The Sun is Also A Star

“The universe stops and waits for us.” -The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon


Author: Nicola Yoon

(4.08 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Fiction / YA / Romance

Format: Hardcover

Publication Date: November 1, 2016, by Delacorte Press (Hardcover)

Pages: 384 (Hardcover)

#TheSunIsAlsoAStar #NicolaYoon


Maybe part of falling in love with someone else is also falling in love with yourself.

Romance. Yuck! OK, now that I got that out of my system, I LOVED this book. How is that even possible? How is it that a sardonic old cynic like myself can go gaga over a book that is entirely about two kids falling head over heels in love with each other? The answer is simpler than you think, but let’s read the book blurb together first…

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.
Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store – for both of us.
The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?


No obstacles in the way, please. No one needs to get bruised up falling in love. I just want to fall the way everybody else gets to.

The Sun is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon is a book that I originally included in my March Movie Madness challenge. I wanted to read the book then watch the movie and compare the two.

Then, in only a matter of days, the world changed.

With all the upheaval from jobs and schools, I was more than a little distracted. Instead of having more reading time, I actually find that I now have less. Instead, I am spending most of my time entertaining an 11 year old girl who is substituting me for all of her very talkative friends.

OK, so I didn’t finish this book during my March challenge, but I still really wanted to read it and watch the movie (the movie is still pending). I really surprised myself with how much I actually liked to read about these two people finding each other in such a random – or not? – way.

We’re meant to walk through this world together. I see it in her eyes. We are meant to be.

So how did Nicola Yoon manage to tug at my heart strings with this entirely cute book? Like I said before, the answer is easy: she included a character with whom I identify. Natasha isn’t a starry-eyed romantic. She believes in science and rules and facts. She doesn’t have a use for love or romance and, amazingly, she finds both. Yes, Natasha is a fictional character, but doggone it, I like to think that if her heart can be turned from the “darkside”, then there is hope for the rest of us!

The poetic heart is not to be trusted with long-term decision-making.

Give me a book like this any day – short chapters that let you travel through the story at breakneck speed or as leisurely as you’d like. And each chapter another insight into who these people are that we’re following all over NYC. I loved getting to know their families, those other motivations for the people that want to have some influence over them. Those other opinions and actions definitely make a difference to our main character and to the outcome of their stories.

In the end, this is more than a love story. It’s a story about fate and circumstance, about timing and how the decisions that others make have lasting effects on our own lives, time and time again. There is probability, there is chance, and there is a certain science behind the chemistry between two people and the possibility that they will be together forever. One can always hope.

The Sun is Also a Star Book Playlist:

  • Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit (1st trip to USCIS bldg / Natasha)
  • Bob Dylan – Blowin’ in the Wind (Daniel at home)
  • Bob Marley – No Woman, No Cry (Natasha at home)
  • Temple of the Dog – Hunger Strike (Record Store)
  • Pearl Jam – Yellow Ledbetter (Coffee shop)
  • Abba – Take a Chance on Me (Norebang karaoke / Daniel)
  • Soundgarden – Fell on Black Days (Norebang karaoke / Natasha)

Ready Player One Movie Trailer

Nicola Yoon

Nicola Yoon grew up in Jamaica and Brooklyn and lives in Los Angeles with her family. She’s also a hopeless romantic who firmly believes that you van fall in love in an instant and that it can last forever. -Bio adapted from book cover


Ready Player One

“In the OASIS, you could become whomever and whatever you wanted to be, without ever revealing your true identity, because your anonymity was guaranteed.” -Ready Player One by Ernest Cline


Author: Ernest Cline

(4.27 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Fiction / YA / Sci-Fi / Fantasy

Format: Paperback

Publication Date: August 16, 2011, by Crown Publishers (Hardcover)

Pages: 374 (Paperback)

#ReadyPlayerOne #ErnestCline


You were born at a pretty crappy time in history. And it looks like things are only gonna get worse from here on out.

I remember the 80s fondly. Banana clips and plastic sandals (“jellies”) made up my everyday existence, as did Cabbage Patch Kids, Chic jeans, and neon. Hey, don’t knock it – those were great times! We could actually go outside and play, we didn’t have to wear seat belts in the car, and we still had Michael Jackson – the Beat It version (love ya, Mike!).

Ernest Cline kicks us back to the 80s – my beloved era – by way of the year 2044. I know that doesn’t sound right, but it’ll all make sense in a sec…

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape. 


