Bend (by Nancy J. Hedin)

Young Adult / LGBT

As a young gay woman living in a deeply conservative and religious community, Lorraine’s main goal in life is to graduate from school and go to college. And the further from Bend, Minnesota the better. Then Charity arrives in town. She’s the daughter of Bend’s most conservative preacher and like Lorraine, gay.

But along with Charity comes family upheaval. A long hidden secret and a family crisis threaten to destroy more than just Lorraine’s dreams of college.


I love this book. It’s whimsical, innocent, perhaps even a fairy tale but it also tackles some very dark issues. It’s the very best that Young Adult fiction can be.

Yellow, Orange, Red, what it means. YOR-Guide

Many thanks to Anglerfish Press for providing me with this Review Copy.

Thirty-Four and a Half Predicaments (by Denise Grover Swank)

Mystery 

(part of a series)

Two decades earlier, Rose’s mother died in a car crash. The police at the time decided it was an accident and the case was closed, but Rose has good reason to believe her mother was murdered. As she investigates she uncovers a web of lies and corruption that stretch all the way to the present day and the people who are closest to her.

 

 


 

Thirty-Four and a Half Predicaments is a stand out as one of the best in the series. I’ve enjoyed them all, they’re entertaining fun reads but apart from book 1, Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes I wouldn’t say any of them are brilliant. Until now. This book is breathtakingly good right up to the conclusion which left me speechless.

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 9.12.41 pmOrange, Red. What it means:  red-orange-yellow-guide

The Other Daughter (by Lauren Willig)

Historical (1920s)

After her mother dies of influenza, Rachel stumbles upon a picture torn from the society pages of a magazine. It’s of her father, who she thought was dead, together with his daughter –– the eponymous other daughter. As an earl he has everything –– wealth, status and respect. All things she lacks.

She forms an uneasy alliance with Simon, a gossip columnist who is a society insider and manages to insinuate herself into the bright young things of London in the 1920s. But as she sets her plan into motion to confront the father who abandoned her, everything starts crashing down around her.


The Other Daughter is good…occasionally it’s brilliant but it still somehow managed to leave me feeling a little unsatisfied. The resolutions are painfully sparse and in some cases completely absent. You grow to love Olivia and Cece but they just disappear without so much as a ‘by your leave’.

Overall, it’s worth the effort but those few missteps tarnished an otherwise great book.

Screen Shot 2014-02-15 at 8.51.33 pmOrange, Red. What it means: red-orange-yellow-guide

Big Little Lies (by Liane Moriarty)

Mystery 

Big Little Lies starts with a school trivia night and a murder. Then we return to the beginning of the school year, four months earlier, to the events that lead to it.

When Jane moves to the quiet beach side suburb of Pirriwee, it’s not just a fresh start for her, it’s the end of her running from the past.  Her son Ziggy is enrolled in kindergarten at Pirriwee Public School and when she meets another kindergarten mother, Madeleine, things seem to be looking up for her.

Then before the day is finished, one of the girls in Ziggy’s class accuses him of bullying her and all at once the promising start evaporates.  Instantly the other kindergarten mothers ostracise her and Ziggy and as the term progresses things only get worse.  The mothers  are suddenly divided into two camps.  The Madeleine camp who are on Jane’s side and the Renata camp who are against her.

As the term progresses clues are given about dark secrets that are hidden behind the closed doors of seemingly happy and perfect families and as the school trivia night approaches we not only find ourselves puzzling out who committed the murder, we are also trying to figure out who was murdered.


 

I really enjoyed this book.  It’s not perfect, I think the excerpts from police interviews that start each chapter are a little over-done and the conclusion wasn’t as satisfying as I hoped, but the book is overall quite good and those criticisms are really very minor things in what is a unique and entertaining mystery.

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 3.09.42 pmYellow, Orange, Red –– what it means: http://wp.me/P2B7b5-9l

Wildfire (by Mary Pauline Lowry)

Fiction

Railing against the path her grandmother has set for her, Julie joins a Hotshot crew, an elite team of remote area forest firefighters who use chainsaws and shovels to fight fire. At first the crew is uncertain about this woman intruding into their male dominated world but with determination and grit and a lot of hard work she manages to carve a niche for herself.

With the respect of her comrades she has everything she wants, but the job is dangerous and every time they fight fire, their lives are on the line.


hotshotsWildfire is a truly amazing book. The Hotshots are hard men and women and just like them this book is brash and occasionally crass. They speak their own language and the author has just put it out there without any explanations –– and that’s really how it should be. You don’t need to know everything to get this story.

I’m going to make the call. This is one of my best five books of 2014!

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 6.07.24 pmMany thanks to Skyhorse Publishing for providing me with this ARC

Yellow, Orange, Red –– what it means: http://wp.me/P2B7b5-9l

Robin in the Hood (by Diane J. Reed)

Young Adult

“Okay, we’re gonna give out this money to whoever our hearts see fit.” His gaze was so keen now it made me quiver. “But Robin, I want you to take a really deep breath.” He paused, waiting for me. “‘Cause the feeling you’re about to get right now––well, you’e gonna remember this night for the rest of your life.”

After her father suffers a stroke Robin quickly discovers that her step-mother has run off, they have no money and both the mob and the police are after them. She bundles up her father, steals a Mazda Miata and goes on the run. They end up in a trailer park inhabited by a loveable bunch of misfits and miscreants.

They share what they have and care for each other and before long Robin starts to see them as family.  But one of her neighbors has cancer and they desperately need money to pay for her treatment so Robin teams up with Creek to take a little money from the rich bad guys and redistribute it to the not so rich.

Robin in the Hood is a modern retelling of the Robin Hood story with a completely nutters band of merry men (and women).  It’s light and fluffy Young Adult fiction with a very healthy dose of magic.

“Wait, what do I do?”
“You git on a helmet honey!” crackled a voice in the darkness. Granny Tinker appeared next to us with a pot on her head. She shoved one onto mine. “This here’s WAR.”