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My Progress:

12 / 30 books. 40% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (1)
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My Progress:

27 / 51 states. 53% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

22 / 50 books. 44% done!

2024 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

23 / 50 books. 46% done!

Booklist Queen's 2024 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

48 / 50 books. 96% done!

2024 52 Club Reading Challenge

My Progress:

39 / 52 books. 75% done!

2024 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:

26 / 40 books. 65% done!

2024 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge

15 / 40 books. 38% done!

2024 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

My Progress:

10 / 25 books. 40% done!

2024 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

2024 Mystery Marathon Reading Challenge

My Progress

12 / 26.2 miles. 46% done!

Mount TBR Reading Challenge

My Progress

25 / 100 books. 25% done!

2024 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:

63 / 104 books. 61% done!

Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge

My Progress

43 / 52 books. 83% done!

Disney Animated Movies Reading Challenge

My Progress

68 / 165 books. 41% done!
Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Feel-Good, Fast-Eating MG Novel a Delicious Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

There's only one thing David Miller is really good at:  eating.  As a growing 14-year-old boy, he's constantly hungry, which means he's always shoveling food down his hatch.  He's never dreamed, however, that his talent for fast eating could actually earn him money.  Not until he accidentally spends $2000 on a non-returnable item using his mom's credit card.  Suddenly, he has to come up with some serious dough—and he has to do it before his parents get the bill.

While he's stressing about the upcoming eating contests he's entering, David also has to worry about his brother.  As the unnoticed/ignored middle child, he's always stuck watching 10-year-old Mal, who's severely autistic.  Plus, his two best friends are acting ... weird.  Like lovey-dovey.  It's almost as if they're trying to be a couple or something.  Creepy.

With all the tension in his life, David's having a hard time concentrating on his main goal—winning enough money to pay his mom back before she realizes what he's done.  Can he do it?  It's time to put his stomach of steel to the test ...

Slider, a middle grade novel by Pete Hautman, is a warm, funny story about friendship, family, and, of course, food.  Despite its lighthearted vibe, the novel deals with some serious issues and teaches valuable lessons about loyalty, acceptance, and appreciating perspectives that differ from your own.  I've never read a book about competitive eating before, so that aspect of the story feels original to me.  Slider is, overall, a fun story that will especially appeal to boys and reluctant readers.  I'm neither, but I thoroughly enjoyed it as well.

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


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language (no F-bombs) and vague references to sex

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-galley of Slider from the generous folks at Candlewick via those at NetGalley.  Thank you!

Tense and Compelling, The Confusion of Languages Makes for An Engrossing Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

For ex-pats living in the Middle East, following the rules is of utmost importance.  At least, that's how 34-year-old Cassie Hugo feels.  Over the last two years that her husband has been working for the American embassy in Amman, Jordan, she's learned how to handle herself in a very foreign culture.  By adhering to the rules, she's remained safe and sound.  Bitter because of her inability to become pregnant and the increasing strain that struggle has put on her marriage, Cassie isn't exactly happy, but she is settled into her unconventional life abroad.  

Because of her expertise, Cassie agrees to mentor Margaret Brickshaw, a young mother who's just arrived in Amman with her husband.  Cassie's enamored of Margaret's 15-month-old son, Mather, even if she's growing more and more frustrated with his effusive, impulsive mother.  No matter how many times Cassie warns Margaret to restrain herself, the newcomer refuses to listen.  Wanting only to explore and experience real Jordanian culture, she takes risks that—in a place like Amman—could be deadly.

Cassie's worst fears are realized when Margaret is arrested after a minor car accident.  When she fails to return from the police station, Cassie grows concerned, then terrified.  What trouble has Margaret's impetuousness gotten her into this time?  How can Cassie help her if she can't even find her?  And what will she do with poor Mather, who cries for his mother?  In a place where breaking the rules can result in the most dire of consequences, what will happen to one hapless, naive American woman?

An ex-pat herself, Siobhan Fallon brings that unique experience to vivid life in The Confusion of Languages, her first novel (read about Fallon's real-life experiences living in Jordan here).  Amman provides a colorful backdrop for a tense, engrossing story peopled with characters whose personalities and relationships are realistically complex and flawed.  I cared about these story people, which kept me turning pages in order to find out their separate fates.  While the tale definitely gets depressing, it's undeniably engaging.  With skilled prose, a propulsive plot, an exotic setting, and intriguing characters, The Confusion of Languages is a well-crafted novel about regrets and redemption, fences vs. freedom, and caution vs. compassion.  I quite enjoyed it.

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


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (a dozen or so F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, and sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-galley of The Confusion of Languages from the generous folks at Penguin Random House via those at NetGalley.  Thank you!

Haunting Watery Dystopian Asks Big Questions

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

"Why do you cling to the end, when the beginning is waiting?" (13)

Lalla Paul has never experienced a normal life in a safe, stable environment.  She's grown up in a London ravaged by the deadly effects of global warming, scarcity, disease, fear, and rigid government control.  As the daughter of wealthy, influential parents, the 16-year-old has been sheltered in her parents' apartment, protected from the violence and chaos that grows ever more prevalent on the streets outside her windows.  Although her mother has done her best to educate Lalla, the teen knows very little about life beyond the walls of her well-guarded flat.

For years, Lalla's father, Michael, has been planning the family's exit strategy.  He's had a ship built and stocked with enough supplies to support 500 people on a voyage over the open sea.  Through a careful selection process, Michael has chosen the smartest, most skilled passengers—the kind of people who will be most useful in building a new society.  

When push comes to shove, Michael's plan is put into frantic action.  Suddenly, Lalla finds herself adrift in a floating city that is not quite the utopia it seems to be.  As she comes to understand what is really going on, she'll have to decide what she truly wants for her future and how far she's willing to go to make it happen.

The Ship—a debut novel by English writer Antonia Honeywell—tells a dystopian tale that's both haunting and compelling despite being skimpy on action.  It's more of an introspective story, almost an allegory (we've got a Noah's Ark archetype, plus a Michael/Adam character—a deeper reader would likely find plenty of religious symbolism here) about leaving expectations behind and starting over in a brave, new world.  Regardless of how you interpret it, the novel definitely raises thought-provoking questions.  I liked that about it, even if I found the characters (especially Lalla) irritating and the plot a bit ho-hum.  Overall, though, I enjoyed The Ship.  It's not the kind of book I'm going to be shouting about from the rooftops, but it ended up being a decent read for me.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me a teensy bit of Icebreaker by Lian Tanner)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for mild language (no F-bombs), violence, mild sexual content, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find
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