Review: The Vanishing Stair

The Vanishing Stair (Truly Devious, #2)

The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I checked this out of the library before was even half way done with the first book, Truly Devious, and I am not sure how I will survive the wait for the third installment. Like the first, this book is hard to put down, and answers some questions and raises many more. The characters are complicated and likable and quirky, the setting is creepy and mysterious, and the story, well, the story is a mystery that needs to be solved, I have to know. 5/5 stars.



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Review: Things You Save in a Fire

Things You Save in a Fire

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish this book. I got within the last 100 pages and I just couldn’t put it down. It was a pretty quick read and I really liked the characters and found Cassie to be very relatable. She’s a “tomboy” firefighter, who is a natural hero, tough, smart, driven and one of the best in her department in Texas forced to leave the station she’s always known and felt welcome, and move across the country to Massachusetts to care for her estranged mother. She ends up in a good-old-boys type station where the men are not particularly welcoming and think their station is no place for a “lady” fireman. There is a lot of great detail about the life of firefighters, especially from the perspective of a woman who isn’t welcome by the men on her crew.
There is a little will-they-won’t-they attraction between Cassie and “The Rookie” who started at the same time she did, and is the one person who she feels like she can actually trust.
I really enjoyed this book, Cassie’s struggle to find acceptance in her work, which is so entwined with her identity she can’t really separate herself from the job. The Rookie is charming and kind, and they are great together. 5/5 stars



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Review: You Go First

You Go First

You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I picked this up when we were killing time in the library because I really enjoyed Hello, Universe. The story was OK and the characters deal with some big emotional things that might be useful for middle grade readers to identify with, but for me the story didn’t do much. I feel like it could have been so much more.
Charlotte and Ben are basically internet friends who play scrabble across the country but have never met. They are both going through some major family stuff and neither has a local friend to turn to for support. Charlotte was just ditched by her lifelong friend right after he father had a heart attack and Ben doesn’t really have any real-life friends when his parents spring news of their divorce on him. The stories are told side by side with very little overlap. I sort of wanted more from their friendship and it just wasn’t there. 3/3 stars ⭐️



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Review: Nowhere Girls

Review: The Nowhere Girl by Amy Reed

It’s taken a while for me to get my thoughts together about this book. I won’t lie, it’s a lot. This book is emotional and powerful and hopeful and heartbreaking. It’s also so well written and has amazing characters that are so real it’s easy to be immersed in the story. The story centers around rape culture, a specific rape and the group of high school girls attempting to fight back. 
There are several different sets of characters, the actual “Nowhere Girls” start as a threesome of quirky high school girls who don’t fit into any clique or really fit in at all. Grace is a transplant to Oregon from Kentucky where her pastor mother was run out of town for being too open-minded at the altar of their church. Erin has Aspergers and not only defies the wildly inaccurate stereotype that people on the autism spectrum lack empathy, but she is the one who probably has the best handle on her emotional needs. And Rosina is her mother’s oldest (and only) daughter in an extended Hispanic family, where she babysits cousins, works in the family restaurant and defies the family’s expectations because she’s a free spirit and also dates girls. 
The Nowhere girls expand to include a few dozen other students in their high school, all joining together to seek justice for a classmate who was brutally raped the previous year and everyone in town knows who did it. Also included are the girl’s parents, a mixed bag of well-meaning but flawed, teachers and a principal who are definitely part of the
Problem not the solution and the truly despicable boys who perpetrated at least the one rape that everyone knows of, and who write an anonymous, predatory how-to blog encouraging men to take whatever they want from women. 
I found this book nearly impossible to put down and the sensitive and realistic approach to these characters and situations was so well done. There is so much to love and so much to loathe. This book makes me sad yet proud to be a woman, cautiously hopeful but realistically frustrated with our misogynistic culture and it makes me want to raise my sons in a way that they never think it’s OK to be anything at all like the boys in this book. 
This is an excellent read but it’s an emotional ride, and I definitely needed a break to decompress after it was over. 5/5 stars ⭐️ 

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Review: The Kiss Quotient

Review: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

I read this book in a 24 hour period following a very heavy emotionally taxing book and it was perfect. I seriously loved the Kiss Quotient and it was exactly the book I needed at the time. I ADORE the characters in this book and couldn’t get enough of Stella and Michael and Michael’s family. I love the neurodivergent protagonist Stella and how her autism is not something that needs fixing, it’s part of her like her brown eyes. Michael is an escort Stella hires to show her how to be better in the bedroom,
and this being a romance novel, of course they fall for each other.
This book isn’t my usual wheelhouse, I’m not generally much of a romance reader and it’s quite a bit steamier than I expected, but it explores relationships, personality and social differences, family dynamics and consent in a way that’s refreshing and unexpected. At its heart is understanding, communication and acceptance. I can’t wait to read what Hoang writes next. 5/5 stars ⭐️

