Tuesday, March 31, 2015

2015 book 78

Sara Gruen's At the Water's Edge
Gruen's latest, after Ape House, will probably please her Water for Elephants fans more than a book about bonobos did. It centers on Maddie, a young American in 1945, newly wed to a guy determined to prove himself by finding proof of the Loch Ness Monster (her husband wasn't allowed to enlist b/c he's colorblind, AND his father is famous for faking photos of Nessie, so he REALLY wants this). So her husband and his best friend drag her off to Scotland at wartime. I really feel like the message here is "rich American guys are terrible, tragic Scotsman are wonderful"--but you could get the former just as easily from watching an episode of The Kroll Show. Anyway, it's all very readable, despite some over-the-top writing, and there are some interesting hints of magic and folklore. Maddie is likable enough, if hopelessly naive. The romance stuff is more than a little bit unbelievable, but Gruen sure can paint a portrait of a crumbling marriage. I will rate this as: mildly silly, but entertaining. B/B+.

A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book is available now.

Monday, March 30, 2015

2015 book 77

Mary Balogh's Slightly Scandalous
The third book in the Bedwyn series focuses on bold sister Freyja, recovering from heartbreak at Bath (her ex's wife is about to have their first kid and she does not want to be in the area). Her romance has an entirely ridiculous start--she's staying at a not-great inn on the road with doors that don't lock and she makes her maid leave b/c of snoring and a dude just RUNS into her room in the middle of the night b/c he's fleeing whatever, and she covers for him, and he immediately kisses her (at least she punches him). He's basically your stereotypical scoundrel, though also happens to be a lord.  He's also super smarmy. BUT he has a horrible aunt (very Lady Catherine de Bourgh) determined to marry him off to her daughter (who doesn't want the marriage any more than he does), so he and Freyja enter into a fake engagement (which obviously will soon turn real, since they're totally into each other). I love Freyja--she's clever and assertive--but it took me a lot longer to warm up to her love interest. Once I did, I was seriously rooting for them, though--to get together, and to beat some trumped-up murder charges (!!!). As usual, Balogh is not at all subtle with her villains, but this was enjoyable anyway. B/B+.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

2015 book 76

Naomi Novik's Uprooted
Novik's Temeraire series is one of those series I keep MEANING to read, but like, the library only has the audiobooks, etc etc whatever. Anyway, after reading Uprooted, those have shot to the top of my to-read list, because DAMN did I love this book. It's a great reworking of Eastern European folklore AND the whole dragon-stealing-girls stuff of legend--here, though, the Dragon is actually an immortal wizard who lives near the edge of a very terrifying Wood, trying to keep it from encroaching, taking over towns, stealing people and corrupting them, etc. And every certain number of years, he takes a girl to live with him for a decade (not really for nefarious purposes). Agnieszka has grown up knowing that her best friend Kasia is sure to be the girl chosen--he always takes the BEST girl--but surprise surprise, he takes Agnieszka instead. Because she has MAGIC!!!!!!! Things just stay really awesome from there as she learns to use her skills, save the day, enter into a very begrudging romance (not a major part of the story, but I enjoyed it), and so on. I loved every moment of it. It's action-packed and delightful. I am pretty sure this is the start of a series--though it works fine as a stand-alone--and I can't wait to revisit these characters and this world. A.

A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released in May.

Friday, March 27, 2015

2015 book 75

Jane Smiley's Early Warning
 The second book in Smiley's Langdon family trilogy (after the excellent Some Luck), tracing the family from the 50s to the 80s, is kind of a slow starter--there are a lot more people to keep track of in this one, and it took me a bit to remember all the interrelationships. Eventually I got into the groove and was happy to sink back into this now-extended family's lives. Obviously some characters are more compelling than others, and some of the plotlines strain incredulity a bit--it makes sense that at least one of the boys would end up in Vietnam, but how likely is it that another grandchild would get involved with Jim Jones and the People's Temple? (Not that it's not fascinating to read about.) The Cold War elements as well as the treatment of mental illness are both really well done, and I liked how Smiley slyly snuck in a random child--at first I was like "who's THIS kid" and when I figured it out after his second appearance I honestly GASPED. I also liked seeing the gradual shift from what someone of my generation (The X/Millennium cusp) considers "olden times" to what I recognize as modernity. And of course there's more of what made the first great--complicated families, motherhood (of many sorts), secrets, love, siblings, and so on. Smiley really makes these people feel real. I ended this one crying, but they were happy tears. A-.

