Monday, December 7, 2020

The Switch by Beth O'Leary

On my short list of good things about 2020 (it's a very short list), I'd have to say audiobooks would rank pretty high.  Audiobooks are kind of a recent thing for me.  I always thought they felt a little bit "cheaty" as reading goes, plus, I just don't seem to absorb things as well when I listen to them as when I read them, so I always figured a good story would be lost on me if I listened to it.  While they'll never replace my love of the written word, I've really appreciated listening to stories this year.  When you're living alone through a pandemic, it's kind of nice to hear another voice.  It's even nicer when the other voice is reading you an absorbing story.  

I snagged a "listen now" copy of The Switch by Beth O'Leary from NetGalley.  I tend to try to make my audio listening a little lighter weight than my reading because I truly do have the attention span of a flea when listening, particularly when multitasking, which audiobooks were pretty much made for multitasking, no?  Anyhow, The Switch totally fit the bill for me.

Leena Cotton is at a loss when she has a breakdown at a work meeting and is forced to take a 2 month sabbatical.  (Seriously, though, why can't this happen to me?)  Having recently lost her sister to cancer and become alienated from her mother in the process, she can't fathom what she will do with two months where she can't lose herself in work.  Meanwhile, Leena's grandmother, Eileen, has been left by her philandering husband at the age of 79.  She'd love to get back out there and meet a new man, but the dating pool in her small Yorkshire village is, well, puddle-sized.  

When Leena discovers her grandmother's list of eligible bachelors in the village, all of whom have been found wanting, she decides her grandmother should try online dating.  Unfortunately, the online dating landscape has little to offer.  That is, unless Eileen goes to London.  An idea is born, and suddenly Leena and Eileen are swapping lives.  Leena will take over her grandmother's spot on the neighborhood watch committee and handle all of her projects, like planning the May Day festival, while Eileen will try out London life, moving into Leena's flat with Leena's roommates Fitz and Martha.

In alternating point of views, narrated perfectly by Daisy Edgar-Jones and Allison Steadman, the two women navigate the unknown, carving out places for themselves in their new surroundings. Each finds her new life challenging but rewarding, and each brings a little of herself to her new situation and leaves the lives of those around her better for it.  Leena finds herself falling for a handsome country schoolteacher while Eileen has a fling with a West End theater actor only to find that maybe she's looking for love in the wrong place after all.  

The book is filled with quirky, lovable, believable supporting characters, and the two Cotton women are admirable main characters.  While definitely part of the romance genre, The Switch goes deeper to explore the need for genuine human connection among friends and even among strangers while also exploring themes of healing after loss.  The Switch is a a lighthearted but by no means fluffy feel-good novel.  

Highly recommended, especially on audio!

Monday, November 16, 2020

Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland

How old is the oldest book on your physical TBR pile?  Girl in Hyacinth Blue has been on my shelves for thirteen years, at least according to LibraryThing which claims I cataloged it there in 2007.  I'm afraid, it's probably not the most shamefully longsuffering of my neglected TBR.  Happily for it, with a boost from a Litsy challenge, it finally got its moment this year.

Girl in Hyacinth Blue is a novel in short stories.  I usually find this kind of thing to be a bit of a bait and switch.  When I read a novel, I want it to be a novel.  In my middle age, I've developed an appreciation for short stories that has been hard won over a few decades of not caring for them.  Nonetheless, I generally don't like to be surprised by short stories hiding inside a novel.  Here, though, I'll make an exception because how beautifully they're handled and because of the common thread of the painting around which all of them revolve.

Girl in Hyacinth Blue follows a lost, forgotten Vermeer masterpiece from its painting to the study of the son of a Nazi, only it's done in reverse.  As we follow the painting back in time, we meet a son tortured by his father's war crimes so dissonant with the man he knows, a Jewish girl making a sacrifice for safety that is hardly guaranteed, a couple troubled by a husband's former love, a philandering wife matched by a philandering husband, a couple who rescues a baby during a flood, and on back to Vermeer himself struggling to make ends meet and wondering if he shouldn't take a proper job to provide for his impoverished family but unable to turn away from the transcendent beauty that draws his eye and his talent always back to painting.

