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My Progress:

11 / 30 books. 37% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

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My Progress:

23 / 51 states. 45% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

16 / 50 books. 32% done!

2024 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

21 / 50 books. 42% done!

Booklist Queen's 2024 Reading Challenge

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43 / 50 books. 86% done!

2024 52 Club Reading Challenge

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38 / 52 books. 73% done!

2024 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

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25 / 40 books. 63% done!

2024 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge

15 / 40 books. 38% done!

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9 / 25 books. 36% done!

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2024 Mystery Marathon Reading Challenge

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6 / 26.2 miles (second lap). 23% done!

Mount TBR Reading Challenge

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23 / 100 books. 23% done!

2024 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:

58 / 104 books. 56% done!

Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge

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42 / 52 books. 81% done!

Disney Animated Movies Reading Challenge

My Progress

61 / 165 books. 37% done!
Monday, February 01, 2016

New Adult Travel Novel Fluffy But Fulfilling

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

At 23, Kika Shores isn't quite ready to dress in big girl clothes and commute to the city for an adult job with all the other suits.  She'd rather be backpacking across Europe or scouring an African bazaar for unique jewelry to sell on her blog.  Too bad traveling requires so much dough.  Working for a corporate travel agency in New York City helps pad her checking account, but that doesn't mean Kika has to enjoy acting like a grown-up.  

When she screws up one too many times on the job, Kika finds herself unemployed, with so little coinage she can barely afford a trip to the dollar store, let alone overseas.  Then, fate steps in.  A wealthy friend asks Kika to come to London and nanny for her daughters.  Overjoyed, she accepts.  Not only will Kika be able to hang out with her favorite girls, but she'll also be much closer to Belfast where her "roadmance" boyfriend, Lochlin O'Mahone, lives.  She especially can't wait to reconnect with the gorgeous Irishman, the memories of whom still keep her warm at night.  

London soothes Kika's wanderlusting soul, but that doesn't mean it's a problem-free zone.  Not at all.  Kika's charges are having trouble fitting in; she's lying to their parents; and for some weird reason, she's thinking more of stuck-up Aston Hyde-Bettencourt than of Lochlin.  When a series of shocking revelations rocks Kika's world, she has to decide what she really wants and how much she's willing to risk in order to get it.  For a Peter Pan girl, Kika's suddenly having to make some very adult decisions.  And she doesn't like it.  Can she grow up enough to go after what she wants?  Or will she grab her passport and head for the hills like she always does when things get dicey?

I wasn't expecting to like Girls Who Travel, a debut novel by travel writer Nicole Trilivas, quite as much as I did.  Why not?  I'm not a huge fluff reader.  And the novel is undeniably fluffy.  At least sometimes.  Not always, though, which is the part that surprised me.  Yes, Girls Who Travel is a zany, funny romp with a sometimes annoyingly immature heroine, but it also makes some deeper points about growing up and getting real.  A messier ending would have been more true to life, but still ... Overall, this is a satisfying novel voiced by a woman who matures over the course of the tale while never losing her unique, free-spirited perspective.  Like I said, I enjoyed Girls Who Travel much more than I thought I would.  Needless to say, I'm looking forward to seeing what Trilivas comes up with for her sophomore voyage.

(Readalikes:  Hm, nothing is coming to mind.  Suggestions?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (a dozen or so F-bombs, plus milder expletives), sex, violence, and depictions of alcohol abuse

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of Girls Who Travel from the generous folks at Berkley (an imprint of Penguin Books).  Thank you!

Tender MG Novel Talks About Finding Oneself While Struggling With Family Life and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Verbena Colter has always been embarrassed by her older-than-everyone-else's father and her overweight, scrapbooking-obsessed mother.  Lately, she can't quite keep her disdain for them, or any of her other boiling emotions, inside.  When she discovers her parents aren't actually her parents, things begin to make sense.  Verbena's biological father is in prison, which explains her recent mean streak.  Bad blood, clearly.  Her biological mother isn't much better.  As a result of the woman drinking while pregnant, Verbena has fetal alcohol syndrome.  The condition is to blame for the 11-year-old's small size, poor eyesight, and learning disabilities.  Not that these revelations make anything easier.  Really, they just make Verbena's misery worse.

As Verbena agonizes over her unlucky situation, a younger boy moves in across the street.  Pooch, who's from New York City, will be staying upstate with his mother for the summer.  Considering the history of the house Pooch lives in (a girl died in the pond nearby), Verbena decides to shed her unwanted identity for that of another.  She convinces her 9-year-old neighbor that she's the ghost of the dead girl.  Pooch is the gullible sort, which leads to all kinds of fun for Verbena.  

Despite her duplicity, the friendship between Verbena and Pooch grows, leading her to some startling realizations.  Maybe she's genetically wired for trouble-making, but maybe not—maybe it's her choices that determine her destiny.  And maybe the life she's living isn't so bad after all.  Sure, it's got its bumps and it's certainly more complicated than it appears.  Still, it's hers and maybe, just maybe, she'll keep it after all.  

As Simple as It Seems by Sarah Weeks tells a warm-hearted, thoughtful tale about a young girl's struggles with herself, her parents, and the realities of growing up.  With no wasted words, the novel's taut, but also tender and real.  Anyone who's ever felt out of place will identify with Verbena.  It's difficult not to root for her in her fight to find herself.  With a sympathetic heroine, a compelling storyline, and a touching message, As Simple as It Seems is an impacting tale that I very much enjoyed.

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't really think of anything.  Can you?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for scenes of peril and references to alcohol abuse

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find
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