A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released in April.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

2015 book 74

Mary Balogh's Slightly Wicked
So at the very end of the previous book in the Bedwyn series, brother Rannulf commented that he was off to visit a relative who had found yet another prospective bride for him, and this book picks up on his journey, as he encounters a coach with a broken axle--and with a very pretty young woman with a head full of daydreams on her way to be a poor relation to a mean aunt--only she tells him she's an actress (he has also given her a fake name) and he treats her accordingly (and she is super into their flirtation and everything that follows, and it is all super hot by the way). And of course his prospective bride turns out to be her terrible cousin (the terrible relatives here are basically the same as the ones in The Arrangement)--but at least it means they're thrown into each other's orbits again. AND they each have a particularly awesome grandma. Balogh does older women SO WELL. I could have done with less of the predatory step-cousin--I am really not into rapiness in my light reading and it felt overdone to have Rannulf rescue her from that dillhole like three times. Otherwise this was cute? B+.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

2015 book 73

Mary Balogh's Slightly Married
I have really been enjoying Balogh's books, and the first in her Bedwyn series (about a bunch of siblings, children of a Duke) was no exception. It centers on stern and grumpy second son Aidan, an army officer, who makes a dying officer a promise to protect the dying man's sister. And she is pretty great--the sort who adopts orphans, and hires ruined governesses and cooks, and has a three-legged one-eyed dog, and so on. BUT because her brother is dead and her dad was a jerk, she is now going to lose her property to a horrible cousin--unless she marries. So Aidan proposes a marriage of convenience--she'll save her land and all her friends/employees/orphans/elderly aunts, and he'll go back off to war, and they'll never see each other again. But circumstances, elderly aunts, and intimidating older brothers will interfere, and soon they find things not going quite according to plan. Interestingly, there is no attraction at first sight here--he's interested in a General's daughter, and she's in love with a guy she hasn't seen or heard from in over a year. I like a slow building romance, and this one feels really organic. And everything is just so funny and charming and CUTE. I really loved this one. A-.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

2015 book 72

Stella Gibbons' Cold Comfort Farm
Somehow I've never read this before, and I guess I'm glad I did? I mean, this is really one of the silliest books I've ever read. Of course, that's mostly on purpose--it's a parody of a certain sort of rural novel that I've never read (besides, like, Thomas Hardy), but can easily imagine thanks to this one (it's like Northanger Abbey and whatever melodramatic gothic novels Austen was playing with--you don't really have to be familiar with the source material to get the humor). Luckily protagonist Flora, recently orphaned and moved to the farm of some distant cousins with a Terrible Secret, isn't having any of those shenanigans. She also totally messes with a guy who claims Branwell Bronte wrote all of his sisters' books. I did spend a lot of this alternately giggling and boggling while reading, for sure. But all's well that ends well, and it certainly ends in a pretty adorable way. B+.

Monday, March 23, 2015

2015 book 71

Erich Kastner's Lisa and Lottie
Today I am super happy, because Lizzie Skurnick Books has reissued one of my favorite books from childhood, one of the cutest books of all time--and it's the inspiration for The Parent Trap! It totally holds up, and the LSB edition has all the adorable illustrations I remember. YAY.

Friday, March 20, 2015

2015 book 70

C.S. Harris' Who Buries the Dead
Look, it's one thing to have characters in a historical novel reading Jane Austen, it's another thing entirely to throw her in as a character, especially when she has nothing to do with the story! It just feels cheap--especially when the invented characters here are apparently supposed to be inspiring Persuasion! ANYWAY, in this latest Sebastian St Cyr mystery, Sebastian is called in to help investigate a murder in which a man was beheaded--and the murder may have ties to Charles I and Oliver Cromwell! (Thanks to both Monty Python and AP Euro, I understood these references.) Or not, who knows, there are a million suspects and Sebastian just ping-pongs around between them. I still love Hero and Sebastian though. I even was into Jarvis for this one. Entertaining enough. B.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

