Rachel, The Rabbi’s Wife by Silvia Tennenbaum

Find in catalogI thought it was pretty good, not a real page turner, and yet it did keep my interest because the characters were understandable and seemed real. It did give me some understanding of Jewish habits and customs.

Everland by Wendy Spinale

Find in catalogTwo of five stars. Spoilers ahead-

I enjoyed the book. Mostly. I had a good time reading it, so you’re probably wondering why I’ve only given Everland two stars. It’s like this: I didn’t feel great when it finished. And not because I was left anticipating the second volume. Why didn’t I feel good when it finished? The fact that the main character is basically a total heartless jerk and (spoiler) cuts off a certain other character’s hand. I get that the author did this to try and tie-in even more with the whole Peter Pan thing, but seriously. This was a bad way to do it. The main character was already only marginally-likable. There was this long moment where I was like, certainly she’s going to have a change of heart and despite doing this awful thing, at least she’s going to try to redeem herself by helping him. Yes, that’s right! They will take him with them. Of course! This is how the previously-dangerous antagonist will reform his ways. La, la, la………Woah, wait, what? They’re leaving? They’re leaving him? You can’t be serious. Especially since this previously evil character became harmless as soon as he was defeated. They just straight-up murdered him. And then went on to the kissy-kissy happy ending for the main characters. I know. That is how this book ended on a very bad note. I wanted to like this book. I did. I even enjoyed reading (skimming?) it, for the most part. Until the end. I guess the over-use of similes should have turned me away from the start, but hey, I’ll put up with a lot for the prospect of a romance within an interesting plot. Too bad the supposed good guys were ultimately unrelatable and heartless.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Find in catalogMy favorite kinds of books are the ones that teach you things about yourself that you’ve always known but didn’t quite realize until you read them. It’s like this: A good book shows you something new about the world, but a great book shows you something new about yourself. Maybe that’s why I love When You Reach Me so much. If it hadn’t been a library copy, I would have highlighted all the passages that resonated with me–there were a lot–and then I could have written them here to show you what I mean. These are the kinds of things that really should be quoted. Okay, since I like the book so much, I’ll go look for one. (Spoiler alert?) I didn’t find the exact quote, but there’s this bit about how Miranda notices that she cries sometimes when she’s caught off-guard. And I hadn’t thought about it like that until I read it, and then I realized I was the same for me. Especially when I was in sixth grade–like Miranda. Suddenly this little detail of my life made sense. Plus, there’s the other quotes that are bigger and deeper and easier to find if you Google them. Like this one: “Mom says each of us has a veil between ourselves and the rest of the world, like a bride wears on her wedding day, except this kind of veil is invisible. We walk around happily with these invisible veils hanging down over our faces. The world is kind of blurry, and we like it that way. But sometimes our veils are pushed away for a few moments, like there’s a wind blowing it from our faces. And when the veil lifts, we can see the world as it really is, just for those few seconds before it settles down again. We see all the beauty, and cruelty, and sadness, and love. But mostly we are happy not to. Some people learn to lift the veil themselves. Then they don’t have to depend on the wind anymore.” See what I mean?

This is the kind of story that you can’t sum up in a marketing blurb for Amazon or jacket copy. It’s the kind of narrative that’s made whole by the powerful voice of an intelligent character with real observations about what it means to be human. To Rebecca Stead–nice work. Five out of Five.

Organized Crime: An Inside Guide to the World’s Most Successful Industry by Paul Lunde

This book is a good overview of all the organized crime in the world. From reading it I was able to see organized crime really not as a whole bunch of gun-welding bad guys but a somewhat natural response to an organized government. I noticed that with every organized crime there was organized crime that went along with it almost as a response to it.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Find in catalogNeil Gaiman masterfully creates for us a world that is right in front of our eyes and blends reality and mythology together in captivating ways. So it’s the story of an unlikely and unlucky main character who gets thrown into a war like no other: on one side, it’s the myths of yesteryear that were brought here by people from their homelands, and on the other it’s the new gods of the day (such as media and drugs). It’s absolutely incredible, entrancing, and unbelievable all at the same time. I read a lot and with this one book I have been convinced that Neil Gaiman is one of the best modern writers and I will need to read more of his work!

Dirty Souls (Sins Duet, #2) by Karina Halle

Dirty Souls is the continuation of Black Hearts, so if you plan to read this duet you might get tipped off in this review on where the story leads readers too. “She’s our daughter! She’s with his son. How the f*** is any of this going to be okay?”

