Wednesday, November 29, 2017

It's Time for Some Announcements!

1.  Here's an announcement from RBC member and author, Kate Allure, regarding a couple of upcoming romance writers events:

The Silicon Valley Romance Writers of America is holding two multi-author holiday book signings at Barnes & Noble in San Jose. The first is at the Blossom Hill Store ~ Sun. December 3rd 12-3pm (5353 Almaden Expressway), with the authors: Marina Adair, Elisabeth Barrett, Gayle Parness, Noelle Greene, Nadine Mutas, and Marilyn Vix. The second is at the Stevens Creek Store ~ Sat. December 9th 12-3pm (3600 Stevens Creek Blvd), with these authors: Jenny Andersen, Heatherly Bell, Ava Bradley, Linda S. Gunther, Claire McEwen, and Sonja Rouillard/Kate Allure. It's also a fundraiser for SVRWA and 10% of sales of anything purchased go back to the chapter if you use our Voucher #: Bookfair ID 12259180. Plus we'll have members there wrapping presents for donations. So come out and meet some authors and do some holiday shopping at the same time! 

1.  Books, Inc. has a warehouse sale on 12/9 from 9-4.  Thousands of books will be available from 30-90% off.  The warehouse is located at 1501 Vermont Street in San Francisco.

2.  I know you're excited about John Hart's next book.  It's called The Hush, and it comes out on 2/27/18.  Get in line behind me.

3.  Michael David Lukas, author of The Oracle of Stamboul, and RBC author, has a new book coming out in March, 2018,  It's called The Last Watchman of Old Cairo.  And it's darn good.   Michael has agreed to come to the RBC next Fall.  Can't wait.

4.  This was recently posted by Kerry Lonsdale:
Last month, I had a wonderful dinner with my editors and agent where they presented me with the Diamond Quill Award, commemorating over one million readers across my three titles: Everything We Keep, All the Breaking Waves, and Everything We Left Behind. Considering the number of books on the market, for an author to reach several thousand readers, let alone, several hundred, is quite an achievement. But one million in such a short timeframe? Wow. Just wow. I owe it to you, my friend. Thank YOU for reading my stories.

5.  Here is the most current RBC/book signing schedule:    

Sunday, December 3, 9:30-12:30 - Book Signing - Maddy’s Game (contemporary fiction), Mike Lund

Saturday, December 9, RBC, 5:00 - Soulless (paranormal, steampunk), Gail Carriger

Wednesday, December 13,  RBC - Own It (romance), Elisabeth Barrett

Sunday, December 17, 9:30-12:30 - Book Signing - The Illuminated Kingdom (Book 4 of The Voyages of the Legend - Middle-Grade, YA Fantasy), Alina Sayre

Sunday, January 14, 9:30-12:30 - Book Signing - The Druid’s Gift (fantasy romance), Dante Silva & Vanessa Mozes

*   Sunday, January 14, RBC, 4:30 - The Dating Bender (romantic comedy), Christina Julian

Wednesday, January 24, RBC - Dark Associations (psychological thriller), Marie Sutro

Wednesday, February 21, RBC - Sweet Spot (ice cream memoir), Amy Ettinger

*   Wednesday, March 14, RBC - Freedom Child (literary fiction), Chandra Lee Ingram

Wednesday, March 28, RBC - The Underground River (historical fiction), Martha Conway & The Last Billable Hour (murder mystery), Susan Wolfe

Wednesday, May 23, RBC - Silver Lies (historical mystery), Ann Parker

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Robin Sloan's New One - Sourdough

Sourdough reminds me of Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities.  Or in this case, A Tale of Two Halves.  I thought the 1st half was amazing.  So much so, in fact, that I was thinking 4+/4.  And that went on for a while.  But the 2nd half took a big dip for me.  I can't really explain why.  Maybe my expectations, based on the 1st half, were simply too high.  Regardless, it just didn't measure up.  Despite all of that, I still enjoyed it.  There was a point where I was comparing Robin's writing to both Amor Towles (The Gentleman of Moscow) and Pat Conroy (every book).  Let me give you some examples:

"The sky above the Crowley parking lot was gray and drippy like the undercarriage of a car." (now that's a simile)
"Greatest among us are those who can deploy 'my friend' to total strangers in a way that is not hollow,  but somehow real and deeply felt; those who can make you, within seconds of first contact, believe it."