If I was feeling depressed or frustrated about my lot in life, all I had to do was tap the Player One button, and my worries would instantly slip away…

My March Movie Madness series continues this week with Ready Player One, which seems kind of perfect in that it’s about gaming, and one of my favorite Nintendo games got a reboot that released this past Friday. Shout out to all the Animal Crossing: New Horizons players! But I am about as far from a true “gamer” as one can get; however, I do recognize the breed.

When Ready Player One hit theaters, I wasn’t initially aware of all the intense controversy surrounding it. Book purists were incensed by the departures and liberties taken for the sake of big screen audiences. I can relate to that for the most part. I know what it’s like to love a story and then to be disappointed when it’s depicted differently on screen than you imagined. Taking a book from page to screen is always bound to disappoint somebody.

These three words were always the last thing an OASIS user saw before leaving the real world and entering the virtual one: READY PLAYER ONE.

Things I appreciated about the book have mostly to do with the nostalgia it made me feel. As we discussed, the book is set in a dystopian future, but tech genius, James Halliday, was a child of the 80s and completely obsessed with that era. Therefore, we’ve got 80s pop culture references to beat the band all throughout this story. Catch them all, if you can.

Even though people of a certain age – me included – will easily recognize and translate these references in Cline’s book, sometimes pop culture references actually work better on screen for a wider audience. Who can deny that describing a Delorean decked out with a Flux Capacitor is way clunkier than just putting a shiny one on the screen in the middle of an amazing race scene?!

But, in the end, both mediums persevere because they carry through the primary themes of tenacity, cooperation, and connection while incorporating a challenging quest, zealous bad guys, and an enigmatic love interest. So let the book purists rage, and let the gaming-geeks complain, but there is true adventure in Ready Player One, and I don’t think it should be missed no matter how you choose to take it in.


Ready Player One Movie Trailer

Ernest Cline

Ernest Christy Cline is an American novelist, slam poet, and screenwriter. He is known for his novels Ready Player One and Armada; he also co-wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation of Ready Player One, directed by Steven Spielberg. -Bio from Google


P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, # 2)

“They were just pretending. Until they weren’t.” -P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han


Author: Jenny Han

(4.13 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Fiction / YA / Romance

Format: Paperback

Publication Date: January 31, 2017, by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers)

Pages: 337 (Paperback)

#PSIStillLoveYou #JennyHan #ToAllTheBoysIveLovedBefore


Lara Jean, I think you half-fall in love with every person you meet. It’s part of your charm. You’re in love with love.

Ahhh, high school. I remember it well. All the teen angst and uncertainty. Does he like me? Do I like him? Does he like her more than me? Do we have a pop quiz in Algebra today? All of these were very scary prospects in 11th grade. Lara Jean Covey can definitely relate to teen angst. Let’s check out the blurb…

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter. They were just pretending. Until they weren’t. And now Lara Jean has to learn what it’s like to be in a real relationship and not just a make-believe one. But when another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him suddenly return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once? … Lara Jean is about to find out that falling in love is the easy part.


But the act of writing a letter, … it’s far more deliberate. … A letter is something to keep.

Since I’m highlighting stories this month that went from page to screen, P.S. I Still Love You is the perfect book to review today – especially since its highly anticipated Netflix premier was all the rage this past February.

I read the sequel to Lara Jean’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before story and I loved it almost as much as the original. But would I like the movie just as much as the book? Is that always and forever going to be the thing with page-to-screen? Are we always doomed to compare the two and proclaim which one is better? Can we ever just… love them both? <gasp!>

All I can say is, if that boy was my boyfriend, I’d never let him go.

So, the short answer is, yes. Just as I would advise Lara Jean that it is entirely possible to love two guys at the same time, we can definitely love both the book and the movie adaptation the same way. While I absolutely prefer the way the book handles this story, the movie has its own charm which I also really appreciate.

Jenny Han captures the heart of her characters so well. Readers get totally wrapped up in the lives of these teenagers – their loves, their disappointments, and their ability to bounce back from all kinds of craziness. I remember those days! And, just like I felt with To All the Boys…, the final chapter came much too quickly.

I loved this romantic YA novel and – dare I say it? – I’m really looking forward to Always and Forever, Lara Jean… the book AND the movie!