2015 book 69

Gail Carriger's Prudence
The long-awaited sequel series to Carriger's Soulless books is finally here, hooray! And it's as charming as its predecessors, focusing on Prudence and Prim and basically all the other baby characters from the other books, grown up and being sent on a tea-related business trip to India. Now, there was definitely waaaaay too much about how their ladybug-looking dirigible was getting from place to place (I hate steampunk and have little patience for discussions of fake science like aetheric currents), but otherwise this was super cute. Prudence and Prim are great and their friendship is great, and it was awesome getting to see glimpses of the characters from the earlier books. And there are some exciting new were-creatures and lots of other crazy things and political drama going on. I was a little eh on the romance (it doesn't hold a candle at all to the one in Soulless) but it wasn't a huge part of the book or anything. Looking forward to the sequel. A-/B+.

Monday, March 16, 2015

2015 book 68

Ellen Raskin's The Westing Game
I'm rereading this for YA book club--NOT that I mind, since it's one of my all-time favorites and it's been a few years since I last read it--so long that I'd forgotten just how good it was. I love the sort of arch narrative voice, the remarkably diverse cast for a book written in 1979 (though it feels timeless), how no one is what they seem, how Raskin clearly has great affection for all the characters, and basically everything else about this. I mean, I am totally weepy now about it! I recognize that some of the epilogue part is a little bit awkward but I don't even care, this is seriously the best book. Turtle Wexler is my patronus.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

2015 book 67

Marie Brennan's Voyage of the Basilisk
The third book in Brennan's Lady Trent series was more enjoyable than the second, which I found a little dull--this one has a sea voyage and more encounters with new cultures to recommend it, plus some hilarious side business with wives, more scientific discovery, a possible future love interest, some good stuff with Lady Trent's son, etc etc. I do find the thinly fictionalized geography to be a little bit silly/unnecessary, and wish the awesome plot/action stuff would happen before, like, the last quarter of the book, but on the whole, find this series to be a lot of fun. B/B+.

A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released in March 31st.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

2015 book 66

N.k. Jemisin's The Awakened Kingdom
This novella serves as a sort of epilogue to the awesome (in the literal sense of the word) Inheritance Trilogy. It features the first new godling born in thousands of years, as she attempts to find her purpose while living in a matriarchal community of humans. (There is some really interesting/slightly heavy-handed gender stuff going on here.) I thought the narrative voice was super cute and likable and in general enjoyed this a lot. I should really reread all these books. A-.

2015 book 65

Lorraine Heath's Once More, My Darling Rogue
Guys. GUYS. This is the historical romance version of OVERBOARD. (Shut up, I like that movie. I saw it ten million times on cable as a child and it has imprinted on me. "Tofutti, where are you when I need you?") I am not even exaggerating, if the guy had a bunch of rowdy sons it would be EXACTLY THE SAME. I mean, he totally tells an amnesiac snobby rich pretty lady that she's his housekeeper!!!!! She's even rescued from the water, and her relatives are plotting against her! And he's just like Kurt Russell's character, he manages a gambling hall but dreams of something bigger!!! (OK, Kurt Russell's character is a carpenter/handyman who wants to own a mini-golf course, but, same difference.) Plus, they are both jerks who lie to and manipulate vulnerable women!

As things moved toward the end, I was really annoyed that there was a whole victim/savior thing layered over what otherwise was a very enjoyable and silly story. The whole a-man's-love-equals-self-worth kind of thing--I'm not into it. Trauma is dealt with in a very perfunctory way. I also found the diary framing devices in this series to be a clumsy and corny way of wrapping things up. SIGH. I really wanted to like this one more than I did. Starts strong, ends badly, I guess that nets a B.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

