imageINCONCEIVABLE!  by Tegan Wren is a story about how love can bring two worlds together. Hatty, an American going to school in Europe, meets Prince John, the handsome and witty heir to the throne. As they begin to spend more time together, they quickly fall for one another (what a dream right?). Coming from different worlds, the pair has many hurdles to jump in order to be together that we see throughout the book. Overall, I enjoyed this book, but there were some areas that I was disappointed by as well.

There are difficulties in every relationship and I felt that some of the issues in this story were resolved too easily and quickly. On the other hand, one issue that wasn’t easily resolved was the couple’s inability to get pregnant. A serious and heartbreaking issue, Wren did a good job of getting inside the head of a woman in this situation. The feelings of frustration and failure that Hatty feels throughout the story are powerful and I was pulled in by her story.

Even though this book didn’t flow as well as I would have liked, it’s Wren’s debut novel and I did enjoy the plot and the focus on a royal family during modern times. I love keeping up with British royalty, including Kate and William and their darling children, and INCONCEIVABLE! is a fun story with similar themes.

A sweet book, INCONCEIVABLE! is a quick read about the ups and downs that come with any relationship.

*I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*


Fates and Furies: A Novel by Lauren Groff

Fates and Furies

To be honest, I was expecting more from Fates and Furies: A Novel by Lauren Groff. Maybe I picked up the book with expectations that were too high, but the choppy writing and negative tone disappointed me. That isn’t to say that I didn’t like the book entirely, the story has many intriguing aspects including a look into the relationship of marriage.

Fates and Furies: A Novel is split into two halves, the first told from the view of Lancelot, known as Lotto, and the second from Mathilde. Meeting when they were each 22 years old, the pair marries two weeks later to the shock of their peers and families. While Lotto is a lover and has a charisma that people are drawn to, Mathilde is a loner who had a terribly sad childhood. Despite their differences, or possibly because of them, the couple fits together well and ends up outlasting other’s expectations of a divorce.

I was both frustrated and absorbed by the couple’s relationship. Lotto is arrogant and unaware while Mathilde is conniving and manipulative. It was clear from her section of the book that she plays on her husband’s weaknesses. Theirs is an interesting relationship because they love each other deeply, but each doesn’t feel that they deserve the love of the other.

I was intrigued by the sense of rawness throughout the story, of uncensored humanity, including the good, bad and the ugly. It was also interesting to experience scenes from the different perspectives of the husband and wife. The idea that people view and remember the same experiences so differently is one of the reasons why I chose to read this book in the first place.

Unfortunately, I had a hard time getting into the story and even when I finished, I didn’t feel like I was ever completely engaged. The story is choppy, skipping around from different perspectives and time periods, and while some characters interested me, others were dull and had me rushing through the pages.

Fates and Furies: A Novel is focused on one of the most fundamental relationships of all, marriage, and I felt sad after finishing it. I’m glad to have read it, but I don’t plan on picking up another one of Groff’s books anytime soon.

The Knockoff: A Novel by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

The Knockoff: A NovelA light story, The Knockoff: A Novel by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza, is a quick read. I listened to this one as an audiobook while commuting to and from work. While it was cheesy at times, it was an entertaining alternative to the same five pop songs playing from the radio on repeat.

The Knockoff: A Novel centers around Imogen, the editor in chief of a fashion magazine based in New York City. When Imogen returns to her job after a six month medical leave she finds that her magazine has been transformed into a website. As Imogen tries to keep up with the advancing technology and an office overrun with millennial employees, she finds herself to be irrelevant.

I have some opposing opinions on this book. One the one hand, parts of the story were funny and I related to the feeling of falling behind in a tech driven world. On the other hand, many aspects of the book are very unrealistic. Would Imogen’s magazine really convert to an entirely web based venture in only 6 months with an almost entirely new staff? Probably not. And then there is Eve; Imogen’s former assistant who has returned to the company after graduating with an MBA from Harvard Business School and who now runs the business. Eve is the character that you love to hate. A raging sociopath, the character is completely out of touch with reality. I think Eve’s unprofessionalism and bullying tactics are very unrealistic as well.

While I found Imogen to be endearing, at times I was completely fed up with her lack of self-preservation and that no matter how much she was pushed and bullied by Eve, she wouldn’t stand up for herself. While reading, I was raging in my head about all of the things that she should be saying instead!

The Knockoff: A Novel isn’t my favorite story, but it gives an interesting and funny view of society as we depend more and more on technology.

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

The Wrath and the DawnI didn’t realize that The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh is the first book of a series so I was very confused when I was winding down to the final pages and the story wasn’t wrapping up. Upon finishing the book, and reading a very frustrating finish, I freaked out, shouting to my roommate about the irritating ending. What a cliffhanger of an ending it was and now I can’t wait to read the next one. Ahdieh totally hooked me and the sequel doesn’t come out until May of 2016! Let the waiting begin…

I wasn’t sure about The Wrath and the Dawn at first. Do you ever read a book and get so sucked into the smoothly constructed writing that you forget you’re reading? This story wasn’t one of those for me. BUT, and that’s a big but, I really enjoyed the book anyway and was completely enthralled by the ongoing relationship between Shahrzad and the boy king Khalid. A conflicting relationship of hate and passion, honesty and secrets, it’s definitely intriguing.

This story begins with the marriage between Shahrzad and Khalid. A mysterious young man, the king has been marrying a new bride each day and has had them each executed at dawn of the following morning. After a dear friend marries, and dies, at the command of the king, Shahrzad volunteers to marry him. Defying all odds she lives through the first dawn and vows to get revenge for her lost friend. The closer she gets to Khalid, the more conflicted her mission becomes…

Ahdieh’s debut novel is a good one, and with themes from Arabian Nights and Aladdin, there are elements of fantasy as well.

Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

Black-Eyed Susans by Julia HeaberlinJust in time for Halloween this weekend, I finished Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin. An eerie murder mystery, this is a great one to pick up on a dark fall evening. While Black-Eyed Susans is a haunting story, it doesn’t have the chilling tone of a Stephen King novel that can leave a reader feeling jumpy and full of nightmares.

The scenes switch between Tessa, a mother in her mid-thirties, and Tessie, her teenage self twenty years earlier. When Tessie was sixteen she was found nearly dead, along with a pile of bones, in a patch of black-eyed susan flowers. As the lone survivor of the serial killer, police turned to Tessie for the murderer’s identity… the only problem is that she can’t remember what happened.

Throughout Black-Eyed Susans it is clear that Tessa has not been able to move on from the horror of that night. When a patch of black-eyed susans are planted under her window, Tessa fears that she and her daughter Charlie may have to face her monster once again nearly two decades later.

I enjoyed this mystery novel and it kept me pretty hooked. There were a few questions that I felt were left unanswered, but maybe that was Heaberlin’s intention all along, no matter how frustrating!

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station ElevenI’m having a hard time deciding how to put my opinions of Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel into words. I definitely liked the book; I’m just not sure how much.

On one hand, it’s a very interesting story, which centers on a massive case of the flu that has wiped out a majority of the world population and has left those remaining living in shambles.

Station Eleven jumps between decades, from before and after the collapse, and focuses on many characters whose lives are interconnected. We have Arthur Leander, a famous actor who dies on stage while performing a play on the evening when the sickness hits Toronto. Then there’s Kristen, one of the child actors performing with Arthur in the play, who survived the sickness and goes on to join the Traveling Symphony. We also have Jeevan, a training paramedic who realizes the epidemic is coming in time to store enough food to save himself.

My critique of this book is that I wasn’t able to connect with the characters as much as I would have liked. My favorite books are those in which I feel for the characters, but I don’t think that Mandel went far enough with her character development. They intrigued me, but not enough to make this book a favorite for me.

Overall, I liked this book and thought it was a unique choice that’s different from stories that I normally read.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale by Kristin HannahThis one is absolutely incredible! The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is a story that must be shared and read over and over again. Hannah shares with us the story of two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, young women living in France during WWII. Hannah has done a fantastic job here, the book has great character construction and many different dynamics running throughout.

The elder sister, Vianne, has always been the weak one. When her husband is drafted for the war she has no choice but to stay strong for her daughter. Through Vianne’s story we get a glimpse into the life of a mother trying to survive through German occupation, while starving, freezing, and hosting German officers in her home.

Isabelle, the younger sister, is wild and has few thoughts for the consequences that her actions will cause. All her life she has felt unloved, a motherless girl being pushed away from a father and sister who cannot cope with the loss, kicked out of every boarding school she’s attended. When she joins the resistance against Germany she finds herself right in the center of it all.

The Nightingale is a beautifully written story and so terribly sad. These women are so brave, and although they are fictional, they represent very real people. I loved this book and highly recommend it to everyone, not only historical fiction lovers.

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

The Book of Unknown AmericansThe Book of Unknown American, written by Cristina Henriquez, focuses on the lives of immigrants from South and Central America living in the United States. I was drawn into this story because of the multiple perspectives that Henriquez writes from. Readers look through the eyes of children and adults, citizens and undocumented residents and learn of each of these character’s frustrations.

While the book contains narratives from many characters, the main story follows Maribel, a girl who has suffered a traumatic brain injury; which causes her family to move to the US in an attempt for a better life and a school with supportive programs. She meets a boy living in the same apartment complex and when she seems to be improving after spending time with him, they find an unexpected connection between them.

To be honest, the ending of this book disappointed me. While I felt that the story was interesting, I felt like the final scenes strayed from that main topic and became unfocused. I wish Henriquez had gone further with her characters because I would have liked to learn more about them.

On the whole, I enjoyed this book for the perspectives of multiple immigrants living in the U.S. and for the insights into the hardships experienced while looking for a better life.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night CircusThe Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is an enchanting story centered on a young girl and boy, Celia and Marco, who are unknowingly bound together. Their mentors have each entered these “special” children into a magical challenge that plays out over the course of their lives. The arena for this challenge is none other than a night circus, a traveling group that shows up unannounced across the globe.

The circus becomes completely intertwined with the challenge, filled with tents full of magic and fantastical illusions. Morgenstern did a good job of illustrating the challenge with stunning descriptions that help the reader imagine the unknown.

Along with these magical enchantments, I was drawn into this story because of the wacky characters with their bizarre, and sometimes stunning, acts. For me, this wasn’t a page gripping book, but it was very well written and I was intrigued all the same.

Another twist to the story comes when these challengers start developing feelings for each other…Will they fight to the finish or will love triumph all? You’ll just have to pick up The Night Circus to find out!

I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy NelsonA few pages into I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson, I was feeling a bit skeptical about the story. While my attention was instantly caught by all of the imagery and colorful descriptions, I wasn’t sure how an entire book like that would go. I had no reason to worry though because this story was pretty fantastic.

Through I’ll Give You The Sun, a YA novel focused on twin siblings, we witness the very complex relationship between Jude and Noah. While the pair is obviously deeply connected, the siblings simultaneously harbor aggressively competitive feelings that cause them to do awful things to one another. The book switches between loving interactions and vicious fights, an interesting aspect that kept me completely enthralled.

The heartfelt characters and their wild imaginations were what really pulled me into the story. Their stories made me feel for them, for their pain, their passion, their lies and their loves.

Are YA novels only for teens? Definitely not when it comes to I’ll Give You The Sun.