Though a slim book, Girl in Hyacinth Blue in its journey through history is filled with the richness of human experience and captures all manner of people who themselves are captured by the beauty of  a painting of a girl they will never know and yet feel a kind of kinship with.  The idea of following a painting through history is fascinating on its own.  Vreeland's execution of it is what is truly sublime.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Here we have another book club failure.  All in all, I've been more dedicated to my book group than usual this year, having attended more than once and actually participated in the conversation both times.  In case anybody was wondering, I seem to have no problem reading books or writing about them, but sometimes in conversation I find myself having little to say.  I read And Then There Were None with the intention of attending book group for a record breaking third time time this year.  Alas, it was not to be.  After a wretched week of stressing about work and the world, instead of going to book group, I went full introvert and stayed home to recharge.  Nonetheless, I can still lay claim to having enjoyed the book.

And Then There Were None is among the types of Christies I find most enjoyable.  Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot are all well and good, but I've always had a soft spot for the detective-less Christie mystery, and this is one.  The beginning of the book finds ten strangers en route to a mansion on the much talked about Soldier Island.  The island has, of late, been purchased by.....well, nobody knows exactly who it's been purchased by, despite it being a popular piece of gossip in all the papers.  The unhappy ten have been summoned by a Mr. and Mrs. Owen either for work or leisure to the mysterious island.  Naturally, the Owens fail to turn up, but a murderer certainly does.

As the body count rises, Christie maintains the atmosphere of suffocating, terrifying paranoia among the remaining all without tipping her hand as to who the murderer may be.  Indeed, the mystery appears to come to an end without any proper revealing of the killer who has eluded the police's most diligent efforts to unpack the grisly scene at the island.  Then an epilogue ensues that is essentially the magician unveiling just how the trick was done.

Reading an Agatha Christie mystery is about the most fun one can have where murder is involved.  Full of fast paced dialog and the human foibles of its characters all wrapped up in a fast paced thriller, And Then There Were None kept me up late reading.  The story gave me just the faintest hunch of who the murderer could be but otherwise I was as in the dark as each of the hapless Soldier Island visitors.  As murder mysteries go, Christie always delivers.

Monday, May 18, 2020

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

When Vanessa Wye returns to her private boarding school, Browick, for sophomore year, she's uncertain what the year holds for her.  Having lost the friendship of her freshman year roommate, Jenny, she's starting anew and alone.  A scholarship kid at a wealthy school with high expectations, she's easily overwhelmed by the work and embittered at the loss of her friend.  Isolated and vulnerable, she welcomes a newfound connection with her English teach, Mr. Strane, who singles her out, gives her extracurricular books to read, and makes her feel special.  While it seems to begin innocently enough, Strane's behavior soon begins to edge into the inappropriate, oddly personal compliments, stolen touches, and eventually a whole illicit relationship.  But it's what Vanessa wants....or so she thinks.  As the pair's relationship escalates to an inconceivable pedophilic fantasy, Vanessa, believing herself in love, puts everything on the line.

As soon as he says this, I become someone somebody else is in love with, and not just some dumb boy my own age but a man who has already lived an entire life, who has done and seen so much and still thinks I'm worthy of his love.  I feel forced over a threshold, thrust out of my ordinary life into a place where it's possible for grown men to be so pathetically in love with me they fall at my feet.

In alternating chapters, we get a glimpse of Vanessa's adult life as she watches events unfold when another student of Strane's reports his sexual misconduct.  Suddenly, Vanessa's life is in the spotlight as Taylor searches for allies to speak out against Strane, but Vanessa doesn't see herself as a victim, never has.  Her life tells a different story, though.  Struggling under the weight of her wasted potential and broken relationships, Vanessa finally begins to plumb the depths of the damage Strane's attentions did to her.

I think it will be just one of many unbelievable things about 2020 that one of my favorite books of the year will be one about a young girl and the pedophile she loves, but here we are.  My Dark Vanessa is as compelling as it is hard to read.  Vanessa is a marvelously drawn, emotionally complex character, clearly damaged by her high school relationship with Mr. Strane that reaches its tentacles into her adult life, and yet stubbornly unwilling to think of herself or be thought of as a victim.  Russell has achieved that fragile balance of creating a character who really isn't likeable and creating a character who still draws readers' sympathy and hope for redemption.  My Dark Vanessa is a vivid and layered story about power, consent, abuse, victimhood and the far-reaching repercussions of a dark and twisted "romance" that should never have been.  Highly recommended, if you have a stomach for the subject matter.