P.S. I Still Love You Movie Trailer

Jenny Han

Jenny Han is the author of bestselling books that have been published in more than thirty languages. A former librarian, Jenny earned her MFA in creative writing at the New School. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. -Bio from http://dearjennyhan.com/


To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, #1)

=> “When I write, I hold nothing back. I write like he’ll never read it. Because he never will.” –To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before<=


Author: Jenny Han

(4.16 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Fiction / Romance / Young Adult

Format: Paperback

Publication Date: April 15, 2014, Simon & Schuster / BFYR

Pages: 355

#ToAllTheBoysIveLovedBefore #ToAllTheBoys


…it’s a lot of responsibility to hold a person’s heart in your hands.

When I was in school, people still wrote letters to each other (I know, I know…the Dark Ages). We would pass notes under our desks and would hand off coded sheets full of gossip to each other in the hallways. But the best letters of all, of course, were the love letters. Granted, in high school they were a little more advanced than “Do you like me, check yes or no.”

I had one boyfriend in college that kept a regular written correspondence with me after I graduated and he had one more year to go. Those were some of the most meaningful letters I ever got – and I have them still today (Yep, I held on to them even through my marriage to a totally different man! Shhhhh….!)

Love letters are magical because they are so revealing, so honest, and so open. You have to really know how you’re feeling to write a good one, and the commitment of putting it all down on paper takes bravery. In To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Lara Jean Covey opens her heart up to the loves of her life, but it was all supposed to be private…

Here’s the blurb: “Lara Jean keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved — five in all. When she writes, she can pour out her heart and soul and say all the thing she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.”

My letters are for when I don’t want to be in love anymore. They’re for good-bye. Because after I write in my letter, I’m not longer consumed by my all-consuming love…My letters set me free. Or at least they’re supposed to.

So, Lara Jean is in high school and she’s got some real challenges going on, not the least of which is the fact that someone mailed all of her love letters to former loves of her life. If someone did that to me I would think that it might be time to relocate to a different country! But LJ takes it all in stride – just like any teenager would – SHE FREAKS THE HECK out!!!! Totally understandable.

Although I am, sadly, far from high school these days, I still feel like I can relate to this adorable, romantic story. I remember those days when I felt like my heart couldn’t contain everything I was feeling for a guy, and that writing it all down was the only way I could manage to get through my day without exploding. That’s what reading this book made me remember – the days of being totally dominated by overwhelming emotions and living in that heady feeling every day.

I don’t want to be afraid anymore. I want to be brave. I want… life to start happening. I want to fall in love and I want a boy to fall in love with me back.

Jenny Han has written a special little love story here; one that shines on paper and on the little screen (yes, I watched the Netflix movie too). And I know I talked a lot about the romantic aspects of this book, but it’s also about family, managing big life changes, and tackling school politics.

If you haven’t already read this book, and you decide to pick up To All the Boys, I hope you will see Lara Jean as I did – not a love struck teenager, but as a young lady who’s trying to figure out her life, just like all the rest of us. This is one I wouldn’t mind reading again for the nostalgia of the feelings of first love and the comfort of a well-written book that fits like a cozy sweater.


Jenny Han

Jenny Han is also the author of the New York Times bestselling Summer I Turned Pretty series. Her books have been published in more than thirty languages. A former librarian, Jenny earned her MFA in creative writing at the New School. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.


The Furies

⇒”Once summoned, the Furies cannot be sent back, only leave of their own accord.” –The Furies by Katie Lowe ⇐

**Many thanks to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press, and the author for the opportunity to read a free ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Author: Katie Lowe

(3.25 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Fiction / YA / Thriller

Format: Kindle

U.S. Publication Date: October 8, 2019, by St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 352 (Kindle version)

#TheFuries


‘They will be your conduit, your intention made flesh; they will destroy the corrupt and murder the wicked, oh goddesses, if you will give to them your gifts.’

If you’ve been to school – almost any kind – you know about cliques. You seem them clustered in groups in the cafeteria or in the quad, or huddled together in the hallways or the library. The jocks, the cheerleaders, the science geeks, and, yes, even the mean girls. And if you were ever “the new kid” you had to quickly figure out where you fit in the grand scheme of the social hierarchy.