2015 book 64

Lorraine Heath's When the Duke was Wicked
This was a fairly interesting historical romance. Our girl is just nineteen and has a huge dowry, so she goes to an old/friend neighbor for assistance--how can she know who truly loves her, and who just wants her money? Of course, she has an ulterior motive--she's loved him since she was a little girl. Meanwhile, he's tormented by the loss of his young wife and daughter to typhus several years earlier, and now lives a very scandalous lifestyle, determined never to fall in love again. That's all fine, and it's fairly obvious how things will go, even when it's hinted that she has a SECRET (the secret is fascinating!!). Plus, her family is also fascinating! I felt like this book was the sequel to a book I hadn't read (though it's the first in this series) b/c her parents' lives/courtship is referred to a bunch and it's crazy! (Her mom grew up in a den of thieves and somehow married a nobleman, she also totally owns a gambling hall.) (OK, I just looked this up, and it IS a sequel series--I gotta go read those earlier ones b/c they sound like they're also full of DRAMA. Look, the author has a chart explaining!! http://www.lorraineheath.com/character-guide.html) There's also some very funny business with the girl and her friends keeping a list of how to tell if a man truly loves them (they also totally sneak smoke breaks). Things get super hilariously crazy toward the end, and even it's all kind of cheesy, I still liked this a lot. A-/B+.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

2015 book 63

M.E. Kerr's The Son of Someone Famous
The back copy of the Lizzie Skurnick reissue of this book totally deceived me. It made it seem like it's a book about a teenage boy, secretly the son of someone famous, who comes to a small town and befriends an outcast girl (maybe she's a lesbian? But probably not) and they're awesome outcasts together, when REALLY what happens is they both use each other to try and further their own popularity. Everyone in this book is a huge jerk, teens and adults alike. I did like how the girl's story ended up, I guess? B/B-.

2015 book 62

Lauren Oliver's Vanishing Girls
Lauren Oliver is one of my FAVORITE writers, and I was super excited on starting this one, because it seemed so much in the vein of her Before I Fall. It centers on Nick and Dara, two sisters whose formerly close relationship has been torn apart by a bad car accident (there's also a whole thing with a local little girl going missing). The story flashes back and forth between the past and the present, but what is probably supposed to be a big twist becomes VERY obvious VERY quickly, which is amazingly frustrating. This one just didn't really work for me. Strong writing and characterization though? I hate giving a bad grade to Lauren Oliver. :( B/B-.

Monday, March 09, 2015

2015 book 61

Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan's The Royal We
Look, if the Fug Girls are going to write a book inspired by Kate Middleton, I am THERE, ok? And this did not disappoint. They've created a more-or-less fictional version of the British royal family (all of whom are great and/or hilarious), and the royal bride in this case is a Midwestern girl who meets the prince while studying abroad at Oxford (they bond over a crappy supernatural tv show, naturally). And of course he has a playboy brother, and she has a twin sister who causes DRAMA. I actually really, really liked this. It was amazingly readable--I didn't want to put it down--and the writing is mostly really strong (there are a couple of slightly cheesy parts, but nothing too terrible). I loved both these characters and was psyched to see them together. Plus, since it's the Fug Girls, there is some great stuff about all the clothes, and a very sly sense of humor. Well done all around, a super fun and entertaining read. A-.

A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released in April.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

2015 book 60

Cherie Priest's I am Princess X
As is often the case when an author who usually writes for adults writes a book aimed at a younger audience, this doesn't feel as fleshed out as it could have been. The bones of the story are there, and they're GREAT--protagonist May and her best friend Libby created a character named Princess X, writing and drawing tons of stories and comics about her. Then Libby dies in an accident. Three years later, May starts to see stickers around town showing Princess X--and discovers the character is the star of a cult webcomic. May soon becomes convinced that Libby is actually alive, and determines to find her, with the help of a handy computer nerd in her building. That's all really interesting and well-done, though things get increasingly implausible and crazy as the story goes on, and everyone but May is really thinly drawn (I was sure a mysterious dude would turn out to be evil because he had no characterization whatsoever). On the other hand, the illustrations are super cute, and I really loved May. The end is mildly ridiculous, but whatever, I think kids would be pretty into this. B/B+.

A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released in May.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

2015 book 59

Sabrina Jeffries' If The Viscount Falls
The conclusion to the Duke's Men series has been coming since book one--it centers on brother Dom and the fiance (Jane) who supposedly jilted him when his brother disinherited him, but of course they still secretly love each other even though it's been twelve years, only now she's engaged to someone else! I can't say much about the plot because it'll spoil book three, except to say that she comes to Dom for help with an investigation, etc etc. As usual, Jeffries' villains are NOT subtle, and I was not as into the plot this time, but I liked Jane a lot, and liked that her whole thing was a hatred of men who try and control her. Be your own boss, girl. B.