And Robin definitely mixes in some humor:

"...fries not merely consumed but circulated as social currency; peace offerings, seductions."
"I felt the disorientation of a generous offer that in no way lines up with anything you want to do: like a promotion to senior alligator wrestler, or an all-expenses paid trip to Gary, Indiana."
How about the dough starter called Clint Yeastwood?
And then there's the pathway through the market called the "yellow-tape road."

Of course there are sentences that make me think of programs and places that I know - e.g. Project Runway, Chez Panisse, and Scientology (are you watching Leah Remini's expose on A&E? it's amazing).

So it's not that the book wasn't well-written, because it definitely was.  It was just the story itself that disappointed me as it went along.  Let me say, though, that the ratings on Goodreads (3.82/5) and Amazon (4.4/5) definitely go counter to what I'm telling you.  I will be the 1st to admit that I might be a little too critical.  But I gotta give it to you as I see it.

Whoops.  Forgot to tell you what the book is about:

Lois Clary is a software programmer at General Dexterity, a robotics company with typical San Franciscan world-changing ambitions.  She codes all day and collapses at night, her human contact limited to the two brothers who run the neighborhood hole-in-the-wall from which she orders, and savors, dinner every evening.  Then, disaster!  Visa issues.  The brothers close up shop, and fast.  But they have one last delivery for Lois; their culture, the sourdough starter brought from afar, used to bake their bread.  She must keep it alive, they tell her - feed it daily, play it music, and please, please: learn to bake with it.
Lois is no baker, but she could use a roommate, even if it is a needy colony of microorganisms.  Soon, not only is she eating her own homemade bread, she's providing loaves daily to the General Dexterity cafeteria.  The company chef urges her to take her product to the farmers market.  A whole new world opens up.
When Lois comes before the jury that decides who sells what at Bay Area markets, she encounters a close-knit club with little appetite for new members.  Then an alternative emerges: a secret market, literally underground, that aims to fuse food and technology.  It might be perfect for the programmer-turned-baker.  But who are these people, exactly?  And who is the mysterious Mr. Marrow presiding over it all?

People, I am still recommending this book.  If you agree with my assessment, then it is worth it just for the 1st half.  If, on the other hand, you don't agree with me, and you really like the 2nd half, then you will be extremely happy you read the whole thing.  I hope, for your sake, that it's "If" #2.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Another New Author for Me - and Another Big Hit

By now, you all know that I get a bunch of great recommendations from my East Coast blogger, Melissa.  Well, she recommended Before the Rain Falls, by Camille Di Maio, many months ago.  In fact, I just saw that I messaged the author back in May that I would be reading it soon.  Does May to November constitute "soon?"  I don't believe it does.  Even though I shirked my responsibility at the time, at least I'm making up for it now.  Let's start with the back cover:

After serving seventy years in prison for the murder of her sister, Eula, Della Lee has finally returned home to the Texas town of Puerto Pesar.  She's free from confinement - and ready to tell her secrets before it's too late.
She finds a willing audience in journalist Mick Anders, who is reeling after his suspension from a Boston newspaper and in town, reluctantly, to investigate a mysterious portrait of Eula that reportedly sheds tears.  He crosses paths with Dr. Paloma Vega, who's visiting Puerto Pesar with her own mission: to take care of her ailing grandmother and to rescue her rebellious younger sister before something terrible happens.  Paloma and Mick have their reasons to be in the hot, parched border town whose name translates as "Port of Regret."  But they don't anticipate how their lives will be changed forever.
Moving and engrossing, this dual story alternates between Della's dark ordeals of the 1940s and Paloma and Mick's present-day search for answers - about roots, family, love, and what is truly important in life.