This was the dilemma Violet faced as she entered Elm Hollow Academy looking for a fresh start. Here’s the blurb:

In 1998, a sixteen-year-old girl is found dead on her boarding school’s property, dressed in white and posed on a swing, with no known cause of death. What happened to her? And what do her friends know? To find out, it is necessary to go back to the beginning. The school is Elm Hollow Academy, an all-girl’s boarding school located in a sleepy coastal town, with a long-buried grim history of 17th century witch trials. A new student, Violet, joins the school, and soon finds herself invited to become the fourth member of an advanced study group, led by the alluring and mysterious art teacher Annabel. Violet quickly finds herself wrapped up in this addictive new world. But when she comes to learn about the disappearance of a former member of the society, one with whom Violet shares an uncanny resemblance, she begins to wonder who she can trust, all the while becoming more deeply entangled in her newfound friendships. Was it suicide, or a foul play more sinister? How far will these young girls go to protect one another…or to destroy one another?


Women are not to be left alone, together, or tragedy will surely follow.

If the thing that draws you in is gorgeous, poetic prose, then this debut novel will give you what you need. Lowe’s poetic prose touches all of your senses at once. You’ll not only “see” the action, but you’ll smell it, hear it, and taste it too. She leaves very little out of her scenic descriptions, which really draw you into the action in every chapter.

However, if you’re more interested in a witchy thriller, you might find The Furies a little lacking. Sure there are spells and what passes as a conjuring, but most of the dark stuff is entirely man-made. I would call it a coming-of-age story; however, instead of character development, the main character experiences more of a moral deterioration and decay. We are witnesses to a clever, intelligent, studious girl being transformed into something much less than that.

…that crush of love and hate, the cruel and rotten bliss of friendship.

Throughout the book, every really interesting thing happens just outside of our field of vision. We’re present for the buildup and then again for the hazy, hungover aftermath. Even when our main character is in the midst of the action, we aren’t privy to the exact details and she is utterly clueless to most of what is going on. Yes, this is a technique to draw readers deeper into the story and preserve some of the mystery, but I also feel alienated by it, as if I can’t be trusted with the truth.

And that just gives me another reason to feel distrustful of the MC, whose point of view is the only side of the story we receive. She comes off as naive, gullible, and just desperate enough to do anything to be accepted. While her tragic history may excuse some of her neediness, she is clearly aware that her associations aren’t healthy – yet, she persists. Can we chalk that up merely to teenage angst and rebellion? Or has her own will become the plaything of the girls she calls her friends?

Let’s just say that a book club could have a field day with this one!

She is the specter that haunts the very image of masculinity, the one who took a bloody blade to the patriarchy itself.

Although I was intrigued through the first half of the book, I soon became disappointed at the direction of the action and the MC’s lack of backbone. And while I should have been focused on enjoying the roller coaster ride through some pretty dark corners of college life, I found myself feeling like I was watching a train wreck that I couldn’t turn away from.


Katie Lowe

Katie is a writer living in Worcester, UK. A graduate of the University of Birmingham, Katie has a BA(Hons) in English and an MPhil in Literature & Modernity. She returned to Birmingham in 2019 to complete a PhD in English Literature, with her thesis on female rage in literary modernism and the #MeToo era.


Caraval (Caraval, #1)

=> Shelf-Discipline September continues! I’m clearing my bookshelves one book at a time, and this extremely popular YA novel got drawn next out of my title jar. It appears I got an invitation to Caraval! <=


Author: Stephanie Garber

(3.95 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Fiction / Fantasy / Mystery / YA

Format: Hardcover

Publication Date: January 31, 2017, Flatiron Books

Pages: 407 (Hardcover)

#Caraval


Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or a performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find to magic in this world.

Annalise – Caraval

I’m OK with admitting it when I make mistakes. I wish I could say that it doesn’t happen often, so I don’t have to bother with many admissions; however, that is not the case! Early on in my reading “career”, I made a vow not to compare books with other books, but to judge them on their own merit. So, you’ll rarely see me stating, “Oh, I liked this book, ABC, but it wasn’t nearly as good as XYZ.” I don’t think that’s fair and if I wrote books, it would annoy me immensely. So I try my hardest not to do it.

So before I admit to my transgression, let’s talk about what Caraval was all about. Here’s the blurb:

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over. But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner. Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic.

Some things are worth pursuit regardless of the cost.

Aiko, Caraval

So there’s an exclusive performance, a pretty young woman who’s wishing on a star, and some pretty devious guys pulling more than a few magical strings to manipulate one totally unsuspecting person. The secrets have secrets in this one, folks.