2015 book 58

Sabrina Jeffries' How the Scoundrel Seduces
The third book in Jeffries' Duke's Men series centers on brother Tristan and an intriguing lady from the previous book, who hires him to investigate her parentage after her aunt tells her she's actually a Gypsy's baby (!!!). This is primarily interesting b/c she's one of the few women in England who can actually inherit her father's title/estate, so she wants to be sure she's legitimate--and if not, she plans to marry her cousin, the next in line after her. Too bad Tristan is super into her, and vice versa. I liked this one a lot, because the obstacles felt realistic and I really wanted to see how Jeffries would work everything out--which didn't at all go how I expected! Maybe there are a few too many coincidences, but it actually all worked in context. I also really like the way Jeffries writes families. Good stuff. A-.

Friday, March 06, 2015

2015 book 57

Carrie Anne Noble's The Mermaid's Sister
My mom and sister and I are all reading this book, which has a pretty interesting premise. Clara and her sister Maren have been raised on a mountain by a half-fairy woman, and Maren was found as a baby in a giant shell, so it's really no wonder that she's been slowly transforming into a mermaid. Now Clara and her love interest/boy she grew up with have to get Maren to the ocean before she dies, but of course the journey won't be that easy. This was, in general, a charming fantasy sort of story (I particularly liked the pet wyvern and all the storytelling), but about halfway through things take a turn that I found frustrating. Meanwhile, Clara wonders what /she's/ going to turn into. Clara's whole deal is that she's the shy and retiring one, but I really wanted her to just nut up and get stuff done. Things work out pretty much as you'd expect, eventually. This was pleasant enough but the villains were all pretty silly. We'll see what my relatives think. B/B+.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

2015 book 56

Sabrina Jeffries' When the Rogue Returns
The second book in Jeffries' Duke's Men series (involving a bunch of people of various levels of society who are all involved with a detective agency and I LOVE IT) is even crazier than the first. We start with a young married couple--she has a talent for making jewelry, including imitation jewels, and her sister and brother-in-law use that to pull off a major jewel heist, all while convincing the young couple that each was abandoned by the other. She runs away to escape her terrible family and make a life for herself as a jeweler (bad-ass) and also she is having a BABY. Meanwhile, a bunch of stuff happens to him that was revealed in the last book, and now he's working for the detective agency and is hired to check out a lady that a baroness' son is interested in . . . and of course it's his long-lost wife! Action and romance ensue, and there are a lot of adorable characters, including some science nerds and an intriguing lady that I expect will be a love interest in a book down the line. As usual, the villains are way over the top, but this is some really entertaining, popcorn-eating stuff. A-/B+.

2015 book 55

Sabrina Jeffries' What a Duke Desires
It looks like Jeffries has a bunch of interconnected series, but starting with one of the more recent ones was easier, and I didn't feel like I'd missed a bunch of backstory or anything. Anyway, our lady is the illegitimate daughter of a viscount and his French actress mistress; when her father died, her evil oldest (legitimate) brother burned a codicil to the will, leaving her, her brother, and their mother with nothing, and when their other legitimate brother tried to defend them, the evil brother disinherited him too!! DARK. Anyway, now she's a grownup, recently back from France, working for her half-brother's detective agency and longing to be a detective herself, when an angry Duke storms in looking for her other brother, saying that her brother found HIS long-missing older brother, kidnapped and presumed dead for years. Like, whaaaaat. Also, he has a FAMILY SECRET that is like super obvious to the reader but they didn't really have much science back then. So then she insists he take her along as they try and find her brother in France and get some answers, posing as a married couple along the way. The romance here is pretty cute and definitely sexy, and I liked how well they worked together in their investigations. I'm totally reading more of these, I like when my historical romances have MYSTERIES in them. A-.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