Review posted on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/BvPtdyzH86-/

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Review: Black Klansman

Review: Black Klansman by Ron Stallworth

This is a fascinating story — a black detective who infiltrates the KKK in early ’70s Colorado Springs. Honestly that was the biggest draw for me, I grew up in CS and was truly interested in that aspect of the story, as it’s certainly not a story I’ve heard about my home town, nor really expected. The undercover investigation and the dealings with the various KKK members was interesting but I would have liked to have more. It just sort of ended without any resolution, no followup, no afterward about what became of those Klan members or the Organization in Colorado.
Good premise, sort of lacked a culmination I think. 3/5 stars ⭐️

on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bu7RWXaACm-/

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Review: Less

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

This book wasn’t what I expected, which is fine, for some reason I had it in my mind that it was a comedy, which it’s not (though there is some humor.) It is, however, an exquisitely written mid-life crisis, told through the misadventures of Arthur Less, a character on the verge of his 50th birthday, traveling the world to escape the heartache of his long-time, not-really-boyfriend’s impending wedding.
Arthur isn’t a particularly likable character, he’s sort of a perpetual plus-one, having lived his life in the shadows of (mostly) men who are beloved, admired, attractive, and larger than life.
The writing in this book is outstanding. Several times I found myself admiring a description or passage in a way I don’t often experience, even in books I enjoyed more than this one. I enjoyed this book, the writing especially, and the way it wraps up at the end. 4/5 stars ⭐️

Items mentioned in this post may contain affiliate links which means if you click and make a purchase, I will receive referral compensation at no additional cost to you. And let’s be honest, I will use to buy more books.

Review: The Eagle Tree

The Eagle Tree by Ned Hayes

This is the sweet story of a boy named March who loves trees and his (mis)adventures exploring and climbing them. Last year I created a neurodiveristy reading list to read more books with neurodivergent characters and this was recommended by some other book lists. March is on the Autism Spectrum so he does have some challenges with personal relationships and social thinking, but he’s smart and passionate, he is surrounded by people who care about him and who want to see him thrive. His uncle taught him to climb trees and he hasn’t stopped since. Now he’s 14 and adjusting to his parents separation and moving to a new house, but from this new house he finds The Eagle Tree, a giant old-growth tree, hundreds of years old and unusual for the area, which is slated to be knocked down to make a new home development. He becomes obsessed with the tree and his desire to climb it and it pushes him out of his comfortable routine and he has to face fears and challenges to try to save it.
The author is not on the autism spectrum but said in the afterward that he’s worked several years with kids who are, and I found his portrayal of autism’s quirks to be genuine and not too stereotypical. I truly enjoyed this book and March’s inner dialogue, it is a little heavy on details about trees but I think that perfectly illustrates how unwavering and all-encompassing fixations can be with those on the spectrum. 4.5/5 stars ⭐️

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Review: The Devil in the White City

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

I was inspired by an post on Instagram encouraging reading books that have been on your shelf a long time. This one has probably been unread on my shelf the longest, seriously years and years. I was vaguely familiar with the HH Holmes story because it came up in a crime literature class in college, but I wanted to know more, plus this book has been hyped forever.
I’m glad I read it but I can’t say it’s a favorite. I found it very slow for the first 2/3 and it almost seems like two books, the story of Burnham and building the world’s fair and the HH Holmes creepy hotel of horror have very little overlap and each could stand alone. (Though tbh the building of the fair portions of the book weren’t that interesting to me and read more like a history textbook than I would like for a recreational read.) The history of Chicago was enjoyable
The last 50 or so pages redeemed the slowness of the bulk of the novel and increased my opinion of it. The whole book is incredibly well researched and intelligent, but there were so many peripheral characters in the architecture portion I just wanted to fast forward through some of those chapters.
I will definitely look forward to checking out Jackson park next time we are in Chicago, I didn’t realize the museum of science and industry is built on the north end of the park where the world’s fair took place, we’ve visited that museum dozens of times and had no idea.
I feel like I am the last person on earth to read this book so there’s nothing new in this review, but I’m happy to have one book no longer languishing on my shelf. 3.5/5 stars ⭐️

Items mentioned in this post may contain affiliate links which means if you click and make a purchase, I will receive referral compensation at no additional cost to you. And let’s be honest, I will use to buy more books.