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Mele thought Bobby would be excited she told him she was pregnant. She definitely didn’t expect him to tell her that he was engaged to another woman.   Raising her daughter on her own, she sought out other parents in the San Francisco Moms Club and after a few failed attempts, finally found the perfect group of unconventional, wine-drinking, occasionally pot-smoking moms (and a dad).  Now she hopes to fulfill her dreams of becoming a writer by winning the SFMC cookbook competition, blending her best recipes with vignettes about the parents she encounters.  And hopefully, by the time she’s done, she’ll have decided whether or not to go to Bobby’s wedding.

Told through a series of vignettes interspersed with Mele’s cookbook application and excerpts from SFMC message boards, this novel will likely appeal most to parents disenchanted with the stereotypical “perfect mom” culture.  The plot didn’t grip me or drive me to keep turning pages, but it was an entertaining read that I took at a slow pace (a chapter every couple of days).  The snarky narration kept me coming back to read a bit more.  Recommended to adults who like realistic fiction, especially parents who enjoy poking fun at mom groups.   

SILENCE IS GOLDFISH by Annabel Pitcher

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It has never occurred to Tess that her dad might not be her biological father.  But the blog entry she discovers on his computer makes it painfully clear; not only is she the child of some unknown sperm donor, but Jack–the man she had thought of as her dad–was repulsed by her at her birth.  He probably still is now.  That would explain why he’s always criticizing her weight and judging her for her unpopularity.  In fact, it now seems obvious that he’s a serial liar.  Home no longer feels like home, but Tess’ attempts to run away are pathetic failures.  Instead, she retreats inside herself and stops talking.  Her only “communication” is her imaginary conversations with her plastic goldfish flashlight as she attempts to figure out who her real father might be and where she fits in at home and at school.

This engaging realistic fiction novel explores complicated family relationships as well as themes of identity, bullying, and fidelity.  Tess begins as a seeming pawn, unable to take action for herself, batted around by people in her life, but through her period of silent protest, she becomes a confident protagonist who transforms her life and her relationships for the better.  I highly recommend this new novel to readers who enjoy realistic fiction.  

If you liked Silence is Goldfish, you may also like We Are All Made Of Molecules by Susin Nielsen and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.


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Lucas has always been an outsider to San Juan: the rich white developer’s kid who only visits in the summers.  But all his life he has soaked up the culture, especially the stories the old women tell about the scientist’s house and the supposed witch-girl who lives there.  As Lucas gets older, the stories begin to seem less real.  Until the summer that the island girls begin to disappear and everything leads Lucas back to the old house and the mysterious girl shrouded in the trees.

A poetic literary thriller nestled somewhere between realistic and science fiction, this novel gripped me from the start.  I actually read it in one sitting, a rare occurrence for me.  Mabry immerses readers in a vivid setting of blended reality and folklore as Lucas struggles to define himself, caught between two worlds and a disappointing relationship with his father.  One of the best written books I’ve read this year and a stunning debut novel.  I highly recommend it!

TOMBOY by Liz Prince

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Liz is a tomboy. Not the kind of tomboy that you see on TV with braided pigtails and overalls, but the kind of girl  who gets mistaken for a boy due to the way she dresses and acts and the activities that she enjoys. In fact, Liz wishes she were a boy because then she wouldn’t have to deal with all of the double standards applied to her because she is a girl.  She is secretly pleased when people mistake her for a boy. Unfortunately, being a tomboy  seems to have doomed her romantic life.   By recounting the story of her childhood, Liz Prince explorers the idea of what it means to be a girl in a world of conflicting gender expectations.

 Although brief sections of this graphic memoir read a little bit like a sociology text, the sense of humor of the author and her relatable story about growing up, trying to fit in, facing bullying, and discovering her identity is an engaging read.   I recommend it to teens who enjoy graphic novels, memoirs, or realistic fiction.


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Many people in town believed Ms. B was a witch, perhaps because of her Cajun past, her Catholicism, or her many herbal remedies for women’s illnesses.  But Dora always looked up to the midwife.  She began helping Ms. B deliver babies when she was still a child herself.  She delivered healthy babies to their mothers’ arms, rocked dying babies in their few moments of life, and observed Ms. B’s methods for helping desperate women prevent or end pregnancies.  When a doctor arrives in town and opens a women’s hospital on the other side of the mountain, Dora’s philosophy of birth is suddenly threatened. The technological advances of the hospital come at the price of women’s freedom and individualized care.  As Dora finds herself at the forefront of the fight against Dr. Thomas, she risks becoming the new town outcast. 

Set against the historical backdrop of the Suffrage and Temperance movements, the story of a town midwife’s struggle against the medical profession shows how seemingly beneficial progress can be twisted into a form of oppression.  This book will likely resonate most with readers who enjoy slow-moving historical fiction, especially those readers who have given birth or have an interest in birth practices.

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins

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Rachel’s life fell apart before the divorce, really.  It was the drinking.  If she hadn’t been such a drunk would Tom have taken up with Anna?  Maybe he wouldn’t have kicked Rachel out and taken his new wife and child into the house that used to be hers, the house she still passes every day on the train to London.  To distract herself from looking at the home that used to be hers, Rachel focuses on a couple a few houses down who seem to be perfectly in love.  She makes up stories about their perfect life together.  But one day, she sees something that makes her wonder if their lives are so perfect after all.  And the next morning, Rachel wakes bruised and bloody with no memory of the previous night except a vague certainty that she went to her old neighborhood.  Even worse, she discovers that the woman she has been watching disappeared that same night.  Despite warnings from the police, Rachel cannot help but begin her own investigation, trying to recover the memories of what she saw–or did.

This excellent thriller will soon be a film.  Through the perspectives of the three main female characters, the mystery slowly unfolds with enough foreshadowing to allow readers to gradually solve it themselves and enough complications to make them second guess every one of their inferences.  Even once my suspicions of what had happened to Megan were proven correct in the final chapters, I still wasn’t sure how it would end.  Well-crafted, full of deeply flawed and suspicious characters, and impossible to put down, this is a must-read for thriller lovers.

ICE CHEST by J.D. Rhoades

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Lingerie shows aren’t generally of interest to career thieves like Rafe and L.B.  But then lingerie shows rarely feature jewel encrusted bras worth $5 million.  Better yet, Rafe’s nephew Branson works at the hotel where the show will take place and the kid needs money badly enough that he’ll be glad to join the team.  Unfortunately, the plan isn’t quite as foolproof as they thought and Branson finds himself being chased down by a team of security guards and the mobster ex-boyfriend of a lingerie model while Rafe and L.B. try to turn their mishaps into millions.  

Don’t expect anything too deep from this plot – driven thriller.  A cast of fairly flat characters tumble together in a fast-paced, humorous adventure story that is an entertaining, light read.