Caraval started off with a promise of some pretty scandalous acts taking place in order to rescue a helpless young woman. Which one? Pick one, because they both needed saving in more than one way. Their dad is a nightmare, they live on a conquered island (doesn’t sound like white beaches and mojitos to me), and their only escape is to be bartered off like cattle to men from other lands. Not my idea of a good time.

Enter Caraval. The ladies get invited, they go (one more willingly than the other), and they embark on an adventure that proves to be mysterious… and deadly. So, what doesn’t sound intriguing and exciting about all that. Nothing! So, why did I rate it only 3 stars? Here’s where we circle back around to my confession…

Once people leave this isle, the things they’ve done here don’t just unhappen, no matter how much they might wish them undone.

Legend, Caraval

I compared this book with another. <Gasp!> I know, I know. I shouldn’t do it, I told myself I wouldn’t do it, but the stars aligned such that I drew Caraval’s title out of my title jar for Shelf-Discipline month right after I read The Night Circus. What can I say? Fate is sloppy.

If you follow me, then you may have already read last week’s blog where I gushed about how much I loved The Night Circus and how captivating it is, yada yada. And, now, reading another book with a similar setting – a magical carnival-like performance for the public – well, a comparison between the two just can’t be denied. And The Night Circus came out on top; it’s as simple as that.

Now let me clean this up a bit: Caraval is the first book of a trilogy and it has its die-hard fans. Not adding me to that list will not hurt sales for this book one little bit. Is it a bad book? No, it is not. It has a very strong YA feel (well, duh) and readers who aren’t put off by a few classic tropes (insta-love, hate-becomes-love, and conservative spirit vs free-spirit) may enjoy the character dynamics and the valiant attempts at plot-twistery. (It’s a word!)

So, if you love the idea of trying to solve a mystery in the setting of a color-changing carnival where literally everyone is lying and there’s a god-awful lot of tunnels and top hats, then this just might be the best book you’ve read all year. Just do yourself a favor and don’t compare it to other better books as you read!

Stephanie Garber

When she’s not writing, she teaches creative writing at a private college in Northern California, where she’s been known to turn assignments into games and take students on field trips that involve book signings. Now that her dream of becoming a published author has come true, her new dream is to visit Club 33 at Disneyland. –http://stephaniegarberauthor.com


Save the Date

How good are you at finding the best little beach read? I found mine, but it turns out I could read this little gem anywhere!⇐


Author: Morgan Matson

(3.81 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Fiction / Contemporary / YA / Romance

Published June 5, 2018by Simon Schuster

Format: Paperback

Pages: 432 (Paperback)

#SavetheDate


It seemed like the second you tried to tell someone why you loved someone else, it took the luster off it, like pinning a butterfly down in a case—it never quite captured it.

Every year my family goes to the beach. We look forward to it all year long and we often start packing long before the week of the trip. This year was no exception. The clothes, the swim gear, the travel-sized toiletries – all that is important, but the most vital thing is Which Books Should I Bring! 

This is a really hard decision on any regular day, let alone on a day when you will be spending time near surf and sand with nothing but lazy hours in front of you. This is prime reading time people! And the last thing you want to do is waste those hours with a book you don’t really enjoy.   

Thankfully, I made an excellent choice in this perfectly paced little romance that also shared some spicy little family drama and more than one (OK a lot!) of truly comedic slip-ups. Save the Date couldn’t have been a more perfect vacation read. It was an easy read with fun (and funny) characters that were easily introduced and remain unforgettable. Here’s the Goodreads blurb:

Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect. … Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.

You don’t get to freeze the picture when you want it. It would have been living in the past and eventually, you just start doing the same jokes over and over again.

If you’re anything like me, it may take you quite a long time to decide on a book to read while you’re on vacation. I made a special trip to the bookstore to pick this one up specifically for this trip. I wanted something light and funny with just enough depth to hold my attention without being frivolous and silly. Save the Date hit the nail on the head on every point.

And, no, it’s not a new release, so I felt that I could choose it on its own merits instead of feeling led along by the masses all grappling for the next new and shiny shelf bauble.  And although I didn’t finish my book while actually sitting on the beach (it ended up raining for most of the time) I found that it really didn’t matter. Save the Date became a book that is good on or off of the sand. I got totally sucked into the Grant family drama and my only regret is that it ended a little too quickly!