I am a big fan of books that go back and forth...when it's done well (like This Is Us, for example).  And this one is done very well.  I liked everything that takes place in the present but still wanted to know what happened to Della in prison.  In fact, you needed that to really overall appreciate the book.  What else did I like about Before the Rain Falls? I'm glad you asked.

1.  Truly great lead characters - Della, Paloma, and Mick
2.  Romance, which I was not expecting
3.  Several very surprising moments for me, including one real shocker
4.  A definite emotional connection to several of the main protagonists
5.  Some gut-wrenching moments
6.  Well-written (have you heard this from me before, perchance?):
"Her smile.  A smile that made him feel warm inside.  Like there was goodness in the world, and it was right in front of him." - something we've all experienced, I would venture to say
7.  A couple of passages that brought to mind other favorite books, including Goodnight June and The Storyteller
8.  References to Kerry Lonsdale (an RBC author) and Melissa Amster (see paragraph #1 above) in the acknowledgements

How much did I like Before the Rain Falls?  I've already ordered her 1st book, The Memory of Us, from Recycle Books.  I have no choice but to scoot it up the TBR pile very quickly.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Not Your Typical Novella - Redux

Back on October 26 of last year, I wrote a review of a novella by one of my favorite romance authors, Kate Allure.  The book was called Bed & Breakfast & BONDAGE (her caps, not mine).  And it was tied (get it?) into Maria Adair's A St. Helena Vineyard Kindle World.  Everything is the same for #2, except the two protagonists.  Once again, the story takes place at Cat's B&B.  This time, the leads are Damien, who is called Master Edge in the local BDSM chapter (do you think there's actually a charter that's connected to the national BDSM office? probably not, I'm thinkin') and Lyndsey, who is staying at the B&B with 3 girlfriends.

One night, Lyndsey can't sleep and decides to take a walk around the grounds.  As she gets near the boundary of the property, she hears some quiet voices.  She peeks around the corner and sees a bunch of people relaxing in various states of (un)dress.  After a minute or two, the obvious head honcho tells everybody that the break is over and asks them to come back into the building (have you heard the joke about the guy in the underworld who says:  "Okay, everybody.  Break is over.  Back on your heads?" remind me to tell it to you).  Curiosity gets the better of Lyndsey, and she ends up inside the building.  And so it begins.

I basically have the same things to tell you for this one that I mentioned in #1.  It's an erotic romance with 2 strong characters.  It's very well-written, as all of Kate's books are.  And you definitely hope the protagonists can make the romance work.  #2 is a little different from #1 because the focus is almost entirely on the two mains, which definitely works for this story.  If you are not opposed to strong sexual language and activities, then you will enjoy the 2nd one in the series.  If you do have a problem with that stuff, then you can still enjoy the romance part of it.  I think we all root for a happily-ever-after story.  I won't give away the ending, but it is a romance, after all.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Results Are In. And The Winner Is...

Thank you, everybody, for your comments and votes.  Here's how it shaped up:

Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng

A Column of Fire, Ken Follett

Sourdough, Robin Sloan
A Torch Against the Night, Saaba Tahir
In This Moment, Karma Brown
Before the Rain Falls, Camille Di Maio

Lucky Boy, Shanthi Sekaran
Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
What She Left Behind, Ellen Marie Wiseman
A Walk Across the Sun, Corban Addison
Things You Won't Say, Sarah Pekkanen
The Winter Sea, Susanna Kearsley
Best Kept Secret, Amy Hatvany
Safe with me, Amy Hatvany
Close Enough to Touch, Colleen Oakley
Violets of March, Sarah Jio
Sweet Spot, Amy Ettinger

There were 2 that got +1 vote and -1 vote:
Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Seders
The Woman in Cabin 10, Ruth Ware

I will probably hold off on LFE for a couple of books.  As you know, I just finished Everything I Never Told you by Ng, and I was a bit disappointed. I'm saving Follett for a weekend away in early December.  That leaves the 2-vote group.  I just got done with Sourdough and started Before the Rain Falls.  I'll go for Torch and In This Moment after that.  And then it's on to the singles.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

A couple of short reviews

I've got 2 short reviews for you.  And both books are by big-name authors:  Daniel Silva and Jennifer Egan.  Silva first.