Copy provided to me by the publisher in exchange for review consideration.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Historical Reviewlettes

These reviewlettes are historical in more ways then one.  First of all, they're all historical fiction.  Secondly, I read them all like a ludicrously long time ago, so the finer plot points are lost to the sands of time and memory.  That said, I seem to be fully incapable of sending them off on their next adventure until I comment on them in some way because they were all so good.  

First up, we have The Gown by Jennifer Robson.  And really do I even need to tell you to read this book?  I mean, look at it, with a cover like that, this book sells itself.  Amiright?

Not convinced?  OK, fine, I'll try to use my words.

The Gown is set in post-World War II London where Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin meet in the embroidery workroom of Norman Hartnell's famed fashion house.  Ann is an English girl who began at Hartnell as an apprentice and risen through the ranks.  Miriam has come from France, having survived the Holocaust, now seeking to put her prodigious embroidery skills to work.  Though the hardship and scarcity of the war linger, the excitement of Princess Elizabeth's upcoming wedding finally gives the British people cause for celebration, and the gown will be made at Hartnell.

The historical tale was so rich, it hardly needed a modern day perspective of Ann's granddaughter unearthing her grandmother's long kept secrets, but the modern perspective didn't take away either.  I loved this tale of friendship, its capturing of England's hesitant first steps away from the war, the setting of the fashion house, and the excitement of the wedding.  The Gown is a beautifully told story of two friends and England's reawakening after the ravages of World War II.

Next up, we've got The Visitors by Sally Beauman.  I've always been a touch fascinated by Egypt and the Pyramids, and I was totally taken in by this historical tale of two young girls who become friends in 1922 Egypt, just at the time that the excavations in the Valley of Kings finally yield the ultimate find.  I loved how this book was told from the perspective of two young girls, one the daughter of expatriate archaeologists.  They're caught up in the middle of the Egypt-mania that has seized the English.  The tensions between the wealthy sponsors of the digs and the ambitious archaeologists determined to find Tutankhamun's tomb are rife.  The girls realize something untoward is afoot but can't quite grasp it.  This is a long book that doesn't feel long.  I relished every page of Beauman's richly drawn Egypt and her cast of characters all entangled in the intrigue of robbing a nation of its treasures at any cost.  If I reread books, I'd reread this one.

Last but not least, Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters.  Tipping the Velvet is the first Sarah Waters novel I read but I hope it won't be the last because it was fantastic.

In it, oyster girl, Nan King, falls in love with Kitty Butler, a girl playing a boy in a music hall act.  Nan is swept away to London where the two perform together and carry on a covert love affair, The two are desperately in love but too afraid of being discovered to last.  Abandoned by Kitty, Nan finds herself alone in gritty Victorian London with nothing but a broken heart and a trunk full of male clothes from the act.  As a boy, Nan works the streets.  At loose ends, she takes up with all manner of characters, and the story reveals the dirty underbelly of Victorian London as Nan embarks on a number of troubling sexual "adventures."  This book, too, is the richest of historical portrayals and Nan is a remarkable character.  Her story from its beginnings with a sweet and exciting love affair to her search for love and belonging in all the wrong places and on to the redemption that seemed unreachable but perhaps is not, is totally compelling.

All of these reads are so remarkable that even years after reading, I still remember them well!

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Inside Out by Terry Trueman

In this very short novel, we meet Zach just at the moment the coffee shop he's sitting in is being robbed by two desperate young men.  It quickly becomes apparent that something is not quite right about Zach.  He's not scared, he doesn't seem to know when it's best to keep quiet, he's much more interested in getting a maple bar than in getting out of harm's way, and, honestly, he's not quite sure the situation he's in is even real.  When the police arrive, the robbery escalates to hostage situation.  Over the course of the next few hours, secrets will emerge.  Zach is sick, and he needs his medicine, but the people in the back room of the coffee shop need a hero, and Zach might just be the only guy who can be one.

