Realistic

Fat Girl on a Plane

Author: 
Devos, Kelly
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Cookie Vonn is fat. And while she doesn’t want her weight to rule her life, she’s interested in fashion design. And in fashion, size is everything. Her dreams of getting out of Scottsdale, attending Parsons, an elite fashion design school, and becoming a fashion designer for women of all sizes might not work out if she can’t lose the weight.

Fast forward two years. Thanks to insane self-control, and the power of NutriMin (a stand in for Weight Watchers) Cookie has lost the weight. And the opportunities do start to roll in. She’s offered the chance to meet her idol and cover his fashion show for NutriMin. Better yet, after a breakfast meeting with him, she gets an offer to design a special plus size line that will be released as a preview for his upcoming Winter/Spring Collection. But even as Cookie’s life seems to be exactly what she wanted, she finds being skinny isn’t a panacea, and that somewhere along the way, she might have lost not only the weight, but herself.

This is a great new adult coming of age novel that I ate right up. It’s not my normal fare – I typically don’t read YA romances unless the protagonist is a person of color. While Cookie is white, she is fat, and that is definitely an underrepresented group of people in most modern literature, so I decided to take a chance on this one, and I’m really glad I did. I think some overweight readers will balk at the idea of this being a Cinderella story, but that’s not what this is – a lot of the book really centers on Cookie realizing that while her weight might be part of her identity, its not what makes her Cookie, and that realization is what makes this a strong coming of age tale.

The book switches back and forth between past and present Cookie (fat and skinny), a literary device that worked well here. We know Cookie gets skinny, but we learn why and how in the “fat” chapters, and we get to learn how she reaps the fruits of her labor in the “skinny” chapters. I wanted to know what happened to both versions of Cookies, and I found myself staying up way too late one night reading this. Cookie herself is a smart, resourceful young woman, and while she makes some seriously stupid decisions, they all seem in character and are the sort of decisions an inexperienced young woman might make – especially when the adults around her were sometimes giving her awful advice. I hated both of her relationships, but they seemed pretty realistic, and hopefully young women can learn from Cookie’s mistakes. I wish she had cut both guys out of her life as they were both toxic (one of them gets off way too easily), but that is my really my only major complaint.

I really liked this one, and I think new adults and older teens who enjoy contemporary reads will as well. If you like Meg Cabot, Sophie Kinsella or Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’, this book is definitely for you. 4 stars.

Thanks to Netgalley and Harlequin Teen for the eARC, which I received in exchange for an honest review. Fat Girl on a Plane is available for purchase now, and you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: 
Britt

Book Review: How to Disappear

How to Disappear
Author: 
Roat, Sharon Huss
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

THIS IS A MUST READ! How to Disappear really made me think about how I treat others and how they see me. If you’re feeling alone, or a bit of an outcast, this book is for you. It helped me to realize that I need to be more open to other people and not judge them so quickly. At first, I found slight difficulty in connecting with the main character, Vicky, but towards the middle of the book I began to understand her. I recommend this book to ages 12+ because it contains mature themes like suicide prevention, going to therapy, cussing, etc. I firmly believe that if you go deep into How to Disappear, you’ll come back with a new perspective on how much one person can help others. Live vicariously.

Reviewer's Name: 
Kaitlyn S
Awards: 

Book Review: Hoot

Hoot
Author: 
Hiaasen, Carl
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Mother Paula's, a beloved international pancake franchise, is looking to build its 469th restaurant in Coconut Cove, Florida. However, the site on which this restaurant is to be built is home to several families of burrowing owls, an endangered species. However, the owls are hardly ever visible so no one knows about them. That is except for Roy Eberhart and a mysterious boy known only as Mullet Fingers. It's up to these two middle schoolers to save the owls. However, they struggle with school bullies, fences, guard dogs, cops, and Mullet Fingers' parents who think that he is in military school in Alabama. This book really is a hoot and I recommend it for all middle school and early high school readers.

Reviewer's Name: 
John B.

Book Review: Chomp

Chomp
Author: 
Hiaasen, Carl
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Mickey Cray is a professional animal wrangler in the Florida Everglades. He has rented out his animals to countless television shows and movies. However, he knows that he is in trouble when Derek Badger, a "survivalist" on a reality TV show, wants to rent some of his animals and to hire Mickey Cray to be his bodyguard for wild Florida animals in the Everglades. This book is packed with wild animal encounters, including gators, snakes, and bats. In addition, Chomp includes escaping from a crazed gunman and tons of humor. I highly recommend this book for all middle school and early high school readers.

Reviewer's Name: 
John B.

Book Review: Flush

Flush
Author: 
Hiaasen, Carl
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The Coral Queen, a very profitable casino boat, is dumping all of its sewage into the ocean. The only problem is that Dusty Muleman, the owner of the Coral Queen, is getting away with the illegal dumping since there is no evidence. Noah's Dad is concerned with the environment and always likes to do the right thing. However, he sometimes gets carried away. Therefore, Noah's Dad decides to sink the Coral Queen, but gets caught in the process and sent to jail. Now it is up to Noah to clear his dad's name and bust Dusty Muleman.
This book is hilarious and has a great moral. There are unexpected twists and turns throughout the entire book. I highly recommend this book to all middle and early high school aged readers.

Reviewer's Name: 
John B.