House of Spies -
This is the 17th book in the Gabriel Allon series.  And I have enjoyed every one.  This one maybe a little bit less than the others.  It still got a 3.25/4, but normally I'm giving his books 3.5 or higher.  In fact, a good friend of mine said HoS might be the last one he reads in this series.  I'm definitely not there yet.  Will I ever be?  Probably not.  Having said that, my favorite Silva of all time is his very 1st book - The Unlikely Spy.  And that wasn't even an Allon.  It wasn't until book 4 that he started the series.  Just a couple of quick notes:

1.  I still got hit with surprises and emotions.
2.  I'm always happy to see Gabriel gather his work family for a mission, especially Eli.  And let's not forget Ari.
3.  Silva mixes in a little humor, which is very much appreciated since the topics in his books are so serious.
4.  He always creates a complicated/intricate plot that is still easy to follow.
5.  Make sure you read the Author's Note at the end of the book.  It's depressing, but important.

Manhattan Beach -
This is Egan's 6th book, and my 1st.  A Visit from the Goon Squad, as you probably know, won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award.  So you can imagine how skeptical I was starting this one. Why did I read it?  Good question.  It's the Books Inc. 4th Tuesday Night Book Club selection.  I haven't been in a few months and thought I would give it a try.  In fact, there are at least 2 occasions when I started a book for that book club and said "Uh, uh."  Fortunately that wasn't the case this time.

Since this is 1 of 2 reviews in this post (which means 4 pictures), I will put the synopsis of MB at the very end.  That way you can more easily ignore it, or not.  Some observations about Manhattan Beach:

1.  It was definitely better than I thought it would be.  I rated it a 3/4.
2.  It was page 53 where I realized I was beginning to connect.  And then page 54 where I had my 1st emotional reaction (followed by several more).
3.  The writing is good.  Just a couple of examples -
"In the dry docks, ships were held in place by hundreds of filament ropes, like Gulliver tied to the beach."
"When she took a sip, it crackled down her throat - sweet but with a tinge of bitterness, like a barely perceptible pin inside a cushion."
4.  And a final random thought - late in the book, Clinton Avenue in Manhattan is mentioned.  Have you ever eaten at the Clinton Street Bakery?  Best breakfast anywhere.

Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to visit Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her family.  She is mesmerized by the sea beyond the house and by some charged mystery between the two men.
Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war.  Anna works at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that once belonged to men, now soldiers abroad.  She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war.  One evening at a nightclub, she meets Dexter Styles again and begins to understand the complexity of her father's life, the reasons he might have vanished.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

A Review of Celeste Ng's Everything I Never Told You

Do you remember what I said about Book #4 of Alina Sayre's series The Voyages of the Legend?  To refresh your memory, I said I was sad to write the review because it meant that the series was over.  Well, today I am, again, a little sad about writing a review.  This time, unfortunately, it's for the wrong reason.  As you know, I just purchased Celeste Ng's 2nd book, Little Fires Everywhere, last week at the Penguin Random House event in Lafayette.  And, so far, it's the most popular book in my TBR pile, according to your votes.  That prompted me to read her 1st book, Everything I Never Told You.  I have to say I was pretty disappointed.  I had 4 problems with the book.  But I will get to that in a minute.  First, le blurb:

"Lydia is dead.  But they don't know this yet."  So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio.  Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue.  But when Lydia's body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos.  A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.

I don't want to give you the impression that I didn't like it.  I did...somewhat.  But not nearly as much as I hoped to.  Initially I thought that maybe my expectations were too high.  But then I realized that I have started many books with high expectations and have seen those fulfilled, or even exceeded.  So I don't think that's it.  Without further ado, here are the problems I had:

1.  I made almost no emotional connection with any of the characters. People, that is almost unheard of.  I have seen the same preview for an upcoming movie called Wonder (based on the book) that makes me cry every time.  I have even been accused (unfairly, I say...or is it?) of tearing up at a Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode!  But in EINTY, I had one time late in the book where I got a little chill and a tiny amount of emotion. That was it!
2.  The book was a bit tedious for me.  It's only 292 pages, and I was able to get through it pretty quickly (4 days).  But it still dragged.  I was about half-way through when I started thinking about my next book (either Sourdough, by Robin Sloan, or Before the Rain Falls, by Camille Di Maio).  That should NOT be happening.
3.  We know in the very 1st sentence that Lydia is dead.  So, as you might expect, there is a lot of past-to-present-to-past-to... going on.  And I don't feel it flowed that well.  I mean not everything can be done as artfully as NBC's This Is Us.
4.  This one was probably the roughest for me.  And it's not really fair. But we all know that there is nothing more subjective than opinions about books.  What is it, you ask?  The author overuses similes, IMHO.  It got to be so frequent that they actually jumped off the page and smacked me.  Here's one example:  "It was sedate and docile, like a middle-aged mare.  It buzzed gently, like a watchful chaperone..."  The other issue I had was that the similes themselves didn't really resonate with me.  They seemed very mundane and not all that visual.  A number of years ago, I read a book by Christopher Reich, an author that at the time I liked a lot.  However, he used "Just then" so often that it greatly affected my enjoyment of the book.  In fact, I even wrote to tell him.  He thanked me (but I don't think he really meant it).  P.S.  His next book greatly reduced the "Just then"s.  Was I that powerful?  Not likely.

Let me wrap this up with a couple of observations:
1.  The ratings for EINTY are 3.78/5 (Goodreads) and 3.94/5 (Amazon). Obviously a lot of people really liked it.  I would understand if you not only disagree with me but even rise up in mob form and try to get me dis-reviewer-ed.
2.  The book is only a 2.75/4.  But I'm not sorry I read it.  I can definitely see how others would like it  more than I did.  AND it's not going to prevent me from putting her 2nd book high on my TBR list, subject to the final vote.
3.  There is a reference to The Jackie Gleason Show (remember that the book takes place in the 70s).  That reminded me of The Honeymooners, which I actually watched (I'm very old).  And that reminded me of a trivia question I had last week on my website:  Who is the only original cast member that is still alive?  It's Joyce Randolph, 93, who played Art Carney's wife (okay, that was random, even for me).

Let the verbal backlash begin!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017


I need help, people.  I've got a TBR (to be read) pile of 35 books.  They are (very obviously) listed below.  I need to know which ones I should read next.  The titles with RBC after them are books I will definitely be reading because the authors are coming to Recycle for our book club. But they are down the road.  So you can still move them up the pile.

ACTION ITEM:  Please tell me what you would read if you were in my place.  You can pick anywhere from 1-35 books.  I will tally the votes and read them in the order that you guys vote for 'em.  THANK YOU IN ADVANCE!  You've got 7 days to weigh in.

Addison, Corban - A Walk Across the Sun
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi - AMERICANAH
Amooi, Rich - Mr. Crotchety
Barrett, Elisabeth - West Coast Holiday Series (Novella #3)
Bradley, Ava - Kiss Me Before Dawn
Brown, Janelle - All We Ever Wanted Was Everything
Brown, Karma - IN THIS MOMENT
Crouch, Blake - PINES
Ettinger, Amy - Sweet Spot (RBC)
Follett, Ken - A Column of Fire (#3 - Pillars of the Earth)
Hatvany, Amy - best kept secret
Hatvany, Amy - safe with me
Ingram, Chandra Lee - Freedom Child (RBC)
Jio, Sarah - The VIOLETS of MARCH
Kearsley, Susanna - THE WINTER SEA
Kondazian, Karen - THE WHIP
Martin, Silvi - The Postgirl
Moyes, JoJo - The Horse Dancer
Ng, Celeste - Little Fires Everywhere
Oakley, Colleen - CLOSE ENOUGH to TOUCH
Pekkanen, Sarah - THINGS YOU WON'T SAY
Quindlen, Anna - Miller Valley
Row, Sharon - UNSUPERVISED and loving it
Sekaran, Shanthi - LUCKY BOY
Sloan, Robin - Sourdough
Tahir, Sabaa - A TORCH AGAINST THE NIGHT (Book 2)
Waggoner, Nicole - center ring (#1 The Circus of Women Trilogy)
Ware, Ruth - THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10
Wiseman, Ellen Marie - WHAT SHE LEFT BEHIND

