Category Archives: Fiction

Teen Tuesday Review: The Search for Us by Susan Azim Boyer

Title: The Search for Us by Susan Azim Boyer
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Fiction
Length: 297 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher


Two half-siblings who have never met embark on a search together for the Iranian immigrant and U.S. Army veteran father they never knew.

Samira Murphy will do anything to keep her fractured family from falling apart, including caring for her widowed grandmother and getting her older brother into recovery for alcohol addiction. With attendance at her dream college on the line, she takes a long shot DNA test to find the support she so desperately needs from a father she hasn’t seen since she was a baby.

Henry Owen is torn between his well-meaning but unreliable bio-mom and his overly strict aunt and uncle, who stepped in to raise him but don’t seem to see him for who he is. Looking to forge a stronger connection to his own identity, he takes a DNA test to find the one person who might love him for exactly who he is—the biological father he never knew.

Instead of a DNA match with their father, Samira and Henry are matched with each other. They begin to search for their father together and slowly unravel the difficult truth of their shared past, forming a connection that only siblings can have and recovering precious parts of their past that have been lost. Brimming with emotional resonance, Susan Azim Boyer’s The Search for Us beautifully renders what it means to find your place in the world through the deep and abiding power of family.


The Search for Us by Susan Azim Boyer is a thoughtfully written young adult novel.

Half-siblings Samira Murphy and Henry Owen find each other through DNA testing and theis lives could not be more different. Samira’s family barely scraps by and she shoulders burdens she should not be expected to bear. Henry family dynamics are complicated and he is growing increasingly unhappy with parental expectations. After learning of each other’s existence, Samira and Henry decide to find the father whose absence is felt in very different ways.

The Search for Us is a very compelling young adult novel with a refreshingly unique plot. Each of the characters are vibrantly drawn and quite endearing. The storyline is well-written and tackles heartrending, socially relevant issues. The various settings and characters spring vividly to life. The chapters alternate between Samira’s and Henry’s perspectives and this provides thought-provoking insight into their respective lives.  Susan Azim Boyer deftly handles sensitive subject matter and brings this engaging young adult novel to a heartwarming conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Fiction, Rated B+, Review, Susan Azim Boyer, The Search for Us, Wednesday Books, Young Adult

Review: The All-American by Susie Finkbeiner

Title: The All-American by Susie Finkbeiner
Publisher: Revell
Genre: Historical (’50s), Coming of Age, Fiction
Length: 351 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher


Two sisters discover how much good there is in the world–even in the hardest of circumstances

It is 1952, and nearly all the girls 16-year-old Bertha Harding knows dream of getting married, keeping house, and raising children in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. Bertha dreams of baseball. She reads every story in the sports section, she plays ball with the neighborhood boys–she even writes letters to the pitcher for the Workington Sweet Peas, part of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

When Bertha’s father is accused of being part of the Communist Party by the House Un-American Activities Committee, life comes crashing down on them. Disgraced and shunned, the Hardings move to a small town to start over where the only one who knows them is shy Uncle Matthew. But dreams are hard to kill, and when Bertha gets a chance to try out for the Workington Sweet Peas, she packs her bags for an adventure she’ll never forget.

Join award-winning author Susie Finkbeiner for a summer of chasing down your dreams and discovering the place you truly belong.


Set in 1952, The All-American by Susie Finkbeiner is a charming coming of age novel.

Oldest sister Bertha plays baseball with the local boys and dreams of joining the local women’s team. Flossie is happiest with her nose buried in a book and can be a tad melodramatic on occasion. Their mom is a typical housewife for the time period while their father is a best-selling author. Their lives drastically change after their father is accused of being a member of the Communist party.

The All-American is a heartwarming novel that is humorous despite its sometimes-serious undertones. The chapters alternate from between sisters Flossie and Bertha’s points of view. They are very different from each other and their individuality shines through in their unique voices. The storyline is captivating and quite interesting.  Susie Finkbeiner weaves both the women’s baseball and House of Unamerican Activities into a beautifully written novel that is very compelling. I absolutely loved and highly recommend this heartfelt and engaging story.

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Filed under 1950s, Coming of Age, Fiction, Rated B+, Review, Susie Finkbeiner, The All-American

Review: The Year of Jubilee by Cindy Morgan

Title: The Year of Jubilee by Cindy Morgan
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Genre: Historical (60s), Fiction
Length: 363 pages
Book Rating: A

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through LibraryThing


The Year of Jubilee is a lyrical coming-of-age novel set against the backdrop of the turbulent South in the early 1960s.

