★★★1/2 (3.5/5) – The Whisper by Aaron Starmer is the second novel in The Riverman Trilogy. While very well-written, I found that this book was not grounded enough in reality for me. I’m still looking forward to reading the final novel in this trilogy.
From Amazon: Twelve-year-old Alistair Cleary has washed up on shore. But where? It seems to be Aquavania, the magical realm where children create entire worlds from their imagination. There’s something wrong, though. The creators have disappeared and the worlds are falling apart. All Alistair wants is to find his friend Fiona Loomis and go home. Easier said than done. Animals made of starlight, a megalomaniacal boy king, and astronauts who peddle riddles are hard enough to outwit, but they’re only the beginning. To find Fiona, Alistair must travel from world to world. He must confront the mistakes of his past. And he must face countless monsters, including the soul-stealing stalker that some people call the Riverman, the merciless but misunderstood servant of Aquavania who refers to himself as the Whisper.
★★★★★ (5/5) – The Riverman by Aaron Starmar is a very creative and interesting young adult novel! The ending was abrupt. It’s a good thing that this is the start of a trilogy!
From Amazon: Alistair Cleary is the kid who everyone trusts. Fiona Loomis is not the typical girl next door. Alistair hasn’t really thought of her since they were little kids until she shows up at his doorstep with a proposition: she wants him to write her biography. What begins as an odd vanity project gradually turns into a frightening glimpse into the mind of a potentially troubled girl. Fiona says that in her basement, there’s a portal that leads to a magical world where a creature called the Riverman is stealing the souls of children. And Fiona’s soul could be next. If Fiona really believes what she’s saying, Alistair fears she may be crazy. But if it’s true, her life could be at risk. In this novel from Aaron Starmer, it’s up to Alistair to separate fact from fiction, fantasy from reality.
★★★☆☆ (3/5) – Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld is a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. The author does a decent job of trying to take Austen’s original characters and recreate them in modern Cincinnati. The story is amusing, but it lacks the romance, suspense, and heart of the original tale.
From Amazon: This version of the Bennet family—and Mr. Darcy—is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help—and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray.
Youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their CrossFit workouts and Paleo diets to get jobs. Mary, the middle sister, is earning her third online master’s degree and barely leaves her room, except for those mysterious Tuesday-night outings she won’t discuss. And Mrs. Bennet has one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters, especially as Jane’s fortieth birthday fast approaches.
Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who recently appeared on the juggernaut reality TV dating show Eligible. At a Fourth of July barbecue, Chip takes an immediate interest in Jane, but Chip’s friend neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming. . . .
And yet, first impressions can be deceiving.
★★★ 1/2 (3.5/5) – Mystic Summer by Hannah McKinnon is a fun, fast summer read with a predictable ending. I really enjoyed the descriptions of various familiar locations in Mystic, CT. However, the characters spend too much time eating at Mystic Pizza! There are so many great restaurants in and around Mystic (The Engine Room, The Captain Daniel Packer Inn, The Pita Spot, Kitchen Little, Somewhere in Time, etc.). Why would locals constantly be eating at the most touristy spot in town?!?!
From Amazon: A chance run-in with a college boyfriend puts a young woman’s picture-perfect life in perspective in this warm-hearted and lyrical novel—from the author of The Lake Season.
Since finishing graduate school, Maggie Griffin has worked hard to build an enviable life in Boston. She’s an elementary school teacher in a tony Boston suburb, a devoted sister, and a loving aunt. With her childhood best friend’s wedding quickly approaching and her own relationship blossoming, this is the summer she has been waiting for.
But when Maggie’s career is suddenly in jeopardy, her life begins to unravel. Stricken, Maggie returns home to seaside Mystic, Connecticut, where she expects to find comfort in family and familiarity. Instead, she runs into Cameron Wilder, a young man from her past who has also returned home, and whose life has taken a turn that puts Maggie’s city struggles in harsh perspective. When tragedy strikes for Cameron, Maggie is faced with big decisions as she weighs what matters most and strives to stay true to the person she’s become.
Set against the gorgeous backdrop of a New England summer when past and present collide, Mystic Summer is a gorgeous novel about looking back, moving forward, and the beauty that blooms when fate intervenes.
★★★★☆ (4/5) – The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel is a great story for pre-teens and up! Fast-paced and interesting throughout. I thought Maren’s character was very interesting. However, the ending was a little weak. The author seems to be leaving room for a sequel.
From Amazon: The Boundless, the greatest train ever built, is on its maiden voyage across the country, and first-class passenger Will Everett is about to embark on the adventure of his life!
When Will ends up in possession of the key to a train car containing priceless treasures, he becomes the target of sinister figures from his past.
In order to survive, Will must join a traveling circus, enlisting the aid of Mr. Dorian, the ringmaster and leader of the troupe, and Maren, a girl his age who is an expert escape artist. With villains fast on their heels, can Will and Maren reach Will’s father and save The Boundless before someone winds up dead?
★★★★☆ (4/5) – I’ve Always Kept a Unicorn: The Biography of Sandy Denny by Mick Houghton is an excellent, comprehensive biography of a musical legend. Sandy Denny’s life was full of beautiful music, substance abuse, and tragedy. This biographer does a good job of putting together her life’s story through interviews with relatives, friends, and acquaintances. This also includes some fun photos of Sandy that I’ve never seen before. The track list section at the back of the book is extensive and includes music she enjoyed, as well as all of her known recordings.
From Amazon: I’ve Always Kept a Unicorn tells the story of Sandy Denny, one of the greatest British singers of her time and the first female singer-songwriter to produce a substantial and enduring body of original songs. Sandy Denny laid down the marker for folk-rock when she joined Fairport Convention in 1968, but her music went far beyond this during the seventies. After leaving Fairport she formed Fotheringay, whose influential eponymous album was released in 1970, before collaborating on a historic one-off recording with Led Zeppelin – the only other vocalist to record with Zeppelin in their entire career – and releasing four solo albums across the course of the decade. Her tragic and untimely death came in 1978.
Sandy emerged from the folk scene of the sixties — a world of larger-than-life characters such as Alex Campbell, Jackson C. Frank, Anne Briggs and Australian singer Trevor Lucas, whom she married in 1973. Their story is at the core of Sandy’s later life and work, and is told with the assistance of more than sixty of her friends, fellow musicians and contemporaries, one of whom, to paraphrase McCartney on Lennon, observed that she sang like an angel but was no angel.