Let’s do a little catch up from the previous book. The son of Javier, Vicente, and the daughter of his former lover (Ellie), Violet are in love and looking towards their future together. Javier, on the other hand, wants revenge on Ellie and is willing to kill two birds with one stone. He’s going to break his son in order to toughen him up and he’s going to crush Ellie to get back at her for past debts. Javier’s whole diabolical plan revolves around Violet. She’s going to be the stone that accomplishes the two things. By him hurting Violet he’s essentially hurting both Vicente and Ellie. Dirty Souls is the heart-racing conclusion to Vicente & Violet’s love story. The lie, cheat, steal premise leads to high-speed chases, shootouts, and attempted kidnapping. Among other things that will have you on the edge of your seat. DIRTY SOULS is the second book in the duet series set in California & Mexico. This duet series can be read as a standalone series. If you want to find out about the parents of Violet & Vicente you can read their series: Artists Trilogy and Dirty Angels. Black Hearts and Dirty Souls are set 20 years in the future and our the children of the characters from Artists Trilogy and Dirty Angels.

Black Hearts (Sins Duet, #1) by Karina Halle

YES!!! This book was everything I had hoped for when I found out the children of two of my favorite series were going to hook up for their own mayhem.

“I was raised in a house of lies.” -Violet Violet has grown up knowing something seemed off with her parents. She’s always felt they were hiding their past from her and her brother. Her parents sheltered her from their sins by letting her believe lies about their past. “Off to a new land. Where I am no longer Javier Bernal’s son. Where the prince can become the king.” Vicente is second in command to his dad’s drug cartel. Vicente doesn’t want to be in his dad’s shadow. He wants to be his own man. He has also been sheltered but not in the same way as Violet. He knows his parents aren’t good people. His shelter came in the form of bodyguards to protect to his life. “The Bernals aren’t good people. The McQueens aren’t either. The sooner Violet knows this, realizes it, the better off she’ll be.” Through some snooping both Vi and Vicente find out info about their parents that leaves them trying to puzzle together the pieces. Vicente heads to America to learn more about the woman who beat his dad at the con game. What Vicente didn’t expect was to fall for her daughter, Violet. I love Ms. Halle’s darker books. She’s really in her element when she enters this world. While Vicente’s book, BLACK HEARTS, so far, isn’t as dark has his father’s book, DIRTY ANGELS, it still has that underbelly of darkness in it. And the follow-up book sounds amazing. It looks to be a little grittier with what to come with this couple. BLACK HEARTS is a duet series set in California & Mexico. This duet series can be read as a standalone series. If you want to find out about the parents of Violet & Vicente you can read their series: Artists Trilogy and Dirty Angels. Black Hearts and Dirty Souls are set 20 years in the future and our the children of the characters from Artists Trilogy and Dirty Angels.

Nowhere But Here (Thunder Road, #1) by Katie McGarry

Find in catalogI found this to be a solid 4 star read for me. My love for motorcycle romance started years ago after watching the tv show – SOA (which really isn’t a romance tv series). I was drawn to the gritty world of bikers. So, when I discovered there were books that were about motorcycle clubs and they had romance in them, I knew I found a genre I’d be reading a lot of.

Emily is a 17 years old who has spent her life in the dark about her mother and biological father’s past. She’s met her father a few times but she’s been indifferent towards him. He gave up his rights to her when she was little and so she’s given up really caring who he is. Emily’s world is full of secrets she’s not privy to. Everyone around her feels it’s in her best interest to leave those secrets buried except for one person. That person can’t divulge the secret but they become the guiding light in helping Emily uncover what has been kept from her all her life. I try to avoid books that have cancer in them and when I found out one of the side characters had cancer I was already invested in the story. So, I made the decision to continue on. I appreciated that even though the character had cancer the reader didn’t have to go through all the symptoms of cancer with that character. We never even find out what type of cancer the character has because it wasn’t about the tragic effects of cancer but instead how it brought an estranged family together. This is my first young adult romance. For those who like the atmosphere of the club life but want a tamer version of that environment, this is a good one try. NOWHERE BUT HERE is a young adult motorcycle romance. It’s set in the same universe as Walk the Edge, Long Way Home, and Untitled. Each one can be read as a standalone, but the characters are interconnected.

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

Find in catalogThe most memorable part of this book is when the author tells this story of being at a social event where she meet this man who preceded to interrupt her to poorly inform her about her own book and how she really must read it in order to gain an expert’s perspective on the top (without knowing it was her book). I like how the author calls out this ridiculous behavior that people sometimes process and inspires others to not take a back seat in their own opinions!

Big ideas for small spaces : creative ideas and 30 projects for balconies, roof gardens, windowsills, and terraces by Kay Maguire

Find in catalogThis is a perfect little book for heading into summer time! It offers 30 different projects that can be done by even a beginning DIY-er and really would beautify an outdoor space. This book is a great addition to the growing collection of urban gardening type books. I love the idea of utilizing even small spaces to their absolute max. There was some awesome balcony ideas in here so even an apartment dweller can really feel like they’re living in an oasis.