The Mockingbird family has always lived peacefully in Jubilee, Kentucky, despite the divisions that mark their small town. Until the tense summer of 1963, when their youngest child, Isaac, falls gravely ill. Middle sister Grace, nearly fourteen, is determined to do whatever it takes to save her little brother. With her father and mother away at the hospital, Grace is left under the loving but inexperienced eye of her aunt June, with little to do but wait and worry. Inspired by a young teacher’s mission for change, she begins to flirt with danger—and with a gifted boy named Golden, who just might be the key to saving Isaac’s life. Then the unthinkable happens, and the world as she knows it shifts in ways she never could have imagined. Grace must decide what she believes amid the swirling, conflicting voices even of those she loves the most.

From gifted songwriter Cindy Morgan comes this lyrical, tender tale of a girl standing at the threshold of adulthood, learning the depths of the human heart and the bonds of family that bend, break, and bind together over and over again.


The Year of Jubilee by Cindy Morgan is a thought-provoking novel with an undertone of sadness.

Written from thirteen-year-old Grace Mockingbird’s perspective, this moving story of life in small Kentucky town is incredibly engrossing. Grace is devastated by her younger brother and best friend Isaac’s illness. Her older sister Sissie is causing the family problems with her unexpected rebellion. While their parents are at the hospital with Isaac, their Aunt June stays with them and provides minimal yet loving supervision.

In the midst of their family’s turmoil, the civil rights movement comes to the forefront as the local Ku Klux Klan becomes more active. One of Grace’s teachers is instrumental in introducing Grace to her neighbors who just happen to Black. For the first time in her life, Grace finally finds unconditional friendship but will there be a price for and her family to pay?

With a subtle undercurrent of faith, The Year of Jubilee is a poignant novel that is beautifully written with relatable characters. Grace easily captures the reader’s heart. All of the characters are extremely well-drawn and vibrantly life-like. The small-town setting springs vividly to life as do its residents. The storyline is engaging and provides an intimate peek into the Mockingbird’s household and the tragedies they have experienced. Cindy Morgan brings this heartfelt novel to an uplifting, realistic conclusion.

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Filed under Cindy Morgan, Fiction, Historical (60s), Rated A, Review, The Year of Jubilee, Tyndale House Publishers

Review: Not Exactly What I Had in Mind by Kate Brook

Title: Not Exactly What I Had in Mind by Kate Brook
Publisher: Dutton
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
Length: 350 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


An irresistible, funny, sharply observed debut novel in which two roommates, and two sisters, will learn that sometimes family–and love—find you in the most unexpected places

Hazel and Alfie have just moved in together as roommates. They’ve also just slept together, which was either a catastrophic mistake or the best decision of their lives–they aren’t quite sure yet. Whatever happens, they need to find a way to keep living together without too much drama or awkwardness, since neither of them can afford to move out of the apartment.

Then Hazel’s sister, Emily, and her wife, Daria, come for a visit, and Hazel’s and Alfie’s feelings about each other are pushed to the side in the whirlwind of their arrival. Recently returned from abroad, Emily and Daria are excited for a new life in a new town, and ready to start a family of their own.

As the lives of Hazel, Alfie, Emily, and Daria collide, a complicated chain of events begins to bind them all together, bringing joy and heartache, hope and anxiety, and reshaping their relationships in ways that no one quite predicted. Warm, clever, and devastatingly relatable, Not Exactly What I Had in Mind is by turns funny, heartbreaking, and a painfully true-to-life story about family, friends, and everything in between.


Not Exactly What I Had in Mind by Kate Brook is an engaging debut novel.

Flatmates Hazel Phillips and Alfie Berghan realize very quickly that sleeping together is probably not the smartest decision they have made. They agree it is a mistake not to be repeated and things are soon very awkward between them. Luckily, Hazel’s sister Emily and her wife Daria’s visit proves to be a much-needed distraction. Emily and Daria adore Alfie and a close-knit friendship is born.

A lack of communication prevents Hazel and Alfie from doing anything about their shared attraction. There are several near misses in which fear holds them back from confessing their feelings for one another. Instead, Hazel embarks on an ill-advised relationship with a man who is not exactly anyone’s favorite. She overlooks her boyfriend’s less than desirable attributes rather than find the courage to talk to Alfie.

Emily and Daria are relocating back to England after a few years away. They are at the point in their marriage where they are ready for children. Emily is excited for the pregnancy experience but does Daria share her enthusiasm? And then there is the question of who will help them achieve their goal. A solution presents itself, but are those involved making the right decision?

Not Exactly What I Had in Mind is a delightfully charming novel. The characters are appealing with relatable flaws. Despite utilizing the miscommunication trope, the storyline is very interesting and moves at a fast pace. The various relationships are intriguing and while some plot points are predictable, this does not lessen enjoyment in the unfolding story. Kate Brook closes her debut novel with a mostly satisfying epilogue but readers will be frustrated that not all the storylines are completely resolved.