Morgan Matson

Morgan Matson grew up in New York City and Greenwich, Connecticut. She attended Occidental College in Los Angeles but halfway though a theater degree, she started working in the children’s department of Vroman’s Bookstore and fell in love with YA literature.


My Plain Jane (The Lady Janies, #2)

⇒Reader, don’t think for a minute that this is anything like the Jane Eyre your English-Lit teacher made you read. ⇐


Authors: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows

(3.80 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Historical Fiction / Retellings / Romance / YA

Format: Hardcover, Owlcrate Edition

Publish Date: June, 2018 by HarperCollins

Pages: 450

#MyPlainJane #TheLadyJanies


‘I am no one special,’ Jane said. ‘I am just a girl. I can see ghosts, yes, but it has only ever brought me trouble!’

Jane Eyre

Whenever a group of friends gets together to create anything, there’s a certain type of magic that happens. Things get weird, they get messy, and they get magical. I can only imagine that that’s how this process went when these three authors came together to write this second book in their Lady Janies series. And clearly, at least one of them has as much love for The Princess Bride as I do. As you wish.

Here is the Goodreads summary: You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!) Or does she? Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.


Charlotte had always known Jane to be a kind, thoughtful sort of person. Even when she was committing murder, she was thinking of others.

Reader, you will be fully immersed in this story. You will be addressed, redressed, and made as much a character as the actual characters. So much so, I was surprised to not have been handed a kettle and asked to prepare tea. No, seriously, there’s a lot of tea-making in this book (but not a lot of bathroom-going. Wonder how that works?).

How do you feel about being made a part of the story? If you’re an immersive-type reader (like I am) it can tend to be a little jarring. Yes, yes, I know my introvert is showing! Pardon me while I tuck it back in and continue…

A shudder made its way down Charlotte’s spine. There was nothing so disturbing to her as an overdue book. Possible fines. It was very scary.

Good luck to anyone who is able to pin down the exact genre for this book. Sci-fi / YA / Romance? Historic / Humor / Fantasy? Mystery / Paranormal / Retellings? Yes, yes, and yes. And add whatever else you want to throw in there – it’ll probably fit.

And I don’t mention that to make story seem unfocused. It’s not that at all. It just covers a whole lot of ground and stretches itself across the gamut of literature – past and present. Like a little ghost action with your romance? Fancy a little mystery with your historical fiction? Want a dash of comedy in your YA? My Plain Jane‘s gotcha covered. It’s the buffet of book genres!

Jane sighed. ‘You’ve been around ghosts your whole life- er- afterlife. What are you afraid of?’ Helen shook her head. ‘I think it might be haunted by the living.’

Jane Eyre and Helen Burns

Any reader worth their salt will be able to pick out tons of pop culture and political references. Got a book club? Make a drinking game out of it. Or, if I didn’t want to encourage underage drinking, I’d say offer a gift card to Target for whoever finds the most. Yes, do that one, YA audience. 🙂

This is definitely not your 9th grade literature class’s version of Jane Eyre. (Phew! But love you Ms. Willoughby!) So don’t go into it thinking that you’ll have to translate imagery and determine the ultimate meaning of Mr. Rochester’s moodiness. (You’d never guess!) Just expect the unexpected and you’ll have a good time with this book, their previous title, My Lady Jane, and their upcoming 2020 title, My Calamity Jane.


Ashton, Hand, & Meadows

Authors of the New York Times bestselling novel My Lady Jane, who met in 2012 on a book tour. They’re friends. They’re writers. They’re fixing history by rewriting one sad story at a time. (-bio adapted from cover)


The Bone Farm (and some series spotlights)

⇒This week I review Dean Koontz’s The Bone Farm and shine a spotlight on some of the other book series I’m addicted to.⇐


Author: Dean Koontz

(3.76 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Crime Fiction / Mystery / Thriller

Published April 25, 2018by Brilliance Audio

Format: Audiobook

Narrator: Elisabeth Rodgers

Pages: 100

#TheBoneFarm #JaneHawk


Let me say first that if you are looking for a series to get invested in, Dean Koontz has some wonderful, easy reads that will keep you on a series train for a nice, pleasant (tense, suspenseful, thrilling, sometimes scary) ride. The Bone Farm is book #0.5 (a case file that precedes the events of the Jane Hawk series), and is every bit as engaging as its older, bigger siblings. But if death-defying females aren’t your thing (hmm, who are you?), then you could try any of Koontz’s other appealing series: Odd Thomas, 9 books that will have you seeing death in a whole new light; Frankenstein, a new look at an old monster in 6 books; or Moonlight Bay, 3 books (2 pub & 1 on the way) that will test if you can survive the darkness of night. I’ve read all of Odd Thomas (love, love, love) and Moonlight Bay (well, not book 3 because it isn’t out yet (and may actually never happen). And I read Prodigal Son of his Frankenstein series last year (sooooo good). Dean Koontz has yet to disappoint me.

