(some of) what I have been reading.

I am behind on my NetGalley posts so here is a big roundup. The books were provided to me for free but my opinions are my own.

The Tragic Age by Stephen Metcalfe

Billy’s family won the lottery, but his family is in a bad place after the loss of his twin sister. Some new friends plus a crime spree plus maybe Billy isn’t completely reliable equals aN unsatisfying read for me overall. This book moved incredibly fast – I wanted to know what was happening but I didn’t necessarily enjoy it.

Weightless By Sarah Bannon

This book takes a communal narrator – a group of girls who are not individually named or spelled out – to tell the story of a new girl named Carolyn moving to a small town in Alabama. The narrators both observe and gossip about the situation, and as Carolyn’s place in the community changes, it is clear that no one knows which parts of the story are exactly true. I think this is a powerful YA book about bullying. My one complaint would be that the narrators kept me at a distance from the story because there was no one person to sympathize with or to connect to. I both enjoyed the book and found it frustrating for that reason.

Every Last Word By Tamara Ireland Stone

Samantha has had a place as one of the most popular girls in school, but lately she feels less secure in her role there. As things change for her socially, she falls in with a completely different crowd, one that writes and performs poetry in a secret spot in the school. Her new friends help her open up to the world about her darkest secret – OCD. I thought this book was extremely memorable and I liked Sam quite a bit as a character, and I enjoyed her new group of friends and the poetry they wrote to help deal with the frustrations in their lives. I was less sold on her romance with Andrew and was not totally sure that the OCD was dealt with in the best way. However, a young friend of mine read and loved the book, so I would happily recommend it to smart teenagers, especially those who deal with anxiety.

Wild in the Hollow by Amber Haines

I read this faith memoir in one sitting, but the different parts of the book did not gel particularly well for me. I thought the beginning, especially the descriptions of her teenage years, suffered from being a little bit too aware of itself, as if it was trying too hard to impress. That calmed down a bit as the book went on, and I think that Amber is best when she is writing about daily life, the quotidian mysteries. I did not think the travel to Haiti and Italy added much of anything to the story – maybe you had to be there? Overall it moved quickly but did not seem to say very much.

This Raging Light by Estelle Laure

Everyone in town knows about Lucille’s dad going crazy, which is why she has to make sure that no one finds out that her mom skipped town. She gets a job so she can take care of her sister, and her best friend Eden (and Eden’s twin brother, dreamboat Digby) help out. Predictable in some ways, but I found this book about kindness and love to be charming and I liked it more than I expected to.

Cut Me Loose by Leah Vincent

I enjoy a good story about breaking free from a cult or fundamentalist community, and there is some of that in this book, but I was also surprised by it. This is Leah Vincent’s testimony about what happened to her because she was not given the tools to live in the real world, specifically when it came to sex. I thought this was a great call for educating our young people about sex and consent and healthy boundaries.

The Faith of a Mockingbird by Matt Rawle

It was interesting to read this small group study based on To Kill a Mockingbird just days before Harper Lee’s “new” book came out and to think about whether any of it would change based on the new information we are given about the characters.

Good Mourning by Elizabeth Meyer

I really enjoyed this book about an event planner who began working with families in a prestigious NYC funeral home after the death of her own father. She had funny and touching stories as well as a clear call to encourage people to talk about death in a meaningful way. Great entrance to a world I know nothing about.

And this was provided to me for free by Blogging for Books:

The Paleo Chef by Pete Evans

My husband and I don’t eat Paleo but we do generally stay away from processed food and carbohydrates, so we found a lot to like in this book. It takes a while to review a cookbook, but we made a few things and tried it out. The main dishes were more complicated, but nothing took an inordinate amount of time. Our favorite section was the vegetables, sides, and snacks.

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