The Traveling Triple-C Incorporeal Circus by Alanna McFall
Chelsea is determined to make it to her brother’s wedding. And she’s not going to let the fact that she’s been dead for two years stop her.
Joining with her mime friend from a New York City park and her ghostly mentor with forty years of afterlife under her belt, the three women set out on foot for San Francisco. Along the way, they are faced with joy, sorrow, and the haunting surprises of the open road. This humorous and lightly macabre journey explores relationships, personal burdens, and what it means to keep moving, even when your heartbeat has stopped.
I loved this book. It was such a fun, interesting, and unique read.
Chelsea is a ghost and is friends with other ghosts in New York City, but has a ghostly best friend and mentor called Carmen. There is one woman, Cyndricka, who can see ghosts, but is a mute mime who communicates with sign language. The 3 decide to walk to San Francisco so that Chelsea can attend her brother’s wedding.
There is so much that happens along the way that bring out issues of relationship and family, forgiveness, life purpose, and what stops us. All 3 women need to learn to come to terms with issues from their past in order to move on. There are also tense moments involving both human and supernatural predators that the 3 women need to overcome.
The character development was great and felt authentic. I felt so much for all 3 women and wanted the best for them so badly. And the writing and descriptions were terrific and engaging, keeping me turning the pages.
I love how McFall dealt with big issues, but in a sensitive way. There is a lesbian character, but she is simply gay and it is one part of her character. Homelessness and how people are treated is also tackled, as is racism. Binding all of these big issues together is friendship and loyalty and purpose. It was interesting to explore these women looking back on their lives and deciding what was important and what wasn’t, and what paths to take in the future.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy of this book.
The Return of King Lillian by Suzie Plakson
The Return of King Lillian is a mythic journey tale – a metaphysical fantasy for dreamers and nonconformists of all ages.
So, why the manly moniker in tandem with the womanly name?
“The Firstborn Child of The Emperor-King Inherits the Ruling Crown, the Title of Emperor-King and All Powers Thereof.” (Item 37, The Royal Manual)
Enter Lillian, the firstborn child of said Emperor-King. Cast out of her Kingdom by malevolent forces, mysteriously waylaid by Destiny, the spirited, self-reliant Lillian sets off on an exuberant journey to find her way home and claim her birthright. As she travels through marvelous and mystical lands in search of her origins, Lillian encounters and befriends a kaleidoscopic cast of characters. Most of the tale is told by Lillian herself, as she chronicles her extraordinary adventures.
This is a fun story about Lillian, who doesn’t know who she is and is on a quest to find her home, and these are her adventures.
This book is told in a fairy tale like way, full of imagination, magic, talking horses, and fairies. It is reminiscent of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for its childlike stories that speak to a larger audience.
Each of the chapters is another adventure and something that Lillian must learn to become the person she needs to be at the end. Lillian herself is, for the most part, a good character, and I enjoyed Hank, the horse.
I did find the book a bit slow at times and, I hate to say it, didn’t love the ending. First there was the idea that she enjoyed being a damsel in distress and and was happy being saved by a man (even though she had been a strong, take care of herself kind of character up until this point and this wish was joltingly strange), and then there was the idealization of her father who actually had treated her quite badly.
Overall, this is a cute book and I can see why many people like it, but, ultimately, it was not for me.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy.
Three Ways to Disappear by Katy Yocom
Leaving behind a nomadic and dangerous career as a journalist, Sarah DeVaughan returns to India, the country of her childhood and a place of unspeakable family tragedy, to help preserve the endangered Bengal tigers. Meanwhile, at home in Kentucky, her sister, Quinn–also deeply scarred by the past and herself a keeper of secrets–tries to support her sister, even as she fears that India will be Sarah’s undoing.
As Sarah faces challenges in her new job–made complicated by complex local politics and a forbidden love–Quinn copes with their mother’s refusal to talk about the past, her son’s life-threatening illness, and her own increasingly troubled marriage. When Sarah asks Quinn to join her in India, Quinn realizes that the only way to overcome the past is to return to it, and it is in this place of stunning natural beauty and hidden danger that the sisters can finally understand the ways in which their family has disappeared–from their shared history, from one another–and recognize that they may need to risk everything to find themselves again.
