Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Book Review Club (February 2014)

Welcome to the February meeting of the Book Review Club! And here's some trivia about the month of February. Shakespeare mentions February in only one of his plays--Much Ado About Nothing. Julius Caesar introduced the leap year by have Feb 24 counted twice. Today is Laura Linney's birthday. And, moving on to more important things....we've got some great book reviews for you!
(trivia source:

by Laurie Halse Anderson

Are you wondering how was I able to read a book  this month AND finish the incredibly extensive, exhausting revisions on my book due to the editor yesterday? The answer is simple. I didn't read the book....I LISTENED to it! Hayley and Finn and Gracie and the other characters all kept me company during my car time. Stellar narration, by the way!

And here is how you know you're listening to an excellent book: you sit in your driveway or a parking lot to finish a chapter!

In a nutshell: Hayley Kincain has been homeschooled (or "unschooled" as she calls it) for the past five-ish years as she and her dad drove around the country in a truck. Her father fought in Iraq and Afghanistan and suffers from severe PTSD. The book opens with the pair giving up their truck-driver ways and settling in dad's childhood home. Hayley's a senior at the local high school. This is a dark book. There are lots of issues: addiction, divorce, abandonment, suicide, secrets, dysfunctional families, PTSD*. To name a few. But there is also Hayley and Finn's (her boyfriend) very dry sense of humor. 

What I liked: The increasing tension as Hayley's dad spiraled down, despite all her attempts to keep him grounded. The relationship between Hayley and Finn, between Hayley and Gracie (best friend).  Figuring out the stepmother's motivations before Hayley. The voice in this book was the perfect blend of fake tough teen bravado and hurting, confused, insecure teen. I didn't want the book to end, and I appreciate how the author didn't rush things, but took the time to address the various plot lines.

What was a little meh: I wasn't so keen on the scenes from her dad's (Andy) perspective. It's not that I wasn't interested in his struggle with PTSD. I was. But a great strength of the book was Hayley's voice. So, I would've preferred to learn of the PTSD from Hayley's perspective only. Also, I got quite a kick out of Gracie and would've loved a little more of her in the book.
*Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Please click through on the links below to wonderful, thoughtful reviews. They'll make your day!


 Ellen Booraem of Freelance Ne'er-do-well: THE REAL BOY by Anne Ursu (middle grade, fantasy)

 Jody Feldman: SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE by Joanne Levy (middle grade)

Stacy Nyikos: BOXERS & SAINTS by Gene Luen Yang (middle grade graphic) 

Alyssa Goodnight of the Writers' Road Less Traveled: THE RITHMATIST by Brandon Sanderson     (young adult) (reviewed by Alyssa's son!)


 Sarah Laurence: BREAD & BUTTER by Michelle Wildgen (contemporary + food porn)
 Bread & Butter by Michelle Wildgen

Scott Parker: A NATURAL HISTORY OF DRAGONS by Marie Brennan (fantasy)

Stacy of The Cat's Meow: THE HANDMAN'S DAUGHTER and THE DARK MONK by Oliver Potzsch (books 1 and 2 in an historical mystery series)

Prairie Rose's Garden: HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN by Louise Penny (mystery)


Linda McLaughlin: AT ANY PRICE (GAMING THE SYSTEM) by Brenna Aubrey


Jenn Jilks of Cottage Country: FIREBALLS IN MY EUCHARIST: FIGHT CANCER SMARTER by Dr. Joseph Pinzone (self help)

Jody Feldman: SPIRITED by Rebecca Rosen

Note to Reviewers: Any errors (broken link, missed review, etc), just shoot me an email or leave a comment. Thank you so much for your reviews!


  1. Barrie, you win the super blogger award: reading, revising, carpooling and hosting! You put an octopus to shame.

    LHA is one of my favorite authors and I'm definitely going to check out this book after reading your review.

  2. Great review, Barrie. It sounds like a great read, though dark. Glad you were able to listen to it and still get your revisions done.

    For some reason, the Blogger scheduler didn't work as planned, but my review is up now.

  3. I'm not surprised it's dark, being LHA. But it sounds like a good read (being LHA!). Thanks for doing this in such a harried time, Barrie!

  4. Sarah, I am a tired octopus! Let me know what you think of the book afer you've read it.

  5. Linda, that crazy blogger scheduler! I worry about that every month. I have to say I'm completely addicted to listening to books.

  6. ellen, you are very, very welcome. I love our little book review club. :)

  7. My librarian friend swears by audio books, especially since she has a long commute to work. But I've never tried one yet--gee, maybe I could get housework done AND read a book:) This sounds like a great book for teens; Anderson was very popular with my students.

    When I said I might have a review up late, I didn't expect to be two days late! But for anyone interested, I've reviewed Louise Penny's latest mystery, "How the Light Gets In." Not sure if I can insert a link properly, but here's the necessary info:

  8. I'm so behind on my visitations, what with our difficult times.
    Thanks for hosting. It has been enjoyable.

  9. I need to jump on the audiobook bandwagon!! I suppose I'm just afraid I'll be listening and end up in the country somewhere because I wasn't paying attention to where I was going.

    I loved how you listed the elements you liked--I like a gutsy teen. :) Glad you turned in your edits!!


Comments are always welcome!