2015 book 54

Laura Ruby's Bone Gap
I think this is being marketed as a YA novel, but it's truly a novel I'd recommend for all ages (well, not little kids, teens and adults) and it reads just fine as an adult novel. It centers on teenage Finn, who saw his brother's girlfriend Roza get kidnapped--but no one believes him, because he can't accurately describe the kidnapper, and everyone assumes she just up and left town and he's trying to make his brother feel better. This is all interspersed with Roza's experiences, which have a very fairy-tale tinge to them that gradually envelops the rest of the story. It feels really . . . magical, as dumb as I feel saying so. Just really strong writing, and so much good stuff about first love, and family, and small towns, and people that just fall through the gaps. There are also SEVERAL awesome animals, including a cat, a horse, a goat, a bunch of bees, and a giant dog. I also really liked that Roza wasn't really the damsel in distress sort. High marks all around, even if the end is sliiiiightly cheesy. Ah, who am I kidding, I loved it. A/A-.

PS if you're curious, Petey's favorite book is Blankets by Craig Thompson.

A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book is available now.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

2015 book 53

Seanan McGuire's Pocket Apocalypse
The fourth book in McGuire's Incryptids series finds brother Alex and his girlfriend Shelby heading to her hometown in Australia, where there's been a major werewolf outbreak. Things are action-packed and funny, as usual, though some of the writing is a bit awkward (McGuire does churn out like three or four books a year). Anyway, the presence of Aeslin mice makes up for a lot, and there are lots of new interesting creatures to learn about, so all in all, I enjoyed this a lot. B+.

Monday, March 02, 2015

2015 book 52

S.K. Tremayne's The Ice Twins
S.K. Tremayne is the pseudonym of a London travel writer, apparently. I spent too much of this book wondering whether s/he was a man or a woman (I eventually decided Tremayne is a man), not that it matters really, except that I'd rather spend my time supporting women authors and I resent this silly obliqueness. Anyway, this crazy book centers on a family with identical twin daughters, except one of the twins died over a year earlier, and now the other one is insisting SHE'S the one who supposedly died and her mother is like OH SHIT, did we seriously mix them up? (But like, wouldn't the living twin have corrected the identity error at some point in the previous year?) Not to mention that the parents' marriage is a bit rocky, and the husband definitely has a secret. And now they've all moved to a weird deserted island in Scotland! Now, I am not super into creepy books, but Tremayne really misses some opportunities to make this one creepier, i.e., stronger. It is mildly creepy at best when it wants to be SUPER creepy (some information mentioned toward the end needed to come a lot sooner). And Tremayne also does some stuff that pops up 3/4 of the way through that just feels way over-the-top and like a time-waster. I also had some major issues with the way the mother was portrayed. It's a quick read, though? I don't know. B/B-?

A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released in May.

2015 book 51

Mike Thomas' You Might Remember Me
I've been putting off reading the Phil Hartman biography for a while, because I really loved him and just didn't want to know all the details about his death. But Thomas really makes an effort not to sensationalize things, and writes an actual biography, starting from his childhood (his siblings clearly contributed a lot to this--his brothers particularly had interesting things to say). Now, the writing is occasionally repetitive, and there are some minor typos (particularly missing quotation marks), but in general, things flow well and I thought it was very readable. And it made me really love Jon Lovitz. PLUS, I now know that Phil Hartman designed a bunch of album covers, including the one for America's Greatest Hits, one of the first two CDs I ever bought (I hoped there'd be something from the Last Unicorn soundtrack on there, and of course there wasn't, but Sister Golden Hair made it all worthwhile). Things are a little maudlin toward the end, but I don't know how that could have been avoided. I will be sad about Phil Hartman's untimely death forever. B/B+.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

2015 book 50

Stacey Lee's Under a Painted Sky
It's 1849, and two teenage girls--one Chinese, one a slave--are on the run, headed West, dressed as boys. I mean, how good a premise is THAT? I was mildly dismayed when they almost immediately encounter a group of cute teenage boys and our narrator (the Chinese girl, Sam) finds one /very/ cute, but their journey is still really eventful and interesting, and the romance isn't a huuuuge part. Mainly because she's supposed to be a boy. :) I was way more into the descriptions of Chinese culture and cowboy-ing than her mooning over the dude (who, hilariously, is actually named West), though. Not to mention the awesome friendship between the girls. Things are a bit predictable, but in general, this was a cute read. Plus, if you grew up playing Oregon Trail like I did, you'll recognize all the landmarks mentioned! B+.

A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released on March 17th.