writing another fabulous book that, to quote Monk, made me "LOL out loud.”
How do I describe Jincy Willett's latest book? By saying she is one of the most brilliant and under-appreciated authors alive today? By comparing her snarky wit to that of Dorothy Parker and David Sedaris? By describing my reading process when it comes to a book this good (continually pausing to savor what I just read and keep from racing through too quickly)? Whatever I say won't be enough; Amy Falls Down is a brilliant follow-up to her equally engrossing The Writing Class (stop reading this blurb and go pick up The Writing Class!), and a funny, insightful look into the publishing world and the mind of Amy Gallup, the dark and lovably bitter writer at the heart of it all. Do yourself a favor and read this book!
I absolutely love this debut novel! It's a mystery that keeps on giving: just when I thought I knew all the secrets it had to offer, the twist at the end caught me off-guard. From the very start I wanted to burrow deeper and deeper into the book and to the fictional novel described within. Anyone who's a fan of taut, well-written suspense will love Antonia Lively Breaks the Silence as much as I do — David Samuel Levinson is an author to watch!
"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me" — not so in Max Barry's creative new thriller! In Lexicon words have power: the power to hurt, the power to control, the power to manipulate, and a shadowy group known as “the poets” hold all that power. What follows is a path of devastation we can't even imagine — but Barry can. A fantastic, unusual read!
Andrew Sean Greer is a fantastic author and his latest, a moving novel about a woman who gets to experience her life in three different time periods, is absolutely amazing! I was glued to the pages, and I couldn't stop thinking about what I would do if I was given the same opportunity. Greta goes back and forth between 1918, 1941, and 1985, and each of her selves is a little different. It's fascinating to see how she is impacted not only by the different time periods, but by the different experiences. This is a lush, gorgeous summer read — perfect for book clubs!
I absolutely loved this debut! Like Aaron, I grew up in a conservative Christian home and my Dad was a pastor. Even though his family is much more conservative than mine, there was a lot in this book that I identified with: the desire for a concessions stand at church, the struggle to reconcile my faith with the world I live in, the fear of disappointing my parents when I wasn't as good as they wanted me to be. But Aaron's story is his own, and I loved reading about his sometimes flawed, but always loving family. I would recommend Rapture Practice to Christians and non-Christians alike; not only is it a fun, conversational read, it's an important one, and I think it will prompt interesting discussions!
If kids knew how interesting the royal courts were, full of "beddable men" and "bitchy women", I suspect they'd payer closer attention in history class! The second book in Longshore's Royal Circle series is just as sensual, detailed, and fascinating as the first — I couldn't put it down! Tarnish is a sophisticated YA novel that should easily appeal to adults whether they are YA fans, history buffs, or none of the above!
Is there anything Andrew Smith can't do? When it comes to writing books, he runs the gamut from works of heart-pounding violence, to staggeringly thoughtful and poignant, to a prep school scribe even Holden Caulfield would approve of. He even pens his own cartoons! I think the only thing he can't do is write books fast enough to satisfy fans like me (that would be weekly). Another hit for the dark passenger!
Game is so good, it practically renders me incoherent! It starts where I Hunt Killers left off, with Billy on the loose and Jazz determined to hunt him down. But there's a gruesome serial killer haunting New York and detectives want his help — Jazz is willing, but doesn't want to be distracted from his father's path — could he be closer than he realizes? A bloody, macabre read that ends with a gut-wrenching cliffhanger — I can't wait for the third book!
I've read Kate Atkinson's books before and been impressed, but Life After Life absolutely blew me away. A completely brilliant story of a woman who gets do-overs, starting life over again and again to correct her mistakes, every time making new ones. This is the kind of book that will keep readers up all night, racing to the finish, the kind of book that gets talked about endlessly, the kind of book that stands on its own. My words can't do it justice!
I'm not a fantasy fan, not ever: I doze during lengthy descriptions of spells and power levels, my attention wanders during tales of long, arduous, meaningful treks, and I am repulsed by hairy-footed protagonists. But I absolutely loved The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic, which is a doorstop of a novel filled with magic and long treks (no hairy-footed protagonists, thank god!). What sets it apart is the author's voice — she crafted a fantasy story full of romance, mystery, and intrigue — with a feminist heroine, too! Take this one along on vacation; it's the only book you'll need!
I think we've all known a guy like Nate Piven: the self-proclaimed "nice guy", the kind of a guy who thinks of himself as a feminist, who understands women's struggles. Invariably this guy is always just as much of a callow jerk as your average frat boy, quickly growing impatient with women's feelings and foibles, and blaming them for any problems in the relationship. After all, he's a nice, understanding guy, it's not his fault the relationship is failing! Nate Piven is no exception, and what makes him so insufferable is not that he's a jerk, but that he so smugly believes he isn't. What saves him, and what makes the book so brilliant, is these flashes of self-awareness he has. Occasionally he is stricken with self-doubt and it makes him human (and less murder-able). I enjoyed every page of this sharp debut, and I can't wait for more from Adelle Waldman!