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Filed under Contemporary, Dutton, Fiction, Kate Brook, Not Exactly What I Had in Mind, Rated B+, Review

Review: A Kind of Hush by JoDee Neathery

Title: A Kind of Hush by JoDee Neathery
Publisher: Imagery Lit
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
Length: 340 pages
Book Rating: C+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by the Author


A Kind of Hush examines how life is seldom a tidy affair, exploring whether there is a gray area between right and wrong. Matt and Summer Mackie with children Willa and Gabe are enjoying a June outing at nearby Zoar Valley Gorge, an area showcasing waterfalls, forests, shale cliffs, and a whitewater creek running through the ravine, when tragedy strikes. One parent survives along with their teenage daughter and seven-year-old son found hiding in the nearby woods. Was this a tragic accident or something more heinous, and if so, whodunnit and whydunit?

Set in Buffalo, New York, and in the Big Bend area of Texas, the heart of the novel centers on how survivors deal with the circumstances and subsequent revelations surrounding the incident. But as each one begins to piece together the events of that day, a mantle of ambiguity—a kind of hush—hangs between them like a live grenade without its pin.


A Kind of Hush by JoDee Neathery is a family-centric novel about grief and healing.

The Mackie family has already experienced one tragedy when a hiking trip results in the death of a parent. The remaining family members try to navigate their way through mourning their loss while trying to understand the cause of the accident. While oldest daughter Willa is defiant and angry, her brother Gabe finds healthy ways to cope with his pain. Their grandparents and aunt assist them during this terrible time and the death of their loved one is a reminder of how fragile life can be.

The local sheriff’s office believes they know who might be responsible but their suspect proves to be quite slippery. This person leads them on quite the chase as he manages to elude them at every turn.  He also manages to convince people along the way that he is quite harmless but some of them can see past his helpful, innocent façade.

A Kind of Hush is a unique family drama with interesting characters. The storyline is intriguing but the pacing is occasionally slow because of overly detailed passages. The overall tone is lighter than expected and some aspects of the story are more realistic than others. JoDee Neathery brings the various settings and characters vibrantly to life and readers will be satisfied with the novel’s conclusion.

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Filed under A Kind of Hush, Contemporary, Fiction, Imagery Lit, JoDee Neathery, Rated C+, Review

Review: Sister Stardust by Jane Green

Title: Sister Stardust by Jane Green
Publisher: Hanover Square Press
Genre: Historical (’60s), Fiction
Length: 311 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


In her first novel inspired by a true story, Jane Green re-imagines the life of troubled icon Talitha Getty in this transporting story from a forgotten chapter of the Swinging ’60s

From afar Talitha’s life seemed perfect. In her twenties, and already a famous model and actress, she moved from London to a palace in Marrakesh, with her husband Paul Getty, the famous oil heir. There she presided over a swirling ex-pat scene filled with music, art, free love and a counterculture taking root across the world.

When Claire arrives in London from her small town, she never expects to cross paths with a woman as magnetic as Talitha Getty. Yearning for the adventure and independence, she’s swept off to Marrakesh, where the two become kindred spirits. But beneath Talitha’s glamourous facade lurks a darkness few can understand. As their friendship blossoms and the two grow closer, the realities of Talitha’s precarious existence set off a chain of dangerous events that could alter Claire’s life forever.


Sister Stardust by Jane Green is a fictionalized novel that sweeps readers into the glamorous but tragic world of Talitha and J. Paul Getty Jr.

It is the late 60’s and Claire Collins dreams of leaving her small town behind for a glitzy life in London. Lucking into jobs in popular clothing stores, she meets a man whose involvement in the up-and-coming music scene leads to an unexpected meeting with Talitha Getty. Claire impetuously journeys to Morocco with a band that knows Talitha and she is soon living a wild and free life at the Getty’s home in Marrakesh. Claire’s drug-filled and free-love time with Talitha ends with tragedy but will their friendship endure?

Claire and her brother Robbie’s life after their mother’s untimely death is even more miserable after her father remarries. Neither want or need a stepmother and their homelife with their father’s cold new wife becomes untenable once they are of age. After a vicious row, Claire leaves for London where she is finally able to break free of her formerly staid life. She is definitely not expecting what awaits her in Marrakesh but she and Talitha become close friends.

Talitha and Paul split their time between Morocco and Rome. She is social butterfly who loves the parties while Paul would rather spend time alone. Morocco is her chance to indulge in her love of the limelight and she seizes every opportunity to entertain their friends. Talitha enjoys having Claire with her Marrakesh but are either of them prepared for what awaits them?

Sister Stardust is a captivating novel that vibrantly depicts the music scene and wild party vibe of the 1960s. Claire is an eager participant in her time in Marrakesh but is she fready for the crazy life that Talitha enjoys?  Talitha and Paul’s story arc is an accurate portrait of their marriage and decadent lifestyle in Marrakesh. The storyline easily captures the reader’s attention and tightly holds it until Jane Green brings the novel to a poignant conclusion.

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Filed under Fiction, Hanover Square Press, Historical, Historical (60s), Jane Green, Rated B+, Review, Sister Stardust