Inside Out is a fast paced book that grips from the very first page.  In addition to the action and suspense of the coffee shop hostage situation, there's a lot going on in these few pages not the least of which is Zach's struggle against his mental illness.  In Zach's narration and intervening notes from his medical file, a door is opened into living with mental illness.  While the book is intended for a young adult audience, I found Zach's perspective illuminating, giving me a better understanding of his disease.

At the risk of spoiling such a short book, I'll say no more about the plot.  What I will say is that I was impressed with how Trueman brought a plot rich book together with a strong portrayal of a mentally ill character and gave sympathetic eye to all three of his male main characters.  If you're looking for a quick read that packs a punch, give this one a try!

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Loose Leafing: Corona Currently

What better than a pandemic for me to just wander by my blog and pretend I never left it by picking up a totally random blog posting habit?  Honestly, it was really nice Readathonning last weekend and catching up with the bookish community.  I appreciate all of you who stopped by and left a comment and assured me that despite my blog's dormancy I might not be totally shouting into the void.

A few weeks ago (maybe a month?  I don't know.  Time has no meaning anymore), one of my co-workers texted me something like "we should journal during this historic time!" I, being a cynical  jerk, replied something on the order of, "Yeah, that should be stimulating.  Uh, so I woke up.  I ate some food.  Then I ate some more food.  I scrolled the news.  I took a nap. I woke up and it was still daylight out, so I took another nap.   I woke up and tried to watch a briefing from my nation's leader about a widespread crisis.  After only a few minutes, I was forced to turn it off because listening to petty, self-aggrandizing prattle and outright lies was really too much to take on top of the whole killer virus thing.  Then I cooked and ate more food and went to bed after playing a few hours' worth of Cooking Craze on my iPhone to dull the anxious thoughts in my brain to a dull roar."  Clearly, the world has been missing this exciting account of life during the coronapocalypse.

But I don't know, maybe she had a point about the journaling.  So here we are, and here's a little "currently" for the corona age.

Reading: If there's one thing I can say for the quarantine period, it definitely has given a boost to my reading life.  Spending so much time in the company of all my unread books steadily glowering at me has finally made me dig into that TBR stack.  While my concentration was off for the first few weeks in March, April has lead to excellent reading.  I'm well ahead of my usual pace of the last few years and I feel like I'm just reading....better.  With more uninterrupted time, I've found it way easier to get lost in books like I used to before the demands of my job started sucking up so much of my headspace.  I just finished My Dark Vanessa which was hard to read but also amazing, and this morning I'm starting Nation by Terry Pratchett to kick off a month-long Litsy challenge.

Current reads with a cameo from Mo the Surviving Succulent

Feeling Guilty:  I'm still working, and I hate it.  I work for healthcare IT, and the demands on my productivity level are still sky high.  While other people are binging their 18th Netflix show, I'm spending even the waning hours of Friday afternoon discussing the vagaries of how to interface next generation sequencing results to a new lab system and lamenting a to do list as long as my arm.  I should be (and in my mind, if not my heart, I am) glad to have a job, glad to be able to work from home, glad for a lot of blessings that have been bestowed upon me during this time.  But being expected to work at a very high functioning level with added roadblocks of remote work during this emotionally taxing time is hard.  It's getting easier as my focus returns to pre-pandemic levels, but still hard. 

On Spending Wisely: Lately I've been trying to do some good with what I've got.  Like it or not, I am still working, so I've been trying to make at least a small difference with the proceeds.  So many people and organizations are in need right now.  This is a tough headspace, too.  With so much need, it's hard to know where to direct your money to have the greatest impact.  That said, directing it anywhere is better than being overwhelmed by need and not directing it all, so I think I'll probably soon be making another round of donations and probably buying some more local takeout and otherwise trying to be purposeful and thoughtful with my funds during this time. 

Watching: Next to nothing, oddly.  I've been trying to keep up with the shows that are going on over at Andrew Lloyd Webber's channel and also with John Krasinski's Some Good News.  Other than that it's usually one random show on Hulu a day while I eat dinner and scroll the news after work.  TV binges have oddly not been a part of my quarantine life.  I'm gravitating more toward music and audiobooks and the occasional podcast for some reason.

