REVIEW: The Baker’s Daughter by Sarah McCoy (coming out in January!)

Through Net Galley I received a pre-release version of “The Baker’s Daughter” to review. This novel is the story of Elsie Schmidt, a teenage daughter of bakers in WWII Germany (now grown), and Reba Adams, a modern-day, disgruntled newspaper reporter. Their lives intertwine when Reba does a story on Elsie’s Texas bakery. The story is told through a back and forth narrative: Elsie’s story from WWII and Reba’s and Elsie’s story now.

I loved this book! As a lover of historical fiction, I really enjoyed Elsie’s story, (SPOILER ALERT!) her struggle with the beliefs of the Nazi regime, and her hiding of a young Jewish boy in the walls of her bedroom. Reba’s struggles with her life and knowing what she wants in life is indicative of what many people go through. Both main characters are engaging and as a reader I felt sympathy towards them. This was a book I didn’t want to put down!

Sarah McCoy was a new writer for me and I just loved her. This is her second book, so I will seek out her first one.

Highly recommended if you like historical fiction of the WWII period.

Thanks, Net Galley and Crown Publishers for my copy!

Quick YA Review: New Girl by Paige Harbison

I received “New Girl” through Net Galley last week. It was a quick YA read with a plot to entice your average teen: our heroine, Callie, is admitted to the prestigious “Manderly Academy” in NH where she takes the place (literally) of missing student “Becca Normandy”, struggling to make new friends and dealing with major romance issues are secondary to the overall anxiety of Becca possibly returning (alive or from the dead).

Here’s the thing: I would have LOVED this book as a teenager. Ghosts? Dead roommates? Social issues? Teen sex? Attractive rich students off at boarding school with few if any adults in sight? I would have lapped this up, similar to my obsession in middle school with the “Flowers in the Attic” series.

As an adult, though, I had some major issues. Having worked in independent schools for over 20 years I found the fact that the main character’s parents “got her in” unbeknownst to her as incredulous. I found the amount of time the students were off partying and unattended, etc., incredulous. I found the fact that this poor girl was moved in mid-year to the same dorm room where the missing girl lived and the missing girl’s personal belongings were still all there and in place incredulous. I was also bothered by the Manderly/Becca/Rebecca association, which was intentional as a “retelling”, but wondered if most teens would recognize the DuMaurier reference or if I was just dating myself. Finally, I felt that I was reading the writing of a young person. I had no idea who this author was, besides assuming it was a woman, and felt this could be her first novel (it is not) or that she was young and still developing as a writer (she was 20 when she wrote it). Don’t get me wrong, the writing is fine. I just have read a lot of writing in my years as a teacher and college professor and it felt along the same lines. But the bottom line is I read it, and kept reading until the end.

So – I’d be interested in feedback when this comes out (it can be pre-ordered at the moment). I’d like to look forward to more from Paige Harbison, too. Due to the drugs/sex/rape/murder references, in my opinion it’s for older YA readers.

thanks Net Galley and Harlequin Teen for my freebie!

REVIEW: Ghost on Black Mountain by Ann Hite

Back in October I read a great book that I found at the local BJ’s – “Ghost on Black Mountain”. This novel tells the story of Black Mountain and its ghosts through the voices of five depression era women.

Nellie Clay comes to Black Mountain as a young bride – not realizing her husband is pretty much evil incarnate. Nellie’s story is intertwined with her mother’s, her housekeeper’s, her daughter’s, and more as we see the lives of these people and the community in which they live. Set in Depression-era North Carolina, the story centers around a murder and the ghosts that it conjures – and set free.

I just loved this book. I loved the voices, the story, the peek into mountain culture of that time. Ann Hite is a great writer and this story goes on my unforgettable list!

Quick Review of a Kindle Borrow-for-Free: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Okay – so if you are an Amazon Prime customer, you can borrow certain books FOR FREE for a month on your Kindle. You get a free download – as I understand it, it is one book per month. What a great way for me to read more books for free! It’s sort of like the library but my library ebooks aren’t support by Kindle – and through Amazon you are limited to one a month. (If I’ve misunderstood something, please chime in!).

My first choice was the irrepressible “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins. EVERYONE but me has read this book – the first in the trilogy – and EVERYONE has loved it (which is exactly why I did not read it yet). I usually end up hating those books everyone else loves, but not this time. I loved this YA read!

In case you’ve been hiding out this year, “The Hunger Games” is the futuristic, postapocalyptic story of teenager Katniss Everdeen, who is selected to participate in the “hunger games”: Teens selected from each district of the then-USA to compete to the death, while being broadcast live on tv. Will Katniss survive?

This novel reminded me so much of other stories I’ve read or seen — Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”, the movie “Running Man”, and “Lord of the Flies” to name a few. I loved it though – loved the characters and the creativity of the action. I may just have to read the next two books in the series.

Written for YA but enjoyed by adults, too, in my opinion.

Hey look – the movie’s coming!

Quick YA Review: Alias Dragonfly by Jane Singer

Wow – I am waaaay behind on my blogging to our really awful fall with unexpected deaths in both my and my husband’s families.

However, here I am to start off the parade of reviews in my “saved drafts” section, with the YA historical novel: “Alias Dragonfly”. I scored this free from Net Galley.

In this novel, Civil War teen Maggie Bradford leaves New Hampshire with her father and goes to stay with her cranky aunt in Washington, DC. The war surrounds them and Maggie finds herself involved with intrigue by becoming part of the famous Pinkerton Detective Agency by working as a Union spy.  Maggie finds romance as well as mystery, and the book ends by leaving you hanging and waiting for more. It appears to be part of a series.

Highly recommended for YA Civil War reading and for those, like me, who just love historical fiction of this period!

Thanks, Net Galley and Bell Bridge Books for my copy!

Been Out of Touch…

Sorry folks – behind in posting as my father passed away suddenly last week. Always extra difficult when it’s not expected. My poor mom is just lost without him – 67 years of marriage. Please keep us in your thoughts…