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Penguin's Best Fall Titles 2017

A couple of nights ago we went with some friends to Lafayette (a few miles from Oakland, for you out-of-towners) to see a Penguin Random House rep.  She gave us a list of the books they are promoting for the Fall.  All of them are available now (except for the last 2 which will be on the market in January/February).  I'm going to list them and give you their blurb.  P.S.  I have read the 1st one - A Gentleman in Moscow - and thought it was terrific.  In fact, it took me two posts to review it (January 9 & 11 of this year).  So, here they are:

1.    A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles - "From the New York Times bestselling author of Rules of Civility - a transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel"

2.    My Absolute Darling, Gabriel Tallent - "A brilliant and immersive, all-consuming read about one fourteen-year-old girl's heart-stopping fight for her own soul"

3.    Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng (I bought this one -Kathleen, the owner of A Great Good Place for Books, was doing the selling) - "From the author of EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU, a beautiful novel set in meticulously planned Shaker Heights, that traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives"

4.    Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman - "Smart, warm, uplifting, the story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes the only way to survive is to open her heart"

5.    The Future Is History, Masha Gessen - "Putin's bestselling biographer reveals how, in the space of a generation, Russia surrendered to a more virulent and invincible new strain of autocracy"

6.    American Kingpin, Nick Bilton - "From New York Times-bestselling author Nick Bilton comes the thrilling inside story of the rise and fall of Ross Ulbricht, aka the Dread Pirate Roberts, the founder of the online black market Silk Road"

7.    Grant, Ron Chernow - "Pulitzer Prize-winner and biographer of Alexander Hamilton and Washington, Ron Chernow returns with a sweeping and dramatic portrait of one of our most complicated generals and presidents"

8.    Beloved Dog, Maira Kalman - "With her trademark style, wit, and with great sensitivity, renowned artist and author Maira Kalman reveals why dogs bring out the best in us"

9.    The Book of Joy, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams - "Two great spiritual masters, Nobel laureates, and dear friends teach us how to live with joy even in the face of adversity"

10.  The Book of Joy Journal, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams - "This companion to The Book of Joy guides journals with inspiring quotes from the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu to help them find joy in their own lives"

11.  Under the Harrow, Flynn Berry - "A debut psychological thriller about a young woman who finds her sister brutally murdered, and the shocking incident in their past that may hold the key to finding the killer"

12.  Lucky Boy, Shanthi Sekaran - "A heart-wrenching novel about the transformative power of motherhood and the redemptive beauty of love"

13.  The Mothers, Brit Bennett - "A New York Times bestselling debut, The Mothers is a surprising story about young love, a big secret in a small community - and the things that ultimately haunt us most"

14.  Hallelujah Anyway, Anne Lamott - "'Anne Lamott is my Oprah' - Chicago Tribune, from the bestselling author of Help, Thanks, Wow and Bird by Bird comes a passionate exploration of mercy, its limitless (if sometimes hidden) presence, and how to embrace it"

15.  The Wasp That Brainwashed the Caterpillar, Matt Simon - "From the man behind the popular Wired series 'Absurd Creature of the Week,' a fun, fascinating, illustrated collection of unique animals and the unbelievable evolutionary traits they use to survive the most extreme scenarios"

16.   Start Where You Are, Meera Lee Patel - "A beautifully illustrated and interactive journal that encourages readers to explore their hopes and dreams - and take steps to make them a reality"

17.  The Immortalists, Chloe Benjamin - "How would you live your life if you knew the exact day you were going to die?  After going to a psychic who predicts this, the four Gold siblings grapple with this in unique, often tragic ways over the course of five decades"

18.  How to Stop Time, Matt Haig - "Tom Hazzard looks to be 40, but is really over 400 years old, due to a rare condition where he ages slowly. This is not as great as it sounds, as Tom outlives everyone he's ever known and loved"