Really Missing:  1 - Making travel plans.  I worked myself beyond the point of burnout this past winter and spring hoping for the promise of some time away, you know, now-ish.  Time away that I thankfully didn't lock in because of the niggling worry back in February that that virus everybody wa talking about might become...a thing.   So now that I have honed my burnout to fine point and am still grinding away at work, the potential loss of any vacation at all has been particularly painful.  2 - Baseball.  I hope there is some sort of baseball season eventually.  Summer isn't summer without baseball.  3 -Seeing other humans in person (I mean, duh).  I live on my own so isolation is very, very isolating.  I think some people long for my situation, but I long to have somebody to talk to to get out of my own head.  4 - Decent weather.  But for this weekend, Pennsylvania has not had much great weather on offer.  Great weather makes everything so much more bearable. 

Ok, so my favorite HelloFresh meal is not photogenic at all.  It's delicious, ok?  

Appreciating: 1 - HelloFresh.  I've been a subscriber for quite a while now, and now more than ever it's been great to have the fixings for meals just delivered to my door, and stopping the working/news scrolling grind to cook myself a real meal every other day has been consistently refreshing.  That said, I've taken to calling it "hot zone" fresh because it gets packed and delivered from Newark, New Jersey.  No, the irony of my living in rural Pennsylvania and getting my "fresh" food delivered from Newark doesn't escape me.  Thanks for asking.  2 - Technology.  I'd much rather meet for church in person, but I love that even though we can't, I can still stream a church service or few every Sunday.  3 - this is idiotic, but my aunt got me this punny calendar for Christmas, and I love it.  I don't know what it says about this year that stupid calendar puns are really a high point for me, but they are.

So wonderful, so terrible the puns.

On Stopping the Madness: I consumed a lot of news in March.  I stopped consuming so much in April.  It has made a very big difference in my quality of life between the two months.  Next up, I'd like to stop spending so much time with iPhone in general.  But sometimes the social media scrolling yields up some true gems and the brain numbing of a phone game or two can occasionally prove helpful.  I feel.....conflicted.

Coming Soon: Yellow!  Having read up on the privileges of being a yellow county...I have discerned no actual change for my own life.  However, it seems some other people get to go back to work, though, so I guess that's good....?  Here's hoping the slow opening achieves its ends and we can have both a functioning economy and health.

Quote of the Week (see all "Things You Thought You'd Never Say in Real Life"):  "The grocery store was much better this week even though I kept missing things and having to take laps of the one-way aisles. At least they were playing music, so I could listen to Ed Sheeran instead of a constant dystopian loop of social distancing instructions."  

That's all from me for now.  How's the coronapocalypse been treating you?

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon - Master Post

Greetings one and all and welcome to my mostly dormant blog! This blog that existed back at the very beginning of Dewey's readathons - it's hard to imagine.

Now we are in a pandemic and it's been years since I've properly done a Deweython, so I'm going to Frankenstein the old blog for the day to post Readathon updates, but I'll also be hanging out over at my Litsy, so please do stop in and say hi if you need a break from all this arduous reading.  ;-)

Here's the opening survey:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

Sunny Danville, PA  ('s actually sunny?)

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

I didn't make a proper stack, so I don't have a good answer to this question, but when I was scrolling Libby for a potential audiobook for the day....I found Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone actually available for borrowing....instead of with 6 months' worth of holds on it.  So that's kind of a Readathon miracle.  I anticipate doing some audio walking and audio cooking to the soothing strains of Harry Potter.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Not exactly a snack, but I did get myself an order of takeout wings to enjoy for lunch today.  Guess I'll be doing some audio eating, too.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself! name's Megan.  I've been blogging and otherwise talking books on the internets since 2007.  I live in a small town in Pennyslvania where I work in IT for a hospital system.  I guess I'm an essential employee in the age of Covid-19 but in a work from home capacity....and not on the weekends.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

I haven't participated since 2015 when my ankle was broken, so I just want to have some fun and get some reading done to kill some more quarantine time.  In 2015, I was killing broken ankle time.  They're remarkably similar except for how I can at least walk now.  Something different?  I don't think I'd listened to a single audiobook the last time I readathonned, so audiobooks will be my Readathon something different!