With dramatic urgency, a powerful sense of place, and a beautifully rendered cast of characters revealing a deep understanding of human nature in all its flawed glory, Katy Yocom has created an unforgettable novel about saving all that is precious, from endangered species to the indelible bonds among family.
I loved this book. It was really well written and kept me reading, curious about what the characters would do next.
The story goes back and forth between 2 sisters, Sarah, an international journalist who settles down in India to work at a tiger sanctuary, and Quinn, a mother of twins who has lives in Kentucky. They grew up as children in India until Sarah’s twin died and their mother moved them back to the US.
The relationship between the sisters and then their mother was great and I love how much it evolved, especially as they came to terms with the unfortunate death of their brother so many years ago. I enjoyed the explorations of different ways that people disappear from one anther and how they use this to cope with or hide from their pain.
Then there were the tigers, the masters of camouflage. They were integral characters to the book as well and I loved the descriptions of them and their interesting personalities. In fact, so many of the scenes in India were wonderful and richly described. Along with the tigers were the small villages affected by the tiger sanctuary — there are so many layers to things and this book reminds us of this. Yes, it is good to save the tigers, but in so doing, there can be adverse effects for others nearby if the situation isn’t dealt with properly. This book highlighted how we are all interconnected, even down to purses being made by women in a village in India and how that changes things for the person selling them in the US.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and watching the characters develop, learn, and grow. I loved the descriptions, and even the politics. These are certainly issues we need to be dealing with on a global level, but shows how small, individual steps can make a difference and how women supporting women and change a community.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy of this book.
Chronicles of a Radical Hag (with Recipes) by Lorna Landvik
A bittersweet, seriously funny novel of a life, a small town, and a key to our troubled times traced through a newspaper columnist’s half-century of taking in, and taking on, the world
The curmudgeon who wrote the column “Ramblin’s by Walt” in the Granite Creek Gazette dismissed his successor as “puking on paper.” But when Haze Evans first appeared in the small-town newspaper, she earned fans by writing a story about her bachelor uncle who brought a Queen of the Rodeo to Thanksgiving dinner. Now, fifty years later, when the beloved columnist suffers a massive stroke and falls into a coma, publisher Susan McGrath fills the void (temporarily, she hopes) with Haze’s past columns, along with the occasional reprinted responses from readers. Most letters were favorable, although Haze did have her trolls; one Joseph Snell in particular dubbed her “liberal” ideas the “chronicles of a radical hag.” Never censoring herself, Haze chose to mollify her critics with homey recipes—recognizing, in her constantly practical approach to the world and her community, that buttery Almond Crescents will certainly “melt away any misdirected anger.”
Framed by news stories of half a century and annotated with the town’s chorus of voices, Haze’s story unfolds, as do those of others touched by the Granite Creek Gazette, including Susan, struggling with her troubled marriage, and her teenage son Sam, who—much to his surprise—enjoys his summer job reading the paper archives and discovers secrets that have been locked in the files for decades, along with sad and surprising truths about Haze’s past.
With her customary warmth and wit, Lorna Landvik summons a lifetime at once lost and recovered, a complicated past that speaks with knowing eloquence to a confused present. Her topical but timeless Chronicles of a Radical Hag reminds us—sometimes with a subtle touch, sometimes with gobsmacking humor—of the power of words and of silence, as well as the wonder of finding in each other what we never even knew we were missing.
I was absolutely drawn into this book by it’s fantastic title, and it did not disappoint. I tore through this uniquely written book and enjoyed getting to know the characters of this small town — and reading the yummy recipes!!
The book uses Hazel’s newspaper columns from over 50 years to structure the story of Hazel, the people in her life, and the people who’s lives were touched by her columns. It seems like this might be confusing, but it isn’t because it’s handled really well.
I love Hazel and her no nonsense point of view. She is not shy on giving her opinion and has the courage to say things that might be unpopular — with the understanding that at least she will be engaging people in important discussions.
This book gives strong opinions on a lot of hot social and political topics — everything from feminism, to gay rights, to war, and beyond. I imagine that the author was hoping to be like Hazel, to put her thoughts out there and inspire some discussion. I did find that near the end, it felt like a lot of issues were being thrown at the reader in a bit of a rush.
One of my favourite characters was Sam, the struggling teenager who learns to find his way, largely through reading through Hazel’s columns. He’s absolutely adorable and it was nice to see the growth in this teen and how he learned to inspire others.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for granting me a review copy of this book.