Category Archives: General Fiction (Adult)

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

“Beartown” is a complete departure from Backman’s previous novels and I absolutely loved it. This book starts off making you think this is going to be about a small town and their hockey team finally turning things around for the better. But then it takes a turn that brilliantly examines small town life, where everyone knows everybody and they all have a story to tell, along with opinions about each other. This was such a complex and emotional look at how people act when everything they know and believe is challenged, the power of belonging, loyalty and tradition, and the love of family and friends. Every character examined in this story left a powerful impression on me, and the topic is so timely in this day and age. A must read for fans of Backman as well as his first time readers.

Feral By James DeMonaco and B.K. Evenson

A dystopian novel that is scary, creepy and features women kicking butt! From the writer/director of “The Purge” movies, Feral explores what happens when women are left to fend for themselves after all of the men are infected with a genetically engineered virus that makes them violent and blood-thirsty, causing them to hunt women down and slaughter them.

The main character Allie is well developed and an emotional character to explore. Her mental toughness is balanced by the love she has for her sister and her loyalty to the community she is protecting and scavenging for. Each of the female characters add an aspect to the story that makes the whole community work well within the disaster they are living in, and the Sam twist definitely kept me reading. A fast paced read, filled with action, plenty of gore and horror. Although this book is marketed as an adult horror novel, I feel like this falls more into the YA genre and will be very successful with readers who like The Hunger Games and Divergent series.

The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion

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I was really looking forward to this book as I am a huge fan of “The Rosie” series. “The Best of Adam Sharpe” is definitely a bit different. A story of true love and second chances, the book starts off great, building the story of Adam and Angeline, a love affair over 20 years ago that apparently neither can let go of. The build up of their love is absolutely incredible. Adam is an amateur pianist who enjoys playing at the local bar after work each day. This is when Angelina walks in and changes his life forever. The soundtrack throughout the path of their relationship is beautiful and emotional. Unfortunately her job as an actress and his job as a world traveling IT consultant causes the relationship to end and the two of them to go in opposite directions in life, finding other partners along the way.

An email from Angelina to Adam starts the two of them longing for one another again, and this is where the story takes a turn that ultimately made me dislike both and not want to root for their love anymore. It took all the charm and true love that the book had perfectly built and turned it ultimately into a adulterous mess. The story manages to somewhat redeem the characters in the end, but the damage was done for me at that point. Yes, relationships can be complicated and people are flawed, but from the “lemon tree” scene on, I completely lost interest in the two of them even trying to have a happy ending.

The Wanderers by Meg Howrey

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This book has been compared to “The Martian” but I don’t think that description does it any justice.  This is a highly introspective look at what it actually takes in order to survive the solitude, isolation, conflict, boredom and stress of a deep space mission.  I loved how all three of the main characters, Helen, Yoshi, and Sergei, deal with their own personal journeys as they participate in a mock (or is it) mission to Mars.  Their relationships with each other, their families, and their own minds are front and center in this novel, allowing you to put yourself into their shoes and try to understand how you would handle an adventure like this.  I also enjoyed how the story explored how far the astronauts were willing to go in order to achieve their dreams of the “Gofer”.   Even readers who are not typical fans of sci fi will love this novel!

Size Matters by Cathryn Novak

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Oh how I wish this story had been longer.  Tackled in this book are complex issues like self-image, loneliness, disappointment,and friendship.  John Frederick is a remarkably sweet and sympathetic character that needs to have his back story, and likewise his overeating, explained further.  Lexie is patient, kind and caring and I would have liked to have seen her fleshed out a bit more, as well as her supposed relationship with Caleb, which upset John Frederick so much.  The simplicity of the relationship and story between the two of them was refreshing and the food descriptions used were beautiful and offered great visual descriptions in my mind as I was reading.

The Diary of a Has-Been by William Humble

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Arnold Appleforth gives “grumpy old man” a whole new meaning in his diary.  Arnold means well, but often falls a bit short without even realizing it.  In a world where he feels unappreciated and is desperately trying to stay relevant to not only his children, however many he has, but the world around him.  He has uncompromising opinions, his denial of his age, drinking, and life are hilarious and his ability to justify the way he is and why the world around him is no longer the way he thinks it should be is perfectly framed in his diary.  His complete cluelessness about his own attitude and behavior really made for a funny read.

Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam

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A very accurate examination of the cycles of friendship that we all go through. There were parts of the book where I genuinely felt that Sarah and Lauren were simply maintaining the friendship out of loyalty or habit, but then there were times (i.e. Sarah’s wedding, the birth of Henry) that you could see genuine love and friendship between them. In regards to the look at the friendship, I thought the book was spot on. I have heard other people question what they perceive to be a lack of plot or story line. However, I felt that Lauren’s and Sarah’s lives were the plot and the story line. It’s our everyday ins and outs, comings and goings, arguments and apologies, that make up the stories of our lives. What left me wanting however was the ending of the book. Their story ends in a giant unknown after a huge gap in time between the birth of Henry and the upcoming arrival of Sarah’s second son. Maybe I just wanted a happily ever after for Lauren too. In a lot of ways the ending mirrors the way friendships really can be. Long stretches of time apart, but when you see each other again, you can pick up like it was yesterday.

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

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This one was a hard one for me. The story is beautifully written and the character development is outstanding. But the subject matter in this book is very disturbing. In my mind, the relationship between Wavy and Kellan grows into something that in our world is considered very wrong and downright criminal. I had to keep reminding myself that in their world, where love was so entirely lacking from their own families, their love for one another made sense. It really challenged me on all of my levels. The understanding of what it must have been like to grow up in Wavy’s situation and find that one person in the world who you feel doesn’t harm you, but is she mature enough to understand what she was getting herself involved with? And the fact that Kellan knew how the relationship looked but continued to to be involved with Wavy, and find himself growing more and more physical with her made me very uncomfortable. And I think that was the author’s intent. To find yourself outside of your comfort zone as a reader and look at how two very flawed individuals tried to find something or someone in the world to hold on to-the desperate need we all have to find someone who we think understands us, whether or not that relationship is healthy or not.

Good as Gone by Amy Gentry

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It seems like in the last few years there have been quite a few thrillers about young women with secrets.  Gone Girl, Girl on a Train, etc.  Books that keep you guessing until the very end, and Good as Gone is in that same tradition.  First of all, I loved the fact that this book was set in Houston, in a nearby neighborhood.  That extra descriptive bit allowed me to visualize the locations in the story made it feel like I was reading a true crime story as opposed to fiction.  The story begins when 13 year old Julie is kidnapped at knife point from her home, and the only witness is her younger sister Jane.  Their parents, Anna and Tom , search for years for their missing daughter to no avail, until one evening, the doorbell rings and they open the door to discover that Julie has returned to them on her own.  Or has she?  The plot progresses weaving in stories from the past.  Are they Julie’s stories, or has a con artist taken advantage of this emotionally fragile family?  And what does a Houston mega-church pastor (a la Joel Osteen) have to do with all of this?  This book had me up well beyond my bedtime to find out exactly what was going on.  Good as Gone hits all the marks for a great summer read.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child-Parts I & II by JK Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany

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 Who is the Cursed Child?

The script book has been out for three days now and frankly, I took my time with it and wanted to savor every word, not knowing if this would indeed be the last word on Harry, Hermione and Ron.  And it did not disappoint.  I want to keep this spoiler free for anyone who hasn’t had a chance to finish this book, but I can say this much:  The gang has grown up and has to deal with many adult topics: parenting, marriage, the day to day struggles of work and raising a family, all while being some of the best known wizards in their world.  While the plot is a bit convoluted and sometimes odd, it is a walk through time and nostalgia in so many different areas and the last few pages left me with tears in my eyes.  If you are a Potterhead, this book is definitely for you!

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

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This book was crazy! It’s like the The Bourne Identity meets The Martian meets Doctor Who meets Schrodinger’s Cat. One of the best and most original books I have ever read. I completely tore through it. Not only is it a sci fi book, but it also looks at the effect that our choices in life have on us, and the endless possibilities those different choices create in the process. One of those rare science fiction books that offers an incredible look at the lengths we will go for what and who we love, even across the entire multiverse.

A Hundred Thousand Worlds by Bob Proehl

9780399562211Intriguing story about a mother and son and the world of comics, sci fi and the con circuit. Val, an actress on a sci fi show comparable to the X Files, and her son Alex get to know some of the players of the comic book world on their cross country road trip from NY to LA, via various comic cons that Val is appearing at. Their experiences lead to an understanding of each other, an understanding of Val’s personal failures, and answers to Alex’s questions and his own story. A deep look inside the inner workings of the comic book world regarding its writers, artists and politics. A fun read for the sci fi/comic book geek.

The Girls by Emma Cline

26893819A chilling look at what happens when a disillusioned young woman of the late 60’s is lured into a crazy Manson-family like cult. What would this young middle class girl find so attractive about this leader, Russell, and his group. Where did he draw his power and obvious charm from and for what end? Wrapped in the drug and counter culture of the 60’s, this book seeks to try and understand the mentality that led Evie to buy into the cult like worship of Russell and how it shaped her entire life afterwards. Couldn’t put it down and the writing matched the story beautifully: tense, terrifying and dreamlike.