But let me back up a little and give you the Goodreads blurb on The Bone Farm:

Katherine Haskell, a young college co-ed is on her way back to school, but she never makes it there. Instead, she becomes the latest prey of the rapist and murderer dubbed by the tabloids the “Mother Hater.” He is a twisted soul who kidnaps young girls for pleasure then discards them. Katherine is missing, but she’s not yet dead. FBI agents Jane Hawk and her partner Gary Burkett must descend into the hell of this killer’s mind to solve the case before it is too late. The question is – will they both get out alive?

This novella is presented as a case file which only hypes me up that there will be more of these – oh book gods, please don’t fail us on this one. The bad guy is bat$&!# cuckoo, Jane is smart and ruthless, there’s a controlling mother, and an old creepy farm house – I’m here for ALL of it!!!! I almost wrote a spoiler right there because I got excited, but stopped myself right in time. Y’all lucked out. But just know, it gets twisty and good!

The Bone Farm is part of the Jane Hawk series, which includes 6 other books to date. The series features a strong heroine in an all-out battle against a new world order. The books are suspenseful, thrilling, and addictive. In a word, readthem. (I know, I know. Just do it.)


So since we’re talking about series, I thought I’d spotlight just a few of the other series that I have followed unfailingly over the years. Most of them are in my preferred genre of mystery/thrillers, but there are a few deviants in the bunch. And you might be surprised by what you won’t find on my list: namely, Harry Potter. (No shade! I just haven’t read them!)

Pendergast Series

One of my longest-standing series, I got hooked on Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child’s series featuring the enigmatic Aloysius X.L. Pendergast from the very first book, Relic (read the book, skip the movie) – even though he was only a supporting character way back then. The authors obviously saw something in him and took off running with his story, and it has been a favorite ever since.


Stephanie Plum Series

Many readers will own up to the fact that they have at least one numbered (or alphabetical) series on their reading list. Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series is mine. She just released book #25 last year and Twisted Twenty-Six is expected in November 2019. These books are cozy crime fiction with hilarious characters that become as familiar as your own family members. I don’t care if this series goes to 200, I am never not going to read a Stephanie Plum book. And oh, by the way, #teamRanger.


Jack Reacher Series

Please, please, please do me a favor and tell me that you did not watch the movies that were supposed to depict this character. And if you did, just forget all that you saw. This Jack Reacher – The REAL Jack Reacher (yes, he’s real to me) – is bigger than life and yet can disappear at a moment’s notice (just thought about that – Sasquatch tendencies? Hmmm…). He is such a fascinating personality with such an amazing skill set (think Taken, but with a brilliant, powerful, Matrix-like Army drifter). Reacher is BIG and BRAWNY, but he is not beautiful. He’s a brawler that doesn’t want to fight unless he has to. And then he’s deadly.


Crazy Rich Asians is a new series for me. I only started reading it because I saw that the movie was releasing soon and I happened to find the first book on the shelf at my neighborhood Goodwill store (where I buy most of my books). After I read it, I went back and found the other two there as well (I have some very generous, good-taste readers in my area, apparently)! I love the humor of this series, as well as the way they sneak social commentary into the text without being preachy or judgy. (It’s a word!)


OTHER SERIES I LOVE:

4MK Thriller series by J.D. Barker

(The 3rd book may release in 2019 – fingers crossed)

Illuminae Files series by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

(I’ve reviewed all of these and I wish it wasn’t over!)

Archie Seridan & Gretchen Lowell series by Chelsea Cain

(A sadistic female serial killer. Nuff said.)

Court series by Sarah J. Maas

(YA romance with faeries. Yep.)

Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

(Seriously, these are as good as – or even better than – the HBO show)

So if you’re a dedicated series reader, stick with it because series = goals! And if you haven’t found a series you love yet, keep looking – there’s a perfect succession of books out there just waiting to be discovered. Happy Reading!