Book Review: Counting by 7s

Counting by 7s
Author: 
Sloan, Holly Goldberg
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Willow Chance is a twelve year old genius whose main interests are gardening and medical conditions. At the beginning of the book, Willow is driving home with her school counselor, Dell Duke, when she spots police officers waiting around in her driveway. Willow immediately knows something is wrong. She soon discovers from the officers that both of her parents, Jimmy and Roberta Chance, were killed in a deadly car accident which leaves Willow heartbroken and confused. Who would take her and how long would it take to find a permanent home? This book is very well written and really shows the impact of this tragedy on Willow's life as well as showing how she gradually started to move on and continue her everyday life including starting to refresh her old hobbies and make friends at her new school. I would recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with the loss of a loved one, for someone who is trying to discover who they are, or for someone that's afraid to show their REAL self. Really... everyone could relate this book to a part of their life.

Reviewer's Name: 
Elizabeth P

Book Review: All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See
Author: 
Doeer, Anthony
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

If All the Light We Cannot See were a movie, I would consider it “Oscar bait.” Set during the most romantic of World Wars: check. Main character with disability: check. Drama, tragedy, and suspense: check, check, and check. It’s then no wonder that All the Light We Cannot See ended up winning a Pulitzer. Sure, it’s filled with plenty of the “award” tropes that we tend to see repeated over and over again—but it works. What helps this book stand out from the rest of the books and movies that try too hard to earn awards is twofold: its characters and its plot.

Before I get too far into my praise for this book, I have to mention that the narrator for the audiobook version seemed to mispronounce a few words early on, which threw me for a loop and made me wonder if I’ve been mispronouncing them myself. Similarly, it was a little challenging to track the timeframes for some of the subplots, but the impact of the book was still the same. The author was able to paint a vivid set of lives set on opposite sides of a global conflict. From the blind French girl forced to survive on her own to the prodigious German boy with a penchant for radios and STEM, their internal and external conflicts were prime examples of gripping and engaging storytelling.

While there didn’t seem to be one primary driving plot in this book, the addition of the handful of subplots worked in concert to create a gem of a story (har har). These subplots were natural to the characters that embodied them, which helped to produce an amount of realism that held everything together. Everything just made sense, and even the semi-tragic ending was a satisfying end that left no subplot or loose end untied.

A beautiful piece of prose worthy of its Pulitzer, I give All the Light We Cannot See 5.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin

Book Review: Campaign Widows

Author: 
Agresti, Aimee
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Every four years, presidential candidates and their staffers travel the country searching for funding and votes. Campaign Widows follows five people who have been left behind by their partners as they work for electoral victory. But don't kid yourself - these "widows" have lives of their own. There is Cady, a newcomer to DC who is producing a show that is sagging in the ratings, Reagan, a speechwriter who is now doing freelance work as the recent mother to two twin girls, Birdie, a media mogul and DC taste-maker, Madison, whose husband Hank is in the running to be president, and Jay, whose partner Sky who got quickly upgraded from the "culture" section of the Queue (think Huffpost) to "politics" due to a staffing shortage. The book covers each of these dynamic characters as they live their own lives and effect the election in their own ways - with or without their partners' support.

This book is the perfect summer beach read, which is to say that its a light, fluffy read that would be great for any vacation (no beach necessary). The premise and setting were unique - I've not read a ton of women's fiction that is politically centered or even set in DC, and that really added to the title's value for me. All of the characters were well drawn and interesting in their own way. Often, when I read a book with multiple POVs, I find myself more invested in certain stories and then race through the chapters I don't much care for, but that was not the case here. Everyone was likable and engaging.

On the downside, I wanted more political satire than I got. While there definitely was some satire (Hank is a Trump stand-in, for example), and some dream scenarios (a three person dead heat race), I wanted more. Everyone's arcs were tied up a little too neatly for my taste, and it also made the book feel a bit less realistic.

Overall, I would recommend this read to anyone who enjoys the genre and likes happy and easy reads. It reminded me of Crazy Rich Asians in tone and style, so if you liked that book, give this one a try! I hope it gets made into a TV show or movie, because it'd be excellent in either of those formats if the drama and comedy were both amped up a bit. If you are looking for a light summer read, look no farther. 4 stars - its a stand-out in its genre!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Graydon House through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Campaign Widows became available for purchase on 22 May, and you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: 
Britt

Book Review: Counting by 7s

Counting by 7s
Author: 
Sloan, Holly Goldberg
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

"Counting By 7s" by Holly Goldberg Sloan is a story about a girl and her struggles of going to school for the first time. The main character has to face many difficulties, and find herself along the way. I loved this book when I read it; usually I donate books once I finish them, but this book was a keeper. For my reading level, I found this book really good; not too easy and not too hard. I really loved the plot of this book, and liked seeing the view of the different characters. This book does talk about some heavy topics (including death), but is a very good book to learn about empathy and the impacts your actions have. If you love a happy ending and a satisfying novel, this book is for you!

Reviewer's Name: 
Siena G

Book Review: The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet

The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet
Author: 
Dionne, Erin
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

"The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet", a story about a middle school teen and her struggles of trying to fit in, demonstrates the fact that family is always first. This book talks about Hamlet, a girl going through 8th grade. First of all, I am in 8th grade and find the reading level a little bit easier than I am used to. It is a very well-written novel, but aimed toward a younger audience; on one of the websites that sell this book, it is suggested for 4-7 graders. But other than age, this book is pretty good. It talks about some issues that sometimes/rarely come up with public schooling (this book talks about an extreme of this), and how to deal with fears and anger. Along with being a fictional novel, this book is a mystery.
If you like narrative stories including some elements of mystery and staying strong, then this book is for you!

Reviewer's Name: 
Siena G
Awards: 

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Realistic