Hour 2 Update

Reading Now: A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews - a book I had started pre-readathon

It's been __28__ pages and __45__ reading minutes since my last update.

Total Time Spent Reading: 45

Cumulative Pages Read: 28

Books Completed: 0

Eating?: Very Berry Cheerios - breakfast of champions!

Hour 6 Update

Reading Now: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

It's been __58__ pages/__51__  listening minutes and __137__ total reading minutes since my last update.

Total Time Spent Reading: 3 hours 2 minutes

Cumulative Pages Read/listening minutes: 86/51

Books Completed: 1 - A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews

Eating?: Wheat Thins for stack, then wings, a Bai and  chocolate chip cookie for lunch

Etc: I wrapped up A Complicated Kindness which was good but kind of sad.  Then I had some lunch and did some tidying up while listening to Harry Potter.  Please note, I can't believe how dumb I've been all these years not incorporating audiobooks into my readathons.  They're a lifesaver when you want to keep reading but can't use your hands!

Like, you definitely can't use your hands when eating these:

In other news, I tried to use the master list to visit some readers and was disappointed to find most of the ones I randomly picked were people that appeared not to be participating.  Guess I'll try again later.  My first readathon (*the* first readathon??) I was but a cheerleader, and my inner readathon cheerleader will never die even though the tradition appears to have.  I know it's Readathon is huge now and times change and all, but still miss the "official" cheerleading deep in my heart of hearts.

Anybody participating and want a visit, drop me a line!


Hour 14 Update

Reading Now: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling, Full Throttle by Joe Hill

It's been __158__ pages/__92__  listening minutes and __266__ total reading minutes since my last update.

Total Time Spent Reading: 7 hours 28 minutes

Cumulative Pages Read/time listened: 244/2h22m

Books Completed: 2 - A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews, Inside Out by Terry Trueman

Eating?: A salad, more wings, and more chocolate chip cookies.  Hey, at least there's a salad in there.  It's something.  And the wings had celery with, too.  ;-)

Etc:  I've definitely been updating more often on Litsy, but that I haven't gotten back here for so many hours is a great indication that I've really been absorbed in my reading.  In a time where it's been hard to focus on anything, this is amazing.

After lunch, I took Harry Potter for a nice audiowalk, and then spent the rest of the afternoon on the very short and very absorbing Inside Out by Terry Trueman, also known as an "easy readathon win." I tossed in a short story from Joe Hill's collection to round things out and listened to some more Harry over dinner.  So far it's been a most excellent readathon. 

I think I'm probably going to cheer around a bit and then finish out with however far I can get with My Dark Vanessa before heading off to dreamland. 

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson

When superstar Adam Jakes rolls into the small town of Little, California to film a Christmas movie in the middle of summer, native Carter Moon is unruffled.  Happy in her small town, working in her parents' cafĂ©, Little Eats, Carter's never gotten caught up in all the hoopla about Hollywood.  Adam is an overgrown child star fresh out of rehab and also looking to rehab his image after a very scandalous public break-up with a Disney starlet.  When Adam's manager stumbles over the only dark spot marring Carter's simple small town life, he sees an opportunity he can't pass up.  Soon Carter is playing a role of her own, small town love to Adam Jakes.

I have to admit, I've got a real weak spot for a well done YA romance.  My favorites are the ones that don't let the main character become a lifeless puppet of the love story, and Catch a Falling Star definitely doesn't.  Carter comes off as a real, genuine person who is struggling to find her place in the world, but doesn't know it yet.  Easily content with her life and its routines, happy to help those around her and watch the night sky with her friends, she doesn't ambitiously imagine a life for herself in some unknown elsewhere, but her parents want her to open her eyes to a world that's a little bigger than Little.

As Adam and Carter's scripted courtship deepens to something more than staged photo ops and  publicity stunts, the pair start to open each other's eyes to different ways of life.  Adam's worldly ambition plays nicely off Carter's small town contentment, and it's satisfying to watch both characters realize that maybe there's a sweet spot in between where they both could land.  In addition to likeable, if flawed, characters, Culbertson's small town summer setting leaps off the page.

Catch a Falling Star is a great coming of age story for both characters taking on themes of what it means to grow up and carve out a place for themselves in the world.  I loved this page turning read with a little extra substance!